Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on August 16, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 6. Today we continue or series from the book of Psalms. Before we begin, I want to remind you that these Psalms are worship songs for the nation of Israel. Because of that we can this is God's hymnal, due to these Psalm being the inspired word of God. With this in mind, it is interesting how lament oriented these worship songs are. They are not necessary the upbeat dance mix that some Church's tend to use. Perhaps many of you have already noticed this, but many of these Psalms come from a place of brokenness. They are songs of desperation, and I find it interesting that God uses these times of brokenness to reveal himself. Today is another example of this. With that said, let us read out text, pray, and examine God's Word.
Once again we have before us a Psalm of King David; King David who defeated lions, bears, and Goliath; King David who had songs sung about him of killing ten thousands; King David who led a nation and secured it borders on all sides. King David who ushered in the greatest days of historical Israel. King David who was potentially the most manly man of the Bible, yet in today’s text we see a different picture of David. We see a man who is an emotional wreck. We see a man who says in verse 6, “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.” The old adage of “real men don’t cry” does not apply to David, for he was a mess. What broke this seemingly powerful, successful leader of a nation down to a puddle of tears? It was the sorrow of his sin.
In verse 1 we see David cry out to the Lord, “rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.” David is acknowledging his wrong doing before the Lord. He knows he deserves God's correction, but is hopeful God's rebuke comes, not from God's anger, but from God's love. His hope was that he would be punished as a child of God, not an enemy of God.
We are not sure what sins were on the mind of David when he wrote these words, but we can all recognize that he was a sinner. As we have said he was an adulterous murderer. In fact it is interesting that he now sheds these tear upon a bed, for it was his bed that was a common venue for the sins of his lustful heart. His actions have now come full circle and his sin has become his sorrow. This Psalm is a window into David’s recognition that he deserves rebuking, that he deserves discipline.
Clarity in Brokenness
How did David get to this point of recognizing his sin? Staying within our text, it appears from verses 7 and 8 it is due to the pursuit of his foes, his enemies, and workers of evil. It is in the midst of this circumstance that he cries out.
Who were these foes, we do not know specifically, but we do know that David’s foes were many. In Psalm 2 David’s foes were the nations. In Psalm 3 it was his third son, Absalom. Perhaps in this situation it was King Saul. For those who are unfamiliar with the stories, King Saul passionately hated David. Saul spent the end of his days attempting to kill David at all costs. Or perhaps the foes David now speaks of are the schemes of Satan, the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces that stood against him and the nation of Israel.
No matter whom these foes were, David’s circumstances caused him to reflect upon his right standing before God. In fact, the brokenness of his life caused him to think about the afterlife. Look at verse 5, “For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?” Sheol is the residence of the dead. The New Testament equivalent is the word Hades. Everyone who died prior to Christ’s resurrection went to Sheol. Perhaps the best description of Sheol is by Christ himself in Luke 16 discussing the rich man and Lazarus. Upon Christ victory on the cross, the elect who had already died were taken out of Sheol and ushered into the presence of God. For us today, because we live on the others side of the cross do not go to Sheol, but into the presence of God, where we wait for the day of judgment.
For today, what is important is not the logistics of Sheol, but that David's starts to dwell upon death. I think each of us can relate to this to some degree. I commonly say that in brokenness there is clarity. And by that I mean that when tragedy strikes the insignificant things in this world fade away and you dwell upon things that truly matter, like eternity. We see this in our own lives and in the lives of others. We also see it Biblically.
The first person we tend to think of when thinking about suffering is Job. In the midst of his tragedies that many of us can't even imagine he cried to the Lord. But there are others. For example, Jonah in the belly of the whale said in Jonah 2:7, “When my life was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.“ Then there is the thief on the cross, as he stared death in the face he cried out to Christ in Luke 23:42, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
When difficult time or even death comes knocking, our inner knowledge of God comes to the surface and in those moments we tend to recognize what is important in light of eternity and we cry out to God. Why is this? It is because the brokenness of this world breaks us, and in those moments we are humbled. And despite the pain, this is a good place for each one of us to be, humbled before the Lord.
Broken and Contrite
In perhaps one of David's most well know Psalms, Psalm 51, which is the Psalm he wrote regarding his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, he writes this in verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
As we stated last week, God is a Holy, Holy, Holy and his power and his worth and his wisdom and his majesty is beyond our comprehension. Yet we so often approach him with arrogance our our breath, and when we do so we approach with great risk for Proverbs 16:5 says, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” God desires us to approach him with a humble hearts. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
One way that God does this is through our circumstances. In fact, the apostle Paul knew this reality very well. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul says this about the circumstances of his life, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.“ So just like David, God allow the circumstances of Paul's life to put him in a proper relationship with the Lord.
In fact, many times I pray for brokenness in people's life, not because I desire to people to suffer, but because I want them to have their eyes open to the realities of God. I want God to rip the things of this world out of their hands so that they dwell upon eternity, so that they dwell upon Him. I want them to walk in the valley of the shadow of death, so that they would feel the rod and staff of the Lord our Shepherd.
For David, this is exactly what happened. His circumstances that caused him to feel the weight of God's hand for his sin, also caused him to cry out to God in the midst of his pain. The proper posture before God was in fact achieved, and God was glorified through David's pleas. And we are told in verse 8 that God heard the sound of David's cries.
Now it should be noted that this does not always happen. Not everyone who stares death in the face repents and cries out to God. Some do and some don't. For example, two figures who dealt with brokenness wrongly were Pharaoh and Judas. Pharaoh, upon losing his first born son initially let Israel leave Egypt, but his decision was short term, for he pursued them to his death at the bottom of the red sea. Likewise, Judas, upon feel grief after betraying Jesus returned the money, but did not flea to Jesus, but instead fled to the grave by taking his own life. Why is this? Why does David cry out to God and find peace, but others do not? The answers lies in what type of grief you have.
However a Godly sorrow has a different effect upon the heart of man. First of all, Godly sorrow is not a product of circumstances, as I said earlier, it is a product of God. God is the one who places his hand upon your heart so that you feel the weight of your sins before a Holy God. There are several verses that express this reality. One example is when Peter is preaching to the Sanhedrin, a group that did not appear to feel any grief for their actions
Having said that, we must recognize that this gift, at times, comes through the instruments of his servants. When evil is on display, the role of the servant of the Lord is to gently correct, not to ignore the sin. It is through this correction that God's spirit may or may not blow into the person's life.
Servant's of the Lord
One fantastic example of this involves David himself in 2 Samuel 12, when the Prophet Nathan confronts David of his sin with Bathsheba.
Cornerstone, we are Nathan. We have been sent into this world to cry out repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. In the midst of evil and sin that so greatly surrounds us, we must not ignore it, but with gentleness correct the sinner, in hopes that God would give them a heart of repentance.
Without Godly grief, no one will find life. Repentance must occur before the truth of Christ can be received. So often Christians, due to their timidity, or lack of Biblical knowledge leave out the need for repentance when sharing the gospel. They leave out the wrath and judgment of God that hangs above the sinner. When you do this, disciples are not made, Judases are.
Let us be like John the Baptist who was sent to preach repentance, not the health and wealth Gospel. Let us heed the call and preach the true Gospel, let us be like Nathan who loved God and loved David enough to tell him the truth.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on July 26, 2015
Open your Bibles to Psalm 3. This is our third Sunday walking through the book of Psalms. For those who are visiting, we are currently in a series entitled “A Summer of Psalms.” Up to this point we have covered Psalm 1 and 2, and today we are going to unpack Psalm 3. With that said, let us read our text, pray, and then examine the Word of God together.
Background of David and Absalom
The circumstances of surrounding David and Absalom are found in 2 Samuel. Perhaps the first place we should begin is by recognizing that King David was a great King, but he was also a great sinner. It appears that the main struggle for David was sexual immorality. Many of us are most likely familiar with his adultery with Bathsheba, but unfortunately this was just the tip of the iceberg. It is not entirely clear how many wives and concubines David had. In 2 Samuel 5:13 it merely says, “And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David.”
One of these wives was named Maakah. She was a daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. From this marriage came David’s third son, Absalom. Also from this marriage came a daughter named Tamar. Now stay with me, David’s first son was Amnon. Amnon came from David’s marriage with Ahimoam of Jezreel. This is where the sexual immorality of David starts to have its generational effect. In 2 Samuel 13 we are told that Amnon, David's first son, lusted after his half-sister, Tamar. His lust was so great that he tricked her into believing that he was sick and when he had her all to himself he forced himself on her. 2 Samuel 13:14 says, “being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.” So like his father, David, he was not able to control his sinful urges. Immediately after Amnon lay with her, his lust turned to hate. Verse 15 says, “Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her.”
A short time later, Tamar’s full brother, Absalom, found out what Amnon had done, and he hated him for it. His hate against Amnon burned in his heart for two years until, the sin that was crouching at his door overcame him, and eventually Absalom seized an opportunity and ordered his servants to kill Amnon. So as Cain killed Abel, we see Absaolom kill Amnon. The murder of his brother caused Absalom to flea to his Grandfather’s home, Talmai King of Geshur, and he remained there for three years.
Eventually Absalom returned to Jerusalem, not to seek forgiveness, but to instead seek the throne of his father, David. This may be a good time to talk about Absalom’s appearance. We are told in 2 Samuel 14 that Absalom was extremely handsome.
Because the majority of Israel seem to have sided with Absalom, David was forced to flee Israel with the remnant of those who were faithful to him. This journey out of Jerusalem was of great sorrow.
Foes and Faith
Out of this difficult circumstances the Holy Spirit inspired David to write Psalm 3, and hopefully this context gives more weight to the first two versus that we see in Psalm 3:
Most likely we have not experienced the depth of David's circumstance, but I am guessing almost all of us have had trials that have allowed seeds of doubt to be planted. Perhaps it is a cheating spouse, perhaps cancer, perhaps financial struggles, perhaps a broken home. In the midst of our difficulties, we start to focus on the mountain that stands before us and it begins to block out our sight of God. Each day it feels like fiery arrows are being shot one after another at us, and we begin to wonder if God has forgotten about us, or even if there is a God. The battleground goes from being waged in our circumstances to being waged in our hearts, and the fight becomes ultimately a fight of faith. This is what was happening with David, as those around him spoke lies into his life.
One thing we can rest assured, you are not alone, for this is the life of a Christian. To be a follower of Christ does not mean that we are immune to diseases, free from financial burdens, or that everyone likes you. The preaching of Joel Osteen, and the health and wealth prosperity Gospel is a false teaching. When you read the Bible, this is abundantly clear. When you are God's chosen, like David was, life becomes harder. Prior to salvation the world loved you, for you were one of them. However, the minute you turned from the world and followed Christ, the current of this sinful world started to work against you. You started to swim upstream. On top of this, you know have enemies.
Cry Aloud to Yahweh
We are to do exactly what David did. Verse 4, “I cried aloud to the Lord.” The Hebrew word for the LORD when in all caps is the word Yahweh. This word comes from Moses's interaction with God at the burning bush when God declares himself to be the “I Am.” Yahweh who has no beginning and new end. Yahweh who is so great that he cannot be defined except by his own essence. Yahweh who created the heavens and the earth. Yahweh who flooded the world. Yahweh who struck down the Egyptians. Yahweh who we learned in Psalm 2 anointed David as King over Israel. In the midst of David's weeping on his walk to the Mount of Olives, he took his eyes off the circumstances and placed them on the Sovereign Lord.
I cannot help but see the similarity that exists between these events in Psalm 3 and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest. Just think about the parallels. Christ is the rightful heir to the throne, however Satan, a creature, created through Christ had rebelled, seeking the throne for himself. Eventually the opportunity arrived and Satan entered in Judas, who then betrayed Jesus. Judas then leaves to amass a small army of foes to arrest Jesus, and what does Jesus do?
In the midst of their circumstances, what did David and Jesus do? They prayed. In the difficulty of the moment they sought the strength that was from above, and Yahweh who lives in Heaven, on his holy Hill, heard their cry and answered. He had not forgotten about them. He had not turned his back. He answered their prayer, but how.
How did God answer? Did he reign down fire from Heaven? Did he reduce the number of foes? Did he allow the cup to pass? Did he change their circumstances? No. For David, God shielded him and sustained him.
The Fight of Faith
We have an enemy that is crouching at our door. When trials and tribulations come, as they always do, the battle over our heart begins. And this the is real battle. Satan desires to sift you and cause you to shrivel underneath your circumstances and drop your head and doubt the power and strength of God. Satan wants to destroy your peace, cause sleepless nights, and steal your joy. And when he does, we are not called to just weep, but to fight. We must fight the fight of faith, and this fight takes place first and foremost on our knees. We must utilize that armor that God has provided and cry out to him for a larger shield of faith so as to protect us from Satan's fiery arrows. Do not be a victim of your circumstances, but instead be victorious through the Grace of God.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 30, 2014
Today we come to the end of a two month sermon series on the Doctrines of Grace. To end our series I want to review the doctrines, briefly, and then I want to talk more about why understanding these doctrines matter in your day to day Christian walk.
So in review, the Doctrine of Grace are primarily about God's sovereignty in our salvation. Meaning that from beginning to end, it is God who saves. God gets all of credit for for our salvation, and therefore God gets all the glory.
The acronym for the Doctrines of Grace spells TULIP. Let us quickly go over each doctrine. First there is Total Depravity. This doctrine summarizes the Bible's teaching that man is a sinner. That our hearts our desperately sick, that nothing good dwells in us, that every intention of our heart is only evil continually, that all our “righteous deeds” are like filthy rags, that we are wretched; therefore we have no ability in ourselves to save ourselves or come to Christ. Jesus said it very clearly in John 6:44 that , “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
Which leads to the next doctrine we talked about, Irresistible Grace. Irresistible Grace is the drawing of a wretched sinner to Jesus by God. It is the shining of the light of Christ into a sinners heart by God. It is the Holy Spirit blowing into our life, birthing us into spiritual life. It is God circumcising your heart. It is God taking out the heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. It is God giving us eyes to see and ears to here. It is God opening our hearts to pay attention to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without the God's overcoming our resistance to Him by his irresistible grace, we are without Hope to repent and place our faith in Jesus Christ.
This begs the question, how does God decided whose life he will pour out His irresistible grace? He does this by His Unconditional Election. This is the “U” in TULIP. Unconditional Election is the understanding that God, before time began, chose whom would be adopted into his family to be holy and blameless before Him. That God chose whom would receive His grace. This decision is a sovereign decision, meaning that God makes this decision with no outside influence. He is the only truly free decision maker in the Universe. God has mercy on whom he has mercy. This is not based on what we do, it is based on God's free, sovereign will.
Next we examined Limited Atonement. This is the Biblical doctrine that Jesus was sent to rescue the elect, the ones chosen by God. This teaches that Jesus actually saved a specific people. That his death was a particular death, with a personal application. Jesus did not die for an opportunity to be saved, but that actually saved people. Limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus came to die for his sheep and that there is no greater love that to lay down your life for a friend.
Lastly, we looked at the overwhelming passages that point to the wonderful truth that when God begins his work in you, He will complete it to the end. This is the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, otherwise known as eternal security. This teaches that when you are adopted into God's family, He doesn't later kick you out. He doesn't give you eternal life and then say, just kidding. He doesn't open your eyes, to close them again. He doesn't love you, then send you to Hell. Perseverance of the Saints is the reality of the forever love of God.
These are the Doctrines of Grace. The question we will now address today is, why does it matter? I would argue that it matters immensely. As I stated before, other than my conversion, there has been no greater revelation in my life than the Sovereignty of God.
In this sermon series I have already spoken of two reasons as to why the Doctrines of Grace matter. First, God receives all the glory in our salvation. When we accept the truth of the Doctrines of Grace in our lives we are left with only one response, to praise God for His glorious grace. The second result we examined last week is that the Sovereignty of God is the catalyst to the Great Commission. Like Christ who was sent to rescue His Bride with victory guaranteed, we as his brothers and sisters, take the baton and go to all nations to bring in the sheep that are scattered abroad, knowing that the Gospel is the power of God for salvation and Jesus' sheep will hear his voice.
Today, I want to continue to discuss why embracing the Doctrines of Grace matter. These doctrines are not academic. They are doctrines you should build your life upon. Today, I have ten reasons why I believe that we should care about these doctrines.
We must remember that God's Word is His revelation to man. Jesus tells us in Matthew 4:4 that it is God's Word that is bread to our souls. Jesus then tells us that in John 17 that it is God's Word that sanctifies us. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3 that God's word is what equips us and makes us competent for all good works. The Doctrine of Grace is are doctrines of God's Word. The doctrines are not academic, they are much needed rations for this spiritual battle we find ourselves in and we must allow them to have their full effect upon our hearts and minds.
“I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel, if we do not preach justification by faith, without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing, unchangeable, eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel, unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross; nor can I comprehend a gospel which lets saints fall away after they are called, and suffers the children of God to be burned in the fires of damnation after having once believed in Jesus. Such a gospel I abhor.”
I did a lot of driving this weekend and we had a cd with Chris Tomlin's new song Waterfall on it. Perhaps you don't know this but Tomlin is a Calvinist, but in this song he says, your love is like a waterfall. And I was dwelling upon this phrase in connection to my sermon today and I thought, yes this is true, if you see the waterfall like Niagra Falls and not the the Cascades of the Maquoketa. It is the overwhelming and powerful love that pummels us and causes us to respond with reciprical and radical love for God and radical love for others.
I recall one man who told me that he hated the weekends because he was always worried that he would lose his salvation. Whether it be thinking the wrong thought, watching the wrong movie, saying the wrong word, you name it. He never had peace in his heart. Does this seem like freedom? No it sounds like a prison.
And it is from this lowly state that God can begin to use us for His purposes. It is this posture of humility that gives us the ability to wash each other's feet, put other's interest before ours, take the log out of our eye, and acts as a guard against our sinful desire to lord over our brothers and sisters in Christ.
All Christians pray like a Calvinist. Every single one of you. If you wanted to be consistent with your claimed theology of free will, then you would not pray for peace and comfort and revivals and conversions, because free will claims that God has no control over those things. But something deep inside us knows that this is not true. The Holy Spirit groans inside of us to pray for hearts to break for Jesus, and this is a prayer that we need to pray more often.
As we stated earlier, I want us to be praying about the month of December. I want each of us to pray like a Calvinist. Pray that God would open the eyes of your neighbors. Pray that God would draw them to Jesus. Pray that God would cultivate their hearts and make them good soil to receive the Gospel. And pray like you believe He can do it.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, Iowa on June 8, 2014.
Today we find ourselves in Matthew 6:5-9. Today marks the second week in our four or five week sermon series on prayer. We have a lot to cover, so let’s get right to work.
Having said that, how often have you taken your prayers and lined them up to the Lord’s prayer? As I stated earlier, prayer for Christians is assumed. If you are a true child of God, you will pray to him. You should pray without ceasing. When you pray, are your prayers “like this” or like something else? If not, why not? Are you praying wrongly? Perhaps.
With all of that under our belt, I want to work through the Lord ’s Prayer verse by verse and word by Word. Therefore today, we are going to examine on verse 9.
The next word that I want us to meditate on is “Father.” This word has become empty to us as it relates to God. In the days of Jesus, this was not the case. Calling God Father was highly unusual, prior to Jesus. Only a handful of times in the Old Testament is God referred to as Father. However, when Jesus comes onto the scene that changes dramatically. Father becomes the primary way that the Christians address God. To us this title is second nature, but to the Jews during the days of Jesus, it was enough to start a war. Jesus coming into the reality was the tipping point to this transition. Why? Because it is only through the blood of Jesus Christ that we have the right to address God as Father. It is his blood that signs our adoption papers.
When we begin our prayer with “Our Father” we are saying something overwhelmingly profound and wonderful . With these two words we are placing ourselves on the lap of our Father, and this is by far the greatest gift we can fathom. The Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe, is our Dad, and he wants us speak to Him with this on our lips and on our hearts.
With this said, what does God want us to request?
Next, what does it mean to hallow. Hallowed means to be sanctified; to be holy.. To set apart as not common, sacred. What does that look like. It looks like Isaiah 6.
When Jesus says, “Hallowed be Thy Name,” it is not a statement of fact. It is a petition. It is a request. Jesus is saying, “Father, make your name hallowed. Father, make your name Holy. Father, let your majesty, your authority, your glory be seen and revered. Father, cause us to see you high and lifted up and cause us to worship you! This is what “Hallowed be your name” means, and this is the first request that Jesus tells us to pray to our Father.
I want us to think about something for a second. This prayer is Jesus' example of how we are to pray in the midst of life. Let that sink in. Life is a mess. Life is full of trials and tribulations. Life consists of cancer, broken hearts, financial stress, deaths, loneliness, anxiety, stress; the list goes on an on. Life is broken, and Jesus is not oblivious to this. In fact, Jesus is more intimately aware of this than an of us. He gets your pain, and with that in mind, Jesus says to start with God's Holiness. This is to be first on your heart, despite the storm of your life.
Why? Why would God put our pain on hold, for the hallowing of his name? Perhaps he knows something we don't. In fact, what are we told in verse 8?
When we approach our Father with tears in our eyes and brokenness in our hearts, and crawl up on his lap and seek His face, what we need more than anything in that moment is to feel the sovereign, all powerful, arms of God wrapped around us. We need to know that our Dad is an awesome God. We need to recognize that there is nothing that is outside His control. That he is able. We need to feel his love and his strength. The hallowing of God in your life, puts everything into its proper perspective.
When we do this, when we hallow the name of God in our lives we, we find joy in the midst of our suffering. We find peace in the midst of the storm. We find contentment in the midst of all circumstances. We are able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for God's rod and his staff comfort comfort us.
The hallowing of God is the foundation of our lives. We are designed to stand upon the foundation that is the Holiness of God. Too often, instead of planting our feet upon the rock of God's sovereignty we seek the quick fix of the removal of the thorn.
Here is the question that I will leave all of us with today, do you believe it? Do you trust Jesus in the example that He gives? Do you believe that your greatest need is the hallowing of God's name in your life? Do you believe that the deeper you go in the hallowing of God's name the higher he will lift you above the waves crashing against your boat?
We are told not to put God to the test, but we are told to trust Him. So I say to you today, trust Him. Change how you pray, put God's glory upfront where it belongs.