PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

How to Glorify God

01/22 How to Glorify God; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170122_how-to-glorify-god.mp3

Last week we looked at the primary purpose of the church and of each of us as followers of Jesus. We exist, according to Ephesians 1, to the praise of his glorious grace, to the praise of his glory, to the praise of his glory (Eph.1:6, 12, 14). As the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (1647). Romans 15 tells us that we are ‘to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,’ so

Romans 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Angelic beings in Isaiah 6 declare

Isaiah 6:3 … “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

The Psalmist declares

Psalm 86:12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

In Psalm 106 as in Romans 1, sinners are condemned because:

Psalm 106:19 They made a calf in Horeb and worshiped a metal image. 20 They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt, 22 wondrous works in the land of Ham, and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.

Philippians tells us that one day

Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Peter tells us to so use our gifts, in dependence on God,

1 Peter 4:11 …—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Cornithians tells us

1 Corinthians 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Jesus tells us to

Matthew 5:16 …let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We exist for the glory of God. We are meant to glorify God. The glory of God is to be our chief aim, our primary purpose. If this is true then some questions must follow. What is the glory of God? And how do I glorify God?

The Glory of God and Spiritual Blindness

First, what is the glory of God? If my primary purpose is to glorify God, then I need to understand what I am aiming for. If we don’t have a grasp of a biblical definition of God’s glory, then we won’t have a clue how to live for the glory of God. We must perceive the glory of God in order to live for the glory of God. And this is spiritual work that requires supernatural help. We are told in 2 Corinthians 4 that

2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

So there is a spiritual blindness upon unbelievers to prevent them from seeing God’s glory in Christ. This blindness requires a sovereign act of God to overcome.

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Sovereign God, open our eyes that we may behold your glory in the face of Jesus!

The Glory of God; Light and Weight

I see in scripture, mainly two aspects to the glory of God; light and weight. This passage in 2 Corinthians speaks of the light of the good news of the glory of Christ; the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. The book of Revelation tells us that

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

God’s glory is compared to light, radiance, brightness, shining, brilliance, display. God’s glory is the shining forth of who he is, the brilliant display of his character and nature, the radiant brightness of his being. It is an outward appearance or making known of his invisible being and personality.

In the Old Testament, we see another aspect of God’s glory. The Hebrew word for glory is ‘kabod’, and it literally means heaviness or weightiness. Remember back to Leviticus 9, when the tabernacle was complete, the priests were set apart, the people were gathered, and Aaron the first high priest was to offer the first sacrifices to God in the holy tabernacle. At the end of chapter 9, Aaron had offered the sacrifices,

Leviticus 9:23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 And fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

And then we read in chapter 10, that in the midst of this awesome moment, two of Aaron’s sons did something God had not commanded and offered strange fire before the Lord. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them.

Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

God is to be taken seriously. God is not to be trifled with. God is sanctified, holy, set apart, in a class by himself, utterly unique and unparalleled. The weightiness of God’s character must be revered.

In the Exodus, Moses and Aaron went to the Pharaoh of Egypt declaring ‘thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go…’ (Ex.5:1),

Exodus 5:2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.”

Back in Exodus 3, from the burning bush, God had told Moses,

Exodus 3:19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.

After God wrecked Egypt, after the Pharaoh had commanded them to leave, but before they crossed the Red Sea, God gave Moses instruction and said:

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” … (also 14:17,18)

‘Who is YHWH, that I shold obey his voice?’ ‘I will get glory over Pharaoh… all shall know that I am the LORD.” God will be taken seriously. God will be seen as significant. He will be feared and respected, seen as weighty. He will be glorified in all the earth.

Glory is light and weight; God’s glory is the brilliant display of the weightiness of his character.

How We Glorify God; Drink and Do

So if we are meant to glorify God, and glory is the brilliant display of the weightiness of his awesome being, how do we glorify God? How do we promote and advance the glory of God? How do we live lives that glorify him? We understand what we are to be about, both as individuals and as the church. How do we go about it?
I’m going to give you a simple, easy to remember way to glorify God in your life. Drink and Do. It’s that simple. Drink and Do. What do I mean by that?

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” in his book Desiring God, John Piper points out that we glorify God by enjoying him forever.

Think of a pristine mountain spring, high in the alps, untouched, perfect. Its water is clear and cool. It bubbles up of its own and will never run dry. How do you glorify the spring? By taking your ten cent grocery store bottle of water you carried on the hike and pouring what is left of it into the spring, to contribute to it? Or do you glorify the spring by getting down on your knees beside the spring, putting your parched lips to the water and drinking deeply? Do you glorify the spring by laying down in the grass and listening to the melody of its babbling? To glorify the spring is to enjoy the spring. Allow the spring to satisfy your thirst. Be envigorated by the cool water. Regain strength to hike back down the mountain and tell others what a treasure you discovered. To glorify God is to enjoy God, to drink deeply of God, to allow him to satisfy your deepest longings, to receive strength from him for the journey, to tell others about the pleasure you receive from him.

Listen to the prophet Isaiah

Isaiah 12:1 You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me. 2 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORDGOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. 5 “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. 6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Glorify God in thanksgiving. Glorify God that because of Jesus, his anger is turned away. Glorify God by depending on him, trusting in him, allowing him to free you from all fear. Draw sustenance with joy from his limitless supply of salvation. Glorify God by calling on his name for help in times of trouble. Make his name known. Sing his praises. Shout! Sing! Publish abroad his all satisfying greatness.

Listen to the Psalms:

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Psalm 36:8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!

There is a warning here. If you are filled up with other things, you won’t enjoy the life giving water. When my kids aren’t hungry for the home-cooked meal on the table, we begin to diagnose the cause. When did you last eat? What did you eat? When they have been snacking all afternoon on chips and candy and soda, they are not going to be hungry for real food. We cram our lives full of activity and media and amusement and general busyness and stuff, and we wonder why we don’t have an appetite for spiritual things. We can stuff our souls so full of things that don’t fulfill us, that there is no room for the only one who can satisfy.

Listen to Jesus:

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Glorifying God means drinking deeply of God, going to him with your thirst, with your longings, finding enough, more than enough to satisfy in him. Glorifying God means to drink from him with joy.

Doing and Not Doing

I said glorifying God means drinking and doing. Let me clarify what I mean by ‘do’ and what I do not mean by ‘do’.

Allow me to switch analogies. The vacuum cleaner salesman comes to your door. He’s selling the latest model of Kirby, and he is out to convince you that it is the best vacuum ever made. If you were able to go to his house, you had better find two things. First, you’d better find a clean carpet, and second, you’d better find a Kirby in his closed. If you found a Hoover, you’d call him a hypocrite. That’s the first point. Don’t try to sell a product you haven’t tried or don’t believe in. Drink first.

But this is to clarify the second point, what I don’t mean by ‘do’. If the vacuum salesman comes to your door with his Kirby, and he shows you how great it is, but then he begins to tell you that he has actually made some modifications to his vacuum, that he has shortened the hose to increase the suction, that he has replaced the motor with a more powerful and longer lasting one, and that he took a grinder to the metal casing to make it lighter, you would not say he is glorifying the vacuum by his improvements and modifications. Instead he is pointing out the flaws in the design and trying to fix them.

Or back to the mountain spring. You do not glorify the spring by taking pilgrimages carrying gallons of tap water on your back to contribute to the spring. That is not what I mean by ‘do’. We cannot contribute anything to God except our need, and an opportunity for him to show himself strong.

What I do mean by ‘do’ is this. If you are not thirsty you will not enjoy the refreshing water. You must come thirsty, come needy, come desperate. The depth of your appreciation for the fountain will be directly proportionate to your awareness of your own need. Many of us need to do. Do something. Go on a hike. Get thirsty. Many of us need to do. Try to live a holy life. Try to love your neighbor as yourself. Try to put the needs of others ahead of your own. Try to convince others of their need for Christ. As you do, you will become acutely aware of your desperate need, your inability, and it will drive you back to the only source of life giving water, and you will drink more deeply.

Prayer, Bible, Sermons

Let me connect this to prayer. Prayer is an expression of need and dependence on God. If you are not aware of your need, you will not pray. Desperate people pray. Even those who say they do not believe in God will pray when they sense the sheer hopelessness of their situation. Many Christians seek to improve their prayer life. Instead, attempt to raise children that want to love and follow Jesus. Seek to be content with what you have. Pursue unity with someone you disagree with. Attempt to proclaim God’s word every week. Live with character and integrity. Give biblical counsel to someone who is struggling. Love your wife like Christ loved the church. Refrain from speaking poorly of others. Seek to be a blessing to a person in need. Be a good employee and don’t grumble or complain. Have your neighbor over for dinner. Walk on water. As you do, you will begin to perceive more acutely your desperate need for God. You can’t do it on your own. “Apart from me you can do nothing” Jesus said (Jn.15:5). Begin to do, and it will drive you to drink deeply of the limitless resources in God.

We can connect this to listening to sermons and bible reading. If there is a lecture offered on the relationship of diet to the growth of cancer cells you may be curious and listen. You may have a general sense of the importance of healthy eating, and you may not have anything better to do at that time. You may enjoy the delivery of the presenter, or be mildly annoyed by his accent, or think that his visual aids are not very well done. You may lose interest and begin to think about what’s for dinner and wonder if it will give you cancer, and wonder if this will make you late for it. Would it be rude to get up and leave before it is over? But if your child has been diagnosed with cancer, you will be listening in a whole new way. Your desperation will create in you an attentiveness that nothing else can. As we become aware of the devastating disease of our spiritual need, our spiritual helplessness and hopelessness, our ears will be eager to hear from God.

Expect Great Things; Attempt Great Things

William Carey, a missionary to India, known as the father of modern missions, preached a sermon in Nottingham England in 1792, encouraging involvement in foreign missions. His points were “Expect great things from God; Attempt great things for God.” God is glorified when we expect him to do great things, because we see that he is great, and believe that he is able to do great things. God is glorified when we come to him as the all satisfying source and expect him to be more than enough to slake our own thirst and give us the strength to carry water down the mountain for others. God is glorified when we attempt great things for him, things that are beyond us, things that require him to show up in awesome and glorious ways so that it is evident to all that he alone deserves the praise for the great thing he has done.

Attempt great things for God. In the attempt, you will see acutely your need. Develop a spiritual appetite – by doing. Drink, and do, and drink some more.

Allow your need, your thirst, your lack to demonstrate and display the weightiness of God, the rock solid substantial-ness of God; let God be glorified as you drink deeply from him and attempt great things for him.

1 Peter 4:11 …—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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January 23, 2017 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 34:10-27; The Covenant Re-Made

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20121007_exodus34_10-27.mp3

10/7 Exodus 34:10-27 The Covenant Re-made

Moses has asked God to show him his glory. Moses was asking that God take sinful rebellious disobedient Israel back as his own people. He was asking that he forgive their sins and take them to be his treasured possession. That is a huge request, a bold request, an unlikely request, but it was based on God’s revelation of his own character. God said that he is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, not letting the guilty go unpunished. Moses is boldly asking God to extend his grace and forgiveness to wayward Israel, and to give him proof of his promised presence, and to restore the sinful people to their previous privileged position. In this passage, God is answering ‘yes’. We are going to look at how he answers.

Remember, when Moses asked God to show him his glory, God explained how he would show him his glory, but before he did, he instructed Moses:

Exodus 34:1 The LORD said to Moses, “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain. 3 No one shall come up with you, and let no one be seen throughout all the mountain. Let no flocks or herds graze opposite that mountain.” 4 So Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first. And he rose early in the morning and went up on Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone.

This takes us right back to chapter 19, where God was first inviting the people into covenant with him. The covenant documentation must be remade. There is no experience of the glory of God, no enjoying of the presence of God outside of a covenant relationship with him. They broke the covenant. The covenant relationship must be renewed in order for God to take them to be his inheritance. This is what we see in this chapter. God is agreeing to take Israel back as his people, but only on his terms. This is like those software installation programs that require you to accept the terms and conditions or they don’t let you install the program. Either you accept the terms or you don’t go any further. But God’s terms are not endless pages of legal mumbo-jumbo. God is very clear and concise in laying out his expectations of his people. But the first thing he communicates is what he will do for his people.

I Will Do Marvels

Exodus 34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

This is amazing in light of where we are in Exodus. God had delivered the people from slavery in Egypt by 10 mighty acts of judgment. He had decimated the world superpower, bringing Egypt to its knees. Even the wise men of the Egyptian court said:

Exodus 10:7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”

Now God is saying ‘I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation… It is an awesome thing that I will do with you.’ As if the deliverance from Egypt, the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, was not an awesome thing! God is promising to do even greater things than these! Hold this thought, because I’d like to come back to these verses again before we end today.

An Exclusive Covenant

God says he is making the covenant. He is the one who establishes the terms of the agreement. He is King. He determines what must be. He says ‘Observe what I command you this day.’ These are the boundaries that define the relationship. Without these requirements there is no relationship. There is only broken covenant.

12 Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. 13 You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), 15 lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods. 17 “You shall not make for yourself any gods of cast metal.

Here God is restating his first two commandments.

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…

God is bringing his commandment home to the people who have so recently embraced idolatry, made a golden bull and worshiped the works of their hands. He reiterates that he is a jealous God (20:5); not the petty jealousy of wounded pride, but holy jealousy out of love for the people he is taking to be his own. Not only does he say that he is a jealous God, but he claims that his name is Jealous. Jealousy is one of his defining characteristics. This is exclusive jealousy, righteous jealousy, because there is no blessing outside of a relationship YHWH whose name is Jealous. This covenant relationship is an exclusive covenant. When you enter into the covenant of marriage, you vow to forsake all others and to be faithful only, exclusively to your marriage partner. You can’t take that vow before God and then turn around and enter into another marriage covenant with someone else. It is exclusive. The same is true for this covenant with God. God is saying that a covenant with him is incompatible with entering into covenant relationships with any of the idolatrous people of the land. God was alerting the people to the danger of becoming unequally yoked with unbelievers (2Cor.6:14). It may seem innocent at first, but it leads to idolatry and God views idolatry as adultery. From God’s perspective, idolatry is equivalent to your wife sneaking out on your honeymoon and prostituting herself with other men. This is valid cause for white-hot holy jealousy, pursuing purifying jealousy. This is the passionate jealousy that says ‘I love you, and I want better for you than that.’ Understand, God’s requirements are not oppressive burdens that prohibit pleasure, but rather are for our protection so that we can experience and enjoy his blessing.

The Feasts and Rest

Next, God reminds his people of his appointed feasts and rest.

18 “You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib, for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt. 19 All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. 20 The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed. 21 “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. 22 You shall observe the Feast of Weeks, the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end. 23 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. 24 For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

Here God reminds the people of his requirement that they feast. This is his mandatory demand that they celebrate. Remember what the people did with the golden calf? ‘they sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’. They wanted a party. God is reminding them, ‘I want you to celebrate, I designed you to enjoy my presence, I require that you to rest and be refreshed and enjoy the relationship we have. I am providing, no, demanding that you take time to enjoy your relationship with me. What I offer is so much better than the cheap counterfeits you try to find satisfaction in.’

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was connected to Passover. It was a memorial feast, a feast to remember God’s past faithfulness to them. This is a feast commemorating what the Lord did for you in bringing you out of Egypt. In this, God exerts his ownership over all his people. God redeemed the people from Egypt. He bought them. They belong to him. He owns them. The redemption of the firstborn is a reminder that God has rights over his people. We are his possession. We are his.

The Sabbath was one day out of seven to rest and remember and worship and enjoy. Even at the busiest times of the year, the most demanding times, he requires that his people rest and celebrate him.

The Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Ingathering were two celebrations related to God’s provision for his people; the firstfruits, or Pentecost; and then the final harvest at the end of the season. Attendance at these feasts is not optional; it is mandatory.

And with this is the promise of God’s sovereign protection. You don’t have to worry that while everyone is away worshiping me that someone is going to sneak in and steal your stuff. ‘I will drive out your enemies. I will enlarge your borders. I will protect and care for my people.’

25 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the sacrifice of the Feast of the Passover remain until the morning. 26 The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

God demands purity and perfect obedience to his laws. God asks for the first and the best, because we reserve the first and best for the one we love the most. I will save the first and best for the love of my life. If I always keep the first and best for myself, I am showing that I love myself more than anyone else. God requires that we demonstrate with our possessions that he has first place in our hearts, that we love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength; not with our words only, but with our lives, with our possessions. This is not because God is needy and hungry and broke, looking to us to provide his needs. This is evidence of our affections for him. This is evidence that in our hearts we are keeping the covenant we have made. This would provide a regular opportunity to check my heart and my motives. If I am grudging and grumpy and stingy toward God, then that shows me that my heart is not in the right place; that my heart has abandoned the covenant. If I am joyful and eager and generous toward God, that is evidence that my affections are in line with the covenant relationship.

Words Written

27 And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”

God tells Moses to ‘write these words’. God has a strange fixation with words and writing. God invented words. In the beginning God spoke. God gave us the gift of communication. God speaks to us and God speaks with us. And God is not satisfied with oral tradition, that is open to the interpretation of the storyteller, open to distortion and manipulation and change. God demands that his words be put in writing. God uses words to communicate clearly with his people, and he gives us his words in writing, so that is not dependent on our memory or the memory of the storyteller. We can look at the word written and know. We are not left to guess or to wonder. We can read the written words and know where we stand. It is black and white. This covenant between God and his people was not a vague fuzzy sort of relationship. He puts it in writing. He will hold us to it. We agreed and he will call us to account. And he expects us to hold him to it. He made a covenant with us and put it in writing, and we should know it and love it and call him on it to be faithful to his covenant.

God is fanatical about words. God thinks his words are important.

Psalm 138:2 …for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

God’s word is powerful.

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

God thinks his words are true.

Proverbs 30:5 Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. (cf. 2Sam.22:31; Ps.18:30)

God’s word will endure.

Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

Jesus said:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

God’s word is penetrating

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

God’s word written is able to save.

2 Timothy 3:15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Jesus says that God’s word gives and sustains life

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

God is so fanatical about his words that he named his only Son ‘The Word’.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Hebrews tells us how God spoke.

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

At the end of Revelation we see Jesus show up again.

Revelation 19:13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

The New Covenant

God takes his word very seriously. We should too. That’s why I want to look one more time at verse 10 of Exodus 34 before we close.

Exodus 34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. 11 “Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

We see these words being fulfilled in the book of Joshua, as the people enter the promised land and conquer their enemies. But I think it is bigger than that. I think it points ahead to the New Covenant that God makes with us. “I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation.” What is more marvelous than God becoming flesh, being born of a virgin, living a perfect human life, taking upon himself the sins of the world, dying in our place, and getting back up from the dead! “And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life. Jesus comes to make his home in you. This is an awesome thing that he is doing with you! Are the people around you seeing the relationship you have with Jesus? Are the people among whom you are seeing the work of the LORD? That it is not you working but him at work in you? God promised to drive out the enemies. Our enemies are not Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perrizites, Hivites and Jebusites. Our enemies are things like lust, anger, pride, idolatry, unbelief, self-centeredness, self-sufficiency, evil desires, envy, lies, greed, discontent, bitterness, unforgiveness. Do you see God driving these enemies of your soul out of your life? Are those around you seeing the work of the LORD? Is it an awesome thing that he is doing with you?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

20090412 John 11; I AM The Resurrection

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20090412_resurrection_john11.mp3

4/12/2009 Resurrection Sunday

I am the resurrection and the life

Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ [Jn.11:25]. I’d like to look at the context of that statement and see what we can learn about Jesus and his resurrection.

John 11

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. [cf. Matt.26:6-13; Mk. 14:3-9; Jn.12:1-8; not Luke 7:37-39, 44-48] 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Notice that this man’s illness was for a purpose. Although Jesus knew that the illness would lead to death, that was not the ultimate purpose for the illness. God had in mind something much bigger. We don’t always see God’s purpose in our circumstances, but we can be sure that he is in control and he is good. ‘It is for the glory of God’. The ultimate purpose for this man’s illness that would lead to his death was to provide an opportunity for the Son of God to be glorified.

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

This is not at all what we would expect. Jesus loved these people. They were close friends. He cared deeply for them. But instead of rushing to be a help and comfort, he intentionally delayed two days. We are not told if there was any pressing business in Perea that prevented him from coming immediately – and it is irrelevant. He gives no excuse. He was subject not to the wishes of his friends or the urgency of the situation or even his own emotional attachment, but only to the will of his Father.

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Bethany was dangerously close to Jerusalem – about 2 miles away. It was just the last chapter that Jesus claimed “I and the Father are one” [10:30], and the Jews accused him of blasphemy “because you, being a man, make yourself God” [10:33]. It says “Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands” [10:39]. Now after having so narrowly escaped, his disciples are concerned that he is walking back into danger.

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

Jesus referred to death as sleep, and his mission to awaken from sleep. Bethany was about a day’s journey from Perea, and Jesus knew that Lazarus had died shortly after the messengers had been sent to reach him. They took a day to arrive, Jesus delayed two days, and it took a fourth day for Jesus to travel to Bethany, so that when he arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Although he loved Lazarus and his sisters, and would want to spare them grief, Jesus, who would weep at the grave of his friend, says “I am glad that I was not there”. He could have spared his friends some grief. He could have healed from a distance, as he had done on other occasions, but he had a higher purpose in mind. It was for the sake of the disciples – that you may believe.

16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Thomas was grim and pessimistic, but devoted. And he was right. He knew what lay ahead, and yet he was determined to die with Jesus rather than to live without him

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Martha expressed her confidence in Jesus. When they had sent the message they had not said ‘come at once’ or ‘we need you to heal our brother’. Their message was simply ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill’. They acknowledged him as Lord – as master, the one in control. They recognized his loving care – he whom you love’. And they gave him the facts, and left it to his discretion to do what was best – he is ill. Martha here expresses her confidence in Jesus’ power over sickness and even death. You could have prevented his death, for God always gives you whatever you ask. Jesus pointed her to the resurrection. Martha assumed that Jesus was giving comfort by stating the fact – your brother will rise again. Martha knew her theology. There is a coming resurrection. One day, all who have died will be brought to life again. Scriptures like:

Job 19:25-27 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!

Isaiah 26:19 Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.

Daniel 12:2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Ezekiel 37:12-14 Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. 14 And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”

But look what Jesus says to her:

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life…”

This is one of the great ‘I AM’ statements of the gospels. Jesus takes up the words he spoke to Moses from the burning bush. He is the great I AM of the Old Testament. Martha is thinking of a far-distant future eschatalogical resurrection, and Jesus, standing in front of her says “I am the resurrection”. Resurrection is standing in front of you. I am the life. The living one is here.

“…by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:16-17];

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” [Hebrews 1:3].

This Jesus, “was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life…” [John 1:2-4].

The life giving omnipotent creator was standing in front of this grieving woman, and he is seeking to turn her attention to who he is.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Death is not the issue. If you are trusting in Jesus, your life is such that it will continue even beyond the grave. ‘The moment a man puts his trust in Jesus he begins to experience that life of the age to come which cannot be touched by death’ [Morris, NICNT p.550]. Jesus concludes with a challenge: Do you believe this? Jesus is not arguing philosophical possibilities. This is a saving truth to be embraced and acted upon.

27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Martha’s answer is incredible. She is moving beyond belief in an idea and embracing the identity of this person who was speaking to her. You are the promised Jewish Messiah King. You are the divine Son of God. You are the God-man who entered history.

28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”

Notice how Jesus connects the glory of God with eternal life. He says ‘did I not tell you that if you believe you would see the glory of God?’ What he had said was “whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he life, and everyone who lives and believes in me hall never die.” Here he summarizes this concept of life as seeing the glory of God. This corresponds with Jesus’ definition of eternal life in

John 17:3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is the life. Jesus can speak to a deceased decaying corpse and command it to come out of the grave, and it has no choice but to obey. Jesus is the life giver, the one who has life in himself.

Jesus likens his death and resurrection to a grain of wheat. His death and resurrection is the means for him to bear much fruit, and thus to be glorified.

John 12:23-24 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Did you ever notice how central the glory of God is in the bible?

John 13:31-32 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once.

Let’s look into how Jesus is glorified in the resurrection. Jump back to chapter 10. In verses 10-11, Jesus claims to be the good shepherd, and he defines the good shepherd as the one who gives abundant life to his sheep.

John 10:10-11 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

There and in verse 15, he defines the good shepherd as the one who lays down his life for the sheep:

John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Verses 17-18 are staggering:

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus has authority over his own life. He has the authority to lay down his life, and he has the authority to take it up again. My wife has worked in hospice caring for patients as they die. Some go unexpectedly quickly; others drag on and on. The person has no power over their death. It can be hours, it can drag on for months. Only God controls death.

Job 14:5 Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,

Psalms 39:4-5 “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! 5 Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath!

Jesus had authority over his own life and death. This is what Jesus told Pilate in John 19:

John 19:10-11 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above….

John 19:30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

But even more stunning is his statement that he has the power to take up his life again.

John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

A dead person cannot even close his own eyes. You can’t administer CPR to yourself. But Jesus said he had the power to take up his own life.

Look at how awesome Jesus is. Lazarus was sick and he could do nothing to prevent his own death. His sisters were helpless to prevent his death. No one could take Jesus’ life from him. He laid it down of his own will. Lazarus being dead was utterly incapable of doing anything about his situation. It was the word of Jesus that woke him from his sleep and brought him out of the tomb. In fact, Lazarus, after he was brought to life by the power of God, was helpless to escape from his own grave clothes. Jesus instructed those around to set him free. So we, who have been born again to newness of life, must have the continued influence of the Holy Spirit to release us from the ‘sin which clings so closely’ [Heb.12:1].

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Jesus, after taking up his own life again, needed no one to loose him from his grave clothes. When Peter and John came to the tomb, they ‘saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been of Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself.’ [Jn.20:6-7]

Jesus instructed the bystanders to take away the stone from the entrance of the grave so that Lazarus could come out. But for Jesus, a one-and-a-half to two ton stone, the official seal of the Roman empire, and the armed Roman guard were no obstacle.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. In his resurrection we see his glory. But there are two responses to the glory of God. Look back to John 11

John 11:45-48, 53 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” … 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

John 12:9-11 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

There are two responses when we see the glory of God on display in the person of Jesus. We cannot say ‘oh, that’s nice’ and walk away. Either we embrace Jesus for all that he is, or we feel threatened by his claim to absolute authority and seek to destroy the evidence.

Where are you?

John 20:30-31 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

April 12, 2009 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , | Leave a comment