Sermon Notes

May 20, 2018 – Personal Holiness: Essential and Practical

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  May 20, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Personal Holiness: Essential and Practical

Text: Psalm 69, John 17, Hebrews 12:14-17

 Wellspring Church, Springfield. Mass.

SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 12:14-17

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears

BIG IDEA:Personal Holiness: Essential and Practical

INTRODUCTION:

This is the 5th sermon that we have looked at in this passage. We are disciplined for duty and one of the duties we have is to live a holy life. Often that seems an impossible task.  In ancient Greece there is a myth- Sisyphushad angered the gods and they chose to give him an eternal punishment with a singularly frustrating task. This king was forced to roll a large boulder up a hill. Each time it got to the top, it would roll back down again.  Day after day after day this happened for all eternity. He never once knew success or the end of his labors.There are many who see the Christian life and the pursuit of holiness as a kind of a Sisyphean futility. If you are not careful you will too.

REVIEW:

The last two weeks we looked at this verse, v14. We are commanded to get along not only with our friends and our family, but with everyone.  As far as it depends on you be at peace with all men.

We have looked at holiness as a negative connotation – a separation from sin. When we define God as a God of holiness, we define Him as free from sin.

Last week we looked at the fact that holiness is essential in God. The very basic element of who God is,is His holiness. Take away His holiness and He ceases to exist. We looked too at the practicality of His holiness. Everything that God is, does, plans and accomplishes is a good and holy thing no matter how painful or puzzling it is to us. The practical aspect of the holiness of God is that even the disciplines of our lives are because of His holiness. We need His discipline because we are not motivated to seek His holiness until the pain comes. The hard times are good things because God is a good and holy God.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1:The essential holiness of the believer

Point 2: The practical holiness of the believer

 

Point 1:The essential holiness of the believer

A) How God sees us:

1. To be a believer, to be in Christ, to be one who has been converted from an old life style, to be changed into a new creature. To be adopted into the family of God means that in God’s sight we have been declared justified- the believer in Christ is essentially a holy person.

2. The story of scripture is this – if you are a believer God has declared and God sees you and God has set you apart from this world and you are essentially holy. We call this our positional holiness. We are in Christ or Christ is in the believer. So how, we wonder, can this do anything but shout to you that you are absolutely and intensely devoted to the Father as Jesus is devoted to the Father. To be a believer means that the very person of God who is devoted to the other members of the trinity is enabling you to live devoted to God. The essence of our being is now holiness.

3. The Holy Spirit teaches, convicts the believer so that you will grow and increases in your devotedness to God because holiness is devotedness to God.

4.Paul writes to you who are saints – you who are holy ones. 1, 2 Corinthians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians – each of these churches is dealing with backbiting and immorality. Yet Paul addresses them as holy ones. Your position is a definite holiness and devotedness to God. In Exodus 19, He says you are my holy people, my treasured possession. 1 Peter – you are holy – speaking to people who are imperfect in behavior but positionally seen as a saint.

B) The second meaning to this word essential is necessity. Since you have been born again to a new hope, it is necessary that you live out your life in a continuing pursuit of holiness. It is a duty that we would be persons of holiness. If nothing else, v14 says without holiness you will not see the Lord. What’s this mean? What am I supposed to do? be?

1. Holiness, as we read we read two weeks ago from Horatius Bonar :

“Holiness may be called Spiritual perfection. [as] exhibited in Christ. He is the representation, the illustration, the model. Likeness to Him is holiness. He that is holy is conformed to His image.” God’s Way of Holiness  by Horatius Bonar , p.106 PDF Version)

2.The duty we call sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus. From the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Q: What is sanctification?

A: Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

Q: What is sanctification?

A: Sanctification is a work of God’ s grace, whereby they whom God hath, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; (having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.

3) And from the Westminster Larger Catechism:

  1.  What are the duties required in the sixth commandment?
  2. The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and other by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil;  comforting and succoring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent.

 

  1.  What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
  2. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

4) The essential part of our living is to progress more and more putting to death sin and living more and more like Jesus. The duty of holiness flows from the fact that we are essentially made holy by God. There’s no separation where you can say that I am happy to have Christ as my savior delivering me from my sins which I still want to live in and at some point I will begin to pursue the life of sanctification. The essentiality of the nature of the Christian is a natural spring which motivates us to living more and more unto Christ.

5) We often wonder what the will of God is for our life: job, spouse, house, etc. Fascinatingly we never every find a place in scriptures that tells us to pray about God’s will in those things.  This is God’s will – your holiness.

6)  When we become a Christian, all to0 often we are content to see the work of Christ on the cross and reduce it to the forgiveness of sins and the removal of the penalty of hell. That is to prune the beautiful tree that salvation is. We look only at the removal of the penalty ofour sins.  We don’t look at words like redemption or ransom. Both of those words are purchase ones. By his action on the cross, He purchased your freedom from the slavery to sin. You are not your own.  If I am not my own, I have no right to sin. I have no freedom to disobey the one who owns me.

You are essential seen and declared holy before God. But it is essential that we grow in our holiness – progressive sanctification. You are already declared holy but you are not yet completely holy.

Point 2: The practical holiness of the believer

How can I pursue holiness?

A) Ask yourself this – do I love God’s ways? Am I thankful for the ways that God has ordered my life? The holiness that is mine is a holiness is one that must have the same thinking that God has – not me. We need to be weaned from leaning on our own understanding. Is the mind of Christ the mind in me?

B) There is a resurgence in popularity of WWJD but this is the wrong question to ask. The two other questions are: What did Jesus do (WDJD)?  And more importantly: What is Jesus like? WIJL. I can grow in conformity to Christ if I ask what Jesus like?  Am I growing in Christ likeness? It doesn’t mean am I doing more miracles? Are you a forgiving person? Am I one who holds on to grudges? Are there persons in my life that I am bitter towards. If there is not forgiveness there is no holiness. Jesus is the embodiment of truth. In John 18 Jesus speaks to Pilate and says for this reason I have come to bear witness to the truth.

C) Is there truth in my life? Are there outright lies and deceptions in my life?

D) Jesus is meek and lowly and gentle. Seek to have a humble spirit. Where there is pride, harshness, meanness – there is no holiness. Moses is characterized as meek.

E) Jesus was totally unselfish. He gave Himself. He came not to be served but to serve. There is no holiness where there is reluctance to serve.

F) Jesus pleased the Father. He did not care about the opinions of men. In Galatians 1:10-11 – Paul asks if he seeks to please men or God. Fear of man proves to be a snare. Jesus only sought the approval of His Father in heaven. Let your heart be after God’s approval in your life.

G) Am I willing to give up comforts and safety for His sake?

H) Am I loving? There’s no holiness without love. The Pharisees might have applauded themselves for their love. Sometimes that is the way we act in our lives. There are evil hateful people. What’s your response to ISIS and the atrocities? Is it love?  We ask God to love them and bring them to Himself. That He would show to them the same kind of mercy He showed to us.  There but for the grace of God, I go.

I) Prayer life defines our progress. There is no holiness where there is prayerlessness. Jesus still is a man of prayer. Our savior never ceases to ask the Father for our good. Be a person of prayer. Not a person of pride and arrogance.

J) Am I growing in my appetites – self-control of my tongue? Do I love the Word of God? Do I love participating in the Lord’s Supper?

I think that some of us would not dare to say that we are progressing in holiness. Our lives in this strict definition of devotedness to God, is just like this ordeal ofSisyphus– this endless ordeal of not making it. There’s not only positional sanctification and progressive sanctification but there is perfect and complete sanctification.  God has promised that what He has begun in you He will complete.

Conclusion:

Look at Romans 8: 28 .God has pre-destined in order that Christ might have many brothers and sisters.  Then there is this – Paul leaves out sanctification.  Paul hop scotches into eternity.  Those who are called, justified and saved will be glorified. There’s your confidence!  Your Christian life might seem like a boulder of failure but the reality is that Jesus has called you into glory. Your life is not meant to be a futility of frustration and failure but the reality is He who called you is Faithful. This doesn’t mean that we don’t mourn or confess sin but we don’t give up.  We don’t throw up our hands. He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion and you will be glorified with Christ.  And we shall be like Him. So we keep ourselves from sin.

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May 13, 2018 – Mother’s Day – Discipline for Duty Part 4

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  May 13, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Discipline for Duty Part 4

Text:  Numbers 15: 37-41, 1 John 4:7-21, Hebrews 12:14-17

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.

Scripture: 

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears

BIG IDEA: Disciplined for Duty Part 4

INTRODUCTION:

On Mother’s Day, 1971 PB came close to making two mothers bereft.  As he came to a corner marked 45 mph, he took the corner at 60mph. As he hit the corner he lost traction, swung into a telephone pole and nearly killed the children of two mothers.  He did that not just because he was a dope but because he refused to take seriously the warning on the yellow diamond sign that said 45 MPH! We all often ignore warnings in our lives. We all, like an 18 year old boy, think that we can ignore warnings and come out unscathed. People smoke cigarettes and think they are not the one to get cancer. People drink and think they will not become an alcoholic. We find ourselves overweight, diabetic or heart attack victims.  We are warned not to date or marry an unbeliever.  Scripture tells us to guard our heart and we think we can ignore this warning.  We are warned here that we are to strive after holiness.  The call to holiness is far more important than watching what you eat drink or how fast you drive. The warning here is that we are to fight after holiness because if we don’t we don’t see the Lord.  Jesus says it in the beatitudes this way: blessed who those who are pure in heart for they will see the Lord. The warning is this – without holiness, no one will see the Lord.

REVIEW:

Last week we looked at this concept of holiness. Sometimes we think of holiness as a rigidity that has no joy or delight in it.  But as we looked at the word holiness we saw that it not only means to be filled with moral rectitude but it also means that there is a devotedness to God. The word devoted has two connotations. The first is to be devoted to a person. Certainly today many mothers will hear that their children are devoted to them. The second connotation is a set apartness for a specific purpose. As believers in Christ, we are devoted to the use and purpose of God so that the perfection and love of God might be reflected not only to other people but back to Him. All we are and all we do extends His reputation and shines light on Him.

Today we are going to dig deeper to understand the attribute we call holiness in God. We will look at what it is so that next week we can understand what holiness looks like in the child of God.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: Look at holiness as an essential quality of God

Point 2: Look at holiness as a practical attribute of God

 

Point 1: Look at holiness as an essential quality of God

When we speak of God singular, we generally think in terms of God the Father.  Then we have Jesus and the Holy Trinity.  But here we are speaking of the Godhead.

Moral perfection is essential:  meaning it is part of the essence. One way to hear essence is a character that makes a thing a thing. For instance, the essence of a diamond is hardness and clarity and brightness.   Another way we can speak of essence is like if we were able to squeeze God down to His essence, what would it be? It would be holiness. So when we talk about God’s essence; it is His holiness. God says be holy because I am holy.

Here is a rather long quotation from the Puritan, Stephen Charnock in his magisterial treatment of the attributes of God:

“The notion of …[the] God [of the Bible] cannot be established without separating from him whatsoever is impure and bespotting both in his essence and actions. Though we conceive him infinite in majesty, infinite in essence, eternal in duration, mighty in power, wise and immutable in his counsels, merciful in his proceedings with men, and whatever other perfections may dignify so sovereign a Being, yet if we conceive him destitute of this excellent perfection and imagine him possessed with the least contagion of evil, we make him but an infinite monster, and sully all those perfections we ascribed to him before; we rather own him [think of Him] a devil than a God. It is a contradiction to be God and to be darkness, or to have one mote of darkness mixed with light. It is a less injury to him to deny his being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God.”

Consider:

A) No other attribute of God is tripled; holy, holy, holy. You never find in the scripture loving, loving, loving or mighty, mighty, mighty or faithful, faithful, faithful but God chooses to triple His holiness. In the Hebrew language, they didn’t have the word very. So if you wanted to say “very” you said it twice! God chooses to show His essence in the tripling of this attribute.

B) He singles out His holiness by which He swears by. We swear by the Word of Truth, the Bible, that we will tell the truth. What does God swear by? He swears by Himself. In Psalm 89:34 God says“If I lie to David, let me never be considered as holy, or thought trustworthy by men or Angels. He swears by His holiness!  He swears by the highest attribute that He has.

C) When the Father redeems a lost sinner, the attribute that He gives to the new born person is His holiness. SO we can look in Ephesians 4:24 – put on the new self…. In true righteous and holiness. That is what He wills that His children will be and show as a sign of the relationship to the Father. The sign of your sonship is your holiness.

When David prays his heart longing, it is to see the beauty of the Lord (Psalm 27:4) where? IN the holiness of his temple. Where did the presence of God dwell in the tabernacle? In the temple? It was in the holy of holies. He is separated three layers away from His creation.

D) If God were not holy, He would cease to exist. He cannot be God and unholy. It is necessary that He is holy. We are thankful for this because His judgement without holiness would be fearful. If God loved sin, He would cease to exist.

Point 2:Look at holiness as a practical attribute of God

How does this come down into my life practically? What does it mean to me that God is holy?

A) God never wills anything contrary to His character. So everything God does, wills, purposes is a result of His character – the essence of holiness. He always knows the right thing to do. We don’t. We might think we do!  God never has to weigh the alternatives. He also knows fully. He is not hampered by insufficient knowledge, fear of the unknown, memories of the past or lack of information. God is never trapped by these things.

B) He is never uncertain.

C) He has the ability to do what He knows is right. His knowledge begets action so His actions are perfect in holiness. You might know what is right to do but you may be incapable of following through because you are afraid of the consequences. God never has this problem. We hesitate so often to do what is right because we enjoy the fruits of disobedience far more than we have confidence in the fruits of obedience.

D) He is free from any restraint in His holiness. His holiness is infinite.

E) His holiness is unchanging. It is immutable. God does not choose to be holy. He IS holy. If he chose to be Holy then that would mean He could chose to not be Holy.

So whatever is your circumstance, the holy God has chosen the best situation for you because He knows the situation and He has the ability to carry it out and He has no hesitancy. This comes right on the heels of discussion of God’s discipline.  God has chosen to discipline me so that I may be holy. When we don’t celebrate our lot in life or say with David that the lines of our life have fallen in pleasant places then we say that God’s decision in my life is an unholy decision.

One other piece – here’s an ultimate practicality of the holiness of God: the plan for redemption from sin. God’s holiness is exhibited and proven in the cross. His holiness is shown in the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus Christ in order that He might bring persons to Himself. Because God is holy, He hates sin. We tolerate sin; we laugh at sin. We don’t hate sin like God hates sin. To love holiness is to hate sin. God’s perfection, His essence is that He loves holiness. He loves Himself and He cannot help but hate anything that is opposed to His holiness. IF God did not hate evil, then He would hate Himself.  We need to consider this because we have an inclination not to hate sin; to justify sin, even to blame God for making us the way He has made us. We need to understand that God hates all sin. We need to ask God for a burning hatred of God in our lives. How is this shown? It is shown in the cross. Sin broke the relationship that God had with Adam and Eve. They had a sweet fellowship with God. Because of sin, that intimacy was destroyed. There was a catastrophic change in human- creator relationships. Not only does God hate the sin that caused the disruption, He hates the disruption that sin caused. God can’t live without peace. I know this because on a hill we see a cross raised and we hear the desperate heartbroken cry “My God My God why have you forsaken me?”  Who cries out this way? Who’s throat constricted with dryness and pain cries out these words? The one who is called “this is my beloved son”. It is the only begotten son of God. The most perfect relationship has been broken.  The father hates the sin so much that He is willing to forsake His son. The answer is because He loves holiness and He loves so much that He wants the disruption over with. So He pours out His hatred of sin upon His son so His holiness may be restored and the relationship repaired. His holiness is proven by the death of His only begotten son. And that is the most incredible and practical proof of the holiness of God. Salvation is granted to all who will take the fruit from the tree called Calvary; that fruit is His holiness.

Upon taking that gift, He says I see only the perfection of my son. The cross is the purest and surest emblem of God’s love for us. But do not miss this – we have to be careful that we do not make ourselves the supreme object of love at the cross. It is holiness. God loves His holiness and because it is so precious to Him it pleased Him to bruise the Son. God and His holiness are central to the cross. The holiness is central; not human beings. Anyone who receives the gift of the purchased holiness of Christ for us will be wrapped and robed in His holiness and God’s detestation will be removed.  His love for His holiness caused the death of Christ so that He might restore the image in us.

Conclusion:

Holiness is essential and practical in your day to day life!

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May 6, 2018 – Discipline for Duty, Part 3

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  May 6, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Discipline for Duty, Part 3

Text: Psalm 47, Matthew 28:16-20, 1 Peter 1, Hebrews 12:11-17

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.

SCRIPTURES: 

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears

REVIEW:

Discipline: There have been faithful people and these people have become a great cloud of witness who chant to us “God is faithful”.  Then as we come to Chapter 12 the author says so then continue to run the race. Do not become discouraged with discipline.  The reason that He has disciplined us is so that we might grow in the holiness in God.

Peace: He says therefore strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

INTRODUCTION:

There are probably 3 groups of us in the building: a) Those of us who have read the entirety of God’s Word; b) Those of us who have never read the Bible through and c) Those who have sought and tried out of reading the Bible from beginning to end starting in Genesis.

We sail through Genesis fairly easily reading the fairly straightforward narratives of the creation of the World, the first human beings, the entrance of sin, the exponential growth of sin, the flood, the dispersion of the human race at Babel, the call of Abraham, the establishment of the Covenant and the history of his son, Isaac, the grandsons Jacob and Esau and the movement of Jacob and his twelve sons 70 persons in all to Egypt. Exodus, too, is clear and easy. We are given the ten plagues, the deliverance of the whole of the people of Israel, easily two million or more in number out of their slavery, the giving of the ten commandments on Mount Sinai and the instructions for assembling the tabernacle and building its furnishings.

But then we come to Leviticus with all its laws, instructions about priests, and a wide variety of sacrifices. Here we bog down with lists of the kinds of animals that can and cannot by eaten, instructions for washings, leprosy, and even the kinds of fabric that could be used in the clothes the Jews were to wear. Almost every bit of this seems so foreign and even irrelevant to us, so we put it down and move to something more interesting. If you were read carefully you would see that the first fifteen chapters are a manual for worship, priestly function and sacrifices that were to be offered so people might live in covenantal relationship with God. The remaining 11 chapters deal with ethic, morality and what we would call case law, that is how to apply the Ten Commandments to everyday situation. However, if were to soldier on and come to the end of the eleventh chapter you are given a very clear statement for the whole of this opaque book. For here you would discover two verses that serve as the unifying theme of the whole book.

In Chapter 11:44-45 – we read this

“For I am the LORD your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground.

45 For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”

The theme of the book of Leviticus is summarized in this short terse phrase: “Be holy because I am holy”.It is the theme of everything that God has given to us. This is exactly what we see in Hebrews 12.

When you think about salvation and consider the why of your conversion and decision to follow Christ, what attracted you to the gospel? Why today are you living a Christian life? For most of us, the first attraction or reason to come to the gospel is for benefits – forgiveness, heaven, peace, holiness. The reason that we come to Christ ought to be that our very happiness depends on our holiness. So when we come to this verse today we come out of the purposes of God’s discipline for His people. One of the things he wants us to be is peacemakers and peacekeepers. Last week we saw that each of us has a duty to work at peace and be the initiator of that peace.

Now we come to the next part of the verse.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: The duty of holiness

Point 2: Definition of holiness

Point 3:  What’s the ability or enabling that we have for holiness?

Point 4:  Next week we will work on understanding what striving means

 

Point 1: The duty of holiness

Is this important thing found in our life?

“If there is not, then, at least a yearning in our hearts to live a holy life pleasing to God, we need to seriously question whether our faith in Christ is genuine.” Jerry Bridges, Pursuit of Holiness,

A) Some scripture:

Romans 6:22

22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

So between conversion and heaven is sanctification which is holiness.

Romans 12:1

I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Holiness is an expectation of the sacrifice of the live we live before God.

1 Corinthians 6:19

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 

The very reason of our conversion is our lives might be a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful[a] in Christ Jesus

The saints – the holy ones.

The reason for the election is that we should be holy and blameless

1Thessalonians 3:13

13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

2 Timothy 1:9

9 who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began

He called us to be holy people because of His own purpose and grace.

1 Peter 1:13

So holiness is an expectation. It is a reality and a duty

2 Peter 3:11

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness

So throughout the entirety of the New Testament we see there is a duty of holiness. The duty of holiness is because holiness is part of the purpose of the gospel.  We have been saved for the purpose of holiness.

B) What do we mean by this?

Go back to creation in Genesis.  There are two places where God speaks about the creation of man and woman.  In His image, He created them. That doesn’t mean we are “little gods” but rather we are image bearers. This means that every one of us has been created to reflect back to God and the people around us the character and person of the God who created us. We exist as image bearers in order that when God sees us and others see us they see a reflection of the perfection of God. So the very purpose of our creation was that we would reflect God to God. This forces us to ask a question. When people look at me – what do they see?  What do they see reflected out of our lives? Sadly they see anger, bitterness, discontent, they hear shouts  of“look at me”. When people look at you do they see discontent? All too often people see a desire to reflect our own glory to anyone who would listen.  Twice this week Pastor Burt heard people discussing the purpose of life. The sports show only asked the question to make a joke. But in a sermon Pastor Burt listened to the pastor asked Siri what is the purpose of life. The purpose of life is as an image bearer that I would reflect God back to God and to others. For every one of us the purpose of life question is one that all of us have to answer.  For a child the purpose of life is to make mommy and daddy happy. As teens the meaning of life changes to people noticing us. Why am I here? Life seems cruel and pointless. Sometimes it seems desparate – what’s the reason? Why is this all happening? Here’s what I know: the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. What is it to glorify God?  I know that’s what I am supposed to be doing.  To reflect back the essence, the personality of who God is. As I do that I honor Him and I show others the beauty and majesty of God.

How do you glorify God? The whole answer to the question is I glorify God as I live out the reality of being an image bearer.  So this duty is the explanation of when God says I am holy, be holy as I am.  Old covenant people and new covenant people – be holy. Why this duty?  It is a duty because it is the purpose of life.

Now we have a problem here. All too often we think that God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ in self-centered ways.  We hear the gospel in terms of ourselves – you need a savior; you need to be delivered from hell; hell is God’s punishment to each individual who has sinned and all have sinned. We have to be careful we don’t hear it this way.  We can’t hear the gospel that way. We need to hear it in such a way that says that the holiness of God is so great that He must send a redeemer in order that His people might reflect His perfection back to Him. Salvation is primarily about God receiving the reflection of His own holiness back to himself.  When we hear the gospel in man-centered terms we are thankful to be delivered. BUT that is not the end of salvation.  It is not the terminus. It is not the end of the line. Forgiveness, redemption, new birth, promise of heaven are just the beginning point so that God has changed you and me in order that He might have a dwelling place for His spirit in order that we might reflect His person back to Him.  So the duty of holiness is to reflect God to God.

Point 2:Definition of holiness

That doesn’t help us much if we don’t know the definition of holiness.  We see holiness as a bunch of rules.  Holiness means to be “other than”. So God is separated from, God is free from, God is without sin or blemish on His character. There is no wickedness or sin in Him. There’s a problem with that definition that we can say this way. We can’t define God or the attributes of God in terms of what God has made. If I say God is different from His creatures, it is logically correct to say that before there was a fall, God was not holy because there was nothing to be separate from. So we can’t define him in contrast to creation. Sin didn’t exist before creation but God has always been holy.

We have in scripture the trinity referred to as Holy Father, Holy Son and Holy Spirit. The trinity is the Holy trinity. They, each one, have been eternally holy – before there was anything to contrast to. Ferguson suggests that this holiness is seen as a relational devotedness to one another. The Father is fully committed to the Son who is committed to the Spirit who is totally committed to and loves the Father. So that the Holy Father is not in distinction against sin but positively as devotion to one another. Then comes creation. God’s absolute love for Himself is His holiness. Instead of using separation, use devotion to God.

“What the is God’s holiness?

What do we mean we say, Holy Father, Holy Son, Holy Spirit, and Holy Trinity?

We mean the perfectly pure devotion of each of these three persons to the other two. We mean the attribute in the Trinity that corresponds to the ancient words that describe marriage; ‘forsaking all others, and cleaving only unto thee’—a absolute, permanent, exclusive, pure, irreversible, and fully expressed devotion.”   Ferguson

Holiness is devotion to God.

This helps us when we come to the furnishings of the temple. The dishes were to be devoted to the use of God for His glory.

The second word that helps us comes from Bonar

“Holiness is likeness to God, to Him who is the Holy One of Israel, to whom the laud in heaven as Holy, Holy, Holy.”

We want to have our lives conformed to what we know about God, to His character as He has revealed Himself to us. You cannot be confirmed to God in His omnipresence. We can’t be everywhere at once. We can’t conform ourselves to His knowledge, power, self-sufficiency, self-existence, His love, His mercy, His hatred of sin. But God has given us instruction in the 10 commandments which are reflections of God’s character to us. As you obey these commandments, you will reflect who God is to Him.

The character of God is expressed to us in the 10 commandments.  This is who God is. As you obey these commandments you show the beauty of His person to Him and the world.

So holiness is a devotion to the person of God in my life and conformity to His character as He has revealed Himself to me.Without your holiness, no one around you will see the Lord.

Point 3:How can I be holy?

The reason that we struggle is because although we are created as mirrors of the character of God, when sin came into the world that image became broken.  If you look into a cracked mirror the reflection back is corrupted. That’s what people see. We can’t see because of the fog on the mirror. The mirror of our lives has been fogged over by our sin. But when Jesus comes into our lives, He fixes cracks, He wipes away the fog. So when people look at us they see the beauty of the restored Jesus in our lives. Christ in you. The Holy Spirit in you.  Maybe there are still some cracks but God continues to command us to strive towards Him.  Allow Him to continue to wipe off the fog. Ask God for a deeper, more intense hot devotedness to Him. Ask Him to bring our lives to conformity with Him in His law. That is what the gospel to come to do in our lives. It allows us to reflect God in a way that we could never do before. It’s about giving us the ability and the privilege of reflecting Him back to Him and others.

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April 29, 2018 – The Christian’s discipline is to Make Us Fit for Duty, Duty to God and Duty to Man

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  April 29, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: The Christian’s discipline is to Make Us Fit for Duty, Duty to God and Duty to Man

Text: Psalm 39, 1 Corinthians 13, Hebrews 12:11-17

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.

SCRIPTURE:

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears. 

BIG IDEA: The Christian’s discipline is to make us fit for duty, duty to God and duty to man. Duty to others is the pursuit of peace.

INTRODUCTION:

The author has been encouraging us to understand that God loves us as a Father and also disciplines us.  In v12 he says “lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees” because sometimes the discipline of  God can be wearing upon us and cause us to despair and doubt His goodness.

REVIEW:

We have instructions; we have commands of duty in these verses. We have “do dodo” and “don’t don’t”. I wonder when you hear these commands (dos and don’ts), how do you hear them? What is the response of your heart? We need to be honest as we answer this?Martin Lloyd Jones has written, “is there anything that so thoroughly tests our whole profession of the Christian faith as our reaction to it when it calls upon us to live a certain kind of life?”

That’s a very searching question. What is my reaction to the Lordship? the call of duty? the demands of God on my life?

He goes on to say this: “We may like to hear the gospel with its grand good news and all that it has to offer, but we do not always feel quite so pleased when it goes on to call us to live in a particular way.”

We have such an injunction in front of us this morning. We have a demand for a certain kind of duty and our hearts are going to be judged, tested, exposed to our own seeing in the way that we react to this very demanding call to duty in the first 5 words of v14: “strive for peace with everyone.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1:The command of peace

Point 2: The duty of peace

Point 3: Our responsibility in peacemaking

Point 4: Applicationsin the form of questions

 

Point 1:The command of peace

The goal of discipline is holiness that we might have the peaceful fruit of righteousness. If we are being disciplined, we must strive for peace. What might look like disjointed commands are really part and parcel of the message.  Run the race.  Keep going because your Father loves you and He disciplines you for your life. As you encourage one another – strive for peace and strive for holiness.

a) So we have a call to peace. We need to ask ourselves what is peace? What does the word mean? In Greek it is Irene. In general, it is cessation of conflict. Ceasing of animosity – the calm after or before the storm.

b) There is also a peace that the world gives to its own. The world system, the culture of mankind, gives a peace to its people. The world tells these people to be at peace because you are OK. So the inhabitant of this world go numbly, blindly and skipping along. They are told by the world that there will be tough times in life but there is no issue with God. You are OK.  There’s no conflict with the individuals morals, values and goals. The world says we tolerate you as you are – you are OK.

c) There’s also a peace that the unsaved person has. They have a certain level of peace within themselves. There is a great tragedy in this person. They go through life without knowing that they are bound for the end of their life where they will meet the punishment of God. There is a difference between peace and not liking something about yourself.  You try to fix a bad habit in your life but you are still at peace with who you are – you are still pretty sure that you are OK,  you just have some lacks that you need to fix.  Most of the world thinks they are OK.  This is why the Law of God needs to be part of the story of human beings.  Even the summary of the Law in the 10 commandment is meant to awaken peaceful people out of their slumber. The threatening of the Law need to be thundered so the sweet drops of God’s love might make an impact into the self-satisfied heart.

d) The good news is that when the law is preached and God begins to take the scales off blind eyes, this blind dull unfeeling dead person who is at peace with himself will begin to realize that all that matters is what God says about you; what the word of God says about you. For people who think they are OK, they are suddenly confronted with what the word says. You need peace with the one who created you. The good news is that in your unpeace, you can find peace.

It’s possible that someone says I am not an enemy of God; there’s no warfare. I like the idea of God. God’s Word will say to you then – Is God the ruler over you? Are you delighted to seek to obey His commandments? If you are not happy to have God be the King of your life (rather than you) then you haven’t realized that you are at war with God because He is the only rightful ruler.  The good news is God himself became the peacemaker. He sent His son to take away the hatred of God and put within us a new heart and a new life and we have peace with God.  You may be OK to think of God being at war with you but God is not OK with that. God is not content, not satisfied to leave the warring heart in a state of peace. Because He was not content, He sent His son to make peace. The way of peace is only through Jesus Christ.

e) Having peace with God we can have peace of conscience. Our conscience is given to us by God to tell us what we have done wrong. I still have a conscience telling me “failure failure, failure; disobedience, disobedience, disobedience”. But the peaceful conscience will say “Yes I have rebelled but Christ has covered them”. My conscience is at peace because I have procured the forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

f) In this verse the author is not talking about peace internally or with God but he is talking about peace on the horizontal level – be at peace with all people. This is where the call to duty begins to expose my heart. There are relationships in my life where we don’t think we can have peace and we begin to make excuses to God. We are not really interested in doing what God says.

When he says be at peace with everyone, that’s a lot of people!

Who are these people?

  1. The first category of “all people” are the Jewish people who are hearing this. They are being persecuted.  They are suffering for their faith. The apostle says have peace with all men. It’s true that most of us have lived most of our lives with a fairly comfortable relationship with the world around us. Paul says all who are Godly will suffer.  I look around and think that I have not suffered. We are not persecuted because we pursue a Godly and holy life. There are times that will arise when our desire to live according the God’s word will raise up hostility and scorn around us. Our life should be different than the world around us. Recently, the New Yorker magazine spoke with some alarm about the pervasive infiltration of NYC by Chic Filet and it’s overly Christian values. Because of their moral stand and their stand as Christians, they are called “creepy”.  So there will be persecution at some level. We need to be careful when we think about persecution. If there is mockery against us it should be because of the strength of our values and not because we are intolerant. There will be people against you – those times will come. Make sure it’s not because you have been a jerk. A lot of time we bring our persecution on ourselves. Make sure we are being persecuted because we love others and we love God and we stand up for the truth not because we are hard to get along with us. When we are annoyed by the “children of this world”, let us seek to live at peace with them.
  2. More narrowly this is peace within the body of Christ. Here’s a great tragedy for us: those who find themselves as part of the household of faith find themselves in contentions, discord and separations.Paul says walk rightly with humility, gentleness and patience eager to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace. What a tragedy it is when those called by God dispel the spirit of unity.

This peace is built on love – love for others; not love for self. Paul says the whole of the Law hangs on “love your neighbor”. We the church show the world something completely different by the way we forgive one another. This is not to say that churches are wrong to separate on the basis of doctrine or practice.

  1. Even more narrowly than peace within the church is peace with everyone includes our nuclear family: husband and wives; parents and children; aunts and uncles. Charles Spurgeon asked his congregation in a sermon on this text,

“Can we call a man a Christian who will not speak with his own brother? He goes on to say, “When we hear of strifes between husband and wife, between brother and sister between [parent] and child, we are ashamed that the name of Christ should be connected with such unhallowed contentions. Instead of bidding such persons follow after holiness, I would speak to them as unto carnal and bid them first being forth fruits [showing repentance]. Do not even publicans and sinner love their own relatives? Are they not often forgiving and gentle? How is it then, that you, calling yourself a follower of Christ, allow enmity to reign in your spirit?”

  1. Peace with everyone includes the large at large, the church and our most intimate natural relationships. There may be some that say“you don’t really understand the issues. I do love generally but I can’t get along with this person in the church; you don’t know how much pain I have suffered at the hands of this family and you are calling me to this peace.” No matter what your situation, you are not exempt from striving after peace with everyone.
  2. Lastly peace includes our enemies. These are people who are out to get us. How do we treat them? Jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

There’s the list of people we are supposed to have peace with. Next, We want to look at the duty and the responsibility of peace

Point 2:The duty of peace

We have a duty. Salvation is not of works but your life is to have works in it. The Christian life is a life of duty. MacArthur published a book called “Faith Works”.  On first thought we might think“It works!”That’s not what he meant. If you have faith, it will be a working dutiful faith. One of those duties is to strive after peace with everyone.

It’s what Jesus says in Matthew 5: 13-16 – do not put your light under the basket so that the world can see your good words.  Five times in Titus it talks about how to do good works. It’s not just a good idea – it’s a duty to live at peace with everyone.

It is not an elective; it is not a course we can take that is not a part of the regular curriculum of the Christian life. It’s a required course. It is a duty to be at peace with our neighbors. It makes me sad that this is a duty because it is necessary. Doesn’t it sadden you that we have to be told to be at peace with our family members?  The power of sin is so strong, the love of ourselves is so big in our lives that we have to be commanded to live at peace with all people.

Point 3: Our responsibility in peacemaking

We are told to strive after peace. Remember strive is to make great efforts; to struggle; to fight vigorously; to chase after. It’s like a hunter in the field going after his prey, he follows the prey across hill and dale until finally he gets his prey. Don’t give up – fight, work vigorously for peace with everyone. The responsibility is ours.  The NIV says this: make every effort to live at peace with everyone. Work hard; struggle.

The responsibility here is not waiting for others. It is yours first.  We know Matthew 18, Matthew 5.  Now listen to 1 Peter 3: 8-12

“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.10 For “Whoever desires to love lifeand see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil  and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

The responsibility of peace making is yours and mine. It is sometimes long work.

Proverbs 18:19 says this:

“A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city, and quarrels is like the bars of a castle.”

It might take a long time to batter down the walls. Sometimes you can’t do it by yourself. You need the help of someone else.  Do you have a situation where you tried to get along, there’s been hurt and broken relationship and when you try to explain there’s an impasse – if so get help. It’s important work. Don’t give up by using the world’s methodologies. If your boundary is love, forgiveness, acceptance, peace – then YES.  If your boundary is don’t do this to me then we have missed the duty of “strive for peace”

Point 4: Application; sin the form of questions

A) Are you in relationship of peace with God? Have you accepted the love of God? If you can’t answer YES – don’t rest on the peace the world has given you. Call out to the peacemaker Jesus that He might end the warfare.

B) Are you in a broken relationship with someone? Is that dispute because they have offended you? Don’t wait for an apology. Consider my own pride. Rights, hurts, and anger are about not getting my way. Our offenses are often about not getting on our way. Have you considered the poison of bitterness that will someday eat right thru you and ruin your peace. Have you considered the necessity of the determination that we are commanded to forgive others as we have been forgiven. If I do not forgive then I am saying that the hurt done to me is greater than the offense against the holiness of God that each of my sins has exacted upon.

Or is it because you have offended them? Are you standing on your rights that you were misunderstood? There’s humility that needs to happen here. Ask for forgiveness.  Show that we love them enough to take the blame ourselves.

C) Have your pursued your duty in this broken relationship? Have you stopped short of doing everything you can?

D) Have you stopped to consider the pain that others are experiencing because of your disobedience to make peace? It’s not just between you and the other person. Have you considered the smear you have put on the name of Christ?

E) Give no encouragement to those who love contention and determine to stay in a bad relationship. Whatever you do, don’t take sides ina contention that is not yours. Don’t even listen unless both sides are there. If you do, you add contention. Don’t lean on your own understanding or interpretation of tone of voice. Don’t be defensive. Don’t reject even the smallest attempt at making peace even if it seems insincere – grab the smallest straw.

Conclusion:

We see bridges across canyons and wonder how the bridge was ever made? Across the two sides of the chasm –one person shoots an arrow with a thread and it lands on the other side. The other guy pulls the thread and ties a cord and then adds a rope and then adds a cable. You don’t build a bridge by shooting a cable first; you build it by shooting a thread across the chasm.  Begin to pull. If all you have is a thread then shoot it across the chasm.

It’s for your good, the good of others and the glory of God.

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April 22, 2018 – Discipline for Duty

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  April 22, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Discipline for Duty

Text: Hebrews 12:12-17

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass. 

SCRIPTURE:

  Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

BIG IDEA: Discipline for Duty

REVIEW:

Over the last two weeks we have been looking at the reality of discipline from God in the life of His children. This morning we want to consider is that when we are confronted with the discipline of the heavenly Father in the life of those of us who are His, we don’t want to think of it only that we respond passively to the discipline. It is possible that when we come to the teaching of the Father’s discipline in our life that we don’t understand that we have no responsibility of activity in our response. And so it could be that we would fight against a sense of stoic passivity. For when the Father is active in disciplining His children, the children need to be active in their reception of the discipline. There is a duty in discipline or to say it differently we are disciplined in order to perform duty. That’s where we are going to go this morning. It’s not just a sitting back and letting God do.

INTRODUCTION:

These verses start with “therefore”.  Immediately we see this is connected with what came before. The author is saying since the things I have said are true.

A) But what do we know? What is the truth about discipline?

Since we know there is a truth and goodness behind whatever our afflictions or hardships or anything that come under the umbrella of discipline by God.  We know that it is never meant to be understood as judicial punishment. The Father in the life of childis a Father in the life of a child not a judge in the courtroom. He comes and disciplines and He does not punish. But we also know that our discipline is often a result of consequences of our actions.  What a great thing that is. Think about it – if God had not built in consequences for our foolish, stupid, rebellious actions, what would we do?  We would continue to be stupid, foolish and disobedient. So the discipline is a correcting, not a judging. It’s to turn us in the right direction. It is to tell us“Don’t do this because it’s deadly”. So there’s a correctiveness to our discipline. Sometimes discipline feels like God is being mean to us.  Often times the discipline is meant by God to prevent us from going in a direction we should not go in.

B) What else do we know?

Since – therefore- we know these things are true – we know the Father loves us. Last week we said that the Fatherhood of God implies this.And the character of God defines the discipline.  If our God is a holy, just, fair, powerful and loving God then we know the character of the Father is also the character of the discipline that comes into our lives. And we know that the fruit of this discipline is that we will live and have the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

C) So, knowing, or being convinced of these things, there are

Three things we need to do:

1) Strengthen and straighten

2) Strive after peace

3) Seek holiness

And then there are three things that we need to avoid 1) missing out on the grace of God; 2) Immorality in our lives; 3) Ungodliness.

And we need to remember that there will come a time when the time for repentance is gone and the door is shut.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: Importance of the Old Testament

Point 2:Lift up drooping hands, strengthen weak knees, and straighten the paths.

 

Point 1:Importance of the Old Testament

When we look at the passage, in order to make his point, the author of this word of warning has used quotations from the OT in these 6 verses. Four OT passages are quoted or alluded to in these 6 verses and he already quoted or alluded to two other OT passages in the first 11 verses.  It is easy to see the OT reference because it is indented in paragraph from. We are signaled by v5 that it is from the OT (Proverbs 3) and verse 6 is from Psalm 94:12.

When we come down to v12 we have 2 more OT allusions. You will have recognized this because we just read that in Isaiah 35. So now we have 3 quotations in these verses.We also read the entirety of Proverbs 4  because the last two verses say make sure you keep your feet in a straight path. So we have another OT quotation. Then when we come to the next verse – it is a direct quotation from Deuteronomy 29:15 where the people are warned against idolatry.  From there he goes to Genesis 20 where he talks about Esau. Later in the chapter we have Exodus 20 and further down it goes to Genesis 3. So we have in this chapter 8 separate allusions or quotations to the OT.

This is a reminder to us that the OT is important to God. Obviously, the writer of Hebrews only had the OT.  He did not have the New Testament.  So here’s this author who is so steeped in the words of the old covenant that they just come bubbling out. He can’t help but talk about the OT. Spurgeon said of John Bunyan: if you prick him anywhere he bleeds the Bible. That’s like the author of Hebrews. That might frustrate us because we don’t know the OT so well but his audience did. That’s all they had. Now that being true does not mean that because the old covenant has been replaced by the new covenant – it doesn’t mean that we only need the New Testament today. 1Cor 10:11 we read “these things were written for your instruction”. The same Paul says in Romans 13:15 “all the things that are written in the past are for your good” When our Lord Jesus seeks to encourage the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He does the same thing.   You will never understand the beauty of the New Testament until you understand the OT. The OT is revealed in the NT.  We need to immerse ourselves in the OT.   The author uses the OT to show us his sermon.

Point 2:Lift up drooping hands, strengthen weak knees, and straighten the paths.

A) We go to the OT and the author reminds us of what Isaiah said in chapter 35: make straight paths for your feet. He is continuing the same metaphor that he began in verse 1 where he said let us run the race with endurance. A runner always keeps his arms up to motivate himself. His hands droop when he gets tired. There is the reality that those of us who are under the discipline of the Lord, fighting against the obstacles of the world – we get tired. Instead of running we find ourselves limping and we are not sure we can go on. He says – here then is what we need to do. We need to lift up the hands. You need to strengthen the knees. You will not run the race of endurance if you are not regularly refueled, rested and refreshed. Here is the sweetness of our creator God who instituted the rhythm of 6 days of work and commanded the 7th day for rest.

How can I get rest?  God says take the time I have given you to refuel and rest.  When He gives the 4th commandment He says you shall do no work nor your manservant, etc. He has given the entirety of the animal world a day of rest. If we don’t take it then to whom to blame.

First step is to take advantage of what God has given me. God has given me a rhythm in my life. He has given me food. He has given me His Word. He has given me the body of Christ, fellowship and friendship.  If I am feeling unrested, empty tank – ask myself have I been using the gifts of God?

B) Whose hands are to be lifted? Whose knees are to be strengthened?

There is a difference between the Isaiah passage quoted and the way the Hebrews verse is translated. When we read our ESV translation of Hebrews 12: 12. in our ESV we have “lift your drooping hands…” In Isaiah we have “lift the dropping hands…” Which is correct?  The “your” before hands and knees is not in the Greek text. Why is it added in the ESV? Here’s what they have done. They have taken “your” comes from “your path” since it is your feet it’s obviously your knees and your hands. Apparently by the considered opinion of the scholars who translated the scripture, some think it can be seen one way: the hands and others think it can be another way: your hands.

The first way I think how can I strengthen my own hands? How can I pull myself up by my bootstraps? I need to help other people? I need to be a source of strengthening and encouragement to other people? How can I do that if I myself am not strengthened and rested  So it’s not an either/or but a both/and.

C) Here’s the first thing that I need to do in my active response to the good and fair and just and careful discipline of God. My active response is not to become weary under the discipline of God. Rather at those points where I can do what I can do to strengthen myself I need to be strong. When I am strong I need to strengthen others.

How can we do this strengthening? You already know. It’s what the author says in v17. You know that we as spiritual beings need to refuel and refresh and strengthen our spiritual persons  just the same as we need to refuel and strengthen our physical persons.  Way I strengthen my physical person is 1) eating 2) resting 3) exercise. So I as a spiritual being, as a Christian person, rather than looking at the frustrations of life and passively saying I can’t take it anymore and I am just weary and tired and I am just give up.  No he says strengthen your knees and lift up your hands. How am I going to do that?

I am going to feed myself. Make sure I am eating food that God gave me.

Radio program: Psalms for breakfast.  You are what you eat. Eat the Word of God. We need to eat right, so that we can strengthen properly.  Emphasis in God’s Word and comes out of our reformation heritage,  God nurtures and nourishes and strengthens His children through what are referred to as the ordinary means of grace. God does not say lift up the drooping hands by doing extraordinary things. He doesn’t say go have a vision. He says Use the worship of God with His people on a regular basis. When we worship with other people we hear the word of God and we ask God to plant the seed and water that seed that would bring fruit. There is something different about being under the word of God rather than being in the word of God. So the ordinary means are corporate worship. We become refreshed and refueled. We help others become refueled when we gather together. We sit together under the word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. And then we encourage one another just by our presence.  PB gets discouraged. No matter how strong we look or seem, we find ourselves easily discouraged often too easily. It’s an encouragement when we gather and as PB watches and prays and thanks God for how He is growing and strengthening us and bringing progress.   As we look around the room, we are encouraged when we see persons in all walks of life here together, learning together, worshipping the same God together.  Do you think of worship as  agetting from God? We need to. I am bringing God a sacrifice of praise. If you look at the OT, often times when a sacrifice is instituted, people are instructed how and what to bring for a sacrifice and part of the instruction is to sit down and eat what’s left over of the sacrifice. So when we come on a Sunday morning, when we come to the Word of God, when we sit with other Christians and we see it only as a sacrifice of our giving up something of value or a duty that God demands of us, we stop short.  Instead we need to say I am doing my duty, I am bringing my sacrifice and God also let’s me also eat of the sacrifice and I am nourished and fed and nurtured by the sacrifice of praise.

So we strengthen ourselves by investing our time and energy into those things that God has ordained.  And then we are strengthened and enabled to lift up the drooping hands and strengthen the weakened knees and the tired, weary, discouraged, depleted depressed brothers and sisters. It’s a dual duty; a dual activeness. When it seems like God’s discipline is just wearing us down, He gives us the command and privilege of being strengthened but strengthening others in our lives.

Here’s another way to think about it. Babies need to be fed. Sometimes we need to come to where we will be fed.People who are bed ridden often need to be fed. Sometimes we can feed ourselves and so we come to where we will be fed.

D) How can we put these together in a way that will be helpful?

1) First, make your own strength and vitality in Christ a priority.

a) God has set a banquet of the finest food,He has prepared a table for me. Let’s eat.

b) There is a time that has been set aside for you and me to refresh and refuel.

We must refresh ourselves – 1 in 7 – don’t fill all your hours with draining activity.

Take time to rest.

c) Take advantage of the honey in God’s discipline.

 

2) Second, commit to making the strength and vitality of others a priority.

a) We can’t strengthen others out of our lack of strength. So we need to strengthen ourselves. Butthere is a residual fruit that comes from our commitment to rest and eat at the banquet – there is strength for others. I can make a habit of being with others to encourage others. Be where God’s word is taught. Be in the fellowship of God’s people. It’s so tempting for us is to think that our best rest is a rest from God. That’s not rest – taking a day off from God. If someone is sick at home, it’s not a reason for the entire family to stay home. We make a commitment to help one another by being fed ourselves.

b) Another reason we continue to meet together is there is great damage, there is deep pain in the life of a congregation when people are absent or they absent themselves. In a small church in particular, we have a barely hanging on by a thread Sunday school program for our children. So if a family says this church is too weak for me my family because it doesn’t have a good children’s program or a singles program or whatever and they leave, the whole church suffers.  Or if someone leaves because of pain or bitterness, the whole church suffers. They take themselves out of the congregation. We can’t be strengthened and we can’t strengthen. We leave behind people who wonder where did they go? Why did they leave? Opens the rest of us up to the temptation of gossip. So we strengthen one another by staying with one another. Our presence encourages.

c) Our words encourage one another. If I am committed to the strength of vitality of others, let’s look for signs of discouragement in others and speak words of encouragement to them. Say to a young Mom ‘what a good job you are doing”. Words of encouragement to strengthen and also actions of encouragement – take the initiative. Don’t say “call me if you need anything” to families in grief. The person needs a creative action of help.  We have to look for ways to help and encourage others.

Conclusion:

If we do this, we will be able to be strengthened ourselves and strengthen others.  The hands that are falling down, the knees that are weak will be strengthened and encouraged and then we will be able to be active and not grow weary under the discipline of the Lord.

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April 15, 2018 – Antidote for Weariness

Posted on May 27, 2018 in Sermon Notes

Date:  April 15, 2018

Pastor Matthew Burt

Title: Antidote for Weariness

Text: Psalm 18: 1-30, 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18, Hebrews 12:3-11

Wellspring Church, Springfield, Mass.

SCRIPTURES:  Hebrews 12:3-11

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

BIG IDEA: Antidote for weariness is found by considering Christ and knowing who holds the rod of our discipline. Always remember that when the Lord brings a rod of discipline, there is honey at the end of the rod.

 

INTRODUCTION:

Given a choice would you rather suffer in obedience to God or sin in disobedience to God? You know the right answer but the right answer is not always the action of our lives. We have often chosen to disobey our conscience and God rather than suffer depravations that come from obedience. We have often determined we would rather not suffer.  Every Christian has to face the question – am I willing to suffer or am I going to sin?  Will I choose to obey God and live with the consequences?

REVIEW:

Last week we came to Hebrews 12:3 and read that we are called to consider Jesus. We all have times of pain, grief, confusion in our lives.  We might have enemies – external or internal.  We all need to have this passage because we grow weary, because we are tired and we are ready to throw in the towel. The apostle Paul says WAIT – consider Him – look at your suffering in proportion to the suffering of Jesus on your behalf.  Consider Him before you give up.  His whole life was a contradiction to the world he came to save. They spoke against who He claimed to be.

Listen to this from the 18th Century Scottish pastor, John Brown,

“The whole of our Lord’s history is a commentary of these words. They ridiculed him as a low-born, low-bred, fanatical madman; they branded him as a glutton and a wine-bobber (drunkard)—“a friend of publicans and sinners”—an imposter—a seditious person—and impious usurper of divine honors—a person in league with apostate spirits; and their conduct corresponded with their language. They laid snares for is life; and when after, through the treachery of our of his disciples, He was put into their hands, they treated him with the most contumely outs scorn and bavarois cruelty.” 

Your suffering is nothing compared to this so hang on!  Proportionately your suffering is small.

We were also challenged to consider his resistance to sin and sinners compared to our resistance to sin and sinners.  He resisted to the point of shedding blood; you and I have not – we might yet but so far we haven’t.  The Christian life must be understood as an ongoing conflict against sin. Always in this struggle, there’s a temptation to give up, to quit, to surrender, to renounce our loyalty to our captain and leave the field of battle.

Again, John Brown writes:

“Now what sort of solider are you, if the minor hardship of warfare dispirited you as to make yo think of abandoning your standard before you have received a wound, a cause of which you are not worthy to be defenders if you are not ready to shed the last drop of your blood! To use Dr. Owen’s words, ‘whatever befalls us on this side of blood is to be looked on as a fruit of divine tenderness and mercy.’”  

Lastly, in review, our author referred back to Proverbs 3:12 with these words, “My Son do not regard lightly the Lord’s discipline, for every so he loves he disciplines and he chastens every son he receives.” He says don’t forget how the Bible speaks directly to you.

When we looked at this we said don’t think lightly of the discipline of the Lord. It is a sign of God’s acceptance of you for Jesus Christ’s sake and that He loves you and cares for you.

OUTLINE FOR TODAY:

Point 1: Exhortation in verses 5 and 6 is both a warning and a teaching

Point 2: Fatherhood implies discipline; the character of the Father defines discipline, the purpose of the Father describes the fruit of discipline.

Point 3: So what do we do?

 

Point 1: Exhortation: A Warning and a Teaching

A) Don’t treat the hardships in your life lightly. Don’t treat them as nothing. Take time to consider them in relationship to the discipline of the Lord. How might I think lightly of the discipline of the Lord?

1) When I don’t consider that the good trustworthy God is the author of everything that comes into our lives. It is so easy for us to say this is just the natural order of things.  We say “it snowed yesterday” when rather we ought to say “God sent snow yesterday”. Or I got a headache yesterday rather than “God sent a headache yesterday”.  We disregard the discipline of the Lord when we relegate it to “it-ness” rather than recognize that all comes to pass from the hand of God.

2) Another way we might despise the discipline of the Lord is that we don’t even think why God might be doing this in my life: consequence, correction, or discipline. He washes out the bridge over the river of our destruction!

B) Warns us not to become fainthearted.

1) Don’t be discouraged. One of the way we can be discouraged is that we don’t see the fruits of our labors as we would like to see them. All of us have things in our lives that we have prayed for different results in our lives.  As a parent, you think I’ve invested so much in the lives of my children and I am just not seeing the results –I am going to give up. It could be as an employee or employer.  I am trying so hard and I am ready to give up. We despise the discipline of the Lord when we give up.

2) We proclaim that Jesus came to save sinners; we proclaim that there is hell and judgement and the world says NO there is not.  Who needs a Jesus? We get so tired of contend for the gospel. He says don’t get weary – even that contradiction is part of the discipline in your life.  Through ourselves back into Isiah 40 – renew their strength and mount up as on wings of eagles.

C) Don’t give up – He disciplines the one He loves. In the context of parenting we have heard “this hurts me more than it hurts you”. The road you are going down right now is killing me. Because I love you I want to stop you. Do not think this discipline is judgmental punishment.

Point 2: Three points of amplification: Fatherhood implies discipline; the character of the Father defines discipline, the purpose of the Father describes the fruit of discipline.

A) Fatherhood implies discipline: this is found in verses 7 and 8. If I call God my heavenly Father the very implication of that is Father’s discipline their children. SO if you call Him Father then we know there would be discipline and we should be grateful for that discipline.  IF there is no discipline, there is no Father.  It is so easy for us to look at someone who seems to have a pain free life.  If discipline or hardship does not mean God’s disfavor then it follows that a life of seeming happiness doesn’t imply God’s favor. Instead of asking if I am truly one of God’s children because I am having so much trouble.  A father who truly loves will guide, teach and discipline their children.  The child has restrictions – don’t go there or do this. That child would look at an orphan and see that that child has no rules, no chores – what a wonderful life he has since he has no dad to tell him what to do. That child doesn’t know that the lack of discipline is a curse. Liberty will produce ruin and heartache. In the same way when you see someone in your life who seems to have no heartache, no hardship don’t envy them – ruin is their only future. Pity them that they are fatherless. Care for them. This flies in the face of those who say just have enough faith!

B) Character of the Father defines that discipline. We can see this in verses 9-10. The character of our heavenly father is meant to encourage us. So it is important for us to know the character of our heavenly father. We can get an insight into the discipline in our lives when we understand His character. When you understand that He is a God of infinite power and strength, infinite mercy and love, infinite wisdom and He is doing what is good for you because He is totally good. The author here makes a couple of assumptions that aren’t necessarily our experience. One is that every father disciplines – we know this is not the case. The second assumption is that every father disciplines for the good of his child. We often act out if irritation, anger or selfish interests even when we are trying to do our best.  He also assumes that every child respects his father for his discipline. Hopefully those of us that are grown-ups can look back and say I can see that our parents did the best they could. I am glad that they cautioned me.  With these assumptions, he makes this point:  If our earthly father discipline us and we disciplined our kids – how much more will our heavenly father discipline us without defects and without a misunderstanding of what is good for us. Real life comes out of this. We don’t always see that God who is a holy God in order that we might be partakers of His character – bringing us to a place where we are like Him- perfect and holy!  It’s not just that he is trying to keep us out of trouble. He disciplines us so that we might be like Him. What is holiness in a person? Surely, it is moral rectitude. But it is also to think like God thinks. To love as He loves. To will what God wills; to desire and to want and then to do the kinds of things God does. What if we began to evaluate the hardships in our life in these terms?  That changes everything!  We ask how long – until you are perfect!  He wants us to be sharers in His holiness. Then we will have arrived.

C) The yield that will come of this discipline. The purpose of the Father describes the fruit of discipline. At the end of verse 9 is the word “live”. We will have true life when we submit ourselves under the disciplining hand of God and we are approaching holiness. Real life is being like God. A beautiful and luscious fruit is going to come out of this discipline. You keep on because you are being disciplined. You have to endure.  The advantages of discipline far outweigh the pain of discipline. How does he describe the fruit?  The pain yields righteousness.  Discipline will bring us to a place where the combat is over. You won’t have to be on your guard because you will have yielded the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  You will have no more of this fight. The discipline of God is meant to burst for the peaceful fruit of righteousness. There’s no more need for discipline – you have arrived!

Point 3: So What Do we do?

A) When hard times come, acknowledge and remember your sins. Acknowledge that you have given into temptations. We still seek this world’s substance for satisfaction. Say yup, I am not there yet. I still need discipline

B) Take the time to ask yourself what’s going on here? Where is my weakness? Admit – look again. Thank God I have a God who cares about me.

C) Humbly, thankfully, fearfully recognize that you have not yet nor will you ever get what you deserve by the discipline of God. Every day that you are out of the judgment of God, you are getting better than we deserve. Let us not take this for granted. He has withdrawn that which we deserve no matter how hard the rod beats. Ask God to pull back the curtain of your heart so that you might see the vermin and then close the curtain quickly.

D) Remember how tightly sin clings to us. It’s almost like we have bands on a barrel. The rod of God is beating upon the bands of sin in my life to break it down.

E) Don’t see your troubles as the will of the devil. Give glory to God. Give glory to your tender and loving Father. Don’t give glory to Satan in all this. Think about the length of time you have gone without this pain, this trouble, this hostility. Thank God for not bringing the discipline before now. God owes us nothing in terms of a pain free, trouble free life.

F) Remember always that all this is out of our God’s mere good pleasure. All of this is meant to bring us eternal wealth and real and true life. He wants to beat to death sin.

Conclusion:

So we do not give up. We continue to endure until God tells us it is over. Let us kiss the rod and taste the honey at the end and let that honey be an encouragement for us to always choose to suffer rather than to sin.

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