Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 27, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 12. Today marks our last Sunday in our series entitled “The Summer of Psalms.” And I could not have planned it better myself, for we are ending as we began, with a focus on the treasure that is the Word of God.
As you saw in your announcements, next week we will begin a new four week series on the Holy Spirit. I must admit that I am looking forward to tonight and the next five weeks as I begin to equip myself by soaking in all of the Biblical text regarding the Holy Spirit. I have yet to devote myself to an extensive study on the Holy Spirit, so I am exited about what the Spirit will reveal to me about Himself. With that said, I would appreciate your prayers and I begin this journey so that I can preach with Biblical accuracy, and not hearsay.
However, today we will finish strong with a fantastic text, Psalm 12. Let us read out text, pray that God would lead us into truth, and then let the Word of God mold us into Christlikeness.
This Psalm begins like so many Psalms written by David, from the depths of dependence. As we have talked about before, David was a man of faults, a man of failure, a man of sin. However, what distinguished David from others is that he was aware of his desperate need for the Sovereign Power of God. Like for so many artists, his muse in writing these songs was the brokenness of life. In the case of Psalm 12, David Is lamenting the lack of faithful, godly men in the world.
For David, the reality of godless men filling the earth caused him to cry out to God for help. Why? Because David new the ramifications of living outside of God's will. He knew the consequences of sin. He had seen it in his own life, adultery, lying, murder. And as he dwelt upon these consequences on a world wide scale he knew that it would lead to only one conclusion...mass suffering. You can see this in verse 5 when David speaks of the plundering of the poor that leads to groaning of those in need.
God had given David the ability to see the dangerousness of sin. He knew that sin wasn't something to be shrugged off or tolerated. He knew the societal poison and pain of disobeying God's Word.
Perhaps many of you can relate to David. As you flip through the channels on TV, watch the news, listen to conversations at work, look at facebook, you see the pervasive sin of the world and it makes your heart ache because you know that pain is on the horizon. You know that living life separated from God produces suffering, therefore when you see the exultation of vileness and your heart mourns.
Perhaps the most pervasive exultation of vileness that we see today is the current sexual revolution. Our society is currently overwhelmed by sensuality, seduction, pornography, adultery, bisexuality, homosexuality, and pologamy. Each one of these acts is a willful and deliberate rejection of God's Word. Not only are these godless acts done and tolerated, but they are celebrated as empowering and liberating. But for those who have eyes like David, we know the truth, these godless acts do not liberate, they enslave. They enslave our society to things like fatherless children, abortions, prostitution, divorces, rape, guilt, depression, and the destruction of families, and ultimately a life of willful rebellion against God, leads to the penalty of eternal death. Romans 1 speaks to this reality.
So why does the world live lives of such godlessness if it produces so much pain? The easy answer to this is that we are all sinners, that are hearts are desperately sick and wicked, and this would of course be true, but David could not look at the heart of man, so instead he listened to what came out of the heart.
Lets pause and ask the question, “What causes the godless to lie?” Yes, we know it is evil treasure in our heart, but why does evil treasure produce lies and deception? I think the answer has to do with who is your father. Listen to what Jesus says to a crowd who had rejected him.
This world is very simple. You have one of two fathers: Satan or God. There is no third option or neutral position. For those who reject Christ, their Father is the devil. And whether they recognize this or not, they are a chip off the old block. Their inherent desire is to do Satan's will. The way Paul describes this in Ephesians 2 is that all those who do not believe in Jesus follow Satan and are sons of disobedience.
And at the core of who Satan is that he is a liar. Satan does not stand in the truth, for there is no truth in him. The evil treasure in the heart of Satan is one that is entirely void of any truth. His character is to lie, he is the Father of lies.
We see the true colors of Satan right out of the gates in his first official appearance in Genesis 3. The sole purpose of his interaction with Eve is to trick her by deception, by lies. Perhaps it would be good if we were to look at the Father of lies in action. Turn briefly to Genesis 3.
They way by which Satan ushered humanity into his family, and enslave them to sin was through a simple little lie, “You will not surely die.” And it should be noted that the lie of Satan was not spoken alone, but was accompanied by a false promise of pleasure. "you will be like God,” The lie was laced with the sugar of temptation. Satan knew that the lie would not be enough, it had to be accompanied with a promise of something better than what God had provided.
As Eve stood their looking at the fruit, she was lured by the promise of being like God and she took the bait and ate of the fruit. In that moment she doubted God's goodness, and disobeyed his Word. And this is the ageless strategy of Satan, luring man away from his Creator will by promising something better. And for those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, they are pawns in Satan's game. They are the mouthpiece of the devil, twisting and distorting the truth, lying, flattering, plundering the weak one word at a time.
When you think about it, the examples of this come easy. Perhaps it is a email that shows up soliciting you to look at pictures and claiming that no one will find out. Perhaps it is a co-worker counseling you to drown your sorrows. Perhaps it is a friend who tells you that “You deserve better in a marriage, and the grass is greener.” Perhaps it is an advertisement that says, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Perhaps it is a phrase “Love is love.” Perhaps it is a social worker who tells you that you are two young to raise a baby. Perhaps it is a boyfriend who tells you that we need to find out if your are compatible and therefore have sex before marriage.
This is the essence of sin. It promises something that never pans out. Yes, perhaps you will have a momentary pleasure, but it is guaranteed to fade and it will eventually manifest into suffering.
This is the state of this world, people have taken the bait and swallowed the lies of Satan. Believing that life will be better outside the will of God, but it never is. Like Eve, our sins put us into a place of shame, separation, division, and brokenness. Our Garden of Eden becomes a field of thorns. David knows this, and prays for God's help. He prays for God to save them from the poisonous lies of this fallen world.
God Will Keep Them
And we see the help of God in verse 5 and 7, “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.” and “You or Lord will keep them, you will guard us.” As we have seen time and time again, God hears David's cry for help and He answers. God declares that He will take action and save His people from the suffering that flows from lies of this world. How will He do it? He will place His people on the firm foundation of the Word of God. Nestled in between verse 5 and verse 7 is verse 6.
And it is the weapon that God gives us to go to battle against the schemes of Satan who is constantly trying to find a foothold and deceive you by dangling a lie and a hollow promise of satisfaction before your eyes.
Psalm 119 is perhaps the most comprehensive chapter in the Bible that speaks to the beauty of God's Word. In verse 11 it says this, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The Psalmist recognized the war that he was in the midst of and he recognized the weakness of his flesh, so in response he equipped himself with the weapon that would lead to victory, the Word of God.
My prayer for this Church is that God would set us and keep us in the safety of His Word. The Word that points to His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Word that shines a light unto our path, the Word that gives us strength to weather the storms of this life, the Word that sustains us and feeds us and sanctifies us.
When you walk out of this building today you will be bombarded with the lies of this World. The question is what will you do about it? Will you be like Adam and Eve, or will you be like the author of Psalm 119. Today I want to end with text from John 6:66. It summarizes my desire for each of you.
My hope is that God has chosen you and set you in the Kingdom of his beloved son. A kingdom that honors its King and longs to hear and obey His decrees. My hope is that not reading the Words of Christ is unfathomable to you. My desire is that you don't see the Bible just as a historical document, but a book that gives life.
And I hope that your passion for God's word does not end with you, but spills out onto others that come into contact with you, your spouse, your children, your co-workers, your neighbors. Share with them the pure silver of God's word. Give them the truth that will set them free bondage of Satan's lies. If you don't, who will.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 20, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 11. Today is our second to last Sunday in our sermon series named the Summer of Psalms. It is interesting to note that after next Sunday we will have only covered eight percent of the Psalms. In light of all that we have learned about who God is and who we are, one would think we would have covered way more than only eight percent. However, I believe this perceived disparity speaks to the depth of this book. The book of Psalms is a very deep well of the knowledge of God. No devotional book, or hymnal holds a candle to the truth that is contained in these 150 Psalms. I hope that all of you have recognized this over the last 3 months and make it a point to read the book of Psalms every year for the rest of your life. As we read at the beginning of our series in Psalm 1 our delight should be in God’s Word, and our meditation on it should be daily. This will lead to the producing of fruit in our lives that spiritually prospers us in the midst of a fallen world.
With that said, let us continue to pursue the fruit the comes from soaking in God’s Word by reading Psalm 11 together, pray, and then dwell upon its application in our lives.
David, our Psalmist, begins by saying in verse 1, “In the Lord I take refuge.” This statement by David is a declaration of trust. David is asserting that the Lord is his stronghold, that the Lord is his protector. David is claiming that his confidence is in God.
In this day and age it would not be uncommon for you to see this verse, or something like it, posted on Facebook. Most likely it would be in the form of some type of pretty picture with perhaps a mountain in the background and some attractive model down on his or her knees with Psalm 11:1 written in cursive. We are all quick to proclaim that we trust in God.
In fact that is what it means to be a Christian, trusting in the promises of God that are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Many times, instead of saying trust, we use the word faith, or believe. The definition of a Christian is one who has faith in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. The Bible is abundantly clear about the means by which we are saved.
But Do You Really Believe?
In light of that, most Christians, if asked if they believe in Jesus, they would answer with a resounding yes. They would claim a faith in Jesus because they know that the Bible is clear that the only way to receive forgiveness for our sins and eternal life is by saying yes. But here is the question, do they really believe? Sure you can claim Christ as your refuge, but is he really your refuge? Or are those just words.
This was the issue in the book of James. The author James was sick and tired of people going around claiming they believed in Jesus, but seeing no legitimate transformation in their life. No consistency with their mouth and their actions.
Do You Pass the Test?
In Psalm 11 David declared that God was his refuge. In order to see if that was really true, we see in verse 4 and 5 a testing of that self-proclaimed trust in God.
David, however, was not the only one in the Bible who was tested. Two familiar stories of testing are Abraham and Job. Abraham was tested by God when he was asked to sacrifice his son.
With this said, we must be careful, for the testing of God through the wickedness of man must be understood rightly. We must recognize that God through these testing keeps his hands clean. God is not bending the bow against David, it is the wicked. However, he is allowing it.
Once again, I think Job is very helpful in understanding how this works. If you recall, it was God who brought Job to Satan's attention, but it was Satan who begged to destroy him. It was only after God's permission that Satan could take one step towards Job. Peter is another example of this in Luke 22:31, when Jesus informs Peter that Satan has demanded to sift him like wheat. Satan new his place, and he knew he could not act against Peter without God's permission, so it was God's will, but his hands were clean.
The same is true with David in Psalm 11. The wicked were the ones who longed to destroy David, but it is only after God's permission that they could pull back there bow. Why was this permission granted, to test David.
And the same is true for us. Our testing is done at the will of God, but the instruments for the testing are the wicked and the temptation comes from our sinfulness. Even though God is allowing it, his hands are clean.
We Shall See His Face
For those who fail the test, and abandon Christ and flee to the mountains of this world like a weak little bird, their portion will be that of the wicked: coals, fire, sulfur and scorching wind. But for those who stand and fight, who lift of the shield of their faith and extinguish the fiery arrows of Satan, our reward will be that we will see God. Those who are upright at the end of the war will stand face to face with God. These words are the words of David, but they are also the words of Jesus.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 13, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 10. While you are doing so, I want to give you a preview of what our next year will look like at Cornerstone Church. Beginning in October, I will be starting a four week series on the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. As Francis Chan has appropriately called him, the Forgotten God. This series will begin October 4th.
In November, I will be tackling on the topic of Marriage. This will be a five week series and we will be examining marriage in the context of its purpose, its problems, and its potential. In light of this, I want to encourage all of you to be praying and inviting couples to join us in the month of November. There are so many broken and Christ-less marriages in this world, and we should not sit back and watch as their marriages fall apart. We should be doing all we can to point to the solution, Jesus Christ. This sermon series will be one way to do this.
In December we will be focusing our attention on the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in light of the Christmas Season, and then in January we will be launching perhaps our longest journey we have ever embarked upon, expositional preaching through the entire book of the Gospel of John. Hopefully this road map will give you a sense of anticipation and some guidance in how you can invite family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers in the months ahead. Today, however, we are in Psalm 10. Let us read our text, pray, and work through this Psalm together.
Psalm 10 is believed to be a companion of Psalm 9. If you hold them side by side you see a lot of similarities such as the focus on the oppressed and the Kingship of the Lord. However, you also see some stark differences. For one, the two Psalms start completely differently. In Psalm 9 we see the Psalmist thanking and praising God for all that he has done, but in Psalm 10 the Psalmist begins somewhat accusatorially.
And this is in a sense the essence of the Bible. God uses fallible man to proclaim His infallible Word. Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 4:7.
God uses weak vessels to display his power and strength. For us today, this is what is happening in Psalm 10. The Psalmist is complaining that God is an absentee Father. He is grumbling that God is negligent in his duty to supervise the inner workings of life.
Perhaps some of you can relate to this sentiment. Perhaps some of you have found yourself in a situation where you desperately needed the Lord and you cried out to him and you felt like he was a million miles away. You desperately desire for him to make things right, change your circumstances, save the day, yet He chooses not to.
I think if we are honest, we would all agree that we have been in those situations. We have all had those moments before the Lord and we have indicted him for his apparent lack of response. As I was pondering this one Biblical example came to my mind, and it is the example found in John 11 involving the death of Lazarus. If you recall Lazarus was sick and his sister, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus and asked him to come. Instead of Jesus coming immediately to the rescue, he waited. In the meantime, Lazarus died. It was only after Lazarus’ death that Jesus went to Mary and Martha. And these were the first words out of Martha’s mouth when Jesus finally showed up.
Window into a Depraved Heart
So what was the Psalmist lamenting in Psalm 10? To put it simply, the Psalmist was lamenting the wickedness of man and the consequences of their actions. Verse 2, “the arrogance of the wicked.” Verse 3, “The wicked boasts.” Verse 4, “the wicked does not seek.” Verse 13, “the wicked renounce God.” Verse 15, “the wicked and evil doer.”
The word wicked in Psalm 10 is “rasha.” This word means someone who is guilty of a crime; who is hostile to God. Therefore to be wicked is to go against God’s will. Now this is an important point because many people want to redefine what is good and what is bad. We like to put lipstick on a pig, if you will. It is important to understand that the definition of wicked is anchored in the unchanging immutable God. Wickedness is defined by what God has declared to be right and wrong. Wickedness is rejecting God’s will and instead pursues their own will. You can see this in our text.
Why do the wicked do this? Verses 2, 3, 4 tells us because we are arrogant, boastful, and prideful. The wicked raise themselves us and declare themselves to be gods of their own life. This was the essence of the tree in the garden that Adam and Eve ate from, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We now believe we know what is good and evil. We attempt to define those instead of letting God define what is good and evil. We make our own rules and we cast God aside believing that he doesn't see our sin, doesn't care about our sin, or doesn't even exist. Therefore we run around and do whatever our coveting hearts desire.
The Wake of the Wicked
But here is the problem. Behind the lives of the wicked is a wake of disaster. The pursuit of sinful, selfish desires comes at the expense of others.
Since 1973, approximately 57 million babies have been killed through abortions. To put his in perspective in World War 2 there were 400,000 American lives lost. Abortion in America 57 million. Hitler killed 6 million Jews. Abortion in America 57 million. The only thing that comes close in comparison is the Bubonic plague, which is viewed as the greatest disaster in all of human history. It killed 50 million. But it is still short of the ever climbing number of abortions in America 57 million. In America there are approximately 3,000 abortions committed every single day. 22 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. Why?
Psalm 10 tells us. Because of sin, because of evil hearts, because of greedy and wicked hearts. Lets be honest, babies are killed so that people can drive a better car, or climb the corporate ladder, or keep having sex with whomever we want. Helpless, innocent babies are crushed so that they don't interfere with the desires of our soul, and if that wasn't enough their parts are labeled specimens and sold for $100 so that Doctors can drive better cars and drink wine over lunch. The wickedness of this makes me want to weep, and it should do the same to you. The depravity of this world should break our heart just like it broke the heart of the author of Psalm 10. And it is not just abortion, you can fill any sin in the blank, and the consequence is the same. Sin is deceptive. It promises happiness, but all it produces in the long run is sorrow.
As the psalmist stood back and took a survey of the world and witnessed the disastrous wake of the wicked, he cried out to “Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?” The psalmist was mourning over the consequences of sin in this world, but as Jesus said in his great Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
How? By the end of the Psalm he had awakened to the reality of who God is. No matter how far away God may feel He is always near. No matter how many times we believe he is not watching, He is. No matter how often it appears that evil is winning, it is not. God is not an absentee Dad. He sees everything, and he keeps track of all and some day justice will reign. No matter how sinful this world gets, God is still on the throne.
And for everyone who has turned from their wicked ways and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior and their Lord, we should find strength for our heavy hearts in this reality. This recognition that our God reigns should produce an endurance in us that gives us the ability to run the race to the end. God may not take away the evil immediately, but we know that some day that day will come whereby we will finally enter into God's rest. Where man will not longer strike terror on the earth.
And what will happen to the arrogant, God rejecting, wicked men who pursued the passions of their greedy heart? Their wickedness will be called to account by the God who sees, and they will perish.
Call to Repent
In this room, I know we have people who have rejected God. You have spent your life living life according to your own standards. Either you believe God doesn't care about sin, or that God doesn't even exist. If that is you, I want you to consider the risk you are taking with your soul. Someday the God of the Universe is going to call your name to stand before him and everything that you did in the darkness will be brought into the light, and you will have to pay the penalty for your rebellion. The payment is eternal torment in Hell.
But I want you to know that it doesn't have to be that way. If you are breathing there is still time to get right with God. No matter how wicked you are, you can be forgiven through Jesus Christ. Today choose to turn from your self centered ways and turn to Jesus Christ. Instead of living life your way, like God's way, and rely on Jesus Christ to pay the penalty that you owe. Allow Christ to absorb the wrath of God. Trust in his life, death and resurrection, and get right with the Lord who is King before he calls you to his courts. Choose this day to follow Christ and let your heart be strengthened by the Grace of God.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on September 6, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 9. As we begin today, I would like to remind everyone what the Bible is. The Bible is God’s revelation of who He is to humanity. The Bible is a book about God and for us. Too often we forget this.
As we have discussed last week, the heavens declare God’s glory, and the sky proclaim his handiwork. By this we mean that when you look at Creation is screams of a Creator. Arguing that creation and all of its beauty, harmony, and order exists because of chance is a denial of the billions of pieces of observable evidence that God is there. Theologically we call the knowledge of God through Creation, general revelation. It is the revelation that is from Creation.
Many people in their pursuit of the knowledge of God rely predominately on general revelation. Many people seek to understand God by sitting in a tree stand, or taking a walk in the woods, or a pilgrimage to the Mountains. If this is your main way of knowing God, then you are taking great risks with your sanctification. In fact, general revelation is many times where we see Satan getting a foothold in your life and making a wreck of your faith. Why? Because God’s general revelation is general. Its purpose is not to reveal to you the specifics of who God is, its purpose is to declare God’s existences. So what or how has God chosen to reveal the of who He is? The Bible.
1 Corinthians 2:11 says, “no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” It is the Spirit of who knows God. Then in 2 Peter 1:20, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit revealing to us the realities of who God is. It is the Inspired Scriptures that gives us a right understanding of the Maker of the Stars that we read about last Sunday. It is the Living Word that reveals to us such truths that cuts us to the heart. It is the Holy Bible that enlightens our hearts to see God the way He truly is and keeps us from worshiping counterfeit gods. It is God's Word that anchors us in absolute truth. So with that said, let us read from this awesome book and discover together who our God is as stated in Psalm 9.
The first thing I want to draw your attention to is David’s intentionality in this Psalm. As the Psalm begins, it is as if David is working himself up to worship, as if he is reminding himself as to what he is doing.
If we are honest, Church has a risk of becoming routine. We meet at set time, in a set place, and we have our set expectations. Every Church has their liturgy. We know that around 10:00 we all funnel into the sanctuary and I say, “Welcome to Cornerstone Church, we are glad you are here. Why don’t we all stand and sing our first song…” And then away we go.
The question we should ask ourselves is, “Are we ready to worship?” Are our hearts prepared to praise the God of the Universe? Or are we risking worshiping God in vain? Are we at risk of going through he motions, playing church? If so, we must fix this for Jesus had some very harsh words towards false worshipers.
One way that we could do this is to come to Sunday School. Spend time studying God’s Word with your brothers and sisters in Christ from 8:30-9:30 every Sunday. Another way is to grab a couple people and find a space in the Church and be in prayer together, thanking God for all that he has provided. Yet another way could be to come into the sanctuary and find your place a couple minutes before service begins and close your eyes or open your Bible and draw near to God. God promises if we draw near to Him, he will draw near to us. Or another way could be to wake up earlier and have a time of devotion to the Lord. Let us choose to be intentional in our praise.
At this point, some of you may ask the question, “What shall we recount? What shall we remind ourselves about God?” To answer that, perhaps we should look at what David considered. When reading this Psalm you see a reoccurring view of God by David.
When we think of a King what comes to mind? A Kingdom. A king is not a King if he does not have land or a people. Regarding both of those things, land and a people, the Kings relationship with them is one of authority. The King is the highest authority over his Kingdom. There is no check or balances for a King. Whatever the King desires, he gets. If the King wants all the trees cut down, then so it is. It the King wants to send you into battle, then so it is. Another word that we could use to describe a King is the word Sovereign. A King is the Sovereign, one with ultimate and complete authority over all things in his kingdom.
So what attribute is God revealing to us every time He speaks of sitting on his throne? He is revealing His sovereignty. His complete and unchecked authority over all things. And by all things, I mean all things. The Sun, the moon, the stars, the Earth, the nations, you and me. Everything, whether you believe it or not, is under the sovereign rule of God.
We Reject the Ruler
Now for those of you who just went through the evangelism class over the last three weeks we know that even though God is the ruler, we all reject the ruler. Every person who has ever been born of man has rejected the one who is enthroned forever. Instead of doing things his way, we try to do things our way without Him and we make a mess out of ourselves, society and ourselves.
God is infinitely Holy and Awesome. He provides us with everything, even our own existence. Rejecting him, forgetting about him, disobeying Him deserves a punishment that matches the rebellion. And this judgment is coming for all mankind. Once again, as we have been studying in our evangelism class Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once and face judgment.”
Put Them in Fear
This destiny of judgment may occur today, and yes, it is my intent to cause in some of you a fear of this judgment day of the Lord, for this was one of the purposes of Psalm 9.
Too often our soft American Christianity wants to leave out judgment and punishment. Too often we see this as too uncomfortable to tell our loved ones about the coming wrath of the Sovereign Lord. But if we leave out the warning of the coming day of the Lord, we are basically participating in hospice care for Hell. We are basically enablers, for we are leaving out the reason why they would need to turn to Christ. You don't need a savior if you do not need saved.
Instead what we must do is to warn people. To tell them about God's authority, and our rebellion, and his coming judgment. We must speak of death and judgment and Hell. We must love them enough to tell them the truth, and then we must tell them about Jesus Christ, the only means to get right with this Sovereign God. The one man who did not rebel against God. The one man who lived a perfectly holy life. The One Man who was also the Son of God, and who took our place and died on the cross and took the punishment from God that we deserve. Jesus who not only died for us, but was raised from the dead and was made ruler of this World and who offers forgiveness and eternal life to all those who rely on his death and resurrection and submit to His lordship.
And for those who God does give a fear of him to, who have ears to hear, and turn from their rebellion and to Jesus Christ they can join in the celebration of Psalm 9 and say, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”