Psalm 148: Praise, 4 September 2022

Psalm 148: Praise!
Restoring Your Soul: Psalms

Series Big Idea:
The Psalms are filled with passionate expressions of the soul.
Big Idea: Let all of creation praise the Creator!
Praise the LORD! That’s the simple message of today’s scripture reading. Praise the LORD!
The original Hebrew word, which will be explained more fully later in a video, means to give glory, to sing praises, to go mad, to make fools, to boast. It has a connection to wedding songs and one reference says, “acted insanely.”
When is the last time you went bananas? When did you last embarrass yourself with your unbridled joy and enthusiasm?
Last night there were more than 100,000 people in
Columbus giving praise to young adults who were passing a pigskin. They sang praises. They boasted about their team. They gave glory to a university athletic program. To some, they appeared to be going mad, and to others they looked like fools.
Praise requires effort, passion, and energy…and an object. Praise the LORD!
This summer we’re in the book of Psalms, the song book of the Bible. We’ve looked at several themes about our relationship with God which all lead to praising Him.
Are you ready?
The heavens praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. (Psalm 148:1-4)
Have you ever witnessed this? I think you have! We might not see angels and heavenly hosts, but the sun and moon are quite spectacular, right? Were they created just for us, or could their movements actually be an expression of praise to their Creator?
What about the shining stars? We’ve mentioned them throughout this summer series. The more I learn about the
stars and galaxies, the smaller I feel!
I’ve shared the story before, but
William Beebe, the naturalist, used to tell this story about Teddy Roosevelt. At Sagamore Hill, after an evening of talk, the two would go out on the lawn and search the skies for a certain spot of star-like light near the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then Roosevelt would recite: “That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun.” Then Roosevelt would grin and say, “Now I think we are small enough! Let’s go to bed.” (
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for at his command they were created, and he established them for ever and ever—he issued a decree that will never pass away. (Psalm 148:5-6)
The name of the LORD is to be praised. It’s holy. It’s sacred. It’s powerful.
The earth and sea praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, (Psalm 148:7-8)
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and women, old men and children. (Psalm 148:9-12)
That includes you and me! The late Dallas Willard said,
“Sometimes we get caught up in trying to glorify God by praising what He can do and we lose sight of the practical point of what He actually does do.”
God is awesome. He can do great things, but He also does great things that deserve our praise. God is good…all the time! All the time…God is good!
We need to be reminded of this. We need to remember…because we so easily forget. We get freaked out by the news. Social media can cause anxiety. Life is filled with stress and trials and problems…and some are quick to blame God for all of their troubles rather than the sin which plagues our world.
All of creation—everything—is to praise the LORD!
Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. (Psalm 148:13)
We sang earlier about the name of the LORD. There are actually several names for God. We
often reference three because there is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We call this the Trinity. This is a mystery
The ancient Greek Fathers of the Church likened the Trinity to a dance. A weaving in and out, back and forth with a harmony of Spirit and a unity of purpose.
I like this statement from InterVarsity’s website which speaks of the Dance of Equality:
There is no hierarchy in the Trinity. The Son glorifies the Father and the Father glorifies the Son.  The Spirit glories Jesus.  The gospel of John paints this picture of equality powerfully for us.
The Trinitarian doctrine that we affirm proclaims the one God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit full of love and glory. Did you catch that in the doctrinal basis? “Full of love and glory.”
The Son and Spirit don’t lack glory. The Father doesn’t lack love. Far from it!  The New Testament says he lavishes his love on us by sending his Son! They highlight and spotlight and exalt and serve each other. The ancients called the relationship perichoresis, but the best way to describe it is to think of it as a dance.  They spin and whirl in a wild dance of love and trust until you can’t tell who’s leading and who’s following and all you know is that a great time is being had.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1-3)
The Trinity is certainly a mystery. I suppose if we completely understood God, we would be God!
The Bible gives numerous descriptions of the roles of the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. For whatever reason, I used to imagine the Father as the One who created everything, but John clearly states otherwise. Then again, Genesis 1:26 tells us that God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.” If that doesn’t sound like more than one Person…
We praise the Father. We praise the Son. We praise the Spirit. They are all God. They are God. But on this communion Sunday as we prepare to remember the work of Jesus on the cross, I want to show you references to Jesus specifically in Psalm 148.
Jesus the Messiah can be seen in this psalm. He is the
-       Creator of all things (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17)
       Captain of the hosts of the LORD (Joshua 5:14)
       Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2; Luke 1:78)
       Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)
He demonstrated power over
-       Storms (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:23-33)
       Trees (Matthew 21:18-22)
       Animals (Mark 1:13; 11:1-3)
And he has raised up for his people a horn,  the praise of all his faithful servants, of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD. (Psalm 148:14)

Credits: some ideas from Warren Wiersbe

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Psalm 8: Majestic, 31 July 2022

Psalm 8: Majestic
Series—Restoring Your Soul: Psalms

Series Big Idea: The Psalms are filled with passionate expressions of the soul.
Big Idea: Our God is majestic and worthy of praise.
I often say the two most important questions might be
Who is God?
Who are you?
How you answer those questions will tell me a lot about you, your identity, your values, and your worldview. Today we’re going to look at the first question, and I hope it impacts the second for you.
Who is God? Who are you?
Although God created us in His image, many have unfortunately returned the favor! We tell God what is fair. We define what is right and wrong. We jump in the driver’s seat and put Him in the trunk. I’ve got a very offensive thing to say to you today:
You are not God!
It’s tempting for all of us to want to be in control, to do things our way, to turn to God only when we need something from Him, and to make an idol out of ourselves, our needs, our desires. We do this out of pride and arrogance, but I wonder if there isn’t another reason. Could it be that our God is too small?
We don’t see too many visual depictions of God, but He is often seen as weak, angry, stupid, or sleeping. After all, why is the world out of control if God is truly sovereign and in control?
The short answer is He has chosen, for whatever reason, to allow satan and demons to tempt us for a season, but it won’t be forever. It might end when every man, woman, and child has heard the good news that Jesus is LORD. That’s our mission!
Today we’re continuing our series on the book of
Psalms, the songbook of the Bible. It’s important to recognize the psalms are not a history book. They are not a science textbook. The psalms are poetry, art, lyric.
The first course I took in seminary was called hermeneutics. It simply means interpreting the Bible. Our textbook was
How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Fee & Stuart. Perhaps the most profound statement in the book is:
A text cannot mean what it never meant to its author or his or her readers.
It’s amazing how many people read the Bible as if it was written in English in 2022 and jump to application today.
We begin with what it originally meant. The technical term is exegesis. Then, we examine what it means for us today…hermeneutics. Then, we seek to apply it to our lives. Sometimes this process is quick and easy. For example, in the book of Exodus, Moses records this command of the LORD:
“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 10:13)
Looking at the context—the Ten Commandments—and the repetition of this message elsewhere in the time period, it’s safe to assume God meant to communicate to His people they should not murder.
What does this verse mean for us today? Was it written only for people thousands of years ago? Was the message found in the New Testament? Did Jesus support the teaching? Yes! Could it mean we should not murder in 2022? I’m confident in saying yes. The application, then, is we should not murder!
If only every verse in the Bible was so simple and clear!
As we look at Psalm 8, notice the context is not instructions or history or even narrative story. It’s a songwriter trying to describe and worship God. This video from The Bible Project will help us understand Psalm 8. Psalm 8 is the first praise psalm and the only one addressed entirely to the Lord.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1a, NIV)
What comes to mind when you think of the word “majestic?” The original Hebrew word is “adder,” meaning majestic, glorious, magnificent, mighty, powerful, stately.
One dictionary describes the adjective “majestic” as
1. Impressive or beautiful in a dignified or inspiring way. synonym: grand.
2. Possessing or exhibiting majesty; of august dignity, stateliness, or imposing grandeur; lofty; noble; grand.
3. Having qualities of splendor or royalty.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.
I don’t think there’s anything in USAmerican culture that compares to British
royalty. The wedding, birthday, and anniversary celebrations are spectacular. The crowns and palaces associated with the royal family are truly majestic.
Can you imagine the majesty of God? The psalmist begins by associating majesty with the name of the LORD. His name alone is majestic. In fact, it’s so sacred, Jewish people refuse to speak it aloud. I once asked my Messianic Jewish friend if the Hebrew name was pronounced
Yahweh. He said somewhat gingerly, “That’s very close!”
The name of the LORD is holy, sacred, majestic. You may be aware just a few verses before the prohibition of murder, it is stated in command number three:
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name. (Exodus 20:7)
If you never speak the name—the thinking goes—you cannot misuse it or use it in vain. Tragically, Hollywood has turned God’s name—and Jesus, in particular—as a curse word. It is holy! It is majestic!
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1a, NIV)
It’s not just a Jewish thing. It’s not just an American thing. His name is majestic in all the earth! For all people. He is
our LORD! While we’re examining these words, the all-cap LORD is that sacred name, YHWH (Yahweh). The second Lord is Adonai, the more generic term for God or lord, literally “master.”
Did I mention you are not God?! You are special, loved, created in God’s image, but we are but dust, broken sinners in need of restoration, weak lumps of clay desperate for God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
Family, if we could get the focus off of ourselves and onto our majestic Lord, I believe our fear, worry, and anxiety would diminish. As pastor Donald said last Sunday, God is good…all the time. All the time…God is good! Taste and see that the LORD is good. King David continues,
You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. (Psalm 8:1b-2, NIV)
The bottom line of our church’s mission statement is God’s glory. It can be seen in the heavens or the sky. Children and infants praise the LORD. Maybe that’s what they’re trying to say when they cry!!! Jesus referenced this verse in Matthew 21:16 while welcoming the praise of children and silencing Jesus’ enemies as predicted here. God’s power and glory are greater than we can imagine. As I mentioned, He is allowing sin on the earth now, but someday soon, Jesus will return to rule and reign forever. Death will be defeated. Satan and his friends will be destroyed. Even now, demons tremble at the sound of the name of Jesus.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)
Have you ever admired a sunrise or sunset? Have you ever paused to stare at the stars in the sky? It’s hard in the city, but rural areas provide an amazing experience. The writer of Romans said,
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)
It really takes effort to believe the universe was one big accident.
You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5, NIV)
This is referring to mankind, to humans. Although it says angels, the original word, elohimˆ means God. Instead of being a little higher than animals, David is saying we’re a little lower than God. It’s truly incredible that God would be mindful of us, that He would care for us, that He would create us for a purpose, for a relationship with Him. It’s truly awesome that He would love you and me…warts and all!
Our value is determined by God, not social media, family, or our neighbors. He has created you to serve Him and share in His glory.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6-8, NIV)
There’s a prevailing message in our culture that we’re just animals. In fact, many seem to value animals over human life. I was recently selected to serve as a juror in a case that involved a murdered man and an injured dog. Some seemed more concerned about the cruelty to the animal than the death of the human! I love animals, but they were not created in the image of God. They were placed under the authority and stewardship of humans. The first book of the Bible—the first chapter of the Bible—makes this clear.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26, NIV)
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)
I know it’s not politically correct, but it is biblically correct to say
God created humans male and female in His image. I never thought such a statement would be controversial, but people have drifted so far from God’s design, it’s no wonder we live in a land of confusion. We are to love all humans and offer compassion to those who are suffering and struggling, but our source of truth must always be God and His Word, not what we might “feel” at a particular moment. I’m deeply saddened by the despair and desperation expressed by those who live without the LORD. Taste and see that the LORD is good…all the time!
OK, back to the main point, we are greater than other animals, according to God.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28, NIV)
We are to care for creation, not destroy it.
The psalm ends the way it begins.
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:9, NIV)
This is the theme of this song, this psalm. The LORD is majestic…in all the earth. The name of the LORD is majestic…in all the earth!
In summarizing Psalm 8, Warren Wiersbe notes,
God the Father created us to be kings, but the disobedience of our first parents robbed us of our crowns. God the Son came to earth and redeemed us to be kings (Rev. 1:5–6), and today the Holy Spirit of God can empower us to “reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). When you crown Jesus Christ Lord of all, you are a sovereign and not a slave, a victor and not a victim. “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:9).
Let’s proclaim his majesty to every living creature and declare the goodness of the LORD!
You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Covenant: Abram, 7 September 2014

Big Idea: God invites us into a covenantal relationship with Him for eternity.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

The original Hebrew word for image usually refers to an object of worship or idol. God created us for relationship. Sure, He had angels, but angels were not created in God’s image. Sure, He had created lions and tigers and bears (oh my!), but they were not created in God’s image. What sets apart from the rest of the creatures on the earth is we were made to know and reflect God.

The Lion King, there’s a great scene where Simba gazes into a pool of water and sees a reflection of His Father. I think that’s what God planned when He created us.

“Remember who you are. You are my son.”

…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7)

What beautiful, poetic imagery! God breathed life into Adam. Eve was then formed from Adam and they lived happily ever after. They were one with God. All was well…until The Fall. Adam and Eve broke the one, simple command God gave them by eating from the forbidden tree.

It could’ve ended there. They failed.

God knew, though. Like any dad, He knew His children were weak and susceptible to temptation. He knew they would fail. The knew forgiveness would be necessary…and even had a plan to bring a Second Adam to earth.

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:14)

People often characterize God in the Old Testament as mean and violent. While He takes sin very seriously, He also takes forgiveness seriously. He is a God of second chances…and third…and fourth…and…!

The Series

Look around. What do you see? All around you are things to see: people, objects, creation, etc. The view from space of our home is quite different, however.

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.

Our new series this fall is called Covenant & Kingdom. It is based upon ideas from Mike Breen and 3DMovements, a ministry that has been quite influential in the life of Scio in recent days. The book, Covenant & Kingdom, is available through Amazon or from I encourage you to get a copy and read ahead as we look at the big picture of the Bible.

Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA. Everyone get out your telescopes as we prepare to look at the incredible Bible.


What is a covenant? Some confuse it with a contract between two people, an agreement where if you scratch my back, I scratch yours. It is much more. It literally means “to become one.”

covenant, treaty, compact, agreement, an association between two parties with various responsibilities, benefits, and penalties; “to cut a covenant” is “make a covenant,” a figure of the act of ceremonially cutting an animal into two parts, with an implication of serious consequences for not fulfilling the covenant (NIV Hebrew Dictionary)

The essence of God’s covenant is captured in the summary promise, ‘I will be your God, and you shall be my people’ (e.g. Gn. 17:7; Ex. 6:7; 2 Cor. 6:16–18; Rev. 21:2–3). While the covenant is unilateral in establishment, it is mutual or two-sided in accomplishment.
(New Dictionary of Theology)

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

God exists in community—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They are one (John 17). In fact, we saw earlier God said, “

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness… (Genesis 1:26a)

“Us” refers to the Trinity, one God in three Persons. They are one. They exist in covenant. God wanted to be one with Adam and Eve but their relationship was severed by sin.

Sin was the cause of the great flood in Genesis 9. God told Noah

But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark — you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. (Genesis 6:18)

After the flood, God said to Noah

I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. (Genesis 9:11-13)

I wish I could say God’s children wised up and followed Him but two chapters later we see the arrogant trying to build a tower to reach the heavens and “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). God could’ve destroyed them but, instead, God said

“Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. (Genesis 11:7-8)

Notice again the plural reference: “let
us go down.”

This brings us to Genesis 12 and one of the most important humans to ever walk the planet.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

God makes a covenant with Abram and his wife, Sarai.

From a biblical point of view, faith to believe God comes from listening to God speak to us. Because of his faith, God gave Abram the gift of a relationship with him. Literally, God gave Abram “righteousness”—or a “right relationship” where no “wrong” could spoil it. This had to be given by God as a gift—Abram could not have it by any right or effort of his own. God had extended an invitation to Abram: an invitation to a journey that would lead all the way back to the Garden of Eden. (Mike Breen, Covenant & Kingdom)

Covenants involved two parties, both of whom had to participate. They both had to give up their old identities and begin new lives. Does that sound familiar? Marriage is a God-ordained covenant. He envisioned a man and woman choosing to give up their old identities as single people from distinct families and begin a new life together, forming a new family.

When my wife and I got married more than twenty-four years ago we began to share a bank account, a last name, a home, and even a bed. In a marriage covenant, the two become one, both literally and figuratively which is why marital intimacy is not merely about physical pleasure but an image of God’s design for unity and covenant.

In ancient times, animals were sacrificed to signify the importance of a covenant. Today we often have attorneys. They used animals!

God’s covenant always involve the shedding of blood. Perhaps you and a friend became “blood brothers” or “blood sisters.” When Adam and Eve sinned, God shed the blood of an animal to make clothes for them, to cover their nakedness. Later God rejected Cain’s sacrifice but accepted Abel’s…because it involved an animal sacrifice.

Although it seems odd in our day, …

When someone passed between the pieces of a butchered animal, the blood symbolized the surrender of the person’s old life. It was a visualization of death. The bloody passageway could also be argued to represent the birth canal and the beginning of a new life. (Breen, C&K)

God initiated and invited Abram into this covenant, to become one with Him. The word “atonement’ means “at-one-ment.” God invited Abram and Sarai to be partners with Him, to be in relationship with Him, to help shape human history with Him in blessing future generations.

He took letters from his own name—”Yahweh”—and gave one to each. In Hebrew, only the consonants are recorded, so Yahweh is written YHWH. (The vowels are added in speech as the text is read aloud.) God took his two “H’s” and gave one each to Abram and Sarai so that their names became Abraham and Sarah. Abraham became the “father of many nations” and Sarah remained a “princess,” but now her children would carry the mark of heaven’s King. Covenant is about “two becoming one,” and the identities of the partners are shared. God shows his amazing commitment to his Covenant partners in the gift of the letters of his name. (Breen, C&K)

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars — if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” (Genesis 15:5)

But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” (Genesis 15:8)

So the LORD said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.” (Genesis 15:9)

Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. (Genesis 15:10-11)

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” (Genesis 15:12-16)

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates — the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.” (Genesis 15:17-21)

God makes a covenant with Abram. He will be one with Abram forever.

Covenants were common in the day and it was largely understood that a greater would confer upon a lesser. The strong one always initiated and conferred grace. Family language is used. God gives Abram an astonishing gift to be one.

God didn’t have to do it. He could’ve remained afar, ordering us to obey like robots or destroying us for disobedience. How could the Creator of the universe sacrifice for sinful, weak creatures like us? It’s truly amazing!

Notice God reveals Himself through fire, a burning motif that shows God’s zeal, judgment and holiness. He would later appear to Moses in a burning bush.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age — and Sarah herself was barren — was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. (Hebrews 11:11-12)

So What?

God created us for relationship. Despite the failures of Adam, Eve, the people in Noah’s day, the people at the Tower of Babel, and even Abraham and Sarah, God continues to pursue us. He extends mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

Although most of us are not Jewish descendants of Abraham, because of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross we have been grafted in as Gentiles. We have been adopted as sons and daughters. As we studied earlier this year our identity is “in Christ.” Everything that can be said about Jesus and His identity can be said of us. Everything God has is ours. Everything God can access we can access.

The sign of the covenant for Abraham was circumcision. Ouch! It was nothing compared to the pain Jesus would endure.

Circumcision was not a public sign but, rather, a personal reminder of the Covenant that God had made with his people. Abraham and all his male descendants would bear a mark on their bodies to confirm that their old lives were gone (literally “rolled away”) and new lives had begun. Many Covenant-making cultures throughout history and around the world have used scars as a way to ratify agreements. We have some knowledge of the “blood brother” rituals of the Native American peoples and the Roman legionnaires. The physical reminder of a scar had an important role in underlining the significance of the relationship. In this case, the scar of circumcision makes a clear statement that the spiritual and physical are interlinked, not separate. Interestingly, scars continue as important signs of the New Covenant in Jesus. Remember, Covenant is a relationship of “oneness” and reciprocation. God asked Abraham to bear a scar in order to confirm their Covenant—but in the New Covenant, God himself chose to carry scars. The resurrected body of Jesus bears scars to this day. (Breen, C&K)

[Luke 24:40; John 20:27]

It may sound cliche, but God loves you.

Nothing you can do can make Him love you more.
Nothing you can do can make Him love you less.

He invites us into relationship with Him both now and forever. He wants us to be real with Him. As we sang earlier, He invites us to walk with Him and talk with Him in the garden…or home or office or school. We are one. That’s covenant.

Abram and Sarai could not have imagined that their covenant sealed with the blood of animals would foreshadow a greater sacrifice, the Lamb of God. Jesus said to His followers, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)


Ideas for this series taken from book Covenant & Kingdom by Mike Breen and

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

Sex, 4 May 2014

Big Idea: God loves sex. He created it! Like fire, it is beautiful within its proper boundaries and potentially deadly beyond.

Several months ago I came across an article entitled, “5 uncomfortable issues the church needs to talk about.” I read those words as a challenge! The article reads:

It has been said that the Church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners. Yet, most of us would much rather pretend to be a saint on display than call for an ambulance.

Week after week, many of us walk into a church, sit by people we have known for years and yet would never dream of sharing our innermost struggles with. While a large part of this is our pride, another factor is a Church that seems unwilling to talk about certain uncomfortable issues, choosing rather to ignore them, try to cover them up or simply reject people who bring them up.

There are many issues the Church as a whole needs to address, such as creationism, activism, environmental stewardship and many others. But there are many more issues that individuals in the Church are dealing with—issues that the Church Body should be talking about. In Galatians 6:2, Paul urged the Church to "Bear each other's burdens," so maybe with more grace and love we can turn on the light in the darkened rooms of each other’s hearts and let our churches become safe havens for the uncomfortable things we have to deal with.

Many of these issues need to be dealt with professionally first. But that should not be the end of it. Research shows just listening to someone and showing them you genuinely care for their situation can be a huge part of that person's healing process.

This is far from a comprehensive list—these are a few of the issues many people in churches around the world are dealing with, whether they admit it or not. And as people increasingly leave the Church, often over issues such as these, it is becoming more urgent that the Church talk about how to care for every one of its members.

The list includes doubt, loneliness, mental illness, addiction, and today’s topic, sexuality.

This series may frustrate you because we can’t fully unpack such important and challenging issues in thirty minutes. I hope to acknowledge the subject and provide resources for further study (see below). Once again, this will not be a comprehensive presentation but hopefully a starting point on a very important subject churches often fail to address. Tragically, our world never fails to address this issue of sexuality…and they are messed up! John 10:10 says

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

As we said a few weeks ago, we are in a battle. We have a real enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy you, me, our families, our planet. He cannot create anything. He can only distort and destroy that which God has made.

The contrast between God’s view of money and the world’s view is stark.
The contrast between God’s view of power and the world’s view is stark.
The contrast between God’s view of sexuality and the world’s view is stark.

Following Jesus is a radical endeavor! What I’m about to say may sound old-fashioned. It is. It’s about 6000 years old…and it still works today!!!

  1. In the beginning God…

The Bible is the story of God. History is His story. While we are included, it’s not about us. It’s about God. God was in the beginning (John 1:1-2)

In the beginning God… (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

As the song says, this is my Father’s world. He created it. He entrusted its care to us, but it is not ours.

2. God creates human beings in His image.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him… (Genesis 1:27a)

That is one of the greatest truths in the Bible. God created us in His image. We’re not junk! We’re not an accident! Every human has value, dignity and worth. Every human!

3. God creates human beings in His image as two distinct genders, male and female.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Male and female are different…by design. By God’s design.

When one of my kids was little, I began the sexuality conversation by asking what’s different about boys and girls. This child said, “Girls have long hair and boys have short hair!”

We are different, and it’s just our bodies that are different. We are wired completely differently. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus! It’s easy to see this in the toys children enjoy and the way they communicate.

Men and women complement one another (yes, they can compliment one another, too!).

Our differences create challenges and conflicts, but those grow and shape us.

Men, don’t try to be women. Women, don’t try to be men. God created you male or female and He wants you to flourish in your gender, in your sexuality.

One of the reasons people are so confused about their sexuality is we are bombarded with messages that say we’re the same. We should wear the same clothes. We should wear the same cologne. We should act identically.

Men and women are not the same. Men and women are equivalent!

One dozen is not the same as twelve, but they are equivalent.
Four quarters is not the same as two halves, but they are equivalent.

God created male and female different. We are both equally important and loved. We are to celebrate and enjoy our differences, and there are many!

4. God’s commanded our ancestors to reproduce.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Genesis 1:28a)

Be fruitful and multiply. Have babies!
One flesh. Leave and cleave.
Sex was God’s idea. It was a command! Just do it! With one caveat.

5. Sex is like fire.

Several years ago I was talking to one of my children near our fireplace. I said, “Sex is like this fire.” I wish you could’ve seen the response!
When the fire remains within the boundary of the fireplace, it brings great warmth and beauty to our home.

However, if the same fire were to go beyond the fireplace, even a few inches, it would consumer our house in flames and destroy everything in its path.

The same is true for sex. Within marriage, sex is a beautiful gift from God. Outside of marriage, sex can be a destructive act, not only potentially leading to unplanned pregnancy or diseases but also permanent memories and scars. It can literally kill you.

I’ve often thought of sex as somewhat unique from other sins. When is murder acceptable? When is stealing acceptable? When is idolatry acceptable? When is sex acceptable? On the wedding day and beyond, but not a day sooner.

Why? It’s a powerful force. God created it for marriage, literally bringing together a husband and wife. Our bodies are beautifully designed to fit together, and doing so causes a sacred bond, like glue, making the two become one.

I wish I had time to read through the Song of Solomon this morning. It is the romance book of the Bible and gets quite steamy. Some prudes have said it’s nothing more than a metaphor for Jesus and the Church. WRONG! There may be parallels, but it is love poetry and required reading for every married person…and singles, too (but be careful!).

Paul wrote these words to the church in Corinth:

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit. (1 Corinthian 6:15-17)

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)


6. We are to glorify God with our bodies

We just read that we are to honor God with our bodies.

If you are single, glorify God with your body.
If you are married, glorify God with your body.

Tragically, I’ve known too many singles who misuse sex and don’t glorify God with their bodies. They’ve bought the lie that their “pursuit of happiness” is life’s highest priority and ignore the boundaries of marriage established by God. The fire leaves the fireplace.

Tragically, I’ve known too many married people who misuse sex and don’t glorify God with their bodies. They have selfishly demanded from their spouse or withdrawn from their spouse and become selfish with their bodies rather than recognizing God delights when husband and wife surrender themselves to one another. They seek intimacy through pornography, flirting at the office, or fantasy rather than pursuing their life partner and intentionally creating time and space for mutual submission, love and pleasure.

Paul, again speaking to the church in Corinth wrote:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)

Translation: married people should have great sex…with one another! This honors God.

Years ago I served at a church in Chicagoland and the pastor did a sermon series on worship. One of his messages was about worship in the bedroom. His premise was when a husband and wife come together to serve one another, it is a sacred act of worship.

I have never thought of worship the same ever since!!!

Seriously, though, we are to glory God with our bodies.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)


God created sex. It’s His idea. He created us male and female to compliment one another, to procreate, to bond a husband and wife, and for pleasure in marriage. Like fire, it can destroy or delight. Few topics are more important. If you’re married, I pray you will have a fantastic sex life, serving one another. If you are single, I pray you will honor God with your body, too. This is a challenge for all of us in our sex-crazed, sex-confused culture.

Many of you here and listening online may be feeling guilt and shame at this moment. Know that forgiveness if available. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. From this day forward, you can honor God with your body.

One More Thing

Some religions are so sensitive about male/female relationships that they avoid any relationship with members of the opposite sex. This is far from the teachings of scripture. So how now shall we live? How do we treat one another?

Paul says as siblings.

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2)

For those of you dating, this is a great approach. That’s not to say a dating couple should never kiss—though I had a friend in college that saved his first kiss for his wedding day…and they courted for more than five years! I’m not suggested a kiss is necessarily inappropriate for a dating couple, but we are to treat one another as siblings. After all, we are a family…and we’re all related by blood…Jesus’ blood.

Recommended Resources For Further Study by Married Couples

Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage by Kevin Leman
A Celebration Of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God's Gift of Sexual Intimacy by Douglas Rosenau
Intended for Pleasure: Sex Technique and Sexual Fulfillment in Christian Marriage by Wheat M.D., Ed, Gaye Wheat and Dennis Rainey
What Wives Wish their Husbands Knew about Sex: A Guide for Christian Men by Richard Rupp, Ryan Howes, and Stephen Ph. D. Simpson

Recommended Resources For Further Study by Singles (note: I have not read these but they look valuable)

The Sacred Search: What If It's Not about Who You Marry, But Why? by Gary Thomas
Sex and the Single Christian Girl: Fighting for Purity in a Rom-Com World by Marian Jordan Ellis
The Single Christian: Your Sassy Saved Single Girl's Guide to Sex, Dating & Relationship A series of encouragement... by Loria Hubbard
Praying for Your Future Husband: Preparing Your Heart for His by Robin Jones Gunn aRobin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer
Every Single Woman's Battle: Guarding Your Heart and Mind Against Sexual and Emotional Compromise by Shannon Ethridge
Every Man's Battle: Every Man's Guide to Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time by Stephen Arterburn, Fred Stoeker and Mike Yorkey
Boundaries in Dating: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Relationships by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

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