Thanksgiving Day

God of Our Fathers Deuteronomy 8:7-18; Psalm 65; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Luke 17:11-1 Mose reminded the children of Israel of their heritage: Take care that you do not forget the LORD your God, by failing to keep his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I am commanding you today. When you have eaten your […]

http://preachingthenewlectionary.com/2014/11/26/thanksgiving-day-year-a/

Zacchaeus was a wee little man?

The Gospel of Luke tells a short story about Jesus and a man named Zacchaeus.  It is found in Luke 19:1-10.  I included a link to a site called Bible Study Tools, where you can read two different translations of the story.  The two translations are going to be important, but we’ll get to that […]

http://fatpastor.me/2014/11/23/zacchaeus-was-a-wee-little-man/

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2 Peter 1:12-21 God’s Word

2 Peter 1:12-21 God's Word

2 Peter 1:12-21 God’s Word

 

Men die, but the Word lives (1:12-15)

Motives behind Peter’s ministry:

Obedience to Christ’s command (1:12)

The right thing to do (1:13)

Being diligent (1:15)

 

Experience fades, but the Word remains (1:16-18)

Fabled stories versus personal experience (1:16)

Peter came – to the mountain

Peter saw – the glory of God in Christ

Peter heard – the voice of God

Peter is responding to two objections:

Objection #1 – The Return of Jesus Christ is a myth

Reply #1 – Apostolic Witness – Peter was an eyewitness to Jesus Christ and how He will return

“For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16, HCSB)

“For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (2 Peter 1:17, HCSB)

Reply #2 – Old Testament prophecy can be trusted.

“So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19, HCSB)

The Old Testament prophecies can be just as trustworthy as a lamp shining in the dark until daylight comes. In the same way, Old Testament prophecy is that lamp shining the truth until Jesus returns (the day dawns.)

Objection #2 – The Inspiration of Old Testament prophecy

They are truthful, but are they inspired by God?

Reply #1 – No prophecy was the prophet’s interpretation

“First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation,” (2 Peter 1:20, HCSB)

Reply #2 – Reason – The prophets were Spirit-enabled

“because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21, HCSB)

Today’s Objection: How do we know that Old Testament was Spirit-enabled?

1. Fulfilled prophecy. God spoke to men telling them of things He would bring about in the future. Some of them have already occurred. Others have not. For example, there were more than 300 prophecies concerning Jesus Christ’s first coming 2,000 years ago. There is no doubt that these are prophecies from God because of manuscripts and scrolls dated before the birth of Christ. These were not written after the fact. They were written beforehand. Scientific dating proves this.

2. The unity of Scripture. The Bible was written by approximately 40 human authors over a period of approximately 1,600 years. These men were quite diverse. Moses, a political leader; Joshua, a military leader; David, a shepherd; Solomon, a king; Amos, a herdsman and fruit picker; Daniel, a prime minister; Matthew, a tax collector; Luke, a medical doctor; Paul, a rabbi; and Peter, a fisherman; among others. The Bible was also written under a variety of circumstances. It was written on 3 different continents, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Yet, the great themes of Scripture are maintained in all the writings. The Bible does not contradict itself. There is no way, apart from God the Holy Spirit supervising the writing of the Bible, that this could have been accomplished.

3. The Bible presents its heroes truthfully with all of their faults and weaknesses. It does not glorify men as other religions do about their heroes. When you read the Bible, you realize that the people it describes have problems and do wrong just as we do. What made them great was that they trusted in God. One example is David. David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Yet, David committed adultery (2 Samuel 11:1-5) and murder (2 Samuel 11:14-26). This could have been left out of Scripture to hide these details of David’s life. But God included these things.

4. Archaeological findings support the history recorded in Scripture. Though many unbelieving people throughout history have tried to find archaeological evidence to disprove what is recorded in the Bible, they have failed. It is easy to say that Scripture is untrue. Proving it to be untrue is a different story. It has not been done. In fact, in the past the Bible contradicted the current “scientific” theories, only to be proven later to be in fact true. A good example is Isaiah 40:22, which declared that God “sits on the circle of the earth” long before scientists claimed the earth was flat.1.

In the Hindu Scriptures it is taught that the earth is set atop the backs of four elephants, who in turn stood on a giant sea-turtle that was swimming through a milky sea. However, Job states, “He stretches out the North over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing.(26:7)” Also, Isaiah mentions that God sits “above the circle of the earth.(40:22)” The New Testament also records a snatching away of believers. In Luke 17 Jesus talks of a singular event stating that “two men in one bed; and one will be taken, and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding in the same place; one will be taken, and the other will be left.” These are events that happen at different times of the day, yet Jesus speaks of them as a single instance. Only someone who understands the revolution of a round earth could understand how day and night are relative and one act may affect people in both time frames.

When Genesis was written, The Greeks were beginning to tell of Apollos’ flight across the sky in a flaming chariot. The Egyptians were worshipping the sun as Ra, deifying it. The Mesopotamians referred to the sun as “Shamosh” and called it the god of justice. Genesis, however, calls the sun “a light in the expanse of the heavens” and views it as a thing, one created by God. That the Bible does not follow the naiveté of those ancient religions is often overlooked, since modern man is much more knowledgeable in the mechanics of nature. We take for granted that someone touching an infectious person or a corpse should practice good hygiene and wash thoroughly in running water before proceeding to anything else, but this “discovery” has only been a medical reality for 150 years. The book of Leviticus, though, requires this same procedure. One cannot find ideas as arcane as blood-letting or consuming ram’s horn for fertility, or all the other mythical cures for ills that were thought to be science in those days. The Bible is not a science book. It does not focus on scientific facts about the creation, but where it mentions those things, it is accurate in its representation. This is exactly what we’d expect if the Bible had its origin in the One who created the universe and its scientific laws2.

1 http://www.gotquestions.org/proof-inspiration-Bible.html#ixzz3JGzhxKQU Accessed on 16 November 2014.

2 http://www.comereason.org/is-the-bible-true.asp Accessed on 16 November 2014.

3 Roger F. Campbell, Preach for a Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 19–20.

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

Obadiah 1-14 Overcoming Pride

When I think about the sin of pride, the greatest sin of all, it reminds me of the army colonel. He had just been promoted to colonel. He was sitting in his office when someone knocked at the door and said, “This is Private Johnson. May I see you sir?” He said, “Just a minute.” The colonel, wanting to look impressive, picked up his telephone and he said real loud, “Yes, Mr. President. I understand, Mr. President. We will take care of it right away, Mr. President.” He wasn’t talking to the president, but he wanted to make it seem like he was talking to the president. He wanted to appear bigger than he really was.

The colonel said, “Mr. President, just give me one second.” Then he said, “Come in, Private.” The private came in and the colonel asked him to talk quickly because he had the president on the other line. “What can I do for you?” “Well,” the private said, “I just came in to connect your telephone.” God has a way of making you look like a fool, because “pride cometh before the fall1.”

The story between two brothers Jacob and Esau go way back. The struggle between Jacob and Esau began while they were still in the womb (see Gen. 25:21–26). Years later, Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger to get his older brother’s birthright. When Jacob tricked their father into giving him the blessing of the firstborn, Esau wanted to murder his twin. The hostility between these brothers passed down to their descendants. Although Judah (descended from Jacob) and Edom (descended from Esau) were neighboring countries and blood relatives, they lived as bitter enemies2.

Just as one brother was jealous, this led to a pride against that brother. I don’t like you so I will become better than you is the way many people go. Instead leaning on God’s provision and learning for myself, revenge becomes a motive for pride. Instead of dependence upon Jacob, Esau who was betrayed by Jacob, built his family’s society to the point where they would be self-reliant. At this time in history, they were independent of Israel. They were self-sufficient. However, they had taken pride in their accomplishments and used it to hurt others. Pride can be very destructive. So I want to talk to you today about overcoming pride. First, let’s look at the symptoms of pride, then its results, and finally some skills which will help us overcome pride.

SYMPTOMS OF PRIDE IN MY HEART

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

P – Presumptuous heart

Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

Presumptuous is (of a person or their behavior) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate. In other words, misplaced boldness, or arrogance.

The unusual word used here (zadon) for presumptuous is used of food or water that boils up. Edom’s pride is rooted in the fact that its frontiers were defended on one side by a ridge of high cliffs and on the other by a series of forts guarding against attack from the desert. It is easy to become proud when we feel invulnerable, whether because of wealth or position or military might3.

R – Resistance to authority

Because a proud person thinks everything is ok, they don’t listen to authority. Even the best people make mistakes. So it is important to keep an honest open ear to someone who can help you. When you are proud, you think you are above everyone else. You think that the standards and the rules for you don’t apply. As a result, you commit more sin because you arrogantly think no one can, should, or will do anything to stop you.

“Arrogance leads to nothing but strife, but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10, HCSB)

I – I am more important than you and we.

“Who can bring me down to the ground?” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

SOURCES OF EDOMITE PRIDE

Edom relied only on their importance, instead of asking for God’s help. Five sources of Edomite pride are identified.

1. Pride of Location (vv. 3–4)

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the LORD’s declaration.” (Obadiah 3–4, HCSB)

The geography of Edom gave the inhabitants of that land confidence that no foreign power could overpower them. Edom was a land of lofty mountains, steep crags, stifling heat and scarcity of water. Innumerable caves both natural and man-made offered the defenders cool sanctuaries from which to launch surprise attacks against invaders. To supplement these natural military advantages, the Edomites constructed fortresses at virtually every occupied site in the land.

A rhetorical question capsulizes the arrogant pride of Edom: “Who shall bring me down to earth?” Yahweh had an answer for them. Though they should build their dwellings as high as the eagles or even among the stars, “from there I will bring you down.”

2. Pride of Wealth (vv. 5–6)

“If thieves came to you, if marauders by night— how ravaged you would be!— wouldn’t they steal only what they wanted? If grape pickers came to you, wouldn’t they leave some grapes? How Esau will be pillaged, his hidden treasures searched out!” (Obadiah 5–6, HCSB)

Edom controlled the great trade route known as the King’s Highway which connected Damascus in the north with the seaport Ezion-geber on the Red Sea. Rich copper and iron mines in the area also provided a source of wealth. Thieves and grape gatherers normally leave something behind. God’s agents, however, would confiscate all of Edom’s hidden treasures.

3. Pride in Alliances (v. 7)

“Everyone who has a treaty with you will drive you to the border; everyone at peace with you will deceive and conquer you. Those who eat your bread will set a trap for you. He will be unaware of it.” (Obadiah 7, HCSB)

Edom felt secure because of her various commercial and military alliances. Their allies, however, would turn on them. Fugitive Edomites would be treated as strangers at the borders of allied nations. The allies would deceive and overpower Edom, i.e., join forces with the enemies. Obadiah states literally “your bread they shall place as a boil under you.” The “bread” may be a figure for those who eat bread, i.e., familiar friends, turn against Edom.2

4. Pride in Wisdom (v. 8)

“In that day— this is the LORD’s declaration— will I not eliminate the wise ones of Edom and those who understand from the hill country of Esau?” (Obadiah 8, HCSB)

The Edomites were noted for their wisdom in the ancient world. When judgment is unleashed, however, confusion will reign supreme in the mountain of Esau. No counselor will have any useful advice as to what course to follow to cope with the invasion.

5. Pride of Armies (v.9)

“Teman, your warriors will be terrified so that everyone from the hill country of Esau will be destroyed by slaughter.” (Obadiah 9, HCSB)

The “mighty men” of Edom will be dismayed by events to the point of incapacitation. They will not be able to fight. The slaughter will spread from one end of the land to the other. Even in Teman, in the southern region of the land, the slaughter would spread unchecked. Every one would be “cut off” from the mountain of Esau. None will be able to give a credible explanation as to how such a powerful nation could have been so completely destroyed.

D – Destructive behaviors follow

“Then He said, “What comes out of a person—that defiles him.” (Mark 7:20, HCSB)

Out of the heart, a man speaks. Out of the heart, a man does. When a person is filled with pride, destructive behaviors follow. Look at the examples of Edom here against it’s brother Israel.

FIVE DIFFERENT DESTRUCTIVE BEHAVIORS WHICH FLOW FROM PRIDE

Betrayal (Obadiah 7)

“Everyone who has a treaty with you will drive you to the border; everyone at peace with you will deceive and conquer you. Those who eat your bread will set a trap for you. He will be unaware of it.” (Obadiah 7, HCSB)

Instead of protecting their relatives, Edom made an alliance with Babylon. Edom betrayed their kinsman. Pride does that. Because you think only about yourself and your survival, you are willing to through anyone under the bus. “I” becomes more important than “you” or “we.”

Violence (Obadiah 10)

Gloating (Obadiah 12)

Stealing (Obadiah 13)

Destroying (Obadiah 14)

E – Exalted pride ends in shame

You will be covered with shame and destroyed forever because of violence done to your brother Jacob.” (Obadiah 10, HCSB)

CONSEQUENCES OF PRIDE

If you try to lift yourself up, God will tear you down.

“Look, I will make you insignificant among the nations; you will be deeply despised.” (Obadiah 2, HCSB)

In other words, God will make you humble. He does it to nations and He does it to people. This is principle is found throughout the Bible.

“You rescue an afflicted people, but Your eyes are set against the proud— You humble them.” (2 Samuel 22:28, HCSB)

“Better to be lowly of spirit with the humble than to divide plunder with the proud.” (Proverbs 16:19, HCSB)

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

“But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, HCSB)

“In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5, HCSB)

If you listen to yourself instead of God, your heart will deceive you.

“Your presumptuous heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”” (Obadiah 3, HCSB)

“The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, HCSB)

My heart needs to be guided. My inner self can deceive me. This is the really why a Christian needs to listen to the Holy Spirit. Society will say to follow your heart. God says to follow Him and He will guide your heart.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7, HCSB)

Pride won’t last. Without a change of heart, you will crash and burn.

“Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the LORD’s declaration.” (Obadiah 4, HCSB)

HOW TO BE A SERVANT IN A SELFIE WORLD

We have talked about the source of pride, destructive behaviors which follow pride, consequences of pride, and how God humbles a proud heart. The question is how do I overcome pride?

Do a self-check on my heart.

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

Build a pattern of humility in my life.

1. Associate with the humble

“Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation.” (Romans 12:16, HCSB)

2. Follow the example of Jesus

“Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 2:5, HCSB)

“He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8, HCSB)

3. Fight against the culture of narcissism.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3–4, HCSB)

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3, HCSB)

Do things for other people without a need for reward.

This is the season of giving. We are told during this time that we should be people who give to others in need. It is an important lesson. However, it doesn’t stop with the holidays. As Christians, we are called to be servants. Jesus said:

“just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.”” (Matthew 20:28, HCSB)

CONCLUSION

So many people try to do this life on their own, without God. It never goes well like that. It’s like trying to build a house with a lot of sand and not enough steel. In our own poverty of spirit, we try to build lives this way:

We build marriages with too much anger and not enough love … and they crumble.

We build reputations on too much pride and not enough humility … and they crumble.

We build families on too much busyness and not enough time … and they crumble.

We build friendships on too much criticism and not enough grace … and they crumble4.

Let me close with this story from Dr. Tony Evans:

Two brothers went away to college. One brother became a farmer. The other became a brilliant, wealthy lawyer. The lawyer brother visited the farmer brother on the farm. He said, “I can’t believe you’ve not made anything of your life. You’re out here on a farm. Look at me. Look where I am. I’m on Wall Street. I’m an investor in the stock market. I have clients who are millionaires. Here you are, stuck out here on the farm. I wonder what the difference between us is.”

The farmer brother then spoke. He pointed out to his wheat field. He said, “You’ll see two types of wheat out there, brother. You’ll see the wheat that’s standing straight up. In the head of that wheat, there is nothing. It’s empty. That’s why it’s standing so high. You’ll also see some other wheat that is bent over. That’s because the head is full. It’s full of wheat.”

Some of us are standing straight up. We are walking tall. However, we are only able to do so because we are empty. Some of us walk a little bent over indicating that we are full. The test isn’t what you have in your pocket. It’s what you have in your heart5.

1 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 237–238.

2 Dianne Neal Matthews, Designed for Devotion: a 365-Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2012).

3 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 545.

4 Palmer Chinchen, God Can’t Sleep (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011).

5 Tony Evans, Tony Evans’ Book of Illustrations: Stories, Quotes, and Anecdotes from More Than 30 Years of Preaching and Public Speaking (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2009), 238.