Sunday, March 8, 2015

God Sense ≠ Common Sense

Here are the notes I wrote for preaching today. I just copied and pasted from a word document without editing. (If I find some time I'll look it over later and maybe add some of the slides.)

You can listen to a recording of today's worship gathering at [THIS LINK]. but be warned that the recording didn't come through very well today.

The message is connected with The Dangerous Kind series that we're doing, using the chapter of Graeme Sellers' book as our series outline. The title of this chapter in the book is "RECKLESS."

God's peace to you in Jesus' name.

March 8, 2015
Praise and Worship
(beginning early at 10:00)
Church Family Time
(Prayer • Scripture • Sharing)
Offering & Praise
Judges 7:1-8; Hebrews 11:29—12:2
God Sense Common Sense
(Scripture • Prayer • Message • Conversation)
Prayer, Song
Judges 7:1–8
So Jerub-baal (that is, Gideon) and his army got up early and went as far as the spring of Harod. The armies of Midian were camped north of them in the valley near the hill of Moreh. The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength. Therefore, tell the people, ‘Whoever is timid or afraid may leave this mountain and go home.’ ” So 22,000 of them went home, leaving only 10,000 who were willing to fight.
But the Lord told Gideon, “There are still too many! Bring them down to the spring, and I will test them to determine who will go with you and who will not.” When Gideon took his warriors down to the water, the Lord told him, “Divide the men into two groups. In one group put all those who cup water in their hands and lap it up with their tongues like dogs. In the other group put all those who kneel down and drink with their mouths in the stream.” Only 300 of the men drank from their hands. All the others got down on their knees and drank with their mouths in the stream.
The Lord told Gideon, “With these 300 men I will rescue you and give you victory over the Midianites. Send all the others home.” So Gideon collected the provisions and rams’ horns of the other warriors and sent them home. But he kept the 300 men with him.
The Midianite camp was in the valley just below Gideon.

Hebrews 11:29–12:2
29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. 33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. 35 Women received their loved ones back again from death.
But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated on the right hand of the throne of God. 

[title slide]
[pause] – [put up Heb. 12:1b-2 slide, then begin…]
Jesus endured the cross. [pause] [add highlighting]
We’re coming up on that season of the year when Jesus died for us. It was in the spring of the year when Jesus died… long about March or April in the Middles East when lambs are born.
God’s people were celebrating Passover at the time…
At the Passover it was a lamb that bled and died.
But at the cross it was the pure and innocent beloved Son.
[slide with the cross and “endured the cross”]
Jesus endured for us. The suffering. The pain.
And he endured the feeling that he was rejected… The feeling we know when we say My God, my God, why have you rejected me…
But the truth is that neither Jesus nor any of us are rejected…  [fade in Ps 22:24]
“… He has not despised nor rejected the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.”
On the cross Jesus felt like we do when we think all hope is gone. Yes… he went through torture and physical pain. He felt rejected.
Jesus endured the cross. And then, praise God, he rose again. [fade out Ps 22:24]
But there is something else in this verse—in Hebrews 12:2 that we sometimes don’t focus on…
And those are the next words: Let’s read together the verses on the screen together [add whole verse]:
… Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated on the right hand of the throne of God.
He endured the cross…disregarding its shame.
The word “disregard” means to think nothing of it…
And “shame” [RED] … there was the idea back then that if you were hanged… if God let you die like Jesus did – you were cursed! (Deuteronomy 21:23, Galatians 3:13)
You get a little sense of this as you remember how the men who hanged Jesus made fun of him… “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself.”
That’s the SHAME of the cross … and Jesus recklessly disregarded it. He looked it in the face and laughed.
God Sense    Common Sense
“No one takes my life from me,” he said, “I give it up.” (John 10:8)
Jesus went to the cross on purpose… to pierce the darkness with His love. He did it to save US…
Not just “us…,” as in us who are here but all of us…
He went to the cross not only for people who are ready to believe in him and trust him, but to save the ones who put him to death… to save the ones who have little or no chance of being changed.
For God so loved the world… and especially us human beings who are such a POOR investment.
Back in the beginning… God turns the creation over to us and we turn it over to the devil in like two days.
And then he decides to save us and we reject him. We throw him to the wolves.
God Sense    Common Sense
And  ever since then… we “Christians” have confused being “religious” with doing the life-saving work of God.
Why would we follow him in reckless love?
Such a bad investment. Better to build a church building or a bank account. Anything else makes no sense.
But here’s the thing:
·         God will leave the 99 to go after the 1. We build institutional churches and make ourselves comfortable.
·         God the Father stands waiting for the wasted child to come home. We grumble when too much effort is expended on people who aren’t a part of our group.
·         Jesus invests his life teaching men and women who had no hope of really amounting to anything or even understanding what he was teaching them… you know the list of his followers… We think it’s wise to spend our resources keeping our own people happy.
We’re calculating. We’re cautious. Our favorite parable is the one about “counting the cost”… Luke 14:28… We think it’s about making sure we’ve got enough money… or the one in Luke 14:31 that we think is about being strong… When what it’s really about is Luke 14:33 giving up EVERYTHING we have and not relying on our finances or strength at all.
God Sense    Common Sense
It makes no sense for God to invest himself in
us. Even after the Holy Spirit comes and fills
us we leak and have to keep being filled,
over and over again… Ephesians 5:18 is written to Christians!
The first disciples understood something about completely relying on God once the Holy Spirit came… but soon enough the people fell to arguing and bickering all over again. Read it in Acts.
And God sent correction… God inspired letter writers and preachers… but God’s people still fell out into groups and misunderstandings.
Honestly, the investment of God in us… it makes as little sense as giving a $20 bill to a drunk.
Honestly, if you read through the scriptures and notice the kinds of people God invests in, you’ll see that the comparison isn’t that far off.
But still, that’s what he does. He invests. Not just by handing out money… that’s too easy… that’s sometimes a way to get RID of people… including drunks…
He invests his LIFE
And he says to us—through His Word and through His Spirit—He says to us—as the Father has sent me, so I send you.
He calls us to invest our time, and our lives, not on those who are already doing okay… not on those who are strong in faith and who are understanding and obeying…
He calls us to invest in the LOST ONES.
[pause] There is so little chance of success in that.
It doesn’t make sense to keep on going after the lost. Or to keep on investing in God’s people the church. It makes no sense at all.
Except to our absolutely loving God.
Our God… he keeps plunging into the darkness in order to rescue those who were trapped in darkness. And he keeps failed disciples on his team. Restoring them over and over again.
Here’s the cross. The cross is a sign of recklessness.
It’s not a sign of abandonment. [Fade in Ps 22:24]
It’s a sign of hanging in there no matter what.
Will we follow that sign? Will we do as Jesus did? [out]
Will we come alongside those who are suffering? Will we be with those who feel rejected? Will we advance into the darkness? That is the command and blessing of God.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t worry about your own life or your own well-being. Invest in OTHERS… not in yourself.
We think that’s crazy. Truth is, we Christians value caution more than we value obedience to God.
Instead of just doing what God says, instead of just doing what Jesus did, we explain away radical and life-giving ways God would call us to have as our normal life style. We take the Sermon on the Mount and ignore the parts that seem to crazy. And we say that the example of the Christian community in Acts—we say it was a fluke. We say “There’s no way we can live like that.” Better to build an institution. Better to build a building.
Caution has become our god. We bow to it. It’s our idol.
I have to say the same thing of myself. So often I check to see if I have the funds or the strength… I make sure I have a reserve… and a contract… a comfortable life.
There’s no way I would ever understand Judges 7 in real life… or, perish the thought, actually believe it… that when we are weak… then we are strong…
When we have no strength of our own to rely on, then God moves. God sometimes, in his mercy, he’ll pare us down like he did with Gideon’s army… he’s always concerned that we not think we have any strength on our own. He always is calling us to depend on him.
But when I push worldly wisdom aside… when I ignore hundreds years of cautious “common sense” teaching, when I abandon our own strength and trust God completely, when we trust God’s sense instead of common sense… then the Holy Spirit moves in me and among us with supernatural power and love.  Then I follow Jesus in all of life, doing things His way… that pierces the darkness and makes us dangerous in the hand of God—that builds God’s kingdom in His truth… in His way.
Will we respond? In ALL our decisions? Will we look to the CROSS? Will we give in to God’s sense, surrendering common sense? Let’s surrender to Jesus. Let’s do it now.

God Sense    Common Sense

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