Reflections for Blue Jeans Sunday

Posted by on September 27, 2009 under Sermons

Reflection #1: University Church of Christ circa 1991.

There was a similar event every year at University Church of Christ in Abilene. At that event we just collected blue jeans. I recall as a young man how our preacher, Eddie Sharp, would come dressed in blue jeans and take his place at the austere pulpit in University’s old cathedral like worship center. It seemed wonderfully out of place. Here was this man in work clothes invading the holy arena of the pulpit.

But the impression was a positive one. It formed in me the notion that who I was on Monday-Saturday had to do with who I was on Sunday. It brought my worship life and my work life together. It made me realize that before God there was no casual side and formal side. It let me know that Sunday morning was not an isolated, restricted compartment to my life. I was shaped by that experience and I began to think of faith as something that had to do with action and service.

Reflection #2: How This Started.

Blue Jeans Sunday isn’t my idea. Not really. It isn’t anyone’s idea. It is a spirit. It is an emerging reality. Dare we say that God’s Spirit might have something to do with it? Let’s see, but if the events of today and the spirit that follows is anything like the growth leading up to this, then we all ought to be thrilled.

To start with, there was some discussion about how the Hope Chest needed donations of Blue Jeans before school started. A vague recollection of University collecting jeans made Karen and me think about that event and talking about it created some interest.

We put the event off (it was going to be “Jeans in July”). The Hope Chest board starting thinking about it, and they began to see the possibility of not just collecting jeans, but welcoming people to help stock them. And then the possibility of other work projects came to mind. Then someone suggested wearing blue jeans so we could work. And then it was suggested that the elders definitely should wear Blue Jeans. And this wonderful energy and creativity began to swell up. The sort of energy you encounter when people get interested in what God can do. And now the event really isn’t over. It will keep going beyond this day.

Reflection on Preaching

Chris in blue jeans in MexicoThe jeans I am wearing today are the jeans I wore everyday at the worksite during our mission to Mexico. The joke on that trip was that I wasn’t “the preacher” that week. I was just a rebar-cutting, nail-pulling, wood-hauling worker. After all, what kind of preacher wears dirty jeans and a sweaty T-shirt? If I might differ, I humbly suggest that I did preach that week. Maybe I didn’t use words, but the actions preached and they served God’s purposes. Our work is also the kingdom of God.

There are so many of you here who are talented in so many types of works. I hope you regard your skills and service as valuable to the kingdom. Don’t bury those talents. Don’t disregard them. And certainly don’t be lazy in the kingdom of God – the mission is too important.

Reflection #4: Created to Do Good Works

What were you baptized for? Salvation, right? But what does it means to be saved? You were saved to do good works. Your baptism was your ordination to do good works. Work out your salvation. That doesn’t mean work for it. It means put it into action.

As you go along. Today we are aware of our mission and next month we will start praying for our mission works. The great commission of Jesus isn’t really “Go Ye.” That’s a bad translation. A better translation is “As you go on your way, make disciples.” We’ve focused on the GO part to the neglect of making disciples. And that has caused us to neglect being disciples. So missionaries and evangelists are the only ones who go. But that’s not what it means to follow Jesus. Being a disciple means baptizing and teaching as you go on your way.

As you go on your way today, you are going out to participate in good works. Those good works are works that glorify God, so that means that they worship him. As you go out today on your way you are going out there to find Jesus and join in with what he’s doing.

I want you to realize that when you are cutting branches over here, that you are worshipping God. Every sentence you write with a pen [on a greeting card] is worship to God. Every step of the walk [on campus] and every breath of prayer are worshipping God. Every box you move, every shelf you stack, every tire you wash worships God if you offer that as a joyous sacrifice to him and surrender it to his purposes. How is it worship? I’m glad you asked …

Reflection #5: Worship is Moving

Worship is active. It is a verb. One of the oldest definitions of worship is “the work of the people.” We can get so focused on worship being about us and serving our members. We can make our preferences the measuring stick of worship. We can come to the assembly and sit and wait for something we can get out of it.

I love the song that I learned on a mission trip to the Caribbean so many years ago. They sing, “You’ve got to move, you got to move – when my Lord he gets ready, you got to move!” And then they add in verbs … “You’ve got to preach.” “You’ve got to pray,” etc.

In most places in the world and throughout history, worship is much more active than we often regard it. The people don’t just sit. They gather. They bring the bread and wine. They serve it. They wait on tables. They talk to one another. They stand and sing. It’s not about being entertained; it’s about the work of God’s Spirit motivating people to do right.

We talk about a living God. Paul said that “In God we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28.) He was trying to translate the living reality of God to a bunch of philosophers in Athens who thought that God was far away. He was quoting their own philosophers. Intellectually, Paul was dressing up in such a way that he could relate to the world around him.

God is active and our world needs to see that. Now I ask you, how can we sit around idly and lazily in the presence of such a God? We ought to at least jump off our pew and bow down, yes?

Moving Toward God’s Unity (part 3)

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

… For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him. However, not all men have this knowledge … (1 Corinthians 8:5-7, NASV)

Begin by reading Romans 14:1-12, 15:1-3, and 1 Corinthians 8. All this was written because Christians were confronting Christians in regard to proper worship practices.

Worship backgrounds in the first century differed with today’s Christian worship backgrounds. Then, whether Jewish or idolatrous, worship often involved a sacrifice, eating part of the sacrifice, and sharing the meal. Both the eating and the sharing were regarded to be worship acts (remember the Passover and the Lord’s Supper). Worship often involved feasting-sharing the sacrifice and the feast honored the god.

An argument erupted among Christians (imagine that!). Some were vegetarians because market meat may have been offered to an idol. Those understanding the concept of 1 Timothy 4:1-5 said a Christian could eat anything anywhere if God the Creator was thanked. Meat, sacred days, and other practices considered worship acts were involved.

Paul declared Christians could come to opposite conclusions in pursuit of the same objective. So, regardless of the conclusion reached, realize you all are servants of the Master. Servants serve. They do not judge fellow servants. Only the Master judges. Thus, each of you be ready to explain to God your motives and acts.

Then Paul said something quite contrary to many of our conclusions. God can and will cause Christians reaching opposite conclusions to stand in His approval. Each Christian has two responsibilities: (1) remember you are a servant, and (2) do not judge the religious convictions of another Christian.

Growth Through Conflict

Posted by on September 20, 2009 under Sermons

Read Acts 6.

The first church conflict …

The Work of the 12

  1. Ministry of the Word (Apostles Teaching)
  2. Ministry of Prayer
  3. Ministry of Tables – (Service is a form of worship)

Faced With Problems – Why do they have problems? Why the conflict?

  1. Growth – The community is growing larger and the challenges of sustaining are getting tougher. Growth causes the groups to grow anxious.
  2. Culture Clash – Add to this anxiety the problem of cultural differences. All of these believers are Jews, but they have grown up over the generations in different cultures. The Hellenists are influenced by Greek culture, the Hebraic Jews have grown up in their homeland and preserved the old paths. Hellenistic/Greek believers would have grown up with a different language and a different outlook. They would have been accepting of cultural differences that the Hebraic believers would not. The Hebraic Jews probably looked down on the Hellenistic Jews because they believed that they were compromisers. The Hellenistic Jews probably considered the Hebraic Jews as backwards and odd.
  3. Need for Resources
    1. Why are the Hellenistic widows being overlooked? Maybe the Hellenistic believers aren’t giving like they should. If there was an abundance, then no one would be overlooked. This isn’t a managerial, administration issue. The problem isn’t in the delivery. It may be on the collection side. Leaders among the Greeks are needed to inspire sharing.

Arriving at a Solution

  1. Sharing Leadership – The 12 are not anxious leaders. They know that the church belongs to God and that Christ is completely in charge. So, the Holy Spirit appoints leaders (they’ve already tested that in Chap 1)
  2. Empowering Service – They are able to share their leadership. Moses shared leadership with judges. The kings of Israel were appointed by God’s spirit. Prophets were empowered to speak according to God’s spirit. Why do we assume its any different with the church?
  3. Giving Authority
    1. The 12 trust the 7. They share authority with them
    2. All authority in the church is in Christ. All authority is shared authority. This is God’s church.
    3. Authority is not a choke chain that reels the 7 in when they make a mistake. They are not holding a paycheck or excommunication over the head of these men.

Criteria for Leaders – So who do you give authority to?

  1. Holy Spirit
  2. Wisdom

The criteria are not men who have experience in food service. They do not need to be men who have been successful in their business and careers. They need to be people who are caught up in the spirit of God that has been the mark of leaders in the last 5 chapters. The fruit of the spirit will be obvious in their lives.

Also, they need wisdom – wisdom is a quality that has to do with doing the right thing. It is discernment. It’s different than simply keeping rules, holding to tradition (the way its always been done), or following policy (sheepwalking).

  • It means understanding what’s really going. Wisdom = leading people to be more like Christ and do the right thing.

  • Jesus had wisdom from God. He did the appropriate thing and the right thing. It didn’t always meet expectations of the hierarchy, the leaders of Israel or the religious elite, or the traditional. But it was rooted in God’s ancient wisdom.

Leadership …
There are not slots and stations in the church (i.e. a corporation or the military) One can move up when a slot comes open. These are organizations that focus on rank and function. The job is more important than the mission. One fills a slot (featherbedding). Different sorts of leaders are needed depending on the mission and the church is allowed the creativity to shape leadership to a certain degree to accomplish the mission. No, you do not need a pulpit minister to accomplish the mission. But as long as you do have one, then the goal must be to accomplish God’s mission. Not just to fulfill a set of tasks. There is a ministry of the word and a ministry of prayer and a ministry of service. Who does it and in what capacity is an open matter.


  1. Unity — Unity is not simply making people happy. It is moving them through anxiety to God’s peace. Unity can be hard work. It doesn’t mean everyone agrees about every detail, but it does mean that there is respect rooted in the holiness of God. It doesn’t mean that there are never problems or conflicts, but it does mean that we believe in proposals that can benefit everyone and bring glory to God. (Rather than the “my way or I’m hitting the highway” attitude – they are not church customers. They are unified)

  2. More Growth – Notice that more people are being added to the church. That’s God’s work. When God sees a body of believers who can empower leaders who are wise and full of the holy spirit, when God recognizes a group that cares for one another and can work out problems, then he trusts them with “his kids.”
    1. Who do we trust with our kids?
    2. Who do we trust with our pets?
  3. More Leadership – The 7 are committed to the ministry of the table and they end up doing word and prayer. I think the 12 also served on tables, too.

  4. More Service – More leadership means more service (John 13) – the leader serves. If you serve, then you are a leader. You are teaching others.

Moving Toward God’s Unity (part 2)

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

The first-century Roman Empire was quite different from our society. The church began as completely Jewish. Later it was a mix of Jews and converted idol worshippers. By the end of the first century it was mostly converted idol worshippers.

Poor people, by far, were the largest group in society. The middle class barely existed, and the rich were a small part of society.

There was enormous concern that Christianity (the church) not discriminate against the poor. The obstacles faced by the poor were enormous without enduring spiritual discrimination! James 2:1-9 declared Christian assemblies should make the poor feel welcomed and appreciated. Prosperous visitors were not to be favored. 1 Timothy 2:8-10 suggested prosperous Christians should not declare by dress or jewelry that godliness depended on what the person wore.

Remember there were no weekends then as today. Sunday likely began the work week in Jewish society, and probably was just another day for all non-Jewish people (the majority). That would mean Christians assembled early before work or late after work. The poor and the slave probably came to Christian assemblies in work clothes.

James 2:1-9 and 1 Timothy 2:8-10 often are used to suggest that today’s Christian assemblies never be used to make the disadvantaged feel out of place or be used to display prosperity. Wearing work clothing shows no disrespect to God, but champions God’s values of not showing favoritism to prosperity at the expense of the disadvantaged.

Again, unity is not a matter of Christian agreement, but of Christian-to-Christian respect.

The Seeds of Rebellion

Posted by on September 13, 2009 under Sermons

2 Samuel 12:11-12

    “Because of what you have done, I will cause your own household to rebel against you. I will give your wives to another man before your very eyes . . .
    “. . . and he will go to bed with them in public view. You did it secretly, but I will make this happen to you openly in the sight of all Israel.”

David, Wives, and Children

    Ahinoam was the mother of Amnon.
    Maacah, the daughter of the king of Geshur, was the mother of Absalom and Tamar.


  • David’s eldest – heir to throne
  • Desires Tamar
  • Leviticus 18:9, 11

    Jonadab …

      Encourages Amnon to satisfy his desires
      David had done so
      Invents a scheme, gains David’s permission

  • Amnon hates her then casts her out


  • Victim of Amnon’s lust
  • Her future is stolen from her
  • She goes public with the crime – mourning, shame

David’s Response

  • Anger – but no justice
  • “but he [David] would not punish his son Amnon, because he loved him, for he was his first-born.”
  • Heir to throne
  • Amnon did what David did


  • Cares for Tamar
  • Plots revenge on Amnon for two years
  • Kills Amnon and flees to Geshur

Joab’s Plot

  • Spy approaches king
  • Convinces David to be merciful
  • Absalom returns, waits to see king
  • Demands justice again

Unworthy Heirs

  • Eli’s sons
  • Samuel’s sons
  • Saul’s family
  • David’s family

A New Testament Church

Posted by on under Sermons

We say that we want to be a New Testament church. What does that mean?

  1. We might answer that it means being the church described in the New Testament. Of course there are a lot of churches described in the New Testament and they are very different, but we might mean that a New Testament church embodies what they have in common.
  2. We might answer that it means sharing the same doctrine and belief as the New Testament church. We can focus on their practices in particular and we have to be careful that we don’t cherry pick a few items and put together our own idea of what church should be, but it is possible to read through the New Testament and read about some of the ways the church lived and worshipped.
  3. But how often do we think about having the same spirit as the church in the New Testament? How often do we read about the enthusiasm, the joy, the awe of the churches that followed Christ and the changed behavior that resulted and we answer, “That’s what we ought to be like.” It’s a very clean process to highlight the sort of things we ought to “do” to be like the New Testament church. We are Americans and we like to focus on “doing.” But it’s very different to focus on “being” and thus having that same Spirit. That’s not as easy to control, is it?

It isn’t easy to control, and the path to having that same Spirit comes in surrendering control to the Almighty God and the Lord Christ who empower that Holy Spirit within us. It means living with the impact of what God has done in Christ. A fact that changes everything – a reality that continues to work in our world. If we are really and truly going to be a New Testament church then here are a few items we need to consider . . .

  1. Living like Resurrection People
    • The presence of the church is the surest evidence of the resurrection. A people whose lives and life together is so unique that it can only be explained by the truthfulness and significance of the resurrection.
    • 32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34There were no needy persons among them.
    • Maybe the world doubts or ignores the resurrection not because we have failed to preach it, explain it, or make convincing arguments – but maybe because we haven’t always behaved like resurrection people.
    • Imagine a group of believers today who are sold out to the revelation that Christ is risen from the dead and continues to work within his people and in this world. Would that alter our values? Would it change the way we treat one another? As we imagine this, let’s remember that this is who we are called to be.
  2. Overcoming Materialism
    • 36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.
    • What is materialism? It’s faith in stuff. It is trust in our possessions to give us security. In ancient times, people hoarded their food, fought over land, locked up treasures. We are more sophisticated in our times and in our nation, but we are still so very concerned about security. We want to secure our lives, secure our future, secure our survival.
    • If we are filled with the spirit of Jesus, then we take seriously his teaching about treasure. Where is our treasure? That’s where our heart will be.
    • It is interesting that Luke describes the New Testament church as a community that shares everything. They have a different sort of economy that involves security in God’s power and sharing of all things. Letting go of things that are not eternal.
    • Resurrection people are not troubled by reports of a sour economy. Neither do we put our faith and security in bull markets or political policies. Our economy is very different. We overcome materialism and worry about security because our treasure is in heaven. Our future is secure.
    • If we think that we need to get away from all this talk about money in worship and focus on more spiritual things, please understand that the New Testament church seemed to regard economic issues as very spiritual. They seemed to regard it as a matter of life and death.
  3. Giving in to the Awe of God
    • The people were in awe of what God was doing among them. Outsiders were in awe because of the great grace and wonders within this community – the kind of wonders represented by sharing everything.
    • Ananais and Saphira want to be a part of this awe, wonder, and sharing. But they also want to secure their own security. So, they work out a plan to pay their dues to the community but also secretly stash away a part of it just in case. Where’s their treasure? Where’s their heart? Do they want to share with the rest of the church, or do they want what the church can share with them?
    • The church does share something with Ananias and Saphira. They share a respectful burial service. The wild, untamed power of God and the fear of the Holy Spirit seems to contradict our expectations.
    • Joy and gladness vs awe, fear, reverence – both of these can exist in a community that lives with much grace.

Sum up a description of the New Testament church (identifying marks of the church):

  • a church in which no one suffers from need,
  • a church that shares everything they have,
  • a church that is one in heart and mind,
  • a church that lives with much grace upon everyone,
  • a church that testifies to the resurrection of Jesus with power

Moving Toward God’s Unity (part 1)

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

(Beginning understanding: Until “Blue Jean Sunday” (September 27), there will be three bulletin articles on “Moving Toward God’s Unity.” Though each hopefully will be complete in itself, be certain to read all three articles to receive the complete thought.)

When God through Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery, in a short time the Israelites came to Mount Sinai. There the Israelites received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), other teachings, and built the Tabernacle. The construction of the Tabernacle (a tent) is recorded in Exodus 35:4 – 37:29. It served the Israelites as a portable place of priestly worship for the forty years they spent in the wilderness. Its internal furnishings, especially the ark of the covenant, were in Canaanite worship centers after Israel’s conquest of and settling in that land. Then the furnishings, especially the ark, were placed in the temple David desired and Solomon built. The Tabernacle was built with free will offerings given by men and women who wished to give.

Since the construction (1) was funded by free will offerings and (2) was an expensive task involving expensive materials (Exodus 12:31-36 suggests the origin of these materials), congregations used this occurrence to do two things: (1) build buildings, and (2) impose a worship dress code. The evolving reasoning based on these scriptures was (1) God’s people give Him their best when constructing a place to worship God, and (2) God’s people wear their best when they worship God. (This concept was also based on understandings/applications that came from scriptures such as Exodus 19:9-15.)

Whether you agree with this concept or not, understand that (1) many of the past building of facilities were based on this concept/understanding; (2) Scriptures were used to form the concept; and (3) many Christians you know use this teaching to form a specific conscience reaction to what they do and why they do it. Please remember, Christian consciences are not easily nor quickly changed. Also remember respect, not agreement, is the basis of God’s concept of Christian unity.

When Kings Go Off To War

Posted by on September 6, 2009 under Sermons

Where is David?

  • David sent Joab to fight Ammon
  • David remains in Jerusalem
  • Joab sieges Rabbah


  • David sends for Bathsheba
  • David uses her
  • She sends word to David …

Uriah the Hittite

  • David sends for Uriah
  • Allows Uriah furlough
  • Gets Uriah drunk
  • Fails at cover-up


  • David sends message with Uriah
  • Advance siege, then pull back
  • Uriah and others killed
  • Joab sends report


  • God sends Nathan
  • Justice parable: Rich man, Poor man
  • God removes sin
  • Consequences

David Repents

  • David repents (Psalm 51)
  • Shame among nations
  • Death of child
  • New child – Solomon


  • Joab takes the city water supply
  • David enters the battle (at Joab’s hint)
  • Ammonites defeated

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 6 September 2009

A related sermon from the same text:

A Broken and Contrite Heart

Text: II Samuel 11-12
Theme: Confession of guilt leads to forgiveness; covering sin does not.
Subject: Condemnation and Forgiveness

David was a man after God’s own heart, but for a time he had a heart problem.
It began with David finding himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It doesn’t seem like a very dangerous place. He’s home, but the problem is that he should be doing what kings do after the winter – going to war. David should be protecting and defending. But instead, he’s left the leadership of the army in the hands of General Joab – not a bad choice. Joab is a loyal and accomplished warrior.
But going back to David’s heart problem – it begins one evening in Jerusalem. David had had a lazy day in bed. He got up and was out walking on the roof of the palace. He was looking over his kingdom, his royal city. That’s when he took notice of one of his royal subjects. She was a beautiful woman. She was taking a bath this evening. Perhaps it was his boredom on such a lazy day, perhaps it was just curiosity – but his glance became a look and the look became a gaze and the gaze became desire. When David got interested in this beautiful woman and wanted to know how he could have her that’s when the sending began.

First, he sent someone to find out about her. “Isn’t this Bathsheba – Eliam’s daughter; Uriah’s wife?” [That’s the way a good servant tells the king “She’s not available. She’s not an object for your pleasure. She’s someone’s daughter. She is another man’s wife. A man who is off at war fighting for you.”]
Still, David sends someone to get Bathsheba. He sends. They get. She arrives. He sleeps with her. She goes back home. It’s done. But there’s more sending …

Now Uriah’s wife sends a message to David – “I’m pregnant.” David is not the last person to have his world turned over by this message. He is not the first to try and undo the consequences of this message either. And now his heart problem grows worse. And now there’s more sending

David sends word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite!” And Joab sends him. David puts on a smile and tries to show interest in Uriah and the war effort: “How’s the war going? How ?bout that Joab? He’s a fine general, eh? How ?bout your fellow soldiers? How’s morale?” Then David cuts to the chase – the real reason he’s interested in Uriah – to cover his mistake. “Say Uriah, I think you’ve earned a little R & R, why don’t you go on down to your house and -um-well, just enjoy a night at home with your wife – what’s her name – oh right, Bathsheba.” And David sends him off with a gift like they were old pals.
But the plan to give Uriah credit for the pregnancy hits a snag. It seems that Uriah has a problem. He has virtue. He has principles. And so he refuses to go home, but instead spends the night at the palace barracks. David sends for Uriah again and asks him “Why didn’t you go home? This is furlough – you are supposed to see your wife!” Uriah’s answer is a question – “The ark of the Lord, the men of Israel and Judah, Joab and his men are on the frontline sleeping in shifts in tents. How could I go home and sleep with my wife? How could I? How could he David? How could you David?
What’s a king to do when a Hittite, a Gentile, shows more covenant righteousness than the king of Israel? What do you do with a man of principle? Instead of being moved by his example, David’s heart problem grows worse and he decides to get Uriah drunk. That’ll get him home for sure. But even though Uriah gets drunk – his integrity remains. He will not go home. That means David needs to do more sending – and this is the worst yet.

David sends orders with Uriah to Joab. The orders say, “Send Uriah to the front line, then pull back, leave him undefended – I want him dead.” And so Joab once again does David’s sending. [He and his men have the city of the Ammonites surrounded. The army besieging doesn’t have to attack – they just have to outlast those inside the city wall. One of the most foolish moves they can make is to rush the wall. Anyone on the wall can take out the men below – especially the archers. So guess what Uriah’s orders are?] Uriah is killed and some others in David’s army too. Even though their deaths did not achieve victory in war, it preserved the honor of the king – unfortunately, their families back home can never know.
Now Joab sends word back to David: a full account of the military failure. The messenger arrives and goes over the report. Only one part matters to David – “Uriah is dead.” That will cause him to forget about the casualties.
Now David sends word back to Joab – Don’t see this as evil. People die in war. Press the attack and destroy the city.” And so it is done. Uriah is gone. There is a funeral – the wife of Uriah mourns. There is a wedding – the wife of Uriah marries David. There is a birth announcement – the wife of Uriah gives David a child. It’s done.

But now the Lord sends. Perhaps David and Joab could be convinced not to see this as evil. But not the Lord. Perhaps David could ignore his heart problem. But not the Lord. The Lord sends Nathan to confront the king. Nathan must try and recover David’s heart for God. Nathan is wise not to accuse David boldly. 1) David killed Uriah, why wouldn’t he kill Nathan? Nathan’s parable: A rich man who takes a poor man’s only sheep. Does this parable hit home for David the shepherd? David the king still knew the life of the shepherd. This story stirs something in him – perhaps the qualities God saw in David’s heart that lead God to anoint David. As Nathan tells the parable, David is burning with anger. David is furious at the rich man who acts in destructive ways with no regard to the innocent.

Can we sense David’s anger? The outrage we feel when we hear stories of injustice. The anger we feel when people harm other people, when they do things that are destructive without pity and remorse. The disgust we feel when people disregard the blessings they have and act selfishly and greedy. Can we sense that?

David passes judgment, not Nathan. “The man who did this deserves to die! He had no pity! By God, he’ll pay!” When Nathan says “You are the man” David’s heart flat lines. His diseased heart so burdened with his own self-righteousness has an attack. David is confronted with his condemnation and the consequences. While David is having his spiritual heart attack, his past and future pass before him in Nathan’s words …

  1. David has done what a king should not do. He has acted against the whole moral tradition of his people. Israel wanted a king to rid their land of such corruption. They wanted a king to give them security and protect them from their foes. David has fallen down on all these.
  2. God has blessed David. David didn’t need Uriah’s wife. God provided for David richly. God is not a killjoy who doesn’t want David to have pleasure – David was ungrateful. He did not want what God gave him. He was only interested in what he could obtain for himself.
  3. The future: David and his nation will forever be scarred by this. Since David abused the power of the sword, so he will be cursed by the sword all his years. Since he abused the commandments concerning neighbors and the sanctity of marriage, David will find it violated in his family. These are the consequences of his own condemnation.

How should David handle his guilt? How do we handle our guilt? Should he deal with this matter privately? Isn’t it enough to confess to Nathan and then move on? Should David deal with this publicly? Won’t it jeopardize the nation? David could dismiss Nathan. He could offer an explanation. The little parable is just that – a story. Real life is not so simple.

David has more options than just confessing his guilt. He could eliminate Nathan or dismiss him. But David’s heart is shocked back to God. So … 1) He is convicted. He admits his situation and sees the evil he has done. That takes courage – the courage to overcome self-deceit. 2) He repents. He throws himself on God’s mercy. He gives up his impulse to be in charge and in control. He submits to the moral covenant of God. He renounces his claim to be a self-contained moral standard. David feels death. He has sentenced himself to death. All he can say is “I have sinned against the Lord.” And that’s when his heart starts beating again. Nathan affirms to David that he will not die and that the Lord has removed his sin – he will be scarred, but he will live. The condemnation is done, the life of a forgiven man begins.

Conclusion and Application:

  1. Confession of guilt leads to forgiveness; concealing sin does not. The sin in this story is not simply lust. It is the warped notion that we are morally independent. David thought he was independent of any moral standard and he arrogantly assumed that he was in control. David made himself the beginning and end of his righteousness.
    • So, he tried to conceal his guilt – to erase it and undo it. The most tragic sinners are not those who are aware of their guilt, but those who are not. Those who make their own perspective the standard. They cannot see the evil they do – and what they do, they justify it.
    • This is why Paul was the chief of sinners. He justified what he did in the name of God. This was what Jesus charged the Pharisees with. And it’s the same problem some of us have!
    • How would you feel if someone said, “You’re the one”? It’s one thing to be accused. It’s something else entirely when the accusation sticks. When we recognize in the accusation the sting of truth. We can defend or ignore an accusation that is false – but when the accusation “You are the one” convicts us, then we feel all our control and condemnation unravel.
    • David admits and turns to his only source of help. By feeling it he can finally be helped by God and not be deceived further by his own sinful efforts. After this event, David composed Psalm 51 – a confession of sin that appeals to God for a clean heart and new spirit. And it also contains a promise that he will proclaim to others God’s goodness. Let David’s confession lead us through our condemnation to …
  2. See Your Guilt Through God’s Eyes – In 11:25-27, David tells Joab not to see what they’ve done as evil. That’s how David wanted to see things. But God’s eye’s are clearer – not only to see what’s evil, but how the evil might be overcome – to see a resolution to the guilt.
    • David’s eyes saw his ability to control and manage problems – and his response to the problems was flawed. God sees not only the breaking of covenant, but he sees a way to the restoring of covenant.
    • What do we see in this story? Do we see someone else? Or do we see ourselves? If we see someone else, then the simple phrase – “You are the one” ought to give us cause to feel – it ought to shock us back to life and open our eyes.
    • If you feel your heart shocked back to life and are courageous enough to confront the sin you’ve been hiding – then don’t trouble yourself any longer. Let go of the burden of finding words and ways to explain and cover what you did. Why do that when it is better to simply say “I have sinned” That’s risky, but Nathan could not say “You will live” until David said “I have sinned.”

Pouring Out The Spirit

Posted by on under Sermons

After baptism, then what?

Acts 2 – The 3000 baptized are part of a gathering. They are part of a community that emerges from the warped and broken world around them. They are the church – they don’t join it as if it is something that exists apart from them.

Their “organization” is based on the way they live. Luke mentions the following characteristics of this community.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

These are the signs of life of a community that shares in the life of Christ. These are not checklist items from opening up a franchise for the Church.

Apostles Teaching –

  • A deep sense of awe. They have a certain enthusiasm and wonder about this teaching. They had heard the gospel in their own language.
  • What’s the source of this awe? Great things are being done in the name of Christ.
  • Are we in awe of the gospel? The word of God is alive. The teaching of Christ continues. Christ is not dead. That means we don’t simply learn about him, but we learn from him. If we believe that the Spirit of Christ is active among us then we should have a deep sense of awe!

Fellowship and Sharing –

  • People from different backgrounds and cultures have been brought together.
  • They love their neighbor as themselves. They are selling what they have and sharing it.
  • They share with one another; no one suffers because of need.

Sharing …

I want to ask you to think about something: What does it mean for us to share in all things as a congregation. Not simply on an individual level, but on a congregational level. What does it mean for every ministry and every program here to be working together, sharing and pulling together for a common cause? Do you think it might look like the church in Acts 2 that had all things in common?

Now think about that and ask yourself if that’s us. I will make a couple of observations. You don’t have to agree with me. If I am wrong or if you think I’m wrong, that’s okay. I don’t have a bone to pick with anybody. I just wonder how true the following may be …

Observation 1 –

I sometimes wonder if all our wonderful ministries sometimes get competitive. Maybe we feel that an emphasis on benevolence robs from evangelism. Or we become divided over which ministry is more effective. Instead of feeling like a church family we begin to feel like networks competing for viewers.

I wonder if we get anxious in our demographic groups. Sometimes we feel that an emphasis on the needs of the elderly push aside the needs of the youth. Or we feel that emphasis on the youth ignores the importance and wisdom of the older ones.

There are a lot of combinations for this spirit of competition. I think we suffer from this spirit. I’m not surprised. It’s a function of our culture … Did you know that Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford are friends? OU fans and Texas fans have given them a hard time about it. They are not happy that these on-the-field competitors can have off-the-field unity. You see in our worldly thinking, one has to rise and the other has to fall. But that’s not the Spirit of the Lord.

This spirit of competition is something prevalent in our culture and we need to guard against it. It can creep into our church culture. But I think we can do something about this if we get in step with the spirit of the Lord. Peter preaches that when the spirit of the Lord breaks out in a group, the young men will see visions and the old men will dream dreams. And men and women both will be servants and they will all prophesy. (Acts 2:17-18, taken from Joel 2:28-32).

We need to excel at sharing all things in one spirit. I don’t just mean sharing our lawnmowers, our casserole dishes, and toys. I mean sharing our ministries because we believe they are all God’s works. That’s what one another church family looks like. When one rejoices we all rejoice, when one hurts we all hurt.

Observation 2 –

Now you don’t have to agree with me that this is a problem here. That’s fine. I could be wrong. I am more concerned if you agree with me that this is a problem and your initial thought is, “He’s right and I hope ?that person’ or ?those elders’ or ?those ministers’ would pay attention.” If this is what you are thinking then I want you to reel that in and ask yourself, “What do I need to do to share everything?” Let’s all follow that line of inquiry and reflection.

I believe that we can replace the spirit of competition with the spirit of the Lord.

Prayer – It is more than simply asking God for help. Prayer is worship. Notice that the church comes together in one place but also in homes. When they are at table enjoying hospitality, they are worshipping. When they ate their meals with joy and generosity, they are worshipping. When they are praising God and creating goodwill in their community, they are worshipping. And the result is salvation.

We are not leaving worship today. We will leave this building and this assembly time will end. But don’t think for a second that we are leaving worship. Not if we believe that God is at work among us.

Minutes Lead to Hours, to Days, to Years, to … ?

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

Ah, the brevity of life! The brevity of life is a “timeless” topic! The author of the above scripture died centuries ago. He inspired many to write about the obvious! Life spans did not begin being brief in the last few generations-they always have been brief!

The deceit: “The brevity of life is just a matter of perspective.” At 15, life is agonizingly slow. At 25, life is timeless. At 40, you need to slow down long enough to at least be aware that life is whizzing by. Then the births of grandchildren make you admit you are “that” old. Then opportunities diminish. Then you look at an old man in the mirror shaving-and it is you! Then energy fails as you cannot do what you used to do. A secret: never tell a 95-year-old (or older) that life is not brief! (Unless you enjoy being humiliated by laughter!)

The truth: “Time passes fast regardless of age or arrogance.” No matter your age, you never have time to waste. Regretting the past use of time is a common plight of living.

Consider some things to think about. Wisdom can result from accurate perspective, too!

  1. Take nothing for granted-never assume that what you did today you can do tomorrow.
  2. There is no “do over” button to be pushed in your 60s for what you did in your 30s.
  3. In your 20s, do not think you will have the same body and energy level in your 70s.
  4. Treat those you regard as old with respect; eventually someone will see you as old-without your permission. (You will get accustomed to being seen as being old.)
  5. It may be true that you are only as old as you feel, but your body has a nasty habit of telling the truth. Have you counted your doctor visits lately?