Pastor Kirk

Notes from Scio Community Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Obadiah, 26 October 2014

Big Idea: God is sovereign (in control) and He is the ultimate judge. He hates sin, especially pride.

This series is designed to encourage reading the less-read books of the Bible (according to BibleGateway.com).

Overview: The nation of Edom in Mt. Seir sided against Judah, and they should have known better. The prophet Obadiah foresees Edom’s despise and Mt. Zion’s restoration.

Introduction

Today we examine our tenth book in our series The Most Unread Books of the Bible, based upon the least-read books on BibleGateway.com. Obadiah is the final book mentioned in the report, though we will do a bonus book next week, Habakkuk.

Like many of these small books in the Old Testament, Obadiah is a minor prophet. He is not inferior to the others, but rather his book is short. He could also be called minor in that we know nothing about him, not even the name of his father, a common detail in most biblical accounts. Obadiah was a common Old Testament name but it is unlikely that this prophet is mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. The name means “servant or worshiper of the Lord.”

We know little about the date of this book, some believing an early date of 850 BC and others as late as 587 BC.

The prime audience is the Edomites, descendants of Esau (Genesis 36). Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. He had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. Isaac had twin sons, Jacob and Esau. We know quite a bit about Jacob and his sons, including Joseph. Esau, the oldest, gave up his birthright to Jacob and had a much less prominent place in history. Esau’s descendants were called Edomites. They treated the Judeans—Jews—cruelly. In the book of Obadiah—the shortest Old Testament book—God makes some bold declarations about the nation of Edom that reveal His heart and character.

This is the vision that the Sovereign LORD revealed to Obadiah concerning the land of Edom. (Obadiah 1a, New Living Translation)

Edom’s Judgment Announced

We have heard a message from the LORD that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say, “Get ready, everyone! Let’s assemble our armies and attack Edom!” The LORD says to Edom, “I will cut you down to size among the nations; you will be greatly despised. You have been deceived by your own pride because you live in a rock fortress and make your home high in the mountains. ‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’ you ask boastfully. But even if you soar as high as eagles and build your nest among the stars, I will bring you crashing down,” says the LORD. (Obadiah 2-4,
NLT)

Edom is an arrogant people. They have power, have mistreated their neighbor, Judah, and feel smug. The bad guys are winning, but the story is not over.

There is a cycle to power. God will get the final say at Judgment Day. History is filled with accounts of the good guys winning, but today the same battle between good and evil is raging, the enemy still wins sometimes, but the ultimate victor will be King Jesus!

Listen to God’s description of Edom’s upcoming humiliation:

“If thieves came at night and robbed you (what a disaster awaits you!), they would not take everything. Those who harvest grapes always leave a few for the poor. But your enemies will wipe you out completely! Every nook and cranny of Edom will be searched and looted. Every treasure will be found and taken. “All your allies will turn against you. They will help to chase you from your land. They will promise you peace while plotting to deceive and destroy you. Your trusted friends will set traps for you, and you won’t even know about it. At that time not a single wise person will be left in the whole land of Edom,” says the LORD. “For on the mountains of Edom I will destroy everyone who has understanding.The mightiest warriors of Teman will be terrified, and everyone on the mountains of Edom will be cut down in the slaughter. (Obadiah 5-9, NLT)

Why would a loving God treat people this way? We are so quick to judge God. Isn’t it His prerogative to do what He wants? Didn’t He create the universe? Who does He think He is, God?! Yes!!!

As God, He is the perfect judge. His assessments are perfect. He can tolerate sin for only so long. Throughout history He has stepped in, causing confusion at Babel, parting the sea for the Israelites and closing them upon the Egyptians, prompting walls to fall at the sound of trumpets, providing a way for a small boy to kill a giant, …

Perhaps you think God created the world and then abandoned it. This was the belief of many of our nation’s founding fathers. They were deists, believing in a creator but having no faith in miracles. What a boring faith!

I must confess I long to see more of God’s activity in the world. Part of the problem, I’m sure, is my inability to see what God
is doing. Another problem is my poor memory, forgetting the countless times God has been faithful, answering prayer and, sometimes, literally performing miracles. Arguably the greatest challenge to seeing God’s work is our impatience.

Sometimes when we pray God says yes. Sometimes He says no because He knows best. Many times, however, it’s just a matter of timing. Of waiting. People waited hundreds of years for the Messiah, Jesus. We have been waiting about two thousand years for His return. It will occur. He is alive. Just you wait!

Back to Edom. God is angry and wants them punished. Before you get too upset at God, wouldn’t you want Hitler punished if you were around in World War II? What do you think about ISIS? Pedophiles? The atrocities in North Korea or the fact that there are more slaves today in our world than at any point in human history? Sometimes the only way to keep the good guys alive is to destroy the bad guys. I’m not advocating for personal violence, but simply reminding us what God said:

I will take vengeance in anger and wrath upon the nations that have not obeyed me.” (Micah 5:15; “in that day”)

One commentator wrote

Vengeance in the Bible is a legal term signifying that a ruler secures his kingdom by protecting his subjects and punishing their persecutors. The disrespect of the unbelieving nations for his holy kingdom incurs his anger and wrath. Throughout history God has protected his rule against the nations that have not obeyed him, but he will finally execute his protective power at Christ’s second coming (Lk. 18:7-8; 21:22; 2 Thes. 1:8; Rev. 6:10). (IVP-NB Commentary)

Here’s the crime committed by Edom:

Reasons for Edom’s Punishment

“Because of the violence you did to your close relatives in Israel, you will be filled with shame and destroyed forever. When they were invaded, you stood aloof, refusing to help them. Foreign invaders carried off their wealth and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem, but you acted like one of Israel’s enemies. “You should not have gloated when they exiled your relatives to distant lands.You should not have rejoiced when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune. You should not have spoken arrogantly in that terrible time of trouble. You should not have plundered the land of Israel when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have gloated over their destruction when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have seized their wealth when they were suffering such calamity. You should not have stood at the crossroads, killing those who tried to escape. You should not have captured the survivors and handed them over in their terrible time of trouble. (Obadiah 10-14, NLT)

Edom’s capital, Sela, was on a high rock overlooking the territory below, making it easy to defend. Thieves steal what they need, but God would take everything!

God’s not done speaking.

Edom Destroyed, Israel Restored

“The day is near when I, the LORD, will judge all godless nations!
As you have done to Israel, so it will be done to you. All your evil deeds will fall back on your own heads. Just as you swallowed up my people on my holy mountain, so you and the surrounding nations will swallow the punishment I pour out on you. Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger and disappear from history. “But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape; it will be a holy place. And the people of Israel
will come back to reclaim their inheritance. The people of Israel will be a raging fire, and Edom a field of dry stubble. The descendants of Joseph will be a flame roaring across the field, devouring everything. There will be no survivors in Edom. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Obadiah 15-18, NLT)

God concludes…

“Then my people living in the Negev will occupy the mountains of Edom.
Those living in the foothills of Judah will possess the Philistine plains
and take over the fields of Ephraim and Samaria. And the people of Benjamin
will occupy the land of Gilead. The exiles of Israel will return to their land
and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath. The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north
will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev. Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem
to rule over the mountains of Edom. And the LORD himself will be king!” (Obadiah 19-21,
NLT)

Here we see again this phrase “the day of the Lord.” Judgment Day. The sheep and the goats, the righteous and the wicked, the good guys and the bad guys, Michigan and Ohio St…oops! Seriously, though, Judgment Day will usher in the rule and reign of King Jesus. His friends that have received the Father’s invitation will rule in His Kingdom forever while those that rejected God will be punished.

Judgment Day

What if it’s today? What if God chose today to judge the living and the dead? Are you ready? What about your friends and family? This is where things get uncomfortable in a hurry.

Peter, the first pope, said

He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42)

He also said of unbelievers,

But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (1 Peter 4:5)

This is why we’re still here! We’re on a mission from God to let the whole world know the Father loves them and invites them into a covenantal relationship with Himself. He will be king and we can begin kingdom life today by submitting to His authority rather than making ourselves the center of our own universe.

Every day I choose to rule my life or get off the throne, pick up my cross, and follow Jesus. Honestly, I don’t always make the right choice. Pride gets in the way. Selfishness is more attractive than servanthood. I’m self-righteous and judge others. I envy. I worry. Oh how I worry, allowing myself to be overcome by fear rather than trusting God completely.

I want to be faithful to God because He has been so faithful to me. He can be trusted.

Judgment Day is coming for all of us. None of us know when, but it is coming. Are you ready?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Nahum, 19 October 2014

Big Idea: Nineveh has gone too far, they’ve oppressed Judah and taken Israel into captivity and God isn’t going to let them get away with treating His people that way.

This series is designed to encourage reading the less-read books of the Bible (according to BibleGateway.com).

Background Information

We know little about Nahum.

One theme: the judgment of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire.

Nahum means comforter.

Elkosh was a city in Assyria a few miles north of Nineveh. There was also a village in Galilee named Elkosh. Capernaum is considered to be the village of Nahum. He was born there or lived there as a boy.

He was probably born in the northern kingdom, Israel. He moved to Elkosh in the south of Judah and raised there in the southern kingdom.

Nahum may have been a contemporary of Isaiah and Micah.

Date of writing: 720-636 BC, about 100-150 years after Jonah and about 100 years before the destruction of Nineveh.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. God was just in destroying Nineveh.

God told Jonah to bring a message to Nineveh. The city turned to God, seemingly the entire city, one hundred percent, an unprecedented spiritual awakening. Obviously the revival died over time and they returned to their paganism.

Nahum probably did not go to the city, unlike Jonah. They’ve had the light and rejected it. Our nation has the light and we have largely rejected it (yikes!). All revivals eventually die.

Scottish historian Alexander Tytler described the
life cycle of a democracy. Where are we today?

From bondage to spiritual faith to courage to liberty to abundance to selfishness to complacency to apathy to bondage.

Introduction

This morning we return to our series “The Most Unread Books of the Bible,” an overview of those parts of the Bible that are less read according to BibleGateway.com.

Before we look at today’s book of Nahum, I want to mention hermeneutics. That’s a fancy word for how to read the Bible. Because it’s a big, old collection of books, we can’t just pick it up and read it like we would
The Ann Arbor News or People magazine. Two books I recommend on the subject—which may seem odd, reading a book about how to read a book—are

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart
The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

The hermeneutical process is rather simple but often ignored:

  • What did the text originally mean?
  • What does it mean for us today?
  • So what? How do we apply it?

Each step, however, presents its own set of challenges. Let me illustrate why this is important.

As I usually do, I did a Google image search for Nahum, hoping to find a nice picture to put on the screen as I speak. I didn’t find much, but one verse repeatedly popped up with a colorful image: Nahum 1:7

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, (Nahum 1:7)

I love that verse. It makes me feel good. It makes me think happy thoughts about God. There is truth in these words. There’s more, though. The verse does not end with a period, but rather a comma. Look at what follows!

but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of [Nineveh]; he will pursue his foes into darkness. (Nahum 1:8)

Not so pretty. Not so happy!

This simple example reveals the importance of context. I have often had people ask me a question about a particular verse. Much of the time the answer can be found in the context. We can’t just pick a verse, stick it on a pretty picture, and hang it on our wall. We can, but we’re likely to miss the point.

Understood? Great!

While we’re on the subject, I came across a great article this week from
Relevant Magazine online entitled

9 Things Everyone Should Do When Reading The Bible by Bronwyn Lea

I want to briefly list a few here:

1. Read ‘King’ When You See ‘Christ.’

Christ, or Messiah, means “anointed one,” and priests and kings were anointed. Substituting "King Jesus" for "Christ Jesus" when reading draws attention to the fact that Christ was not Jesus' last name, but in fact His title: one of great honor and esteem. Making that one switch alone breathes new life into reading the New Testament.

2. Read ‘You’ Differently.

Almost all the "you" words in the New Testament are plural you's rather than singular y
ou's. The Southern "y'all" expresses it beautifully.

3. If You See a ‘Therefore,’ Find Out What It’s There For.

8. Remember What You Learned in English Class.

The Bible is not an instruction manual. It's not a "how-to" book for life. It is a collection of 66 books of literature, and to interpret it correctly, you need to remember what you learned in English class about interpreting different genres of literature.

9. Read to Study. But Also, Read to Refresh Your Heart.

Now…

Nahum

In many ways, we can get the big idea of Nahum in these two verses—but not just one! God is good…but just. He is merciful…but hates evil. He is God…and we are not!

Background

God made a covenant with Abram to bless him and his offspring and make them into a great nation—Israel. Israel split and God’s people were in Israel and Judah. The Jewish people had many enemies (as they still have today!). Nineveh was one of those enemies and the prophet Nahum writes to them, warning of His displeasure. Don’t mess with God or His people!

Nahum 1

Nahum is an undated book written about Nineveh, yes, the place Jonah to which Jonah was sent. Nahum’s name means consoler or comforter, a description of his role toward Judah but not Nineveh!

Notice the various attributes of God expressed in these verses.

An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite. The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The LORD takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies. The LORD is slow to anger and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his feet. (Nahum 1:1-3)

He rebukes the sea and dries it up; he makes all the rivers run dry. Bashan and Carmel wither and the blossoms of Lebanon fade. The mountains quake before him and the hills melt away. The earth trembles at his presence, the world and all who live in it. Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him. (Nahum 1:4-6)

Now we come to that lovely verse 7. Notice the happy verses before
and after it!

The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of [Nineveh]; he will pursue his foes into darkness. Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time. They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble. From you, [O Nineveh,] has one come forth who plots evil against the LORD and counsels wickedness. (Nahum 1:7-11)

It continues…

This is what the LORD says: “Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, [O Judah,] I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away.” The LORD has given a command concerning you, [Nineveh]: “You will have no descendants to bear your name. I will destroy the carved images and cast idols that are in the temple of your gods. I will prepare your grave, for you are vile.” (Nahum 1:12-14)

Then this interesting verse emerges:

Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed. (Nahum 1:15)

We see similarities between Nahum and Isaiah, a text referenced in Romans 10:15).

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (Isaiah 52:7)

The big picture of the book of Nahum is Nineveh has gone too far. They’ve oppressed Judah and taken Israel into captivity and God isn’t going to let them get away with treating His people that way.
Nineveh fell. They were literally wiped off the map! God said…

“I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions. I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.” (Nahum 2:13)

You don’t want to be on the receiving end of that!

Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims! The crack of whips, the clatter of wheels, galloping horses and jolting chariots! Charging cavalry, flashing swords and glittering spears! Many casualties, piles of dead, bodies without number, people stumbling over the corpses — all because of the wanton lust of a harlot, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft. “I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty. “I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. (Nahum 3:1-5)

This explains why God is angry.

We’re not exactly sure when Nahum was written. Assyria fell in 612 BC so this book was either a prophetic warning in around 615 BC or a later narrative of what occurred. Regardless, the wicked were destroyed.

So What?

You’re on God’s team or your His enemy…and every day we choose. Every day we can pick up our cross and follow Jesus, making King Jesus Lord of our lives, or we can do it our way. He’ll let us…but He’ll be crushed when we experiences the consequences of selfish living.

Everything God said to Nineveh could be said to us. I don’t pretend to understand His timing, but He will bless those who love Him and curse those who hate Him.

We love having Jesus as Savior, but is He Lord? Is He King? Does your calendar reflect it? Do your actions show it? Does your bank account demonstrate it? Do your words communicate it?

Judgment Day is coming for all of us. None of us know when, but it is coming.
Are you ready?

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Covenant & Kingdom: Paul, 12 October 2014

Big Idea: Covenant is the ability to become ONE with the person with whom we are in Covenant. The Father has expressed that he is ONE with his Son. Jesus expresses that he is ONE with his disciples—us!

Key Scripture: Acts 9:1-6

Introduction

We’ve come to the end of our series Covenant & Kingdom: The DNA of the Bible. As we’ve looked at the big picture of the 66-book library we call the Bible, we’ve seen how Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.

Kingdom reflects the rule and reign of a king with a people. People of the covenant are to serve under King Jesus.

Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

In a word, covenant is about come. Jesus invites His disciples to come with Him.
In a word, kingdom is about go. He challenged His followers to go and make disciples.

It’s great to read about the roles of covenant and kingdom in the lives of Abram, Joseph, Moses, and Jesus, but the story continued beyond Jesus. Specifically, a man named Saul who may have been public enemy number one of early disciples of Jesus experienced covenant and kingdom and we’re going to look at his life today.

Acts 9:1-6

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:1-4)

This is crazy! A light and a voice!

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

“Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5-6)

This may be the most radical conversion in history! It’s not enough that a threat to Christians became arguably the most important figure in the early church. He receives a personal invitation from Jesus to join His team…while he is on his way to murder Christians! Perhaps not unlike Abram’s call from God, Saul receives a personal message from God that forever changed his life.

Was Saul hurting Jesus? No. He was persecuting followers of Jesus. He is saying, “If you hurt one of My followers, you are hurting Me.” That’s covenant! Jesus’ disciples are one with Him.

Perhaps you recall Jesus teaching explicitly about this.

“When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

“Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell.
And why? Because—

I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’

“Then those ‘goats’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn’t help?’

“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’

“Then those ‘goats’ will be herded to their eternal doom, but the ‘sheep’ to their eternal reward.” (Matthew 25:31-46,
The Message)

Listen to these words again, this time from the
New International Version:

‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Mt. 25:40b)

‘Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Mt. 25:45b)

At Jesus’ baptism, the Father clearly said He was one with Jesus, the Son. Covenant.
At Jesus’ death and throughout His life He lived out the mission. Kingdom.

Heaven touches earth in Jesus. He becomes the portal of the future we long for. The future touches the present in the person of Jesus. He becomes the conduit of the blessings of heaven.
Jesus and His disciples are one. That’s covenant.
Jesus and His disciples are sent on mission. That’s kingdom.

Back to Saul. Saul is dramatically converted. His name is even changed, to Paul. The scales fall from his eyes, he is baptized by Ananias in Damascus on the road called Straight. He preaches in the local synagogue, rests a bit, and is in Jerusalem with Peter for a while. For the next 13 years or so he persecuted. 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 tells us Paul is whipped by 39 lashes on five different occasions, is beaten by rods three times, on the open sea for a day and shipwrecked…most of these before Barnabus finds him and brings him to Antioch. So between Paul encountering Jesus and Barnabus he is persecuted. He’s probably been excommunicated at least five times (hence the 39 lashes) and is alone. Some sources suggest Paul was hiding for his life, living in a cave, abandoned by fiends and family, beaten near death, at the end of his rope…and now God will use him to do the most amazing work in the history of the church! It’s during Paul’s trials and suffering that he grows, that he understands the church as the body of Christ. When Jesus’ disciples are persecuted, Jesus feels it. It’s like they share the same body. They are one. The Christian church is the body of Christ!

The people in our community who are longing for a touch of heaven―if they met Jesus, they would find heaven. They would hear words of forgiveness. They would experience a touch of healing. They would know restoration and deliverance. We know that if they met Jesus, that is what they would experience.

So how will they do that?

Through the body.

Through Jesus, presented to the world, through his Covenant people. And if the people of the community donʼt experience Jesus through us, then we have to look in the mirror and say:
Why is that?

If people donʼt experience Jesus through us, why arenʼt they? It really is about Covenant and Kingdom all the way through.
Covenant is about Relationship. Kingdom is about representing the King.

It is an invitation to Relationship, to the life of discipleship and ONEness with Jesus. It is the challenge to live into the responsibility of representing the King, to live into what we were created for.

It is about BEING one with God and DOING things for him. But Covenant and Kingdom isnʼt just about you as an individual...it is about us as the body. It is about being a Covenant community doing the work of the King.

And what is the work of the King? To save all that was lost in the beginning through the people who lost it in the first place. It is a rescue mission that God has been on since the Fall in Genesis 3.

We are a Covenant community with the mission of extending the Kingdom of our Father.

Itʼs Covenant and Kingdom. Itʼs BEING and DOING. Itʼs Relationship and Responsibility Itʼs Invitation and Challenge. Itʼs being a Community on Mission.

This community exists to be on mission together.

Itʼs right there. Itʼs why we exist. Together, as the body, covenanted together with Jesus, we represent the King and extend his rule, bringing forgiveness, healing, restoration, and deliverance wherever we go. People will experience the future that is heaven in us today.

That is what it means to be the church. It is know Jesus and make Him known. It is to be the hands and feet of Christ, Jesus with skin on!

We are on a mission from God. It begins with knowing our Father and continues with marching orders as the body of Christ, the kingdom of God. The kingdom is a people. It’s us! There is no Plan B.

One More Thing

Have you ever wondered why Jesus left? Why did He only spend 33 years or so on our planet and then pass the baton to us? He didn’t leave us alone. He sent the Holy Spirit to live inside us. When you receive and follow Jesus, you get the Holy Spirit, too. Unlike Jesus, the Holy Spirit is omni-present, able to be in many places at once, living inside of you and me. I believe this is what is behind Jesus’ promise to His disciples:

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

Notice Jesus didn’t just say this, He began with that emphasized phrase “I tell you the truth.” We are the body. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are to re-present Jesus—the Head of the body—to the world, making disciples of all nations, teaching them and baptizing them.

So what?

What has God been saying to you through this message? This series? What are you going to do about it?

For some of you, this is a season where you need to lean into relationship with God, embrace the reality that you are precious to your Creator, loved and cherished by your heavenly Daddy.

For others, it’s time to stop talking and start moving into kingdom activity. The king is giving you marching orders to love your neighbor, to serve the poor and weak, to give generously of your resources, to advance the kingdom on your knees in prayer, or even to get a passport and expand the kingdom beyond known territory.

But it’s not just about you. It’s about us. Together. The body. The church. The kingdom is a people and we are that people.

Scio Community Church

By the end of 2015 we hope to travel together to the
Dominican Republic and make disciples. We will have numerous opportunities to serve together in Life Groups. Each week we can read God’s Word together via our Facebook Scio Journal and pray using our weekly FirstWork prayer tool. We can help one another, encourage one another, and love one another. That’s the greatest indicator of our effectiveness. Jesus said it plainly:

This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:35)

Are you ready?

Credits

Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and 3DMovements.com.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Covenant & Kingdom: The Cross, 5 October 2014

Big Idea: The Cross is about a substitutionary death―our Covenant, and the victory of God over our enemies― the Kingdom.

Key Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Introduction

In previous weeks we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a
double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.
Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at the most important week in human history, the Passion Week.

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:20)

Did you catch that? Jesus introduces a new covenant in His blood. Remember, covenants required the shedding of blood for two parties to become one.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. (2 Corinthians 5:14)

As we have said throughout this series and our earlier series on Ephesians, followers of Jesus are “in Christ.” Whatever is true of Jesus is true of us. We’re on His team. We wear His uniform. Because Jesus died, we have died. Jesus is the Son of God. We are Sons of God (it’s not a gender issue).

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Jesus gave His life for us. The only appropriate response is to give ours in return.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!  (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)

This is not an instant thing. Jesus actually likens it to a birth. The moment you are born, you are completely human, but not fully developed. We are not perfect. Our world is not perfect. We can, however, live in peace in the midst of chaos knowing we are never alone and one day we will rule and reign with our Father the King forever.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: (2 Corinthians 5:18)

God the Father gives us the same ministry of reconciliation He gave Jesus because we are His, too! A human brought sin and death into the world and, therefore, God became human to conquer sin and death through Jesus. He became One of us. Last week we talked about how He understands temptation. He also understands pain and suffering.

Have you ever looked at our broken world and thought, “Why isn’t God doing something?”

He is.

You’re it!

…that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

We begin in covenant with the Father and then He enlists us to serve in His Kingdom, to announce the good news that Jesus is LORD. We are His team. There’s no plan B! He’s our Father. He’s the King. We have royal blood and represent Him.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

We are on a mission from God. We are His ambassadors, His representatives. When people see us, they see Him. You are the only Bible some people will ever read!

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21) 

That’s the cross. Jesus had no sin, yet God dumped our sin upon Him. It killed Jesus! By Jesus’ blood we get the antibody for the disease of sin. He became Sin and we become Sons (again, not gender). We become, to God, exactly as Jesus is. When the Father looks at you, He looks at you as if it was Jesus because we are one with Christ.

Covenant gives us value.
Kingdom gives us vision.

On the cross, Christ extends His arms as if to welcome us. He was suspended between heaven and earth, the vertical bar an image of our covenant relationship with the Father and the horizontal bar a picture of our kingdom responsibility to love our neighbor.

ʻAt that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!"ʼ (Matthew 27:51-54)

The day of Judgment came because God the Father judged sin. He declares His judgment upon Jesus. The earth shook. Rocks split. Tombs broke open. The universe was forever changed.

On the cross Jesus died instead of us.

His body was broken instead of ours.

His blood was shed as a new covenant.

He gave everything for us. It’s only appropriate that we return the favor.

ʻWhen you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the Cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.ʼ (Colossians 2:13-14)


The early church fathers described it this way: God tricked the devil! Satan thought he won when Jesus was put into the tomb, but Jesus had one final play!
Jesus entered the world of the dead and announced to the spirits captive there that He had won. Jesus has the keys to death and hell. He won them. He’s our champion!
You see, the Gospel is really really good! He has died in our place so that we might be in Covenant with God, so that we might be ONE with him, so that we might be connected again. And he has defeated the principalities and the powers of darkness, bringing forth the brightest of light and healing and is asking us to do the same.

Credits

Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and 3DMovements.com.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

Covenant & Kingdom: Temptation, 28 September 2014

Matthew 4:1-11

Big Idea: Jesus was tempted just like us—and He overcame it as we can by remembering who and Whose we are.

Introduction

In previous weeks we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a
double helix is woven in DNA.

Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

Covenant is about relationship. Being. Invitation.
Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing. Challenge.

Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at the most important character in the Bible—Jesus.

The story of the temptation of Jesus is familiar to many. After 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus refuses satan three times. If you’re like me, you may have thought it was easy for Jesus to stand up to temptation because He was God. However, He set aside the God-stuff when He came to earth in order to truly become one of us, to understand our struggles. In fact, Jesus giving in to temptation and seizing superpowers is exactly what satan wanted.

Jesus is able to represent the Father, the King, well because He understood His identity. He knew who He was.

Satan repeats one phrase: “IF you are the Son of God.” Specifically, he attacks Jesus in three areas:

Appetite:
turn stones into bread
Affirmation:
prove God’s protection by jumping from the Temple
Ambition:
worship me and receive the kingdoms of the world

What is your greatest temptation? What is your most common sin? Chances are, you are bombarded by one, two, or all three of these temptations.

Appetite

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” (Matthew 4:1-3)

Here we see one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Jesus did not eat for 40 days and was hungry. Surprise!

We all have appetites—for food, love, sleep, purpose…Cravings are not necessarily wrong. In fact, without some—like food—we would die. The issue is how we respond to our desires. It often involves control. We question whether God can be trusted.

Jesus knew God could be trusted and did not seize control in the situation. He was obedient to the Father who called Him into the wilderness for an essential season of prayer prior to selecting twelve disciples. He knew God was good. The Father could be trusted.

What do you crave? Food? Alcohol? A perfect body? Sex? Comfort? Security? Facebook?

There are not all bad, but if they control you, they become your idol, your god.

Perhaps you’ve tried unsuccessfully to rid yourself of addiction. The early church fathers used to say that if you say no to one appetite, you can say no to something else. Dallas Willard said it this way: “Do the things you can so you can do the things you can’t.” Use your will to give up something you can control so God’s Spirit will give you the power over the other.

One example of this is Lent, 40 days of saying no to an appetite to concentrate on your identity as a child of God.

To be honest, addictions can be nasty. It’s not as simple as giving up meat for 40 days in order to destroy all cravings. It’s a step, but others may be necessary, including support groups, accountability, and prayer.

Jesus was tempted, and He responded with Scripture.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

Jesus had spiritual food upon which He was nourished. He knew the truth and it set Him free.

Affirmation

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” (Matthew 4:5-6)

Now satan gets nasty. He starts misusing the Bible. Don’t miss this! People often flippantly say, “The Bible says…” What is the context? What did it originally mean? What does it mean today? You can’t pick and choose verses any more than you can pick and choose ingredients in a recipe (oops, I forgot the sugar in the cookies!!!).

Our identity must come from somewhere outside of us. We are prone to seek the approval of others. Instead of waiting to hear the Father say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant,” we want to be affirmed now.

Do people think I’m smart?
Do people think I’m pretty or handsome?
Do people think I’m a good parent?
Do people think I’m a good worker?
Do people like me?
Am I popular?

Approval can be an addiction. The crazy thing is often the people we want to affirm us are only temporarily in our lives. We are tempted to base our value on people that won’t even be in our lives in a few years…or maybe months.

What if we lived for an audience of One?

I struggle with this. I want people to like me. I want you to like me! I want to do things that make you happy…so you will like me! I want this sermon to be great so you’ll think I’m a great preacher and pastor! I’ve been tempted to ignore tough passages of the Bible, speaking only about things that will make you feel good.

But ultimately I have to answer to God. He loves me. He accepts me. I’ve been rejected many times by people—and it always hurts. The voice that really matters is the Father’s voice, and Jesus understood that.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:7)

Jesus did not need to impress satan or win his approval. He was confident in His identity as the Son of the Most High God.

Ambition

Success. It has been one of the most daunting words for me. Defining success has been a decades-long struggle. I want to be successful. I want to make a difference in this world. I want to do great things for God…and sometimes for my own glory!

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

What is success? Achieving goals? Knowing and doing what God tells you. Sometimes we are obedient and look like failures. The Bible is filled with such stories, but they continued to believe God is good and faithful.

God calls us to be faithful and obedient which does not always look like success in the eyes of the world that celebrates big, popular, and excellent.

I’m not saying winning or success is necessarily wrong, but it can be if it is the source of our identity. If your success in life is tied to your performance, something’s wrong—and for so many this is the case…especially artists. As an artist, I can say this! If I write a song and you don’t like it, I’m tempted to think you are rejecting me, which is idolatry. Some athletes believe if they don’t win, they are…losers—not in a game, but life. When we seek to win for our glory, we have made ourselves lord rather than God. We’ve worshipped the created rather than the Creator.

I’m a very competitive person. A few years ago on an elder retreat we had some competitive games of doubles ping pong. It was not televised on ESPN, but there were some close games. Unbeknownst to the others, my team was winning every game, and I was quite pleased…until my team lost. I hid it, but I was inappropriately overjoyed during the victories and agonized in the defeat. When we were done, I confessed my hidden sin to the others, exposing my wicked, prideful heart.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of this is the comparison game. Someone recently said all reality TV is designed to either make us feel good about ourselves or bad about ourselves as we compare ourselves to the winners and losers.

I’m probably most insecure about other pastors, especially pastors of large churches that have written books and speak at conferences. A part of me secretly—well, not now!—wants to be a Christian celebrity, be invited to speak in front of large crowds, and “do great things for God.” Do you see the shadow motive? God wants us to be involved in His mission on earth, but He wants us to serve Him rather than the other way around. Our motives are critical, though there is no such thing as completely pure motives!

Would you like a remedy? Try this:
choose to lose.

If an argument is going a certain way―choose not to have the last word. Lose the argument.
Choose relational harmony over winning an argument.
If youʼre playing golf or a board game or basketball―make the point of playing to bless your opponent and donʼt care if you win. Play for fun.
Go above and beyond at work but donʼt let anyone know. Chose to lose the opportunity to get credit for extra work.
Another way you can address this issue is to anonymously give—money, time, expertise. Give without seeking credit or reward. The Father is watching!
The Father was watching Jesus in the wilderness…with approval.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matthew 4:10)

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:11)

We’re not exactly sure what those final five words mean, but they’re pretty cool! Jesus passed the test. His preparation to begin His public ministry was complete, at least the wilderness part. He knew who He was. He had just heard the Father say at His baptism, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

Luke’s gospel account of the temptation of Christ ends with these words:

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)

Jesus passed this test, but it was hardly the end of temptation. He experienced every day of His life as we do.

So What?

Where you are being tempted. Is it your appetite? Your ambition? Affirmation? What way do you need to intentionally press into your identity as Godʼs child?
Your Daddy loves you. He’s nuts about you! He is so near you. He believes in you. He’s proud of you. Don’t forget Whose you are. You are a King’s kid!
Is there any desire in you for the accolades of men and women around you?

If so, take the words of the Father spoken over Jesus in the gospels and substitute your name for Jesus and allows those words to sink into your heart. 

The desire of approval is the commitment to remove shame. Shame in the world's eyes is removed by acclaim. We long for things that shout down the voice of shame. What is the alternative to acclaim for shame? Allowing the Word of God to speak and give faith.

"You are my son/daughter and I love you and I'm proud of you.” If He said it over Jesus it is true of us. 

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ (Matthew 6:9-13)

appetite: give us this day our daily bread
affirmation: lead us not into temptation
ambition: Yours is the kingdom, not mine

Credits

Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and 3DMovements.com.

You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

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