Sunday Sermon: I Can

What if Scripture was supposed to be a blessing instead of a burden? What if Scripture was supposed to bring us joy and not discourage us? What if Scripture wasn’t supposed to be the “pie in the sky” ideal, but the reality of the way we were supposed to live? What if instead of saying “I can’t” we started believing “I can”? If you have learned to live with a defeatist mindset, I have good news. There is more! If you view Scripture as a “pie in the sky” ideal of how believers can live, then I have good news. There is more!

Click Here: I Can

The Drama Of The Ages

Personally, I love the psalms. If I’m going to get my Bible and just read, not worrying about daily Bible reading plans or anything like that, just read, I’m almost certainly going to the Psalms. I have certain Psalms that I like best. Certain ones I use when I pray. Certain ones I use when I’m discouraged.  Psalm 2 isn’t a “go to” Psalm for me and it’s probably not one for you either. But it should be, especially if we are looking for reasons why believers need not respond to a culture that is increasingly hostile toward our faith with fear-filled hand wringing. Let’s survey Psalm 2 and be reminded of the greatness of our God.

God Isn’t Surprised By Man’s Rebellion– “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?  The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,  “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.” Psalm 2:1-3 (NKJV)

The passage speaks about the hostility and rebellion of the world against God. The nations are raging and the people are plotting. The picture behind the nations raging is that of an angry mob shouting in rebellion and defiance. This is less about any sort of internal feeling than it is the outward agitation that shows it.

It pictures a coalition of rulers coming together against a common enemy. The enemy is God and His anointed King. They are raging and plotting against God. They are coming together to throw off His rule. This is not a momentary fit of rage. This is a deep seated hatred of God, His Son and His rule.

One of my commentaries said that verse 3 reference to bonds and cords referred to the precepts of God or the guidelines that Scripture gives us. I think that this is possible because it’s obvious that the world at large opposes the moral and ethical teachings of the Bible. Not to mention the Bible’s claims that Jesus way, the truth, the life and that no one makes it to God or heaven apart from Him.

The raging and scheming against God that we see in our day is not new. It has been happening since the early parts of the book of Genesis and it will continue until the end of time. In fact, one of the last things we read about in the book of Revelation before Jesus ushers in eternity is a satanic led rebellion on the earth. I think it’s important for us as believers to understand that this is the way it is and the way it will be. This sort of raging and scheming isn’t going to get any better, if anything it’s going to get worse.

Notice David’s attitude towards the raging and the plotting. When you read this the idea is that David is astonished at the raging and plotting. It’s almost like he’s wondering what on earth makes these people think it’s a good idea to rage and plot against the Lord. He describes their plots as vain things. They are making empty fruitless plans when they are plotting against the Lord. It is an exercise in futility that makes David wonder why they would waste their time doing something as absurd as rage and plot against God.

I love this because I think it should be our attitude as well. David is fully confident in God. So confident in fact that he’s not the slightest bit worried about their raging and their plotting. We shouldn’t be afraid when the people rage and plot against God and His anointed King. Jesus is mightier than the raging of the nations. Jesus is greater than the schemes of man.  We can trust in these truths. When we do trust in these things the raging and plotting of the world won’t shake us, instead it will lead us to shake our heads and say, “What a waste of time.” No matter how mankind rebels Jesus will ultimately be victorious.

God Isn’t Threatened By Man’s Rebellion–  “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.  Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:  “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.” Psalm 2:4-6 (NKJV)

God knows all about their raging and their plotting and isn’t surprised or threatened by it. In fact it’s just the opposite. God is laughing at them. This isn’t the laughter of humor. God isn’t laughing with them. Instead it’s a laugh of scorn. God is laughing at them. What an amazing thing. While they are furiously raging and plotting against Him, He is laughing at the futility and foolishness of their actions.

This laughter doesn’t go on forever. After laughing God will speak and when He speaks it isn’t going to be pretty. When He speaks it will be in wrath and judgment. The result will be terrifying. It will bring distress and terror into their lives. This comes from His deep displeasure at what they are doing.

Man’s plotting and scheming doesn’t stop God’s plans. God is still going to move forward with His plans. The raging and plotting and scheming of mankind won’t change a thing about what God is going to do. God is still going to set up His kingdom. God is still going to set His Son on the throne. What is pretty neat here is that God speaks of this future event in the past tense. God’s plans are so sure that He can speak of future events as though they had already happened.

Jesus Reign’s Despite Man’s Rebellion–  “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.  Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.  You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ” Psalm 2:7-9 (NKJV)

The testimony of the anointed King is a testimony of victory. Though the peoples of the world raged and plotted, the King triumphantly declares the decree of God. This is to show that the King’s rule is consistent with God’s sovereign plan for history. Through this declaration the King informs the rebels that God rules His creation on the basis of His sovereign decrees. He doesn’t ask for a consensus. He doesn’t take a vote. He simply makes a decree and that decree comes to pass regardless of how the people rage and plot.

God Is Merciful Toward Rebellious Man–  “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.  Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” Psalm 2:10-12 (NKJV)

These last verses reveal to us the great mercy of our God. In light of the fact that judgment is coming, God calls on the people to be wise and accept the instruction of the Lord. The idea here is that since all the plans against God are futile and since God’s King will take power and will bring severe judgment against those who rebel, the wise thing to do is to turn now and submit. The results of not submitting to the Son lead to His wrath and judgment. The result of trusting and submitting to the Son leads to blessing. It seems that we are presented with a choice. Submit to the Son and experience blessing. Rebel against the Son and experience wrath and judgment. The choice is ours to make.

Man’s rage and plotting against God is nothing new. It has been around almost from the beginning and will continue until the very end. As followers of Christ we should live knowing that this will continue through our lives and probably will affect us personally at some point. We should also live with peace and secure in the knowledge that No matter how mankind rebels Jesus will ultimately be victorious.

Spiritual Darkness Is No Match For The Light Of Christ

Acts 19 is the account of Paul planting the church in Ephesus. Ephesus was a place filled with idolatry and witchcraft. Paul went to Ephesus and preached the message about Jesus Christ. The story gives us a great picture of what happens when the message of Jesus is proclaimed and why the Church and why the Church today need not respond to a culture where righteousness is odd, wickedness is seen as normal and there is serious opposition to our faith with anger, hand wringing, and fear.  This passage powerfully demonstrates that spiritual darkness is no match for the light of Christ.

And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds.  Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver.  So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
Acts 19:18-20 (NKJV)

These people were demonically influenced through witchcraft until Jesus destroyed Satan’s strongholds and saved them. Jesus delivered them from witchcraft through Paul’s preaching about Him. After a bit Paul determined that it would be a good time for him to move on and take the message about Jesus to other places. He sent his assistants away and seemed to be wrapping things up to follow them when trouble broke out. What was the trouble?

For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.  He called them together with the workers of similar occupation, and said: “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade.  Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands.  So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.” Acts 19:24-27 (NKJV)

So many people had been saved that it affected the profits of the idol makers. Idol making was big business and had probably made most of these men very rich. That was before the Paul came to Ephesus. Paul told people about Jesus and organized a church. The Christians of that church preached Jesus and Jesus worked so powerfully in their community that the idol makers were afraid they might go out of business. They were also afraid that their pagan temple would be neglected.

What stands out to me as I look at this passage is that this change didn’t through any sort of political means. At this point, Christianity was seen by many as a new sect of Judaism and so they had no political influence whatsoever. They didn’t do this through protests. They didn’t go outside the idol maker’s shops and hold up signs that said, “God hates idolaters.” Had they done this, they probably would likely have been arrested and executed. They didn’t even plan an organized boycott. Instead, when people were saved, they just stopped buying idols. Jesus worked so powerfully through their lives and preaching in the world around them that those who profited from human slavery to sin became nervous about the change that was taking place in their community. Jesus did this through His Church. What Jesus did then, He can do today. This should free us from anger, handwringing, and fear at a culture where righteousness is odd, wickedness is seen as normal and there is serious opposition to our faith. The spiritual darkness of our world is no match for the light of Christ.

The Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest force for good the world has ever known. Do you believe that? You should because that is the truth. No organization in the history of the world has done more good than the church of Jesus Christ. The Church has the capability to do more good than any politician, political party or any other organization in the world. The Church of Jesus Christ is the greatest agent of change in the world as it is empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the Gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit, the church is able to make real changes in a person, a community and the world. This is because the Holy Spirit doesn’t merely change a person’s appearance, He changes their hearts and lives so that they are brand new creations in Christ Jesus. What our communities, and our world needs most is for the Church of God, to be revived by the Spirit of God, and boldly preach the Word of God so we can see people changed by the power of God.

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