Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sermon by Jason Hansen on Romans 6:20-23

1. Who we were.
Seemingly free to do whatever made me happy. But the fruit was shame, guilt and inward slavery. And the end of slavery to sin is death. We earn death for our sin, like earning $$ for a job.

2. Who we are.
Free from sin and slaves of God.
We get eternal life as a gift. No earning; no wages.  Not a gift for a birthday or for Christmas. This is a FREE gift with no expectation, no strings attached.

Why should I live for Jesus?
For the same reason the blind man who Jesus healed should open his eyes and see. Because we have been changed and now we can.

Two mistakes:
- Thinking too little of sin. I don't need Jesus for my little problems.
- Thinking too much of sin. My sin is bigger than Jesus. At some point forgiveness will run out.
Jesus is both a deep sea diver, finding and rescuing us from every sin, and a great mountain climber, conquering the greatest and worst sins in us.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 5:6-11

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  - Romans 5:6-11 (ESV)

1. How God showed His love
It is noble to die for someone who loves you back. But God died for us when we did not love Him. We were his sworn enemies.
If you had a sworn enemy, how would you treat them? How did God treat his enemies? He died for us.
It isn't just Christ who loved us, as if the Father is wrathful and the Son is loving. GOD shows his love for us in that...Christ died for us.

2. How God continues to show His love.
We are not drawn to be friends with a judge.  God is not only a judge.
I am reconciled to God. The cross stands as proof that God loves me. There is no longer anything to fear.
Now we can boast (rejoice) in our relationship with Him!
He killed Jesus, not me.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 5:3-5

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5 (ESV)

Why do we suffer? If we have peace with God, why does life feel like war?

1. How are we to face suffering?
It is a lie that Christians are not supposed to suffer. It is not for lack of faith that you are suffering.
Christians: Suffering is not proof that God is against you. It is proof that God is working in you.
Rejoicing in our suffering seems outrageous.

2. Why are we to boast in suffering?
Suffering is the way God works in our lives. He transforms the weak into the steadfast, through endurance of suffering. Suffering always produces something better in Christians.
Mature Christians have character, strength, and hope.

3. Is that all our suffering does?
No. We know that God loves us because He gives us Himself in the midst of suffering. Not only did Christ die for us, but also the Spirit lives within us. We have right now a never ending forever flowing stream of love from God. He's not just working in us to build something - He loves us.  Suffering is the sign of His work. The Spirit is the sign of His love.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 3:27-31

1. Why warn us against boasting?

Read the Bible like a 3 year old. Ask lots of questions. And then ask more.
Why go from justification to a warning against boasting? Because we are apt to be proud of what we have even though it has all been given to us. Even Christians can be proud of who we are before God. It is not a danger, it is THE danger.
The justified need to work to be humble. Humility is a discipline, not a gift. Humility is the discipline of self-forgetfulness.

2. Why is boasting dangerous?

When Christ died for us, He shut out God's wrath. Now we must shut out our pride. 
Faith and pride are opposed to one another. Faith points to Jesus, not to me. Faith is only real when it is faith IN something -- faith IN Christ. Pride is trusting yourself more than Jesus. Pride derives power and worth from self. Faith derives power and worth from God.
Children are humble. Jesus said to become like them.
Boasting is dangerous because it is singing the praises of self. It is antithetical to a life of faith.

3. How can we work to be humble?
Boasting gets muted when we remember what justification by faith means.
Remember what God has done for us. God hasn't promised material possessions or earthly happiness. He has promised to keep those who are His for eternity! God has given us way more than we can imagine. We have the righteousness of Christ!
The flip side of boasting is complaining. Pride boasts when we have and complains when we have not.
Remember God and forget about self.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 3:21-26

This is called the most significant paragraph ever written.

"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." - Romans 3:21-26 (ESV)

Everyone is wicked. And God is very angry at them. How does this get resolved? Righteousness.

1. What is righteousness?
It is what is right and good and just. God's righteousness is his absolute rightness, goodness, and justice. God is morally perfect and perpetually does the right thing at the right time for the right reason. He is the only righteous one.

2. Why does righteousness matter?
Mankind is unrighteous in action and essence. Even the best of mankind fall woefully short, compared to God. All fall short of the glory of God.  So God is angry. He must punish all unrighteousness.

3. How do you get righteousness?
There is no way apart from God to get the righteousness of God. Jesus is God become man to make a way. He died for the unrighteous. By means of faith, He gets our punishment, and we get His righteousness. How is this fair? It's not. God is merciful.

If we just got His righteousness, God's character would be comprimised because His wrath would not be satisfied. Jesus had to take our unrighteousness so that God could pour out His wrath on Jesus on the cross. He is both righteous and the one who makes us righteous (just and the justifier).

Effect of the Gospel for the Christian: confidence in the righteousness we have been given. We are just as likely to be expelled from the presence of God as Jesus in all His perfection!

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 3:9-20

What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”   “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”   “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”   “Their feet are swift to shed blood;  in their paths are ruin and misery,  and the way of peace they have not known.”   “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”  Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:9-20 (ESV)

1. Everyone, everywhere, without exception, stands guilty before God.
Verses 10-18 are a song of mourning. God is mourning over the sinful deadness of mankind.
The sin of all sins: "There is no fear of God before their eyes." To fear God is to live like He is real, He matters most, He knows all, and He does what is right. Without the fear of God, we live as if each of us is our own god.

All are culpable.

2. Everyone, everywhere, without exception, stand accountable before God.
There is nothing to say before a Holy God who sees, who knows, and who never forgets. He sees what we do and He knows what we want to do. We only hear a whisper of the horror of the day of judgment before an angry God.
It is much much better to be convicted of sin here than condemned of sin there.

All will be punished.

Words of hope in verse 21: "But now..."
One is righteous, only one. One understands. He continually seeks after God. There is only the fear of God before His eyes.
Because of Christ's death, anyone anywhere can be completely forgiven and made righteous.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 2:17-24

Knowing about God is no protection from God.

1. Spiritual privileges alone are insufficient.
The Jews were God's people. They had God's Word. They had a special relationship with God.
Over item they went from thinking of themselves as the people of God to the people who had God.

2. Spiritual privileges alone make hypocrites.
Do you practice what you preach?
There is a difference between a religious hypocrite who is going to hell, and a Christian struggling against hypocracy. Genuine Christians struggle against hypocracy because we are not what we should be. A hypocrite is someone who knows about God but does not live for God.

Spiritual privileges are never enough. Trusting in Jesus is always enough.
None of us is more than half awake. May we be awake enough to see the coming wrath of God and fall into the arms of Jesus asking for mercy.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 2:12-16

Wrath is coming, for the religious too. We will get exactly what we deserve.

Justified = Right before God
It is not enough to hear the law. God's standard is perfect obedience of the law.
Religious people will be judged by an impartial God. For all the times they worshipped something or someone other than God.
There are no loopholes. Is it as bad as all that? It's worse.

The bad news: We need to be saved from God Himself.
The good news: Christ Jesus, mentioned in verse 16.

Christ = title meaning anointed
Jesus = the Lord saves

If our only hope is perfect obedience, then our only hope is Jesus.
How can Jesus be judged for our disobedience? It doesn't make sense. That's why we call it amazing grace.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sermon by Jason Hansen on Romans 2:1-11

We are all heading toward an impartial judgment. God's judgment is coming. Paul is preparing us.

1. You are not the Judge. (v1-2)
The most godly person has no excuse before God for their sin no matter how small it might seem. People who judge will be judged just the same. Like the Jews of that day, we in the church today are most apt to judge those around us. Rather than having a broken heart, we judge people. When our children are angry, we get angry at them for being angry. This is not accountability or church discipline or speaking truth about sin. This is self-righteous judgment. This is the Pharisee of Luke 18.

2. You are not special. (v3-5)
There is an arrogance of religious people who think they are higher than others. Either we think there won't really be a judgment for us, or we think we will be fine because we deserve the kindness of God, especially in comparison to others. We treat both God's judgment and His grace as too small. If we presume on His kindness, we are in serious trouble.

3. You will face Him. (v6-11)
God will judge good people as well as bad. Everyone is judged individually for his own works. No one is exempt. We are all condemned by our works. This is the bad news that precedes the Gospel.

Preview of what's next: All have sinned (3:23). But 3:24 is coming - we are justified by His grace as a gift. Ephesians 2. Any "good" works we do apart from Christ condemn us because they are dead. But if we trust in Christ we are saved by grace through faith. And then our works in Him are good because they are His.

The judgment is coming. Where is your hope?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 1:26-32

An unpopular subject - the wrath of God.
Mankind exchanges worship of God for worship of self. So God gives them up.

Exchange #1: Misfiring passions. v26-27
- Homosexuality is an example of the judgment of God.
- Our physiology is clearly not meant for this.
- Creation is being undone.
Arguments today:
- This is men with boys. No, because women are included.
- Paul didn't understand homosexuals. Yes he did.
- This is something people are born with. The same is true of heterosexual lust and lots of other sinful tendencies.
- What about same-sex attraction? Temptation is not sin. Christians struggle against their sinful tendencies.
How are Christians to speak about this issue? Clearly, but gently and lovingly. Hateful rhetoric is wicked.
Homosexuals don't need heterosexuality. They need Jesus.

Exchange #2: Unsound mind. v28-31
Your own mind is your enemy, if you are not a Christian. This is why reason alone cannot lead someone to Christ.
All of us can see ourselves in this vice list.

Exchange #3: Approval of idolatry. v32
This is an anti-evangelism.

What do we need?
- A priest, to make sacrifices for us and represent us before God
- A prophet, to tell us about God and take us to Him
- A king, to govern us
Jesus is all of these.
- The Great High Priest. Hebrews 4:14.
- The Prophet of Prophets. Hebrews 1:1-2.
- The King of Kings. 1 Timothy 6:15.
- Savior and God. Titus 2:13.

Because of Jesus, God isn't just not angry with us. He loves us.
The gospel is a powerful offer of forgiveness. Hear it and be grateful.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on Romans 1:8-15

This is a greeting, but it is more than just "hello."
Four ways that God works:

1. God works through grateful Christians. (v. 8)
Gratefulness is the gospel in action. An ungrateful Christian is an oxymoron.

2. God works through faithful local churches. (v. 8)
The church doesn't have to be unique or special. Jesus already is.

3. God works when people sacrifice for one another. (v. 11)
Paul isn't just concerned about helping them, but also being helped by them. If we ONLY serve where we are gifted, we lose out on mutual benefit. We don't need official church "ministries" to do this - giving your life away IS ministry.
The church is not made up of ministries; it is made up of people. Who can you pray for and serve?

4. God works through the consistent preaching of the gospel. (v. 15)
They are already Christians. But Paul still wants to preach the gospel to them. Why? Because they still need to hear it.
We forget what we know. And sometimes we doubt what we know. We need a regular reminder that our sins have been punished on the cross. We have been forgiven. And because of the resurrection, the power of sin is defeated now. We are declared righteous. Because of Jesus, we are righteous before God. Righteous behavior is the result, not the cause.
Verses 15-17 is the main point of the book of Romans - the rest is commentary on those verses.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on John 17:20-26

“I do not   ask for these only, but also for those   who will believe in me through their word,  that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.  Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26 (ESV)

Jesus is praying for us. Not the disciples, but Christians "who will believe in me through their word."
What does he pray for? Unity. Not uniformity, but harmony around the gospel.
Unity is togetherness like the Trinity.

Seven ways to foment division (what to NOT do):
1. Talk about people, not to them.
2. Draw conclusions quickly without hearing both sides.
3. Expect perfection from others and remember your pain for a long time.
4. Let secondary matters put a wedge between you and others.
5. Think that no one really understands you.
6. When you have a side, send out a mass email or facebook post, to try to get others to join your side.
7. When you have issues with someone, deal with them quickly and publicly.

Jesus prayed and prays for unity. This is not only the last minute request of a dying man. It is the ongoing prayer of a risen King. There is hope.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sermon by Jason Hansen on John 17:11-16

"And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.  While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world." John 17:11-16 (ESV)

Jesus is making sure that his people are taken care of, like a parent leaving their child with someone.

He asks the Father to keep us IN and keep us FROM.
I. Keep us IN His Name
Is Jesus concerned that we would leave the faith? No. He has complete trust in the Father.
  We were given to Jesus by the Father. Our adoption was part of His sovereign plan.
  So the Father will be faithful to keep us. Jesus' prayer will be answered.
Why then does He pray this? Because He loves us. We are overhearing a cosmic conversation between two loving caregivers (who are really One).
We are being kept so that we may be one. This doesn't mean we never disagree. There is unity around the Gospel.

II. Keep us FROM the evil one
We are protected by the Father from the enemy in the world. But...
   - We are not to be completely separate. Wise, but still in the world.
   - We will experience suffering.

So what?
Since Jesus finds joy and comfort knowing that the Father is keeping and protecting us, let us also find joy and comfort in this truth.
We should also find joy and comfort in a loving Savior. Jesus prayed these things for our hope and our joy. He assures us by praying for us. This is mere hours before the crucifixion. And He's thinking about us.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Life without a smart phone

Yes, I am one of the rare software engineers in the world that does not have a smart phone. But I just had a thought. What is the single most common place where wifi internet access is not generally available to me? In other words, where would I use the mobile broadband capabilities of a smart phone that I'm too cheap to pay for? I have wifi at home and wifi at work. But not in between. It's in my car, which if you think about it is really a big part of why we all got cell phones in the first place. At least those of us who weren't begging to be able to call our buddies and chat at any second of the day - we wanted to be able to make a phone call if our car broke down or we got lost or crashed or something. For many of us, the demand for a cell phone was primarily driven by a desire for safety. And yet, studies are now showing that the use of phones, especially smart phones, in vehicles has the exact opposite effect. They actually add distraction and reduce safety. So here's my logic:

1. I originally got a phone for car-related safety reasons.
2. Smart phones are (at least potentially) detrimental to car-related safety.
3. The car is the primary place I would need to use a smart phone.
Conclusion: Even if smart phones were free, they would still have a potentially detrimental effect on my safety in the primary place I would use them. So why would I get one?

I can see the argument for people who travel a lot to get a smart phone. But I don't. My primary travel is to work and then to home. And I can live without internet access for an hour a day.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sermon by CJ Mahaney on Mark 3:20-35

Finding Hope in an Unexpected Place

The unpardonable sin. This is a frightening warning, but also a source of hope.

Two stories of opposition:
1. His family (v20-21, 31ff)
Jesus was healing all kinds of people, and claiming to be God. His family thought he was crazy.

2. Teachers of the law (v22ff)
He is casting out demons by the power of Satan.
Jesus: Your accusation is absurd. Why would Satan self-destruct? I am stronger than Satan.

What is the unpardonable sin? Ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. These are informed, educated, religious leaders. Jesus wasn't talking to just anyone. This warning was directed to the scribes who would eventually kill Jesus. If you are concerned at all that you have committed the unpardonable sin, then you have not - because you have concern! This sin would deaden the conscience completely (Spurgeon).

Back to His family - Even Mary did not anticipate what was happening and this was very painful for her. They were clueless, just like we are clueless without the Spirit. They are seeking Him to intervene.

Jesus takes this teaching opportunity and redefines "family." While he always honored his father and mother perfectly, on this occasion He announces the new family He is creating. This is a major transition. His disciples and all Christians are part of His family.

What do we learn about Jesus from this passage?
- He is Lord over the demonic. Only God would be stronger than Satan. So Jesus is God. (v27)
- He is the gracious Savior who forgives sin! (v28) This is a sweeping and striking declaration.
- Forgiven sinners become part of His family, forever.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sermon by Rich Richardson on John 17 - set apart for God

We are invited to hear the prayer of Jesus, which is God addressing God - a holy moment.

1. Glory! What is it?
Hard to define. Weight, importance, fame. Sends people to the ground face-down. (Ezekiel 1:28, 2 Chronicles 7)
The definition of God is Jesus (Colossians 1, Hebrews 1). He glorifies Himself.
Jesus' "hour" that "has not come" throughout John is finally here in chapter 17. The hour for Him to glorify God. Jesus asks for the Father to give Him glory, so that He can give it right back to Him.

2. Glory! New Life
The means by which Jesus would reflect the glory of God back to God was delivering life to the dead.
The love of God is secured for us by the work of Christ on the cross. The whole purpose of the eternal life He gives us is for us to glorify Him.

3. Glory! Old Plan
The plan - giving eternal life to all whom God had given Christ - was the plan all along. God is sovereign, and He is always working for the good of His people.

Counseling tip: Don't just say "God is sovereign." When someone is hurting, say something like "I will pray for you knowing that God is all powerful and you are not meant to carry this burden alone."

Because of the glory of the gospel, we are empowered to pray boldly and expectantly. God crushed Jesus so that we would not be crushed (Isaiah 53). How will this make us live differently this year?

Revelation 1:5-6 (ESV)
"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."