Reverse the Curse

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth….And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:1, 31) What a beautiful picture of God’s original creation: organized around the magnification of His creative glory and untainted by the destruction of sin with everything operating at the apex of its created purpose. This is how God intended the world to be.

However, since the Fall of humanity in Genesis 3, “creation was subjected to futility…groaning together” (Romans 8:20, 22) for a return to its original condition. No aspect of the creation has escaped the distorting effects of sin’s curse. In particular, men and women, alone created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), have suffered greatly.

In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes the extent to which sin has affected each and every human being. Paul highlights three aspects of our humanity in particular that have been distorted by sin:  Read more of this post

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Why Do You Worship?

Worship BG - Not To Us

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Key Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

You and I are worshiping every second of every day. We are continually pouring ourselves out for people, causes, things, or experiences. Worship never stops.

So what is worship? It is much more than just singing songs or playing an instrument (though that is certainly part of it). Christian worship is a biblically faithful response to a biblically faithful understanding of God. It is both internal and external. The internal spirit of worship comes from experiencing and treasuring the beauty and worth of God as presented in the Bible. This results in an external response that shows what we have experienced and treasure. Worship begins in the heart as a matter of spirit and truth, and then flows out of the heart to impact every part of our daily life.

The opposite of selfless Christian worship is selfish worship, or idolatry. Idolatry is an unbiblical, unfaithful understanding of God and/or an unbiblical, unfaithful response to Him. Just like true worship, idolatry begins internally long before it manifests itself externally. And like true worship, it eventually flows from our heart to impact every area of our life.

John Calvin famously said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” Because of the sinful tendencies of our heart, we can twist things that are meant to bring glory to God and make them into idols. In other words, sin is not just doing bad things, but also making good things into ultimate things. This turns selfless worship into selfish worship. This is the very issue that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34Read more of this post

Know Your Enemy: The Danger of Underestimating and Accommodating Sin

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry‘s Winter War Games event on Saturday, February 1, 2014.

Key Texts: Judges 2:11-17; Romans 8:5-13

What is the greatest enemy of the Christian? No doubt there are many enemies we face as believers: Satan, demonic powers, the temptations of the world, and sin just to name a few. Each of these is dangerous and something we should be on guard against.

However, Scripture tells us consistently that our greatest enemy isn’t Satan. It isn’t the demons. The greatest, most dangerous enemy for any Christian is his or her flesh. J.C. Ryle realized this: “Sin and the devil will always find helpers in our hearts.” My greatest enemy is myself. Your greatest enemy is yourself. From the day we are saved until the day we die, our new spiritual nature will be at odds against our old sinful flesh nature. Our hearts are idol factories! (Martin Luther) We must recognize this enemy that lives within us and take it seriously or it will overcome us.

In 1886, Robert Lewis Stevenson published The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In the book, the respected Dr. Jekyll has an evil living within him that manifests itself periodically in the form of Mr. Hyde who goes on violent, lustful rampages. At first, Dr. Jekyll is appalled by the actions of Mr. Hyde, but as time goes on, he comes to enjoy the release from morality that his evil side offers.

At one point Dr. Jekyll says, “I had learned to dwell with pleasure as a beloved daydream on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could be housed in separate identities then life would be relieved of all that was unbearable: the unjust might go his way delivered from the aspirations and remorse of his more upright twin, and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path doing the good things in which he found his pleasure and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil.” Thinking he could control the two, he develops a potion that allows him to switch between the good Dr. Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde whenever he takes it. However, the more he feeds and enjoys his evil nature, the more it controls him. Eventually, Dr. Jekyll gets to the point where Mr. Hyde takes over at random times and can’t be subdued by the potion. Recognizing that eventually Mr. Hyde will completely consume the once honorable Dr. Jekyll, Jekyll pens a note that ends with “I bring the life of that unhappy Henry Jekyll to an end” and commits suicide.

See how deadly our indwelling sin is? It wars against us in our pursuit of holiness. It tries to take us captive, lull us to sleep, and lead us away from the God who redeemed us from the curse. It promises temporary relief and pleasure, and the more we accommodate it like Dr. Jekyll did, the stronger it grows until it eventually kills us.

Let’s look at how this played out in the nation of Israel.  Read more of this post

Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

 

...Hope...

Tragedy is never something that we look forward to, especially when it is unexpected. Whether it is a personal tragedy or one that affects a whole community, often our first instinct is to shrink back, ask questions, and lose hope.

This weekend, a young lady passed away at my alma mater. It is one of several tragic events that have happened in the Siloam community over the past six years that I’ve lived here. In a small community like JBU or Siloam Springs, everyone is affected to some degree. People always deal with suffering caused by these events in different ways.

What should be the Christian’s response in times like these? Read more of this post

The Transforming Gospel

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, September 15, 2010.

To see tweets related to this sermon when I spoke at the Gathering, a student-led worship service at John Brown University, on February 13,2011, click here.

After reading Romans 12:1-8, it is evident that an encounter with the saving grace of Jesus Christ is a transformational experience. The first 11 chapters of Romans go into in-depth and intimate theological detail of what the Gospel is. So before moving on, let me summarize what the Gospel is:
a. Righteous Creator- God
b. Rebellious Sinner- Humanity
c. Resulting Punishment- Judgment
d. Redeeming Savior- Jesus Christ
e. Repentant Faith- Response
*Adapted from What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

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