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  • Pastor Ryan 12:46 am on April 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jesus, Sacrifice   

    Jesus Christ, Our Perfect Suffering Servant – Isaiah 53 

    Last week we saw in Deuteronomy 21 the damage sin causes in the community and nation and the Lord’s requirement that sin be atoned for.

    We learned that sin is deadly and severs our relationship with the Holy God.  We also learned that we are all sinners and are all guilty and deserving of death as a consequence for our sin.  We learned that the only way sin can be atoned for and forgiven is through the shedding of blood.  Therefore we have a problem that must be solved.  We desperately need atonement for our sins. That was the bad news…

    Then we rejoiced in the Good news and learned that God has provided His own atonement for our sins through the sacrifice of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ.

    In Isaiah 53 we see in great detail the humility and exaltation of our Lord Jesus foretold by the Prophet Isaiah 700 years before the actual events took place.

    This text is considered the “forbidden text” by Jewish rabbis because it so clearly points to Christ as the Suffering Servant of the Lord.

    Let’s dig into the feast starting at Isaiah 52:13….

    The Humble/Exalted Servant of God

    13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

    • Who is “My Servant?”  Israel, Isaiah, another prophet?
    • We know from the context that It cannot be Isaiah or Israel.
    • Isa 42:1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
    • Isa 49:6 Indeed He says, `It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth. “
    • Isa 53:11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
    • From these verses and many more in our context we can discern that “My Servant” is someone other than Isaiah or Israel.  If so, then who could it be?  Who in history will perform these mighty acts foretold by Isaiah?
    • The Hebrew verb meanings and constructs convey this idea: That he will rise up, he will raise himself still higher, he will stand on high. The verbs in the Hebrew denote the commencement, the continuation, and the result or climax of the exaltation; the resurrection, the ascension, and the sitting down at the right hand of God.
    • And so we see at the outset of our text that the Servant of the Lord will deal prudently/wisely and as a result will be highly exalted.
    • I believe we will see clearly today from our text and its fulfillment in the New Testament accounts that this Servant is the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Vs. 13 says that He will “deal prudently.”  What is meant by “deal prudently”?  What is so great about His actions that the Lord would be pleased to highly exalt Him?  Let’s continue through the text to find out….

    14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;

    • Just as His degradation was the deepest degradation possible, so His glorification would be of the highest kind. The height of His exaltation is held up as presenting a perfect contrast to the depth of His degradation.
    • It is interesting that the church before the time of Constantine pictured the Lord, as He walked on earth, as repulsive in His appearance; whereas the church after Constantine pictured Him as having quite an ideal beauty.
    • They were both right: He was unattractive in appearance as he lived and walked the earth; but He is ideally beautiful in His glorification.

    15 So shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; For what had not been told them they shall see, And what they had not heard they shall consider.

    • The word “sprinkle” here is also used in referring to the sprinkling of the blood with the finger on the altar of incense on the day of atonement.  Thereby giving the image that the Servant will atone for the sins of the nations.
    • So even from Old Testament prophecy we can see that God’s plan of salvation has always been for Israel and the Nations.
    • The first section in the prophecy closes here: The servant of the Lord, whose inhuman sufferings excite such astonishment, is exalted on high; so that from utter amazement the nations tremble, and their kings are struck dumb.

    53:1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

    • Notice the shift to the first person plural “our.”  This cannot be Isaiah’s report, for he would have used the singular.  It cannot be the Gentiles, for we know from 52:14-15 that they have not heard and will be astonished when they do.  So from the context of the passage we can deduce that it is the nation Israel making this confession.
    • This verse is quoted in the New Testament…
    • John 12:36-37 –  37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”
    • Romans 10:16 – But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”
    • Israel, the nation which acknowledges with penitence how shamefully it has mistaken its own Savior, laments that it has put no faith in the news of the high and glorious calling of the servant of God.
    • What is the “report/message” Israel is referring to?  None other than the humility and exaltation of Messiah, the Servant.
    • All that follows is the confession of the Israel of the last times, to which this question is the introduction.
    • This text is one of the greatest prophecies of the future conversion of the nation Israel, which has rejected the servant of God, and allowed the Gentiles to be the first to recognize him. A remnant in Israel will repent and trust Messiah Jesus.  Then this chapter will receive its complete historical fulfillment.

    2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.

    • Notice the words:  “tender plant”, “dry ground”
    • Both figures depict the lowly and unattractive character of His humble beginning.
    • The expression “out of dry ground,” brings out the miserable character of the external circumstances in which the birth and growth of the servant had taken place.
    • The “dry ground” is the state of the enslaved and degraded nation Israel; The dry ground is the corrupt character of the age and nation into which He was born.
    • Here we see the humility in our Lord’s coming.  He did not come in majesty and glory, but in humility as a baby.  Born in a barn and laid in a feeding trough.
    • His appearance was also humble:  the rest of verse 2 could be said this way:  “We saw Him, and there was nothing in His appearance to make us desire Him, or feel attracted by Him.”
    • He dwelt in Israel, so that they had Him bodily before their eyes, but in His outward appearance there was nothing to attract or delight their senses.

    3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

    • Following from verse 2, the impression produced by His appearance was rather repulsive and contemptible.
    • The chief men of Israel and the great men of this world, drew back from Him.
    • He was a man of sorrow of heart in all its forms.
    • His life was one of constant painful endurance.
    • The wrath instigated by sin, and the zeal of self-sacrifice burnt like the fire of a fever in His soul and body.
    • Those who saw Him hid their faces from him, and considered him worthless.
    • Of Jesus they claimed:”He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” (Joh 10:20)
    • Jesus was despised and rejected by those in power and leadership and was a man of no reputation or esteem.
    • The second section closes here. The preaching concerning His calling and His future was not believed; the Man of sorrows was greatly despised and rejected.

    4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.

    • This verse is quoted in the New Testament in Matthew.
    • Matthew 8:16-17 – 16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.”
    • The meaning is not merely that the Servant of God entered into the fellowship of our sufferings, but that He took upon Himself the sufferings which we had to bear and deserved to bear, and therefore not only took them away (as Mat_8:17 might make it appear), but bore them in His own person, that He might deliver us from them.
    • Here we have the image of Jesus as our substitute.  Bearing our griefs and sorrows upon Himself.
    • Here Israel confesses its own blindness in that as Christ carried their sorrows and griefs, they reckoned them to be His own sins rather than theirs.  They saw this punishment from God as a result of Christ’s own sins.  How blind Israel has been!

    5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

    • He was pierced and crushed because of our sins and iniquities. It was not His own sins and iniquities, but ours, which He took upon Himself.
    • In this way He made atonement for them in our place.
    • This was the cause of His suffering so cruel and painful a death.
    • The Apostle Peter when describing how we will suffer as Christians said this of our Lord Jesus’ sufferings…
    • 1 Peter 2:19-25 – 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
    • We were sick unto death because of our sins; but He, the sinless one, took upon Himself a suffering unto death which was the essence of the suffering that we deserve.
    • It is this submission to the Father through suffering unto death on the cross that became the source of our healing.

    6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

    • Here we see Israel’s confession and repentance.
    • Israel in its exile resembled a scattered flock without a shepherd; it had lost the way of the Lord (Isa_63:17), and every one had turned to his own way, in utter selfishness and estrangement from God (Isa_56:11).
    • But as Israel heaped up guilt upon guilt, the Servant of the Lord was He upon whom God Himself caused the punishment of their guilt to fall, that He might make atonement for it through His own suffering.
    • We also should make this confession.
    • We as Israel should see the depth of our sin and depravity and the infinite grace and mercy of our Lord.  We are great sinners, but He is a Great Savior.
    • Psalm 14:1-3 – The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. 2 The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. 3 They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.
    • Ephesians 2:1-3 – And you were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    • We are sinners and the Lord laid our sins on Jesus…
    • 1Peter 3:18 – For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,
    • All this great multitude of sins, and mass of guilt, and weight of punishment, came upon the Servant of Jehovah according to the appointment of the God of salvation, who is gracious in holiness.
    • The third section ends here. It was our sins that He bore, and for our salvation that God caused Him to suffer on our account.

    His suffering, death, and burial

    7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.

    • We see clear fulfillment of this by Jesus in the all the New Testament Gospels…
    • Matthew 26:63 – Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
    • Matthew 27:12-14 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
    • Mark 15:5 – But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled.
    • Luke 23:9 – Then he questioned Him with many words, but He (Jesus) answered him nothing.
    • John 19:9 – and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
    • John 1:29 – John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

    8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.

    • Perhaps a better rendering:  “He has been taken away from prison and from judgment; and His generation considered that: ‘He was snatched away out of the land of the living; for the wickedness of my people punishment fell upon Him’?”
    • The meaning here is not that prison and judgment were removed from him, but rather that it was out of the midst of suffering that He was carried off.
    • Jesus was killed for our transgressions.

    9 And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

    • Jesus also clearly fulfilled this prophecy in the New Testament
    • He was crucified between two thieves.
    • Matthew 27:32-38 – 33 And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. 35 Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” 36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. 38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
    • He was buried in a rich man’s tomb.
    • Matthew 27:5757 Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus.58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. 59 When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.
    • In His burial the exaltation of our Savior begins because he was sinless till the end.  The humiliation is complete.  Atonement has been made.

    His Exaltation

    10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.

    • His sacrifice was of both body and soul.  Therefore His sacrifice redeems both our bodies and souls.  The self-sacrifice of the Servant of Jehovah is complete and the end of all sacrifices.
    • The suffering of His Servant was to be the way to glory, and this way through suffering to glory was to lead to the establishment of the church of the redeemed.
    • The reference here is to the new “seed of Israel,” the people redeemed by Him, the church of the redeemed out of Israel and all nations, of which He would lay the foundation.
    • He should live long days, as Jesus says in Revelation 1:18 – “I am the First and the Last. 18 “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”
    • Verse 10 looks forward to Jesus as the mediator of a new covenant, and the restorer of Israel, the light of the Gentiles and salvation of the Lord even to the ends of the earth.
    • We also see that the Father takes much pleasure in the Son:
    • Isa 42:1 “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
    • At Jesus baptism:  Matthew 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
    • At Jesus’ transfiguration with Moses & Elijah: Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”

    11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.

    • The dead yet living One, because of His one self-sacrifice, is an eternal Priest, who now lives to distribute the blessings that He has acquired.

    12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.

    Philippians 2:5-11 Sums this up perfectly – 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    • Christ is the exalted King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  He is Savior of Israel and the Nations.
    • Remember, our text today is Israel’s confession.
    • In the person of the Servant of the Lord the idea of Israel is fully realized, and the true nature of Israel shines forth in all its brilliancy.
    • Israel is the body, and He the head, towering above it.
    • Jesus is the the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15 where Moses said – “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,”
    • The Servant of the Lord goes through shame to glory, and through death to life.
    • He conquers when He falls; He rules after being enslaved; He lives after He has died; He completes His work after He Himself has been apparently cut off.
    • His glory streams upon the dark ground of the deepest humiliation.
    • Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
    • Believe in Him and have abundant and eternal life today!
     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:31 pm on October 17, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jesus   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 3 

    Family WorshipWe are walking through several benefits to the household approach to discipleship listed by Eric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home.”  My goal in these blog posts is to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 4: A household approach is well suited for listening to others and meeting their needs. When you practice hospitality you have the one-on-one time with others to get to know them and to most effectively minster to them. Relationships are essential to spiritual growth. Making the household the primary place of ministry enables families to build relationships and meet the needs of others in practical ways in day-to-day life, not only in the times when the church meets for its regular schedule and programs.

    Benefit 5: A household approach enables household members to grow together, to hold each other accountable, and to develop and live out a common vision. When households learn and serve together, members achieve a greater level of encouragement and accountability because they can more easily apply what they are learning to life situations. When households learn and serve together, God often develops ongoing household ministries through shared vision.

    Prayerfully consider how you and your family can reach out and show the love of Christ to those in your community and workplace.  Let’s reach out and share the living hope we have in Jesus Christ.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 11:00 pm on September 16, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Jesus   

    Benefits of Home Discipleship – Part 1 

    Family WorshipEric Wallace in his book “Uniting Church and Home” lists several benefits to the home discipleship model.  I will list and discuss these benefits over my next several blog posts to help us consider the urgent need for families to live out the biblical mandate of home discipleship.

    Benefit 1: A household approach helps to heal the hurting, to clear up the confused, and to rebuild broken lives for victory. He states that by opening up our hearts, homes, and lives to others we provide a haven for healing. This benefit results when families are active in opening their homes to others in fellowship and discipleship.  We therefore live out what we are learn from God’s Word.

    Prayerfully consider how you and your family can reach out and show the love of Christ to those in your community and workplace.  Then take action and live the great commandments to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:30 pm on May 9, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Jesus, , , peace, Unity   

    Philippians 4:2-9 – Unity Through Humility – Part 2 

    Unity Through HumilityLast time we were taught in vs. 2 to stop fighting and “live in harmony” in the Lord.  Now let’s walk through verses 4-9 to see how we can specifically live this harmonious life in Christ.

    First, let us “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The Apostle Paul repeats his command in verse 4 to rejoice in the Lord often because he knows that if we are rejoicing in the Lord, we will have no spirit to complain or grumble about our brothers or sisters in Christ.  What about you?  Do you rejoice in the Lord?  Pray for the Lord to fill you with His spirit and give you the joy of the Spirit.

    Second, we must be gentle. Verse 5 says you must “let your gentleness be known to all men.  The Lord is at hand.”  The commentator Lightfoot writes “To have a gentle spirit is the opposite of a spirit of contention and self-seeking.  This is a spirit of each individual being satisfied with less than his due.”  Many people are not gentle because they think they are better than others. By nature we are critical of others because deep within we think everyone else is stupid compared to us. We often think we deserve something someone else has.  We must reverse that thinking to live Philippians 2:3-4.

    Third, we are to have peace through prayer. We are told in verse 6-7 “to be anxious for nothing….”  As followers of Christ we must trust our cares fully to Him.  When we trust Christ and through faith offer our prayers and requests to Him then we will know His peace.  What about you?  What are you anxious about?  Don’t be held captive to anxiety, rather cry out to Jesus and tell Him about your cares.  Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit and give you peace.

    Fourth, we must think right thoughts. As followers of Christ we are to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4).  In verse 8 we are told to think right thoughts that are:  True; Noble – Honorable; Just – Right; Pure; Lovely; Good Report – Attractive; Virtuous – Excellent; Praiseworthy – Worthy of Praise.  We are not only think about these things, but dwell on them.  How many of these do you find in our prime-time TV programs?  What controls your thought life?  What are you feeding your thought life?  God’s Word, or this world?
    Oh church, let us be people of God who truly humble ourselves, consider others better than ourselves, and look out for the interests of others.
    That can only be done by the grace of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Surrender your life to Him today and trust Him fully for salvation and the faith to live moment-by-moment, step-by-step with the Spirit for His glory!
    Blessings in Christ,
    Pastor Ryan

     
  • Pastor Ryan 11:04 pm on May 4, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , fighting, , , , Jesus, strife   

    Philippians 4:2-9 – Unity Through Humility – Part 1 

    Unity Through Humility“Stop fighting!”  These words basically sum up what the Apostle Paul is saying to two specific ladies in the church at Philippi.  His theme of teaching throughout the book of Philippians has been for the church to have unity through humility for the sake of the gospel.

    A divided and strife filled church is fertile territory for Satan to sow seeds of discord and reap a harvest of sin and destruction.  Therefore we must guard our hearts against selfish ambition and diligently strive to live the words of Philippians 2:1-4.  Let us consider others better than ourselves.  Let us look out for the interests of others above our own.  In doing so we will fulfill the greatest commandment which is “to love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

    This is a hard teaching with is counter to our natural selfishness.  We must pray for a continual filling of the Holy Spirit to practice this type of neighbor love through humility.  When we do, Christ is glorified and doors are opened to share the gospel.

    So what about you?  Are you ticked’ at someone for something?  Repent of your anger and be reconciled.  Humble yourself and consider that person better than you.  Start looking out for their interests above your own.  Seek help from other members of your church to pray for you and help you.

    “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).

    Part 2 to come later this week….

    Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Ryan

     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:25 pm on April 30, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , eternity, , heaven, Jesus, stand   

    Philippians 3:15-4:1 – Stand Firm in the Lord 

    Stand FirmWhen was the last time you took a stand for something?  I’m not talking about yelling at the TV when you see something you don’t agree with.  I’m talking about standing up for what was right even though you knew it was going to cost you something.  For some of us, it’s been a very long time since we’ve taken a stand for anything.

    Philippians 4:1 gives us a command to “stand firm in the Lord.”  No matter our circumstances, we must remain true to the gospel and not fall prey to those who would add to or take away from it.  Paul was teaching against the Judiazers who sought to add works to the gospel by teaching that believers must not only trust Christ for salvation, but also keep the law to be saved.  This is a heresy (false teaching) that Paul constantly rebukes in the New Testament and we must constantly beware of it and rebuke it when found in the church today.

    We see in 3:15-21 that we should stand firm in the Lord by striving for unity though humility for the sake of the gospel.  We must understand that our citizenship is in heaven and that we should eagerly wait for the Lord Jesus to come and take us there.  This world is not our home.  We are just pilgrims passing through, so don’t get so comfortable here that you don’t long for heaven.  Don’t be content with eating the pods thrown to the swine while the feast awaits you in the dining hall.

    So brothers and sisters, let us look to heaven and stand firm in the Lord while we still have time on this side of eternity.  Share the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Teach it to your children, proclaim it to your neighbors and co-workers.  Stand firm in it even in the midst of trial and persecution, the whole time keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus.  He is the prize that awaits us in our heavenly home.

    Blessings to you and your family,

    Pastor Ryan

     
  • Pastor Ryan 10:57 pm on April 25, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Jesus, race,   

    Philippians 3:4-14 – Press on toward the goal! 

    Press On!

    Think with me for a moment about your greatest accomplishments in life.  Think about the things you’ve done in your life for good that you are most proud of.  Perhaps you participate in all the ministries the church has to offer.  Perhaps you have given up your job so that you can homeschool your children so that they learn a biblical worldview.  Perhaps you serve as a Deacon or an Elder/Pastor in the church.   You may think:  “What is there in this world that can be better than these things?”  The answer:  Jesus!

    Philippians 3:4-14 gives us great encouragement to press on in the race of the faith so that we may gain the prize — the power of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and eternal life with Him.

    If anyone had reason to boast in past religious accomplishments it was the Apostle Paul.  He lists his fantastic spiritual resume in Philippians 3:5-6.  There was likely none better than Paul with regard to human religious perfection, but compared to knowing Jesus and being saved in Him he considered his heritage and accomplishments dung.  He humbly admits his own imperfection and his need for salvation in Christ (Philippians 3:12).

    What about you?  Are you trusting in your heritage, good works, or both to give you a right standing before the Holy God?  I pray you, like the Apostle Paul, will turn from your works and consider them dung.  That you will turn to Jesus Christ and trust in Him alone for your salvation by grace through faith.

    You will never be disappointed in Jesus.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Ryan

     
  • Pastor Ryan 12:40 am on April 22, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Jesus, , rejoice, Spirit   

    Philippians 3:1 – Rejoice in the Lord! 

    Rejoice in the Lord!

    This Sunday’s sermon will come from Philippians 3:1-14.  Verse 1 says “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.”   The Apostle Paul repeats this instruction in Philippians multiple times and builds on his theme of Christian joy.

    What about you?  Where do you find your joy?  Is it in your circumstances?  In your bank account?  In your comforts or health?

    I pray each of us will find our joy in the Lord.  I pray as individuals, families, and a congregation we will be filled with the Holy Spirit and have the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22).

    If you find yourself lacking joy in your life, pray and ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit.  Cry out to Jesus and trust in Him.  “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” (Psa 37:4 NKJ)

    As we put our faith in Jesus and show the fruit of His Spirit in our lives the world will see and give God the glory.

    “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psa 32:11 NKJ)

    Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Ryan

     
  • Pastor Ryan 9:15 pm on April 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bible, , Jesus,   

    Reflections on Philippians 2… 

    Jesus Served Others

    Philippians 2 is likely my favorite chapter of the Bible.  The core teaching is in the first 4 verses and the remainder of the chapter is full of beautiful illustrations of how others lived this teaching.

    The core teaching is this:  love your neighbor as yourself.

    You do this by considering others as better than you.  You do this by looking out for the interests of others over your own.

    Jesus is the supreme example of one who lived this teaching.  Verses 5-11 tell us how he humbled himself and gave his life to save us from our sins.  Because of his finished work on the cross, all who trust in Jesus will have their sins forgiven and have everlasting life.

    The Son of God laid aside His glory, became a baby, lived a sinless life, laid down His life and died the death we deserve for our sins.  No one can top that as a demonstration of living verses 1-4.

    Next we see that the Apostle Paul was poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith (vs. 17).  Paul was the “Super Apostle” who poured out his life in service to our Lord and the churches he planted.  Now I’m not Jesus, and I’m certainly not anywhere near the Apostle Paul in my walk with the Lord.  Paul saw the Lord himself and heard the gospel straight from His mouth (Acts 9). You may ask: “Can I possibly live out the teaching in vss. 1-4?  The bar is set so high.”

    So in case you think you can’t, we’re given another example in Timothy, Paul’s faithful disciple and spiritual son in the Lord.  Timothy proved over-and-again to be faithful in his walk with the Lord and his service to Christ.  But Timothy was discipled by Paul himself.  I haven’t had anyone disciple me like that.

    Then there is good ole’ Epaphroditus.  Now here’s a guy I can identify with.  A Gentile with no “Super Apostle” discipleship.  Just a man who loved Jesus and was devoted to loving God and loving his neighbor.  By faith he considered others better than himself, and nearly died in his service to Paul and our Lord Jesus.  I am so thankful that God’s word meets each of us right where we are.  And that by His grace through faith we can obey it.

    It is my prayer that you and I and the congregation of Living Hope Community Church will live the words of Philippians 2:1-4 and that by doing so the world will see and give glory to our Lord Jesus Christ.  Let’s look for ways we can reach out to others ( family members, neighbors, co-workers, etc….) and help them with their needs.  Let’s serve others from a motivation of love and worship to our Lord.

    Blessings in Christ,

    Pastor Ryan

     
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