As we continue talking about what the "tension of truth" is, there's a lot of tension in the words of Jesus. And as we get into Matthew Chapter 12, here's what you are going to discover, it may be one of the hardest things that Jesus has to say to us. What I really think Jesus is asking us is...
Do we live in a Godforsaken world? It feels like that sometimes, but I pray that we can lay a foundation that will help you connect the dots to give you a framework to accurately interpret life in a way that is real and not a part of a grand elaborate lie. The truth is, there is this reality...
Only in Christianity, is there the claim that the infinite God became human! That He occupied flesh. That He was broken with us. The word incarnation is a word that talks about the wonder of God becoming one of us! John 1:14 says, "The 'word' (God) became 'flesh' (Jesus) and dwelt among...
Most of us are living in the default of life in our own understanding, in our own processing and in our own conclusion; and when we do that, we miss daily life in the presence of God. Psalm 67 says “You have made known to me the path of life.” It’s not an instant; just add...
John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (God) became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt among us; to reveal Himself to us. The one who became, invites us to become. The Word is understandable, it is hope filled and life...
As we continue talking about what the "tension of truth" is, there's a lot of tension in the words of Jesus. And as we get into Matthew Chapter 12, here's what you are going to discover, it may be one of the hardest things that Jesus has to say to us. What I really think Jesus is asking us is, "Are you willing to stand behind your words?"
Our words say a whole lot about us and this is what Jesus is bringing into play as He approaches this particular teaching in Matthew 12:33. I'm going to warn you that this is going to get rough because quite frankly Jesus is the one who makes this incredibly hard to deal with! Beginning in verse 33, Jesus says this, "A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good, its fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, its fruit will be bad." Jesus makes this pretty simple didn't He? A good tree equals good fruit. Then listen to what He said, "You brood of snakes!" Does that sound like Jesus? Have you heard Jesus talk like that a whole lot? We like to think that Jesus is neat and kind, but sometimes He just fires away!
You see, He recognized the crowd that He was speaking to. He recognized who He was speaking to were the religious and even political leaders of that day, and these guys named the Pharisees and Sadducees, (sorry ladies you weren't allowed to be involved) these "guys" who made all of the rules and had all the power, many of them had memorized the Torah before they were even in middle school! They knew every story in scripture, they knew what it all had to offer and Jesus looks at them and He says, "You brood of snakes!"
As soon as Jesus says this, He levels probably what was the greatest insult that could have possibly been leveled at these guys! Because as soon as He said "You brood of snakes," what would have went through their mind was the first story that we discover in scripture! Right after creation takes place, who is it that shows up in the garden to deceive Adam and Eve? A snake - and the snake talks and uses the first words of deception in which the snake says, "If you will just eat of this tree, then you will be like God." (Genesis 3:4)
The first lie that we are able to see in the Bible came through a snake! Jesus looks at these guys and He says "You're not just a snake you're a brood of snakes causing deception in the world!" (Paraphrased) These people who were supposed to be bringing truth and love were bringing deception. Then in Matthew 12:34-37 Jesus says, "How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.”
I mean Jesus is not letting anybody off the hook is He? He's saying for every good, bad and for every idle word that you speak, someday you're going to have to stand there and it will all completely be exposed!
Here's what I'll just say to you folks, we say a lot on this thing called social media nowadays don't we? Everything that you say and everything that you write, lives forever! It was true before the internet and it's now truer than ever before because our words absolutely say something about who we are and we will give an account on Judgement Day for every idle word that we speak! For everything that we posted on social media, so if you can't say it in here (in the Worship Center) you shouldn't say it out there!
For what we said to our children and what we said to our coworkers, for what we said to our spouses and what we said to those that we like and those we don't like. The words that you say right now, they reflect your fate; showing the truth about what is in your heart! They are showing whether you are a Christ follower or not. You may claim to be, but if the stuff that comes out of your mouth is poison to your family, your friends and those around you, then it's reflecting where your heart really is!
Your words are like holding up a mirror to your life, showing everybody who you really are! Either you will be justified by them, Jesus said, or you will be condemned!
But I want to tell you there is hope, we can change our words. We don't have to live a life that is poisoning others by what comes out of our mouths. One of the first things that we need to understand is that "Good words don't come naturally."
What are some words that you have to teach your children? Please...Thank you...I'm sorry...Excuse me. What you do know if you have children is that good words don't come naturally. You have to teach them good words, they don't come naturally do they? What He actually tells us is that good words come from a treasury in verse 36 "A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart."
Every word that you've spoken to your spouse, every word that you've ever spoken to your child, to an employee, to a friend, whoever it may be, every word that you have ever spoken has been added to somebody's treasury. And every word that you have spoken to yourself when you wake up in the morning is added to yours! If you wake up not believing what God believes about you, and you begin to believe the things that you believe about you, when you speak those things into your life, you are adding to a treasury. But it may not be silver or gold that you're adding - you may be adding a brood of snakes!
Every word - does that not make you consider who you are and what is coming out of your mouth? When you are speaking words to your spouse in front of your kids, you are speaking words into their treasury! Think about everything you've ever said in every conversation you've had, just in the last week alone. A lot of things get said and expressed and the question becomes, are you willing to stand behind your words? -Pastor John B. Smith
Do we live in a Godforsaken world? It feels like that sometimes, but I pray that we can lay a foundation that will help you connect the dots to give you a framework to accurately interpret life in a way that is real and not a part of a grand elaborate lie. The truth is, there is this reality that is the core of the Bible - that God actually became a human being! The word incarnation is a word that talks about the wonder of God becoming one of us! Only in Christianity is there the claim that the infinite God, the one who began life, became human. That He occupied flesh, and that He was broken with us. The reason this matters is because it answers the question - 'Am I alone in a God-forsaken world?'
There are many of you that have started your journey of faith, but the truth is that you and I need to connect the dots of the reality of the incarnation as well. Because it's not just the atheist or the agnostic who lives in a God-less, or God-forsaken world, there are far too many of us who claim to believe and yet we act as though our God were absent!
The most important thing that I can tell you about Jesus is that He is the son of God! John 1 makes it very clear "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God, through Him all things were made." Now pay attention to that, I'm going to give you a framework as we talk about: Creation, The Fall, redemption and restoration. "Through Him all things were made, without Him nothing that has been made was made."
"The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us." The word became flesh - "The Infinite" - inhabited time and became just like us. He became broken with us and He made His dwelling with us. God chose not to stay distant in Heaven, but to come and live with us on earth and to be with us! With is the key word here because the reality is that we have to make a choice about what we are going to do with this Jesus!
The beginning Christmas story, we all know this story, but do we really understand its impact? In Matthew 1:22 the scripture tells us, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us.')"
God - not with the deserving, not with the unbroken, not with the great- but God with us!
In real time, in real life. God with us, not against us! God not hurling our sin in our face. God not mocking our brokenness. God just with us!
Some people will co-opt Jesus, but they will de-deify Him and say He's not God, He's a teacher! Well here's a suggestion, don't follow teachers who lie because Jesus claims to be the very son of God - the incarnation of God!
Jesus was asked point blank by the elders of the law in Matthew 26, The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Jesus said this, no ambiguity, "Yes it is as you say." This is what got Him crucified, these words claiming to be God in the flesh were just so offensive and unfamiliar with the Jews that He was with. Jesus went on to say "But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robe and shouted blasphemy! Do we need to hear anything else? And the people around said no, he's worthy of death!
This outrageous claim that the God of the infinite mystery of the universe had skin, had a face, had a voice! That this God of infinite time and power and majesty became one of us, is the central claim of all of the scriptures. You and I need to decide what we believe about the incarnation and what it means and we need to connect some dots.
Let me give you a big picture framework of how we can connect the dots and make reality of a God who loves us, understandable, in a world that breaks us. How God could be with us and bad things and loss still happen? How is that possible?
In the beginning, the Bible frames life to tell us that God really did create us. "In the beginning was the word," the scripture says in John 1. In Genesis 1, the scripture says that "In the beginning (at the head of all things) God created the heavens and the earth. That everything was without form and that God brought it into being." Now don't get tripped up on how this happened because the truth is I don't know and the simple truth is you don't either!
We arrogant Christians are always missing God just like the Jews did because we think we know more than we know and we're not just going to sit in mystery with a little bit of humility and say, "God you are infinitely more complex, infinitely wiser, my three pounds of gray matter will never be able to wrap around all of your infinite bigness." Now, that doesn't mean I'm not going to use my mind, it just means that I'm not going to pretend that God will fit in it!
We try time and again to fit God into our current understanding of science and the simple truth is, in 100 years our understanding will be different. God created the heavens and the earth, and you were created by Him, but then we have "The Fall"…The Fall is more than just some mythical story of two people in a garden with fig leaves - it's the story of us all!
It's the story of a God who, in the beginning, created life good and joyful and purposeful - with Him! Every day Adam walked the garden in the cool of the day with God Himself, but we looked around and we wanted more, we wanted other, we wanted us! And so we chose our own way and in choosing our own way, we set off a mushroom cloud over all of humanity! Everything was shattered and broken. We caught the virus of sin. We got soul cancer. We hated God, we hated each other, we hated ourselves! We've been trying to work our way out of this brokenness since and we can't!
Death came into the world, death came into your world and you know deep down inside of you that there is the possibility for more than we have. You know deep inside of you that everything is broken and the scripture tells us that what was broken in the beginning is going to be restored in the end and the way that is going to happen is through the redemption.
In the fall you were alienated from God and even alienated from yourself and even your best efforts to 'connect' will never succeed without God! More sex, more money, more positions, nothing will connect the dots for you in a way that will make life work and whole. But God loved and so he sent His one and only son Jesus.
God became a broken human being, sinless, but broken on the cross for us...
...to be with us.
...to redeem us.
...to save us!
Here is where the choice has to be made, at the redemption level. In the redemption story, you have to make a choice to see your need and your sin and accept the redeemer - Jesus - or to reject Him. If you accept Him, then God's redeeming love and power will come to life in your life and He will begin restoring. Then He will lead you to the ultimate restoration - all of life as it was in the beginning. So shall it be in the end and that is the picture of Heaven. The other path of not needing a redeemer, not needing a savior is the path to eternal loss and the scripture calls this hell.
So let me just say this, the incarnation matters because you were created in love for relationship! You are not junk! You are not a mistake! I have known victims of rape who've wondered if they should even be here.
Listen, you were created out of the Father's heart on purpose! God created you and loves you, you are wanted and God considers you worth knowing!
Psalm 139:14 says, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." So King David was able to say (not that I'm all that and a bag of chips) but God, you are so great, I can see that you made me on purpose! Guys, I'm telling you, in sin and brokenness, we are alienated from ourselves. The truth is everything is broken beyond repair, that's the fall, but when you understand the beauty of what God did in creation, you understand that you really were created by Him, for relationship, and bear the image of an infinite God!
If we live in a God-forsaken world, then our experience of the world is going to be a God-forsaken experience! It's going to be an experience of loneliness, of abandonment, it's going to be an experience of self-centeredness because everything is up to us. But what if God really did become a human being and what if there really is an answer to the reason of the brokenness of the world? What if our greatest call in life is to trust the love that became flesh and to let God connect all the dots? -Dr. Drew Shofner
Only in Christianity, is there the claim that the infinite God became human! That He occupied flesh. That He was broken with us. The word incarnation is a word that talks about the wonder of God becoming one of us!
John 1:14 says, "The 'word' (God) became 'flesh' (Jesus) and dwelt among us." The word became flesh - the infinite God inhabited time and became just like us! He became broken with us and He made His dwelling with us. God chose not to stay distant in Heaven, but to come and live with us on earth and to be with us!
With is the key word here because the reality is that we have to make a choice about what we are going to do with this Jesus!
What if God really did become a human being? What if there really is an answer to the reason of the brokenness of the world? What if our greatest call in life is to trust the love that became flesh? -Dr. Drew Shofner
Most of us are living in the default of life in our own understanding, in our own processing and in our own conclusion; and when we do that, we miss daily life in the presence of God. Psalm 67 says “You have made known to me the path of life.” It’s not an instant; just add water kind of a journey. It’s not a magic wand; it’s a path that you walk. It’s a journey that we have to make, it’s something that we have to do daily, so that we walk this path and we end up in the presence of God here with Christ; it’s a choice!
Every word of Jesus is a brilliant work of pushing back the darkness and opening up the light of God to us. Our God is a revealing God who’s at work all the time in all of life to reveal Himself to you. He’s always speaking, the question is, are we listening? And most of the time the answer is no. We’re simply not listening. But when we open our ears and we begin to listen, we see all this stuff that appears so random and disconnected, isn’t so random and isn’t so disconnected. The word of God is actively at work to push back the deceit of darkness and deception in your life, and in my life. The word of God is active to penetrate your defenses and your shields to get through to you to help you see that the only sane move in life is following Jesus.
I’m asking you to make a defining decision, where you live by what the Word of God says and declares in life. That you read it, trusting God, that He will speak to you like a loving father to a beloved child and He will guide you and He will give you His promises for everything that you face and everything that you need; that His promises will be enough. I’m asking you to make a definitive choice to walk the path of the promise so that you can experience an abundant life in God’s presence here and now. I pray that every day you reach for the Holy word of God and you read it! Don’t buy the lies that you have to be some sort of bible scholar to do this. You don’t have to be a PHD or anything, you just have to be a child of God.
Jesus said, anyone who comes into my kingdom, can’t be like these other religious leaders with all their robes and titles and power, you’ve got to become like a little child (Matthew 18:3). You have to approach God with the trust to say “Abba, Daddy, whatever you say, I believe it!” So, don’t buy the lie that God All Mighty isn’t eager, everyday that you wake up, to speak truth and freedom and grace and hope and wisdom into your life; He is!
If you will read the Word, if you will enter into His promises, you will have peace, your life will be transformed; it will be lifted. Will you walk the path? Will you take those steps to make the promises of God more real and more relevant in your life than what you feel, what you fear or what you think? Father, in Jesus’ name I’m asking that your Holy Spirit would just stir our hearts and that we would make definitive decisions to get off the path of default, living in our own understanding, and that we would get on the path of consciously seeking out and living in your promises. I pray that you would give us the courage to pick up your Word and search for the promises that answer the pain.
Take the word of God, read it on a daily basis. Find some time during the day to set aside for just you and the Lord. Fill your mind with the Word of God and the Spirit of God will be in control of your day. The beginning of the day is always the best. I mean it just makes sense to read the map before you start the journey doesn't it? -Dr. Drew Shofner
John 1:1 says, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (God) became flesh (Jesus) and dwelt among us; to reveal Himself to us. The one who became, invites us to become. The Word is understandable, it is hope filled and life altering.
When you don't have the words to speak to the pain, or the loss, or rejection of life, then you turn toward the Word who began it all. The Word means that we are not alone in the universe; we are not alone in our pain. We have the Gospel (the good news); we have the most positive message the world has ever known.
What you need to know, is there has been a word spoken into your pain; you are not lost in it. Never be afraid to say I don't know the way forward, because we know who does know. -Dr. Drew Shofner