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Saturday, May 16, 2015

Scandalous Grace Message Outline

Scandalous Grace
Judges 14-15
No Perfect People Allowed p. 2

Scandalous grace moves us to . . . 

1.    Exercise self-control

Judges 14:1–9 (ESV) 
Samson went down to Timnah, and at Timnah he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines. 2 Then he came up and told his father and mother, “I saw one of the daughters of the Philistines at Timnah. Now get her for me as my wife.” 3 But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.”

Then Samson went down with his father and mother to Timnah, and they came to the vineyards of Timnah. And behold, a young lion came toward him roaring. 6 Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.

After some days he returned to take her. And he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion, and behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey. 9 He scraped it out into his hands and went on, eating as he went. And he came to his father and mother and gave some to them, and they ate. But he did not tell them that he had scraped the honey from the carcass of the lion.

2.    Act for the good of others

Judges 14:10–18 (ESV)
10 His father went down to the woman, and Samson prepared a feast there, for so the young men used to do. 11 As soon as the people saw him, they brought thirty companions to be with him. 12 And Samson said to them, “Let me now put a riddle to you. If you can tell me what it is, within the seven days of the feast, and find it out, then I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes, 13 but if you cannot tell me what it is, then you shall give me thirty linen garments and thirty changes of clothes.” And they said to him, “Put your riddle, that we may hear it.” 14 And he said to them,
       “Out of the eater came something to eat.
       Out of the strong came something sweet.”
And in three days they could not solve the riddle.
15 On the fourth day they said to Samson’s wife, “Entice your husband to tell us what the riddle is, lest we burn you and your father’s house with fire. Have you invited us here to impoverish us?” 16 And Samson’s wife wept over him and said, “You only hate me; you do not love me. You have put a riddle to my people, and you have not told me what it is.” And he said to her, “Behold, I have not told my father nor my mother, and shall I tell you?” 17 She wept before him the seven days that their feast lasted, and on the seventh day he told her, because she pressed him hard. Then she told the riddle to her people. 18 And the men of the city said to him on the seventh day before the sun went down,
       “What is sweeter than honey?
       What is stronger than a lion?”
And he said to them,
       “If you had not plowed with my heifer,
       you would not have found out my riddle.”

3.    Treat people the way you want to be treated

Judges 14:19 (ESV) 19 And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon and struck down thirty men of the town and took their spoil and gave the garments to those who had told the riddle. In hot anger he went back to his father’s house. 20 And Samson’s wife was given to his companion, who had been his best man.

See Judges 15

Matthew 7:12 (ESV) 12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Questions for reflection and discussion:
1.     What evidence do you see the Samson bullies his parents? Don’t miss v. 9
2.     What evidence do you see in chapter 4 that Samson lives by impulse? What are the dangers of this?
3.     Why is the incident with the lion a problem? See Numbers 6:1-8
4.     Three times these chapter say that the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon Samson? What is the significance of these instances?
5.     What evidence do you see that Samson trusts in his own strength rather than depending on God?
6.     Much of chapter 15 deals with revenge and retaliation. How do you see this same value played out in small ways and big ways from sibling rivalry to centuries of international strife?
7.     How would you describe the difference in revenge and punishment/discipline?
8.     In what sense is Matthew 7:12 the opposite of the primary value exhibited in this passage?

Saturday, May 9, 2015

No Perfect People Allowed

This post is primarily for BP folks but there are links to some interesting things I've read this week at the end.

There are many things on my mind this morning. I want to tell you briefly about a few of them.
Tomorrow we begin a new series called No Perfect People Allowed. Some think church is for good people, for folks who’ve got their lives together. Worse, is the suspicion that we wouldn’t want people whose lives are a mess. This is ironic because the only way to become a part of God’s family is to admit your failures. Over the next three weeks we will look at the life of Samson. It’s a spectacular place both to see the stubborn and even scandalous grace of God, while also seeing that the kind of people God uses are deeply and sometimes embarrassingly flawed. We will gain a strong sense that God is not looking for people who think they’ve got their act together. Or as you may have heard me say, “the church is not a museum for displaying perfectly finished works of art. Rather, its a hospital for sick people; folks that know they need help.” That means there is hope for people like you and me.
Please mark Thursday evening June 4th on your calendar. On that night we will explore the results of the Transformational Church survey many of us took a few weeks back. I've seen the results and I am encouraged by the fact that we already had plans in place before seeing the results to address areas the survey suggests we take a look at. You'll hear more about that in the weeks to come.
Beginning May 31st we begin a series we are tentatively calling Do the Work. It's a study of the NT book James. Early in that book there is a challenge to not just be a hearer of the word but a doer. Soon following that are challenges to care for the practical needs of people. We are structuring opportunities to help us do exactly what the text says. No one will be able to participate in each project. But we challenge everyone to participate in at least one of those local projects. You will hear more about that soon as well.
Each week I come across posts I would like to share with you. Here are a few I saw this week:
Ten Things You Should Never Say to a Guest in a Worship Service - None of you would say such things to people, but I'm guessing you have stories of things you have experienced. I'd love to hear about them.
On Mother’s Day, Remember the Infertile - This is an excellent post highlighting a concern that's always on my mind on Mother's Day.

Read the Bible to Your Anxiety - I've found myself sharing this with a number of people this week. It is definitely worth a few minutes of your time.

The Briefing - This is not a specific post but rather a podcast that I listen to each weekday, usually while getting ready in the morning. It is a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview by Al Mohler the president of Southern Seminary in Louisville KY. That probably doesn't grab your attention much, but I like it because it is intelligent and pointed without being alarmist. You can listen from your computer or podcast it to your phone.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

God's Initiative in Helping

Too long to post on Twitter, but worth sharing:

“If Yahweh’s help were given only when we prayed for it, only when we asked for it, only when we had sense enough to seek it, what paupers and orphans we would be.”

Dale Ralph Davis,  Judges p. 158

Saturday, May 2, 2015

See the End From the Beginning (Sermon Outline)

See the End From the Beginning
Revelation 5
Greater Vision, p. 3

1. Nurture a hunger and thirst for righteousness

Revelation 5:1–5 (ESV) Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” 3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” 

2. Pursue what provokes profound worship

Revelation 5:6–10 (ESV) 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, 
“Worthy are you to take the scroll 
and to open its seals, 
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God 
from every tribe and language and people and nation, 
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, 
and they shall reign on the earth.” 

3. Develop an eternal perspective

Revelation 5:11–14 (ESV) 11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, 
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, 
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might 
and honor and glory and blessing!” 
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, 
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb 
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

Philippians 2:8–11 (ESV) 
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. 

Questions for further reflection and discussion:
1. Why study the book of Revelation?
2. How does a person keep working to see the uniqueness of Jesus?
3. How can a hunger and thirst after righteousness be cultivated? What relevance does this have to John’s weeping over there being no one found to open the book (v.3-4)?
4. How can we learn to identify with suffering of believers under persecution around the world? Why might this be important?
5. What discourages you from praying? How could the image of the prayers of God’s people being incense before him encourage prayer?
6. What can provoke increasingly greater worship?
7. To what extent do we expect multiple ethnicities in our church body? How does that square with the report of what Jesus does in Revelation 5:9?
8. What difference might developing an eternal perspective make in our church life and what would that look like?