Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Word Without Blemish


The Lord Has Come – He Shines Through You
(Philippians 2:12-16, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, November 24, 2019)

[12] Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

[14] Do all things without grumbling or disputing, [15] that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, [16] holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

What role has God planned for obedience in our lives? Could we ever be saved by our works? Why not? Are works then irrelevant to our salvation? Why do works matter?

Obedience and Salvation

Why did Jesus come? The humiliation and exaltation of Jesus as seen in Phil. 2
Christ's obedience is our salvation. If we could have done it, the cross would be useless.
Yet Paul's call to the Lord's beloved church in Philippi: Obey
Obedience is the outworking of God's salvation in the Lord's children.

Why the Fear and Trembling? (See Mark 16:8 for another example of trembling.)

The I-Am is at work in you
Both to will and to work
For his good pleasure

What does it look like to have God shine through us?

Do all things without grumbling or disputing (See 4:2)
Blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish (See 1 Peter 1:19, sacrifice)
In the midst of a crooked and twisted generation (See Acts 20:30 and watch out)
Among whom you shine as lights in the world (luminaries on Christmas Eve)
Holding fast to the word of life... (See 1 Timothy 4:16, keep a close watch on)
What should grace look like in us? Case in point: Philemon and Onesimus
(More on the rest of verse 16 next week—The example of Paul)

THE POINT: Jesus saved us by his obedience. He shines through us by ours.

Applying these verses:

1. It is the Word that shows us Jesus and obedience. Don't let it run away from you.

2. Confusing our obedience with his dishonors the Lord and disturbs our assurance.

3. Ignoring the duties of grace diminishes our joy. Closing illustration: Jan Manson

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:137-144 – Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules.

New Testament Reading—Romans 9:19-33 Righteousness that is by faith and not based on works

Sunday, November 17, 2019

We need to know this in "well-being" and "calamity".


The Lord Has Come – Jesus Christ is the Lord of Isaiah 45:14-25
(Philippians 2:5-11, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, November 17, 2019)

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [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.

Why would God record important truths in the Old Testament centuries before their ultimate fulfillment? What does it reveal to us today when we see a beautiful connection between an Old Testament passage and a New Testament partial fulfillment of that passage? Do these ancient texts help us to understand the first coming of Christ and to trust him for his second coming?

Have this mind among yourselves” Christ's Humiliation and Exaltation

There is a mind which Jesus had when he came
Which we can have now among ourselves
That mind is ours
In Christ Jesus

Two weeks ago: Paul tells the church that “this mind” was beautifully expressed through the incarnation, obedience, and sacrificial death of Jesus.
Last week: “This mind” also includes a vibrant and fruitful Christian hope.
Today: More on our preparation for that hope through the Old Testament prophets...

Isaiah 45
Isaiah 45:1-13 Thus says the LORD to his anointed Cyrus
[2] I will go before you (150 years before the events came to pass)
[3] that you may know that it is I, the LORD, who call you by your name
[4] For the sake of Israel my chosen
[6] That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west
Know what?
[6] That there is none besides me
[7] I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity
[8] Shower, O heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness
[13] He shall build my city and set my exiles free

Isaiah 45:14-25 Thus says the LORD (to Israel)
[14] Egypt Cush (Ethiopia) Sabeans (Sheba, Yemen) shall come over to you
[14] They will plead with you, saying: ‘Surely God is in you, and there is no other’
[16] Makers of idols go in confusion together
[17] But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation (Who is this “Israel”?)
[20] “Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, you survivors of the nations! They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols, and keep on praying to a god that cannot save. [21] Declare and present your case; let them take counsel together! Who told this long ago? Who declared it of old? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me. [22] Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
[23] By myself I have sworn;
from my mouth has gone out in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear allegiance.’
[24] Only in the LORD, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;
to him shall come and be ashamed
all who were incensed against him.
[25] In the LORD all the offspring of Israel
shall be justified and shall glory.

THE POINT of Isaiah 45: Those who respond to God's call from the nations shall be justified and shall glory in the LORD
1. Who is this God of Israel who chose Cyrus?
2. Assemble yourselves and come to him!
3. There is another Christ (anointed one) beyond Cyrus. (Philippians 2:10-11)

Isaiah 45 in Philippians 2

The name of Jesus is the name of the Lord God Almighty, come to save.
Jesus Christ is Lord
All Israel includes all who call upon the Lord.
Note Romans 10:10–13 [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” [12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. [13] For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (See also Joel 2:28-32.)

THE POINT: The Lord has come. Eternal righteousness, strength, and glory can only be found in him. One day everyone from every tribe, tongue, and nation will most certainly see this.

Applying these verses:

1. Today is and is not the very final day of Isaiah 45:23. Many people from all over the world are bowing the knee to Jesus, but many still do not believe in their hearts and confess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord.

2. This will all change in the twinkling of an eye. Like the shutting of the door of Noah's ark so long ago, one day the trumpet will sound, and Isaiah 45 will be entirely fulfilled.

3. God knows all about this and recorded it centuries before the birth of Jesus.

4. There is nothing more secure in this life and the next than the truth of God in Isaiah 45 and Phil. 2. Have this mind among yourselves in both “well-being” and “calamity.”

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:129-136 – Streams of Tears

New Testament Reading—Romans 9:1-18 He has mercy on whomever he wills

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Promise


The Lord Has Come – God Has Highly Exalted Him
(Philippians 2:5-11, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, November 10, 2019)

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [9] Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, [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.

While some Christian groups may diminish the role of suffering in the life Jesus has for his beloved church, we are not in their number. Is it possible, however, that we do not sufficiently contemplate the glory that Christ has won for us through his death and resurrection? Could it be that we are forgetting the scope of Christ's reign over all the people groups of the earth or trivializing the joyful hope that is ours in our Savior?

Have this mind among yourselves... even death on a cross”

There is a mind which Jesus had when he came
Which we can have now among ourselves
That mind is ours
In Christ Jesus

Last week: “This mind” was beautifully expressed through the incarnation, obedience, and sacrificial death of Jesus. But now...

The exaltation of Jesus is also an essential expression of “this mind”.

The exaltation of Jesus is connected to his obedience and suffering.
God has highly exalted him – resurrection, ascension, gifting, returning, uniting
And bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow
In heaven and on earth and under the earth
And every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
To the glory of God the Father.
(More on this next week from Isaiah 45)
Every tongue? The story of the dispersing of the tongues and the uniting of the tongues
Genesis 11:4 “Let us make a name for ourselves.”, 12:2, 8
Acts 2:11 “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”, 2:38-39

THE POINT: The Lord has come. Yes, he suffered greatly for us, but he has been and will be highly exalted for us as well. That has to mean something to his followers.

Applying these verses:

1. SCOPE: God has a massive plan for the unity of his people. Don't settle for less.

2. HOPE: Hope is not optional for those who trust in Christ. Be willing to live in hope.

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:121-128 – A Secure Pledge of Good

New Testament Reading—Romans 8:18-39 More than Conquerors

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Let this mind be among us


The Lord Has Come – Born to Obey and to Die
(Philippians 2:5-8, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, November 3, 2019)

[5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, [6] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, [7] but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. [8] And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

How can we tell if a church is made up of Christ-followers? It cannot simply be a matter of what we say we believe. We need to show evidence among us of “this mind” of Christ. What is this mind? What does it teach us about our bodies, our service, and our ultimate act of worship?

Have this mind among yourselves.”

There is a mind which Jesus had when he came
Which we can have now among us
That mind is ours – and it is reflected in our life together as a family
This mind is ours in Christ Jesus
A gift that we are called to receive

The incarnation of Jesus was an expression of “this mind”.

Though he was in the form of God
He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (grabbed from the real gods)
But emptied himself
A true body and a reasonable soul

The service of Jesus was an expression of “this mind”.

By taking the form of a servant – John 13

What was the fullest expression of “this mind”?

Being found in human form, he went further according to “this mind”
He humbled himself by becoming obedient
To the point of death
Even death on a cross
Cross as bride price – the ancient vows
Then, as the groom places the ring on the bride's finger, he says the following: 'With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the name of the Father, and of Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.'”
Cross as worship – “With my body, I thee worship.” This is what Jesus did for his bride.
Those words need to mean something...

THE POINT: The Lord has come. He came to obey and to die. That has to mean something to his followers.

Applying these verses:

1. Our bodies are not inherently bad. The Son of God was found in one, and he did not despise it or throw it away.

We have so much that needs doing. Sympathy is helpful, and prayers are marvelous, but at some point there must be that marvelous human connection between mind and body, where someone knows what must be done, and combines strength and will to actually do it.

Yet even if a person has limitations that prevent the accomplishment of one project or another, what a wonder it is to be a human being! Deb Kneisley's former student is an MD and a mom. She is carrying a baby who has Trisomy-18. Not every doctor understands her feelings about her baby. Let this mind be among us...

2. We don't have to be in charge of everything in order to have a meaningful life. Being a servant is an excellent expression of godly obedience.

Chet & Deb DuPont just want to serve in Rwanda. I remember when they first came to a clearer faith in Christ. The message was about receiving a Christmas gift, and the title was, “Have you received my gift?” Jesus is the gift. They have received him. Now they want to share that gift in Rwanda. Who would have thought where that would lead? Female goats and clean water in two villages. Let this mind be among us...

3. Precious in the Lord's sight is the death of his Son... and the death of his saints. If it were not so, he never would have commanded the cross of Christ and appointed that we should live and die. Clearly there is more to this story than life under the sun. Every worldview that neglects this central fact of theology, will be a lie and a dead end.

Death cannot be passed over as if it were a nothing. Cain: “Am I my brother's keeper?” Christ's death cannot be ignored. Neither is the death of any person something to be ignored and lost as nothing. We show respect for life and for acts of service when we are able to agree with the Lord about the sacred reality of life and death. And we look beyond this life because of the cross of Jesus. Let this mind be among us...

4. The church is not truly Christian if we refuse to have “this mind” of incarnation, obedience, and the death of the cross in us.

It is our privilege to stand with others who share the faith that we possess. Yesterday I was able to give testimony to that fact for my friend Jim Blair and our friends over many years at the Exeter United Methodist Church. Their church signed on to be in partnership with the New Hampshire Alliance. To do so they had to affirm basic Christian doctrines about God and Christ, an ethical oneness with those who hold to historic understandings of the Ten Commandments, particularly regarding murder and adultery. It was great to stand with them as they face the potential of criticism for their fidelity to Christ the Word made flesh and to the Word of the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. Let this mind be among us...

This is how we celebrate Jesus. We understand that we are united to this Christ in his birth, his service, and his death. All this makes a difference. Let this mind be among us now and forever.

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:113-120 – One Heart

New Testament Reading—Romans 8:1-17 Provided we suffer with him

Sunday, October 27, 2019

But we have the mind of Christ.


The Lord Has Come – One Mind, This Mind
(Philippians 2:1-5, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, October 27, 2019)

[1] So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, [2] complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. [3] Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, ...

Joy to the world. The Lord has come.” What do these words mean? Is there something to the coming of Jesus that is more than any of us have known up to this moment in our lives? Do you find any encouragement in your soul from the birth of the Lord? If so, what will you do with that good seed? Could it be that God has a plan that is bigger than any one person, or any particular place or time? Is it possible to have the singular mind of Christ Jesus in a group of people, not just for a moment, but forever?

(1) Do you find any encouragement in your soul from the birth of the Lord?

Any encouragement in Christ
Any comfort from the love of Jesus
Any participation in the Spirit of the Lord
Any affection or sympathy for him and his story

(2) What will you do with that good seed?

Toward a more completed apostolic joy
Being of the same mind
Having the same love
Being in full accord and of one mind
(3-5) Is it possible to have the singular mind of Christ in a group of people?

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit.
In humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind, the mind of Jesus, among yourselves. NKJV: “in you” The you is plural.

This one mind is yours in Christ Jesus. What is this “mind”?
1 Corinthians 2:16 ends with these words: “We have the mind of Christ.”

What a concept! To have the mind of another in you! That sounds dangerous, or good...

Closely related to being a true disciple of another. John 9:28 “And they reviled him, saying, 'You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.' ” Is that enough for us?

THE POINT: The Lord has come. There must be something more. Something far better.

I certainly hope there is something more than what the world had prior to the coming of Christ. Consider Genesis 1-5 in brief: “Good” and “Very Good”, “Not Good”: and “At Last”, “Good and Evil”, “Murder”, “He Died.” A world in desperate need...

Another alternative to have in you that would not be good: from Phil. 3:1–3
[1] Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. [2] Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. [3] For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

Paul the Pharisee knew that they did not see themselves as having the mind of a dog.
What mind did they think they had in them? God's through Moses. The mind of Moses.

The story of Moses (from Exodus):
Birthed in danger, raised in privilege, a deliverer want-to-be, suddenly a murderer, a fugitive wanderer, a curious investigator of a burning bush, a reluctant ambassador, a maligned and unappreciated miracle worker, a worshiper, a lawgiver, a frustrated leader of a difficult multitude, the builder of a tent house, a prophet...

Deuteronomy 18:15, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen.”

The story of Jesus:
Birthed in danger, raised in obscurity, at 12 a worshiper in his Father's house, suddenly revealed as the beloved Son of God and long-awaited Christ, an astounding teacher and miracle worker, the Suffering Servant, betrayed by a close companion, abandoned by his friends, a king on the cross, the Passover Lamb, the resurrected Lord of a new world.

Which mind would you want in you? The mind of Moses or the mind of Jesus the Christ? But then it was not really the mind of Moses that persecutors and troublers of Christ and his church had, was it?

Applying these verses:

1. The impact of the Lord's coming cannot be limited to just you.
This is more than an individual experience that begins and ends with one person. It is an individual experience, but it must be more than that. The example of brother Lawrence. Read his “Seventh Letter”. A monk who was not very monkish encouraging the friend of a soldier...

2. The impact of the Lord's coming cannot be limited to doing religion the Old Testament way.
Paul knew that it was not safe to be as he once was – a persecutor of the church. He was confronted by the One whose Mind would be in him and in us.

3. The impact of the Lord's coming must be more than anything limited to one place or time.
This mind in us creates a most necessary new start and a shining light for the journey. It says to our souls, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit. In humility count others more significant than yourselves. Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind, the mind of Jesus, among yourselves.”

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:105-112 – Light for the journey

New Testament Reading—Romans 7:13-25 Beyond sin

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Beyond Fear and Paralysis


Unmasking the Adversaries
(Mark 12:1-12, Preaching: Pastor Stephen Magee, October 13, 2019)

[1] And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a pit for the winepress and built a tower, and leased it to tenants and went into another country. [2] When the season came, he sent a servant to the tenants to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. [3] And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. [4] Again he sent to them another servant, and they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully. [5] And he sent another, and him they killed. And so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. [6] He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ [7] But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ [8] And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. [9] What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others. [10] Have you not read this Scripture:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
[11] this was the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?”
[12] And they were seeking to arrest him but feared the people, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them. So they left him and went away.

As Jesus was headed to the cross, he told a story and quoted a passage from the Psalms that unmasked the spiritual leaders who were seeking to kill him. He was not trying to save himself from death, since he came into this world to be the Passover Lamb. Why then did he use a new parable and an ancient song included in the Bible to identify his adversaries? What was their reaction to his convicting words? How do these pivotal events of human history help us to follow the king who willingly died for our salvation?

A Story

A man planted a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-5)
went into another country
When the season came
sent a servant
they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed.
Again he sent to them another servant
they struck him on the head and treated him shamefully.
And he sent another, and him they killed.
so with many others: some they beat, and some they killed. (Matthew 5:11-12)
He had still one other, a beloved son.
Finally he sent him to them
They will respect my son.’
This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.
What will the owner of the vineyard do?
He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.

A Song

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord's doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes? (Psalm 118:22-23)
More from Psalm 118
Mark 11:9-10 and Psalm 118:25-26
Also Psalm 118:27-29 – Note that they don't go running to their Bibles to see their error
A Response

And they were seeking to arrest him
but feared the people,
for they perceived that he had told the parable against them
So they left him and went away.

Fear and Spiritual paralysis
The enemies of the gospel – understandable...
The Lord's disciples – Can this be right for us who know Revelation 21:1-4?
[1] Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. [2] And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [3] And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. [4] He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

THE POINT: Jesus, the beloved Son of God, would be rejected and killed by the spiritual leaders of his day, and would thus be established as the cornerstone of a new resurrection temple.

Applying these verses:

1. The church must expect to be shamefully treated. The prophets were abused. The Lord himself was despised. On one hand, we should be shocked and offended by atrocities against us. Death is not normal, and neither is evil. On the other hand, we cannot be unaware of that which the Lord has so clearly revealed to us. He wants us to see the truth, and then to make good use of that which breaks our heart and his. What was God's word to Samuel regarding the desire of people to have a king? “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7) When we suffer for Christ, it is because of Christ that we suffer.

2. There is an answer coming for persecutors of Christ and his people. “Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6–7) Nonetheless, “pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

3. Enemies are unmasked for our sake, that we might be reassured that the Lord is in charge. Therefore, don't let world events or any personal mistreatment send you into fear and spiritual paralysis. The Lord is near. Turn to the beloved son.

Old Testament Reading—Psalm 119:89-96 – Forever

New Testament Reading—Romans 6:12-23 Free from sin and slaves of God