You are welcome to join us.

Sunday Night Fellowships are ON! 5:30 pm Agape meal, Lord's Supper, and Bible Study! @1721 Walton St.

Wed., and Fri. 5:45 pm for a devotional Scripture reading @ Fireside Park.
Tue., and Thurs. 5:45pm for a devotional Scripture reading @ Balderama Park
if you would like to contact Jeff Miller his cell phone number is (760)-576-9215

Monday, December 13, 2010

God's Wisdom vs. Man's Wisdom: A Synopsis of 1 Corinthians 1-4

On Sunday nights, we have been looking through 1 Corinthians. Last night we finished up the first section of the letter, chapters 1-4. The major theological point in the section is quite clear: God's wisdom is triumphantly different from man's wisdom.

Consider some of the Old Testament quotations the Paul has used to support this theological point.

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." Isaiah 29:14/1 Corinthians 1:19

"For who has known the mind of the LORD, that He will instruct Him?" Isaiah 40:13/1 Corinthians 2:16

"He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness." Job 5:13/1 Corinthians 3:19

"The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless." Psalm 94:11/1 Corinthians 3:20

These Old Testament passages support Paul's argument that God's wisdom is far superior to man's wisdom.

The way God works does not make any sense to those who are wise in this age. Paul's biggest test case for this reality is Jesus' death on the cross. Paul says that God is using the cross of Jesus to bring about salvation for those who believe; however, those who are perishing do not see Jesus' death as the wisest move if salvation is the goal.

God's wisdom trumps man's wisdom. This is the testimony of the Old Testament and the testimony of the cross.

The situational problem in Corinth exists because of their failure to recognize the way God's wisdom works. The Corinthians think they are spiritual, mature, and wise, but they are wise according to this age and the rulers of this age. Their dependence upon this wisdom is causing them to divide up into little groups. They have divided up in the name of certain teachers in the church. Some like Peter more, some like Paul more, some like Apollos more.

Paul takes issue with their divisions; however, more than that, he sees that the real problem is their lack of understanding of the way God works. This lack of understanding is causing them to be arrogant and boastful. As their "father" in Christ, Paul simply cannot stand for such nonsense, so he speaks to the heart of the problem: they are making their evaluations based on man's passing wisdom, not God's lasting wisdom.

Paul's message to the Corinthians is very relevant for today. God's special, called-out people of the 21st century need to heed Paul exhortation to rely upon God's wisdom. When this happens, they will not boast in teachers, riches, societal positions, wisdom, maturity, spirituality, etc; they will boast in the only thing that is appropriate to boast in, YHWH the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jesus.

Friday, December 10, 2010

God's Interests vs. Man's Interests

In Matthew 16, Peter declares that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). For this statement, Jesus says that he is blessed.

A couple of verses later, Jesus tells the disciples that he must suffer and be killed. Peter does not like the sound of this by any means and therefore rebukes Jesus for even mentioning such a crazy idea. Jesus gives a completely different response to this statement: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matt 16:23).

One minute Peter is called blessed, and the next he is called Satan (God's adversary). What can account for Peter's complete change of status?

Jesus said it was because he was setting his mind on man's interests.

The whole chapter seems to be about that very issue: setting man's interests above God's.

Early in chapter 16 the Pharisees and the Sadducees ask Jesus for a sign from heaven. What they are asking for was not a miracle the likes of feeding 4,000 people with very little food or causing the mute to speak or the lame to walk or the blind to see (see Matthew 15:31-39), they want a political overthrow of the Romans; after all, this is what the Messiah was supposed to do. Jesus refuses to give them the sign they ask for and warns the disciples to beware of their teaching.

At this point in his life Peter shares the same perspective as the Pharisees and Sadducees. He too would love for Jesus to overcome Roman oppression. This is why Peter doesn't like the idea of Jesus suffering and dying. This is also why Jesus responds to him in a similarly negative way.

What separates Jesus from the Pharisees, Sadducees and Peter is one simple thing: His complete, undivided focus on God's interests.

Men are interested in many things such as wealth, success, fame, political power (e.g., Pharisees, Sadducees, and Peter).

God is interested in one thing: Loyalty to Him.

What are you interested in?

Jesus was completely loyal to His Father. And God's raising him from the dead testifies to Jesus' faithfulness to Him.

This is the only sign that the Pharisees, Sadducees, Peter, you and I have to look forward to.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ignored, Rejected, and "Dogged" Jesus?

Last night at the park we read a VERY thought provoking passage in Matthew 15:

"Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon. And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed." But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, "Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us." But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" And He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus said to her, "O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed at once." (Matthew 15:21-28)

Jesus denies her request on three different occasions. Most people speculate as to why Jesus did this. Was he testing her faith? Was he trying to teach his disciples about great faith?

A better question might be, why would this woman continue to pursue someone who had ignored, rejected, and "dogged" her?

Would you do the same if you went to Jesus for help and received a similar response?

The woman's thought process was "It may not be appropriate for me, as an outsider, to get help from you Son of David, King of Israel, but it is more than appropriate for me to direct my faith towards you."

Jesus saw this as being right on the money.

Jesus came to bring salvation and healing to his people, Israel. We can turn away sad and offended, calling Jesus a racist, or we can be like the woman and press forward knowing that Jesus is the ONLY appropriate person worthy of our faith, whether we are Jews or Gentiles.

What are your thoughts on this passage?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jesus Fulfills All Leadership Roles in Israel

Tonight at the park we read Matthew chapter 14. One of the stories in the chapter recalls the fatal fate of John the Baptist. Here is a quick summary. The chapter begins with Herod “the King” of Israel thinking that Jesus is John the Baptist, raised from the dead. Matthew then tells the story of the events that led to John’s execution.

Herod had been sleeping with Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. John the Baptist, in true prophetic fashion, rebukes Herod for this breaking of the Law of Moses. Herod wanted to have John the Baptist executed at that moment, but John was too popular to execute; all of the people might have caused a riot. However, at Herod’s birthday party one night, Herodias’ daughter danced and pleased him very much. Herod swore to her in front of all of his guests that he would give her whatever she asked for. The girl went to her mom to find out what she should ask for. Herodias told her dancing daughter that she should ask for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. The girl listened to her mother’s advice, and Herod was obligated to grant her wish because of the oaths he made. Herod has John executed.

One of the things that came up in our discussion at the park was the presence of the different leadership roles at work in this little episode: the prophet and the King. Israel’s prophets* were carriers of God’s word to all of Israel. There was no exception for the king. The King of Israel was to be God’s anointed representative on the earth. He was to be a King over Israel on God’s terms. Throughout Israel’s history, the prophet and the king have experienced friction within their relationship. Even a great king such as David was not beyond rebuke. The prophet Nathan, like John the Baptist, rebukes the King for his improper relationship.

In the New Testament, Jesus uniquely takes on both the role of the prophet and the role of the King in a conclusive way. Jesus is the final carrier of God’s word, and later in the Gospel, this will produce much friction between Jesus and the leadership in Israel. Jesus also takes on the role of the King. He has already stated in the gospel that his father has handed all things to him, but he is not like other Kings; he is gentle and humble in heart.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Opinions on Things: Luke 12

Opinions on Things: Luke 12: "We just recently read Luke 12. Here is a passage that stood out. 42And the Lord said, 'Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom h..."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Knock and It Shall Be Opened

Luke 11:5-10

5Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, 'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'
7"Then the one inside answers, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' 8I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness [or persistence] he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

If your neighbor came knocking on your door at three in the morning saying, "Hey man, I need some bread." You would probably react the same way the man in the story did. But, if he kept knocking and asking, knocking and asking, you would want to do anything to make the noise go away. So he would get his bread. Not because "he is your friend", but because of "the man's boldness".

What is more likely to get your attention? Someone quietly asking every now and then if you could help them with something, or someone on their knees every day begging you to get them through this trial? Which person would you be most likely to help? Which person seems more passionate about what they need? If you were asking God for something or just thanking Him for all that He's done, which technique is more likely to show Him how much you love and need Him?

I put all this in here to say, when we're coming to God with our burdens, shouldn't we come as the friend in the night? Loud, Bold, Persistent, and Passionate.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who has our attention?

We are reading the gospel according to Luke in the park, and I just wanted to share something that stands out to me.

Let's be honest. We have a tendency to hang on every word that comes out of the mouth of important people. When Barack Obama speaks, we listen to every word that he says. We analyze, criticize, memorize, and sometimes even praise his words. This is the reason we have 17 news stations, so we can hear people discuss the ramifications of what he or any other political figure has said. These important people have our attention!

But is this where we are to hear from God?

Luke chapter 3 begins in a very intersting way. It starts with Luke telling Theophilus (and us) who the important people are. Here is Luke 3.1-2a:

"Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, in the high preisthood of Annas and Caiaphas..."

What a line up! Emperor, Governor, Tetrarch, Tetrarch, Tetrarch, High Priest! These are some important people that Luke is mentioning. But Luke goes on to say...

"the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." (Luke 3.2b-3)

After listing all of these prominent men, Luke states that the word of God came to John, a man who lived in the wilderness. John is pretty much a nobody. He doesn't have a special title. But if we've been listening closely, we will remember that John's father (who was filled with the Holy Spirit) has already told us about John's one-of-a-kind mission:

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet in the way of peace." (Luke 1.76-79)

The title-less John will inform a hurting people that their salvation has arrived. He will inform the people that have been sitting in darkness of the sunshine that is on the way! John will. Not Caesar, not Pilate, not Herod, not Philip, not Lysanias, not Annas, or Caiaphas. John, the son of Zacharias, a wilderness dweller. The other folks may be making headlines, but John is preparing the way for Jesus. Luke wants us to know that John's preparation for Jesus is God's word to His people.

God's word doesn't always shout out where men usually expect important things to be said. It may be shouting out in the wilderness. God's word doesn't have to come from the high-profile people. It may be coming from someone who appears to be quite "unqualified". Wherever God's word comes from we can be sure of this, it will be preparing us for Jesus. Jesus and what He has to say is most worthy of our attention, even though it might not be making headlines.

Come join us at Fireside Park (MWF @ 6PM) as we hear from the one who is our salvation!