Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Week's Schedule

Tuesday February 23rd- Work day for Chili Supper 9:00 am

Wednesday February 24th- Work day for Chili Supper 9:00 am
Women's Book Study:
"What's So Amazing About Grace?" 6:30 pm

Thursday February 25th-
Chili Supper 4:30pm-7:00pm!
$5 gets a bowl of chili, coffee or tea, cornbread, carrots & celery, and PIE!

Sunday February 28th
Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship 10:30 am
Worship 10:45 am

This week's message: True Annointing

1 John 2:18-27.
Many Bibles have a section heading over these verses that says “Warnings about the Antichrist!” This is a part of the teaching in this section, but if that is all we gain from these verses, we are missing a bigger message. This passage is about anointing. In the Greek, just like the English, Antichrist is a compound word. It is made up of two Greek words anti- and christ. Anti in Greek carries a few different meanings. It typically means instead of or against. The word christ means Messiah, or anointed one. So anti-christ is someone who is against the anointed one or is setting themselves up to be anointed instead of Jesus.

John talks about "The Antichrist," as well as several antichrists who have already been at work within the community of believers. John describes these people as those who deny that Jesus is God’s anointed Messiah, or that Jesus is not the Son of God. He calls them liars and lets the believers know that anyone making these claims is not a true member of the body of Christ, nor can they make the claim to affirm belief in the Father without affirming belief in the Son.

John writes here to let the believers know about people who would lead them astray, but this is not a frantic warning. Rather there is an undercurrent of reassurance running through these verses. John affirms the anointing of the Holy Spirit at work in them. He tells them that they can stand secure in the Truth that they already know and have received from sound teaching as well as directly from the Holy Spirit.

John’s message here is empowering. Unlike many of today’s teachings about the Antichrist which inspire a lot of fear and panic, John starts his discussion by spreading out the threat. He tells them he knows about what they have heard about the coming of a powerful antichrist—strong enough to receive a title “The Antichrist.” But he shows them that this is nothing new, there have been several antichrists that have already come. John tells them that this is just a sign of the times. He casually says, “This is how we know we are in the final hour.”

John points to perseverance as the true test of belonging to the body of Christ. Only those serious about following Jesus will stay, that is why those who did not believe in him left the fellowship. Some try to turn this into a passage on eternal security, saying it explains everyone who makes a profession of faith and falls away, that they obviously were never really a part of the body since they left the fellowship. I don’t believe that to be John’s point in these verses.

John uses a lot of the same words in these verses emphasizing the anointing of Jesus as Messiah, the anointing we have as believers being anointed by the Holy Spirit. John talks about allowing those things we have received as Truth remain—abide—in us and the anointing remain—abide—in us and that we need to remain—abide—in God the Father and the Son. He is talking about perseverance, sticking with it, abiding or living daily with the Truth we have received and in the presence of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The contrast is with those who did not remain.

Those who departed were those who did not stick with the Truth, but instead believe and perpetuate lies about who Jesus is. John tells them, and us, that we already have the secret, the answer to not being drawn in. He tells these believers that they already have the Truth, in fact he says “I am not writing to you because you don’t know the truth, but precisely because you do know the truth.” Recognizing the truth, they can easily see that the lies do not fit.

Just like these believers, we have all received some basic elementary truth relating to who God is and what he did for us in the person of Jesus. We don’t have to have a theology degree to have enough knowledge of the truth to see and resist a lie. When someone makes a claim that Jesus was only a good teacher, only a prophet, only a messiah for some and they exclude any concept of Jesus being the Son of God, the Savior of the whole world, we can recognize the lie. We can see that you cannot have it both ways—either Jesus is the Son of God or he was a liar. If he falsely claimed to be the Son of God, and he did, he would be a liar. Being a liar makes him a bad teacher, a false prophet, and a poor messiah by anyone's standards.

John reaffirms the importance of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers by telling them that the Holy Spirit will guide them into truth, enough that they don’t even need external teachers. The same is true today. If you did not have a preacher standing before you, God could still speak to you and show you his truth. In fact, I am confident that he would! He would still bring you into an ever closer relationship with himself. That is not to say that teaching is not good or helpful, but it is not a make it or break it component of your relationship with God through Christ.

Getting caught up in a perceived need for a teacher has caused many to lift up their teachers and preachers on high and make them “Instead Anointed.” Counterfeit anointing. The danger is still there today. It is easy to idolize leaders in the faith, and it is easy as a leader to allow people to idolize. It feels great to have people think you are great. With that tendency can creep in all kinds of false teaching that is contrary to the truth we have received. John is giving these believers permission to go without a teacher before allowing some false teaching to creep into their fellowship.

The Holy Spirit at work within us will always draw us closer to God, always further into his truth, and it will not contradict something that God has declared to be true. The secret to avoiding the traps of the antichrist or antichrists? Keep the truth close, abide in the Father, the Son, and allow the Holy Spirit’s anointing to teach and guide.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This Week's Schedule 2/14/10

Tuesday February 16th- Coffee at Amanda's 9:30 am

Wednesday February 17th- Women's Book Study:
"What's So Amazing About Grace?" 6:30 pm

Sunday February 21st-
Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship 10:30 am
Congregational Worship 10:45 am

Chili Supper Next Thursday February 25th 4:30pm-7:00pm!
$5 gets a bowl of chili, coffee or tea, cornbread, carrots & celery, and PIE!

This week's message: Love What Lasts

1 John 2:15-17.

1 John 2:15 says, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." What does that mean? It is important to ask the question "what does this type of love refer to?" because of the consequences stated in the verse. If the love of the father is not in anyone who loves the world we had better determine what it is that John means by love and the world. We know that John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life." So we can't possibly broadly declare that nothing in the world is to be loved by followers of God in Christ. God loves the world, enough to sacrifice his son on behalf of those in the world, so we know John is not telling us to cease loving the people in the world. God wants us to have compassion for lost people and love them in that way, even sacrificially.

We know as well that God entrusted mankind with the care and stewardship of the physical planet we live on. He created this earth and pronounced it good. When he completed his creation, he pronounced it very good. So john cannot mean that we are to cease caring for the earth. He wants us to be good stewards of the earth and take care of it well. God wants us to enjoy the things he has created. So we ask the question again, "What does John mean by 'loving the world'?"

I believe we find the answer in Romans 12:2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds." God does not want us to conform to the system or patterns of the world. He does not want us to be more in love with the earth than his kingdom. He does not want us to be more concerned with accumulating wealth and position and power than worshiping him.

This is the theme of the following verse 1 John 2:16 "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world." This is what we are to cease loving. The kind of love talked about in this verse is a kind of setting one's mind to love someone or something. It is a matter of will and can be a beautiful thing. This agape love is the way in which God loves us. It is sacrificial, and requires a determination to act on that love.

The patterns described in verse 16 are patterns of destruction. The lust of the flesh is what the King James version calls "the cravings of the sinful man." Setting your mind to follow after the lusts of the flesh--gluttony, sexual lust and the like, leads to being consumed by those lusts. These things come from the worldly patterns, God would never introduce us to destructive behavior and desires.

The pattern of this world cries out for us to envy and covet the things others have and tells us that we must have those things as well. We must have a new car, or a new house, or the best clothes, or must meet some standard of outward beauty in order to be whole. This is what Jesus talks about in Mark 4:19 in the Parable of the Sower—the young plants were choked by cares of this world, "but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful."

These are the patterns we are to avoid being shaped into. Everywhere we look people are chasing physical pleasure, or running from physical pain. People spend their whole lives accumulating wealth so that others will envy them and so that they can have all that anyone else has. The world system tells us to chase power and position, but God calls us to lay those things aside so that we can follow him.

Romans 8:5-7 says "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God."

Remember we talked about sin being death and destruction. When we chase after sinful desires, we invite destruction into our lives, and God is adamantly against us destroying our lives! This death and destruction did not come from him, and it is opposite of what he wants for each of our lives.

1 John 2:17 says "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." This is backed up by Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth. 1 Corinthians 15:50 "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable."

We know that if we confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, we will have eternal life. God’s kingdom is forever, unlike the earth, which we are seeing more and more is finite. We are using up resources, we are finding out that regardless of what we do, there will be an end to the time that this planet can support life, and long before that time comes, our bodies will cease to support life.

We will all physically die, and as the saying goes, “He who dies with the most toys is still dead.” You can’t take what you own with you to the grave. Well, you can, but grave robbers will just dig it up again. It won’t pass with you from this life into eternity. We will come to a place in our lives where we won’t be able to enjoy the physical pleasures of life and won’t avoid its pain. We will find out before we die that no matter how much we have, someone else will have more—and they are just as miserable. All of it will fade.

Everything connected with this life on earth will pass away, but we have hope of eternity if we follow God. Jesus said you are my friends if you do what I command. If we follow God’s will we are showing ourselves to be his friends. We show our love for him. Why love the things of this world? They are not permanent. Why not love what lasts?

God is good—100% light. He never fails, and his kingdom is without end. Nothing on earth can compare. What would your life look like if you laid aside your love for worldly things and instead chose to love God with all that you are? I believe we would find that Romans 8:6 is true “the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Stop loving the world that is fading before your eyes, and start loving what lasts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

This week's schedule 2/7/10

Wednesday February 10th- Women's Book Study:
"What's So Amazing About Grace?" 6:30 pm

Sunday February 7th-
Sunday School 9:30 am
Fellowship 10:30 am
Congregational Worship 10:45 am
Elder's Meeting following Worship

This Week's Message: Walk in the Light

1 John 1:5-2:14.

God is Light- NO Darkness in Him
He is completely consistent No faults, defects, sin, inconsistencies. He is all good, nothing bad in him. Why is important to understand this about God? It is the first thing John talks about, it precedes the understanding of anything else that he writes, so why is this knowledge so important? Sometimes we get the wrong idea about God. We think of him in human terms; we begin to see him created in our image, instead of the other way around.

We often think of God in ways that make him less than 100% perfect? Did you ever think God wanted you to be unhappy, or that he was playing tricks on you, or that you were receiving a blessing but down the road you would have to pay for it? Do you ever have a hard time trusting God because deep down you feel like maybe he can't be trusted to work things out for your good? Anytime we think those kinds of things, we dishonor God. It is blasphemous to think and speak things about God that are not true.

We have to understand who God is before we can understand what he does. We cannot understand Christ's sacrifice, or our position in him until we understand who God is. He is 100% light, there is no darkness in him at all, no ulterior motives, no sneaky plot to ruin your life. He is 100% good, there is nothing bad or impure in him. He is 100% consistent, he always is who he always was and he will always be that way!

Walk in the light= fellowship with God & others
We sometimes have a hard time understanding what sin is, and why it is bad. We know there is such a thing as sin, we accept that and we try to live within those parameters, but we don't always understand the reason behind the rule. Simply put, sin destroys. It is death in some form. When we sin against God, we chip away at our relationship with him. When we sin against others, we injure our relationships with them. When we sin in any capacity, we begin to isolate ourselves.

Remember in the garden, when Adam and Eve sinned, first they hid from God, then they turned on each other, and even broke their relationship with creation. Walking in the light, in the way of God encourages and builds relationships, walking in darkness kills them. But we know we cannot possibly be perfect all the time. So, what is the solution?

For many people the solution is to put on the “Christian Mask” and pretend that they are walking in the light to maintain some semblance of fellowship. But John is saying here that those people are liars. If we walk in the darkness while claiming we have no sin, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. The solution is to confess our sin. It is to be open about our failure to measure up. When we confess our sin, we have opened the door to forgiveness, both from God and our brothers and sisters. It is so important to recognize our sin that John restates that if we claim to have never sinned we call God a liar and we reject his word.

Purpose: Don't Sin!

John tells us his purpose in clearing up the issue of obedience, it is so that we don't sin. John is saying, “Look, the reason I am writing to you about light and darkness, and the nature of God and his followers is so that you will take it and apply this teaching to your life, so that you will not sin.” But even in saying, “Don't sin” and in giving this teaching on light and darkness, John gives us a remedy for dealing with our failure.

He says, “don't sin, but if you do, there is a solution.” We have an advocate. We have an atoning sacrifice for our sin in the person of Jesus Christ. He atoned for our sins and the sins of the whole world. We are not alone in our sin problem, and we are not alone in having a solution. Jesus died for every sin that was ever committed and every sin that ever will be committed. If we sin the solution is simple, confess your sins and he is faithful and follows his own declaration of forgiveness in wiping those sins away permanently.

Evidence for his work in us= Obedience
In making these declarations about sin and light and darkness and forgiveness, John sets up a nice platform to discuss obedience. If we know that God is light with no darkness, and that fellowship with him is walking in the light, and that sin and darkness lead to lack of fellowship, and that there is an ongoing extension of forgiveness to us through Christ; then we can begin to discuss obedience.

If we didn't know God was good, how could we obey him? If we didn't know that walking in his ways brings fellowship with God and others, why obey him? If there was no hope of forgiveness when we fail, where could we find hope to attempt to obey him? That is why John lays out his discussion in this way. We know God is good, that makes him trustworthy. We know that if we walk in his light, we will find encouragement and joy in fellowship with him and others, that gives us a reason to obey. We know that there is an offer of forgiveness and restoration when we fail, that gives us hope in being able to follow through with our commitment to obedience.

John brings out the hard truth when he says that the evidence of God at work in our lives is obedience. If we claim to walk with God, but we don't obey him, we are not telling the truth. Is John talking about following and falling here? Does he mean that if we fail in our obedience we are not walking with Christ? No, he is not talking about perfection. Otherwise, he would have skipped the earlier part about having an advocate and forgiveness in Christ. Rather he is talking about obedience and disobedience as lifestyles.

Are you walking the path of obedience, seeking to follow Christ, or the path of disobedience seeking your own way? Obedience is the evidence of him at work in our lives, so every time we obey, we add to the list of evidence that we are walking with him. The only time we are in danger is if there is no evidence that we are walking with him. If there is no mark of obedience in our lives. If there is no place that we can point to active obedience then we are in danger of not being followers of Christ.

We find the summary of this teaching in verse 6“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” It only makes sense, if we claim to live in Christ, to follow him, to walk in his way, our lives will show the evidence.

John's Instruction Nothing new- Love each other
John gives one major, or the major evidence of Christ at work within us, that of loving our brother. We have discussed many times the two greatest commandments, that hold up and support all the other commands and laws—Love God, Love Others. Jesus said, “A new command I give you, love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how the world will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is not a new command that John issues, it was Jesus' command, and is shown forth in all the laws that God had issued through Moses. But this is a new statement of that command, as a measuring stick of our obedience and therefore our fellowship with God.

If we love our brothers, John says the result will be greater spiritual fruit in our lives. We will be walking in the light. We will be able to see obstacles in our path and avoid them. If we do not love our brothers, we are walking in the darkness. We will not be able to see and we will stumble all over the place. Our love or lack of love for our brothers and sisters can either help or hurt our relationship with God! If you do not love them, you are disobeying God's number two commandment. If you are brazen enough to disobey his number two commandment how can you say that you love him? How can you possibly claim to be following him? It would be absurd.

Song of encouragement
John finishes this discussion with a word of encouragement. It comes in the form of a poem, or perhaps even a song. He reminds them of the reasons they have to rejoice. All who are children of God have had their sins forgiven. Those who are elders in the faith have had time to know Christ. Those who are young are strong in the faith and overcome the evil one. Again as children of God, they get to know the Father. The spiritual fathers have known Christ, and the young are strong in the faith, the word of God is alive in them and they have overcome the evil one.

Just like John finishes this section with encouragement, I want to encourage you. I want you to know that God is 100% good and trustworthy, you can obey him without fear. I want you to know that he is calling you to a life of walking with him, and that he has made it possible for you to do that through Christ. I want you to know that even if you feel like you have failed or fallen short that there is hope—God extends to us grace and forgiveness and love when we fall.

I want this knowledge to encourage you as you walk with God through Christ, and to spur you on to obedience in every area of your life. God wants to shine his light on every part of you, to purify you completely so that you can walk in perfect fellowship with him and others. If you find yourself struggling with a particular area of obedience, I want to encourage you to pray and surrender that area of your life right now. If you are struggling with loving your neighbor, ask God to pour his love through you onto that person. Don't be surprised if he begins to show you ways in which to show love to that person in a tangible way. Ask God to shine his light on any dark places. Commit to obedience and ask for his Holy Spirit to empower you to follow through.

In this way we walk more in his light, we build up evidence for our fellowship with him, we show the world that we are his followers and God receives glory in our lives and in his church.