Monday, August 20, 2012

A Tale of Three Kings. Some years ago, longtime friend Dan Lenz gave me a little book which he felt would be helpful to me in light of some difficult times we were experiencing. The book was amazing! Today someone sent me a very condenced version of one part of the book. I'm posting it below. Tale Of Three Kings: Absalom By Gene Edwards A condensed version of the story of Absalom. I Recommend you read the full story of Saul, David and Absalom in his book, "The Tale of Three Kings." Which King are you? It warmed your heart to know a man like Absalom, who saw things so clearly. Discerning. Yes, that was the word that best described him—discerning. He could penetrate to the heart of any problem. Men felt secure just being with Absalom. They even longed to have time with him. Talking with him, they realized that they themselves were wiser than they'd realized. Such a revelation made them feel good. As he discussed problem after problem and solution after solution, men began to long for the day when this one would be their leader. He could right so many wrongs. He gave them a sense of hope. But this imposing, insightful man would never deliberately hasten the day of his own rule, of this they were certain . He was far too humble, too respectful of the present leader. Those around him began to feel a little frustrated that they would have to keep waiting for the better days of this man's rule. The more they sat in his living room and talked, the more they realized there were things presently amiss in the kingdom. Yes, things amiss which they had never thought of before. And problems. Problems were coming to light they had never dreamed of. Yes, they really were growing in wisdom and in insight. As the days passed, more and more of them came to listen. Word spread quietly. "Here is one who understands and has the answers." The frustrated came. They listened. They asked questions. They received excellent answers and began to hope. Heads nodded. Dreams were born. As time passed, there were more such gatherings. Ideas turned into stories, stories of injustice that others might have deemed trivial. But not this listener! Absalom was compassionate. And as those around him talked, the discovered injustices seemed to grow in number and severity. With each new story, men were more shocked at unfairness that was now, it seemed, rampant. But the wise young Absalom sat quietly and added not a word to these murmurings. He was too noble, you see. He always closed the evening conversations with an humble word of deference toward those with responsibility... But it was too much to expect that any man could sit quietly by forever. This endless parade of injustice was bound to stir even the most respectful man. Even the purest in heart would be smitten with anger. (And this man was certainly the very purest in heart!) Such a compassionate man could not forever turn his face from these sufferings nor forever remain silent. Such noble character as this had someday to speak out. Finally his followers, which he vowed he did not have, were almost livid. Their insights into the wrongdoings of the kingdom not only grew but abounded. They all wanted to do something about these endless injustices. At last, it seemed, the magnificent young Absalom might concede. At the outset it was only a word. Later, a sentence. Men's hearts leaped. Glee, if not joy, reigned. Nobility was at last arousing itself to action. But no! He cautioned them not to misunderstand. He was grieved, yes, but he could not speak against those in seats of responsibility. No, absolutely not. No matter how great the grievances, no matter how justified. He would not. Yet he grieved more and more. It was obvious that some reports drove him to agony. Finally, his righteous anger broke out in cool, controlled words of strength. "These things ought not to be." He stood, eyes blazing. "If I were in responsibility, this is what I would do..." And with these words, the rebellion was ignited. Ignited in all but one, that is. In the noblest and purest man in the room, this was not the case. Rebellion had been in his heart for years. He is both sincere and ambitious. A contradiction, perhaps, but true, nonetheless. He probably means some of what he says. But his ambition will continue long after he discovers his inability to do the things he promises. Righting the wrongs always becomes secondary to ascent to power. He (Absalom) was very emphatic that there should be more freedom in the kingdom. Everyone liked that. 'A people should be led only by God, and not by men,' he said. " Men should do only what they feel led of God to do. We should follow God, not a man.' I believe those were his words. He (Absalom) spoke of the great visions he had for God's kingdom—of the great achievements the people were capable of. On the other hand, he spoke of many changes he would make in the way the kingdom is run. Although he did not seem to notice it, he had stated two irreconcilable propositions. Many changes, more freedom. Absalom dreams. Dreams of what should be, of what will be: 'This is what I will do,' he says. But to fulfill those dreams, he must have the people's cooperation. Ah, this is the point men overlook. Such dreams rest totally on the premise that the people of God will be with the new leader, that all will see as he sees. Such men can envision no problems in there own future kingdom. What will Absalom do when people stop following him willingly? Ah, now there is a question. You see, there is no kingdom without discord. Even God had His critics in heaven, you know. All kingdoms follow a bumpy course. In the spiritual realm, a man who will lead a rebellion has already proven, no matter how grandiose his words or angelic his ways, that he has a critical nature, an unprincipled character, and hidden motives in his heart. Frankly, he is a thief. He creates dissatisfaction and tension within the realm, and then either seizes power or siphons off followers. The followers he gets, he uses to found his own dominion. Such a sorry beginning, built on the foundation of insurrection...No, God never honors division in His realm. "I find it curious that men who feel qualified to split God's kingdom do not feel capable of going somewhere else, to another land, to raise up a completely new kingdom. No, they must steal from another leader. I have never seen the exception. They seem always to need at least a few pre-packaged followers. Beginning empty-handed and alone frightens the best of men. It also speaks volumes of just how sure they are that God is with them. Their every word, if seen true, tells of their insecurity. There are many lands unspoiled and unpossessed. There are many people in other places waiting to follow a true king, a true man of God. I repeat myself. Why don't 'would-be kings and prophets' simply walk quietly away, alone, find another people in another place, and there raise up the kingdom they envision? Men who lead rebellions in the spiritual world are unworthy men. There are no exceptions.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

This weekend it was my privilege to teach on the first half of Daniel 9 -- Daniel's amazing prayer and confession of sin.

At the beginning of his prayer (Daniel 9:4)He praises God as "the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands."

I am overwelmed with the concept of God’s COVENANT OF LOVE.

A covenant/contract defines the terms of a relationship. God’s covenant with His people flows out of His love. Everything God does for us is driven by love.

The parent-child relationship is an illustration of a covenant of love. Everything the parent does for the child is an expression of their love – not because the child has earned it or always deserves it, but because that’s what a parent does (though parents are imperfect so sometimes fail). A parent makes rules that the child may not like, understand, or agree with, but the rules are an expression of the parent’s love—to protect their child from harm. If the child disobeys, a parent will often discipline them. This may be painful and misunderstood but it is also an expression of love – to help the chilc.

Marriage is a covenant of love, in which both commit that everything they do from that day forward will be done because they love each other. Unfortunately, because we are sinners, we sometimes violate the covenant and act out of selfishness rather than love and the relationship is harmed.

God perfectly enacts His covenant of love. He is never selfish, but always loving. Everything He does flows out of His love. His commands and His discipline are expressions of His love. The Sabbath year and the command to tithe are expressions of His covenant of love. These are discussed in the sermon -- you can listen at (click resources, sermons, launch sermon player -- a few days delay before the messages are posted).

What is my responsibility in this covenant? It is to who love him and obey his commands. If I understand that everything God does is because He loves me, it would be foolish to do anything except to love Him and to obey Him.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One of the best habits of my life is to read the "Proverb of the day" -- that is the chapter of Proverbs that corresponds to the date. I wish I could say that I never miss, but that is my goal.

Today's Proverb, 26, is an expose of the fool, the sluggard, the meddler, the gossip, and the malicious man. It is a penetrating chapter that calls each of us to read it for ourselves rather than quickly hoping someone we know considers the parts which we are certain apply to them.

After a stunningly negative description of the fool, verse 12 suggests that there is one kind of person who is worse than a fool,that is, "a man wise in his own eyes," because "there is more hope for a fool than for him."

The "man wise in his own eyes" is a person who does not have a humble, teachable spirit. He/she is so certain of being right that there is no openness to hearing something different.

"Lord, give me a teachable spirit."

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Lord's Supper

Today for our Communion Service we focused on the bread and wine from 1 Corinthians 11. The notes are too long to post but later this week the sermon will be up on the church web site:

(1) The bread is a picture of Jesus’ body broken on the cross to pay for our sin

Think of the process involved in producing bread. A seed is planted in the ground and grows quietly till the grain is formed (like the first 30 years of Jesus’ life). Then the grain is cut, bundled, and thrashed and winnowed to separate the grain from the stalk and shell. Next the grain is smashed -- ground into powder to make it into flour. Made into bread dough, the flour is then fired in a hot oven until the amazing aroma of fresh bread invites us to rip off a piece to both enjoy and be nourished by life’s most basic food – bread. What an amazing picture -- in order to become the BREAD OF LIFE to give life to the world, Jesus’ body, like the grain had to be cut off, smashed, violently pulverized, ground up, and then put through the fire. How He loves us!

(2) The bread is a picture of Jesus’ body the church unified by love to carry out His mission throughout the world

Is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 17

The church is the body of Christ on the earth today. Jesus is doing His work in the world today through His body, the church. The church represents Jesus on earth today. The church is “one loaf” and “one body” – its unity a powerful demonstration of Jesus and His love.

That’s why when he wrote a letter to the first century church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul was so incensed and brutally confrontational about what happened at their communion service. Imagine how uncomfortable the Corinthian Christians must’ve been when these words from Paul were read in their gathering: In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

Obviously these early Christians celebrated the Lord’s Supper in conjunction with what we today might call a “potluck supper.” They actually called it a “love feast” because it was to be a wonderful display of unselfish love and unity.

After all, the church was the one, perhaps the only place in the ancient world where all the barriers were down, where everyone was equal. The church was an island of love and unity in an ocean of selfishness, division, racism, elitism, sexism, and discrimination. The church was a place where rich and poor, slave and free, men and women, old and young, educated and uneducated – all were one, equal, accepted, united, and loved.

But at the Corinthian communion pot luck, rather than showing selfless love to each other, especially to those poor members who had no food to contribute, the better off members pushed to the front and gluttonously consumed the food and got drunk on the wine leaving the poor members with nothing but their hunger and thirst. Some of the members were driven by selfishness rather than love.

The church was divided by those who wanted their way at the expense of others. The unity of the church was damaged by those who had the attitude, “It’s all about me and getting my needs met.”

Wait a minute. Isn’t the church supposed to be a place where it’s about Jesus and others rather than about me? Isn’t that the difference between love and selfishness?

Here are some observations on Paul’s pointed teaching in 1Corinthians 11:

• Authentic Christians care about the poor – it is so gratifying to see how God has been transforming Calvary in this regard. The generosity of our church family in meeting peoples’ needs has been astounding!
• Christians aren’t perfect – I shouldn’t be surprised when I see that in others or recognize it in myself
• Churches aren’t perfect – While I may be saddened by this, I shouldn’t be shocked or become cynical or disillusioned and walk away.
• It’s not okay for an individual or a group to divide the church and harm its unity in order to get their way or benefit themselves at the expense of others.
• If someone damages the unity of the church and divides it, they should be strongly confronted, rebuked, and called on to repent and change their behavior – like Paul did here in 1 Corinthians 11. These were very uncomfortable words but necessary if the church was going to be the body of Christ rather than some ugly misrepresentation of it.
• In a remarkable indication of the importance of love and unity in Jesus’ church, Paul asserted in verse 19 that divisions in a church reveal which members have God’s approval and which do not. Regardless of what they make think or say, those who cause division do not have God’s approval on their lives.
• This is the flip side of Jesus’ declaration that the way His true disciples would be recognized is by their love for each other (John 13:34, 35) and that the unity of the church is the way the world would not only know that they were Jesus’ true followers but also the way the world would come to believe that God sent His Son to rescue the world (John 17:20-23).
• A selfish Christian who must have his/her own way at the expense of others or who fails to share God’s blessing with those in need thereby denies the heart of what it means to be a Christian.
• Paul called on the Corinthian Christians to examine themselves before participating in the service lest they fail to recognize the Lord’s body and partake unworthily. To bring selfishness and division to “the body of Christ” is to sin against Jesus’ body and blood, and thus invite God’s serious judgment (1 Corinthians 11:28-34).

By the way, there’s an important lesson here about all relationships – not just the church. Wherever there is division you can be sure that there is selfishness. Love unites. Selfishness divides. Selfishness always results in division – in a marriage, a family, a friendship, a team, a business, a community, or a nation.

The Communion service is a dramatic picture of self-sacrificing love in order to benefit others. Jesus gave up everything in order to give us forgiveness, make us part of His family and kingdom, change us from selfish to loving, and give us the hope of eternal life in the new heaven and earth.

Watch or listen to the entire study later this week at