Sunday, August 30, 2015

Forever (Psalm 111, Revelation 5.11-14)


Sermon by: Robert Austell; August 30, 2015
Text: Psalm 111; Revelation 5:11-14; Psalm 136

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Some Music Used ::
Gathering Music: "Revelation Song"
Song of Praise: "Forever" (Tomlin)
Hymn of Praise: "Holy, Holy, Holy"(NICEA)
Offering of Music: "How Great Thou Art" (Men's Choir) (arr. Dan Forrest)
Song of Sending: "Revelation Song" (Riddle)

:: Affirmation of Faith ::
adap. from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (q.107)
What is taught by the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer – “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen”?
The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teaches us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only,-1 and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him.-2 And, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.-3

1-Daniel 9:4,7-9,16-19; 2-1 Chron. 29:10-13; 3-1 Cor. 14:16; Rev. 22:20-21
:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf)::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.


“For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, FOREVER.” We are almost to the end of the Lord’s Prayer and our summer series. It may seem like we’ve slowed to a crawl here at the end because we are focusing again today on a single word from the prayer, but in this final doxological section, each word carries such rich meaning and purpose that it is important to slow down. To be fair, I want to focus a little more broadly than the idea of God’s Kingdom or power or glory lasting forever. Those things are God’s forever, but that is because GOD is forever; God is eternal. And that’s the focus today. We want to consider what it means that God is eternal. And what does God being eternal mean when we think of God’s actions toward us: His promises, His redemption, His love. And we want to look at the implications for us when it is so easy for us to get ‘stuck’ in the urgencies, the crises, the anxieties of the moment.

Everything, Forever and Ever (Revelation 5)


We’ve looked at Revelation 5 the last two weeks, focusing first on God’s Kingdom and then on the power and glory that is attributed to God and to the Lamb, who is Jesus. One of the things we focused on was the WORSHIP going on in this heavenly scene. Though we made application in the present, we also talked about what it means to pray “For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory.” It means we are declaring and agreeing in the truth that God is worthy of worship, now and forever. And it is that last part that the heavenly chorus echoes in v. 13, where “every created things which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them” join in praise: “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”

The Triune God – Father and Son named here, but Spirit included to be sure – is worthy of all the worship all the time. Do you hear the expansiveness of v. 13? All things in all the imaginable places giving all the possible worship to God forever and ever. It’s not really something we can comprehend, but we can hear the bigness of it and that’s where I wanted to start today before we move backward into time and space and human history, into our past and our present.

When we pray “Everything is God’s, forever and ever” we are acknowledging and participating in the complete and ultimate worship that rightly belongs to God. And that is a good thing! It’s a mystery; but it is a good mystery!

The Eternal WHO and WHAT of God (Psalm 111)


Psalm 111 is a sea of praise about the eternal nature of God, describing in expansive terms WHO God is as well as WHAT the God has done. And floating in that swells of that praise are a series of ships anchored in statements about the eternal nature of WHO God is and WHAT God has done. We will look briefly at five such statements, not exhaustive to be sure, but covering a lot. Four examples are from Psalm 111 and the fifth is from Psalm 136, which was our call to worship and used in our opening song.

1.    Eternal Righteousness (v. 3)


Psalm 111 begins with praise: “Praise the Lord!” It then moves to thanks for the great works of God – WHAT God has done. And in a phrase I had not run across before, the Psalmist says that the great works are to be “studied by all who delight in them.” What a wonderful concept; we are often enjoined to remember God’s faithful works, but here to study them because we delight in them. And this Psalmist, who surely has studied God’s works among humanity, declares them “splendid and majestic.”

In that context, the Psalmist declares the first anchor statements of what I’m calling the “eternal WHO and WHAT of God”: His righteousness endures forever. (v. 3) Righteousness simply means “what is right or good.” God is always right and good – that’s the WHO of God; and God’s actions or works, the WHAT of God, can be described as righteousness. What the Psalmist is saying – more than that, delighting in – is that like God who is eternally good and right, God’s good and right actions – what God has done and is doing – will endure forever. Indeed, “Great are the works of the Lord!” And they are enduring, not here today and gone tomorrow. They are worth studying and cherishing and delighting in, for like God, His works are good and right. The WHO and WHAT of God is eternally righteous!

2.    Eternal Promises (v. 5)


The Psalmist continues, remembering both the WHO and WHAT of God. In verse 4, we are to remember God’s (WHAT) wonders. The Lord is (WHO) gracious and compassionate. In verse 5, God has (WHAT) given food to those who fear Him. Then another one of these anchor statements: God will remember His covenant forever.

God’s covenant – such a huge thing! It is a WHO and WHAT – God’s great promise to come after the human race, echoed in successive and connected covenant promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Abraham’s children, David, and through Christ; and grounded in the very being of God, who didn’t make a deal with humanity, but who rested the loving pursuit of humanity in God’s own eternal loving, holy, and good character. God’s promise, like God, is good forever, even when in our finiteness we disappoint and fall short. God does not fall short and God does not turn away. He pursues us in love to keep His eternal promise – His covenant.

3.    Eternal Word and Work (v. 8)


The Psalmist continues the sea of praise, again lifting up God’s character and God’s work. This flows naturally out of the mention of covenant, because that eternal promise is the framework in which humanity has experienced all the Psalmist mentions next: God revealing Himself in the power of His works and in the heritage of the nations (v. 6), the works of God’s hands experienced and known in and as “truth and justice” and in the sureness of God’s precepts or teachings. (v. 7)

Another way to speak of God’s precepts, truth, justice, and power is as God’s Word and Work – all upheld (v.8) forever and ever. God’s Word and Work are eternal because God is behind them and God is eternal. The Psalmist continues lifting up God’s Word and Work through the end of v. 9, noting God’s character (works performed in truth and uprightness), God’s work of redemption, and mentioning for a second time God’s eternal promise in the covenant.

Then the Psalmist turns to praise: “Holy and awesome is His name.”

4.    Eternal Praise (v. 10)


With those words of praise and a reminder that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” the Psalmist commends obedience to God’s Word and ends with this: God’s praise endures forever. (v. 10) That’s just what we have seen in Revelation! God’s praise – that all everything will recognize the all-encompassing worth of God and engage in worship for all time; the Psalmist names this as well.

God’s praise endures because God’s righteousness endures. God’s praise endures because God’s promises endures. God’s praise endures because God’s Word and Work endures. God’s praise endures because God endures! Holy and awesome, indeed!

5.    Eternal Love (Ps. 136)


And then I simply commend Psalm 136 to you for further study. Like our opening song, the Psalm is an extended litany of praise and thanks to God for WHO and WHAT God is and has done. And every other line has the people of God responding with the refrain, “for His steadfast love endures forever.” God’s love, like God, endures. God’s love is both WHO God is and WHAT God has done and shown us through His Word and Work and promise and salvation.

It is yet another point upon which to delight, study, respond, and worship.

So that’s five anchor points describing the eternal quality of WHO God is and WHAT God has done.

Stuck in the Moment


And so incredibly different that who we think we are and what we endeavor to do. We feel so finite, so limited, so time-bound. Though we may yearn to influence, find meaning, and have a legacy, we often feel so insignificant. And, if you are like me, it is so easy to get stuck the moments in which we find ourselves.

You wake up and there is so much that has to be done. It can become all-consuming, and worse, oppressive… crushing… paralyzing.

You feel your chest tightening and the anxiousness stirring up deep within. What if I fail? What will other people think? What if they laugh? What if I’m embarrassed? What if? What if?

You know the pain of injustice, the sorrow of betrayal, the hole of loss; and there simply is no discernable light at the end of what is a very dark tunnel.

We see another news cast, read another headline, reel from the next report of tragedy: life taken, people treated as less-than, wars, and disease.

There is so much causing us to be stuck in the moment, stuck in our situations, stuck in our own “stuff.” And when we think about God or praying or church, we want a quick fix, an answer, a genie who answers our one (or three) wishes. And that’s not how it works; for God’s own good reasons (if God is good), that’s not how God works.

Listen; Jesus would say, “For them with ears to hear…” This is the Good News:

God is forever; God is eternal. God is bigger than and more enduring than your moment and my moment, however stuck we may feel. And though God doesn’t say, “Come to church enough or give enough or say the right words and I’ll fix it” (i.e., rub the genie lamp); God’s does come after us and come among us. That’s both WHO God is and WHAT God has done. And with that, God has shown us what is right and good, God has staked His name and being on it, God has loved us, spoken to us, and worked among us. God is with you, even in the dark. And God will be there at the end of the tunnel. God endures; God’s love endures; God’s Word endures; and what God has said and shown again and again is that you are not alone.

We’ve seen a picture of eternity, but we’ve also heard a Word about here and now. Take heart; do not be afraid. Take heart; do not be afraid. Take heart; do not be afraid.

God is here, forever.


Amen.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Thine is the Power and the Glory (Revelation 5, Psalm 145, John 1)


Sermon by: Robert Austell; August 23, 2015
Text: Revelation 5:11-14;12:10; Psalm 145:8-13; John 1:14-18

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Some Music Used ::
Gathering Music: "Flight Attempt" (Mark Kroos, guest guitarist)

Song of Praise: "Of the Father's Love/Love Shines" (arr. Austell)
Offering of Music: "The Demons Were Gone" and "Amazing Grace" (Mark Kroos, guest guitarist)
Song of Sending: "Revelation Song" (Jennie Lee Riddle) 
Sending Music: "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Mark Kroos, guest guitarist)


:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf)::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.

We are closing in on the end of our summer series on the Lord’s Prayer. Last week we looked at the phrase, “For thine is the Kingdom.” Today we look at the rest of that phrase, “[thine is] the power and the glory.” Like last week, we have several biblical texts to look at to help us understand what “power and glory” means. Once again we are in Revelation, at the scene of eternal Heavenly worship. But then I want to work backwards and look at how God has revealed that eternal power and glory in this world and to us.

Eternal Power and Glory (Revelation 5, 12)


11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” 13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. (Revelation 5:11-14)

Let’s start in Revelation 5. We were there last week and looked at a scene of heavenly worship involving angelic beings, humanity, and all creation in a kind of massive choir of praise. The overarching theme was worship, of God on the throne and of Jesus, the Lamb of God. We talked about the worthiness of God to receive this kind of praise and worship. When we say “Thine is the Kingdom” we acknowledge what is true – that God is King over all. In the words of that heavenly chorus, God has all “blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever.”

The words power and glory come in v. 12, when Jesus the Lamb is recognized as worthy. (He was already worthy; this is like singing “Hail to the Chief” or “God Save the Queen” – it is a formal recognition of Jesus’ authority – that is, his “power and glory.”) He who laid down all the rights and privileges of divinity to walk this earth and suffer and die on our behalf, is being recognized (universally! eternally!) with God and as God, as the one to whom all power and glory rightly belongs.

If the depiction of God on the throne and Jesus also present confuses your conception of the Trinity and one God, that’s okay. It does me too! Remember that this is an apocalyptic vision of John; the Lamb has just been described as having seven horns and seven eyes – explained even as it is described as a vision trying to teach us something. Not unlike the guidance we give in reading a parable, it would miss the point (and even the reality) to focus on the logistics and layout of this scene… it is trying to teach us about the worthiness of God and the reason we worship God through Jesus.  We will see, when we turn to the texts from Psalm 145 and John 1 how this is explained and reinforced elsewhere in scripture.

To that, let me add what is in Revelation 12:

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

There worship is again offered: “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come…” And the reason given is the demonstrated victory of God over the accuser. Satan – the “accuser of our brethren” has been thrown down, defeated once and for all. Not only is God worshiped eternally for WHO He is, but also for WHAT He has done.

If you can wrap your mind around even a bit of that, it can be awe-inspiring and comforting, even if it is mysterious. But can we know or experience any of that heavenly worship or see the power and glory of God any more directly or presently than reading that apocalyptic vision? At least two other scripture texts say ‘yes.’

The God of History (Psalm 145)


8 The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works. 10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, And Your godly ones shall bless You. 11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom And talk of Your power; 12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And Your dominion endures throughout all generations. (Psalm 145:8-13)

Psalm 145 helps us understand that last bit from Revelation 12, that God’s power and glory are known through what God has done. In Psalm 145 we read the words of King David – ancient history to us now, but nonetheless a record of how a leader and a people here in this world and time and history experienced the power and glory of God. Both David and his people had periods of obedience and disobedience to God. At times they were faithful and trusting and followed God’s Word; other times they went far astray. When David wrote, “The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness,” he knew that firsthand. He was the “good king” but committed adultery and murder.

He recognized that in the course of human life and history that God’s “works shall give thanks to [God].” David and his people saw and experienced God at work – a here and now experience of God’s “mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of [God’s] kingdom.” It gave them the faith and vision to see that God’s “kingdom is an everlasting kingdom” and that God’s dominion or rule “endures throughout all generations.”

David understood what we can also understand: God is on the throne NOW and our experience and worship of God is not limited to a distant far-off heavenly reality, but is available now.

Seeing God (John 1)


14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:14-18)

If Psalm 145 helps us understand how God’s power and glory are known through what God has done, John 1 helps us understand how God’s power and glory can be known through who God is, particularly through Jesus, the Lamb of God.

John opens his Gospel with the memorable words that in and from the beginning, the Word was with God and the Word was God. John slowly reveals to us that the “Word” is Jesus of Nazareth, adding numerous other descriptive titles along the way, like “Light of the World,” “Bread of Life,” and more. What John notably tells us in v. 14 of his first chapter is that in Jesus, God “became flesh and dwelt among us.” And he adds that in Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, we saw the very glory, grace, and truth of God the Father. Jesus not only embodied the WHO of God, he took the Law, grace, and truth of God – the WHAT of how God has acted toward humanity – and embodied that! Jesus made it possible for us to encounter and experience God in ways we can comprehend as human beings. John summarizes in that last phrase, “He [Jesus] has explained Him [the Father].”

Have you heard the term ‘exegesis?’ That’s the process we learn in seminary to read scripture in context and ‘unpack’ it for folks to understand. That’s the word here that is translated ‘explained.’ John says that Jesus “exegetes” or unpacks who and what God the Father is to us in terms we can understand and experience.

Praying the “Power and the Glory”


When we pray, “For thine is the [kingdom and the] power and the glory…” we join our voices with the eternal heavenly chorus. But if we are attentive to God’s Word and to Jesus Christ, we will have the opportunity to experience and give thanks that God is involved and active in human lives in the here and now. God’s power does come to bear in our lives. God’s glory is something – through Christ – that we can see and know and be a part of.

There are questions/prayers/postures that open us up to experiencing God’s power and glory…

God, what are you doing?
God, where are you leading me?
God, how may I follow you?
God, what choice or action before me would most honor you?


If we are willing to seek and follow God in those kinds of ways, the “power and the glory” part of the Lord’s Prayer will take on new significance, as I believe Jesus’ intended. Amen!



Sunday, August 16, 2015

For Thine is the Kingdom (Revelation 5, 7, 11)


Sermon by: Robert Austell; August 16, 2015
Text: Revelation 5:11-14; 7:9-10; 11:15-17

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Some Music Used ::
Song of Praise: "Build Your Kingdom Here" (Rend Collective Experiment)
Song of Praise: "Lion of Judah" (Robin Mark)
Offering of Music: "Revelation 19" (choir) (LaValley)
Song of Sending: "Ye Servants of God" (HANOVER)

:: Affirmation of Faith ::
adap. from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (q.106)
What is taught by the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer – “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen”?
The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teaches us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only,-1 and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to him.-2 And, in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.-3

1-Daniel 9:4,7-9,16-19; 2-1 Chron. 29:10-13; 3-1 Cor. 14:16; Rev. 22:20-21
:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf)::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.


We are closing in on the end of the Lord’s Prayer. Over this week and next we will be looking at similar passages from Revelation to talk about the final phrase, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory.” Today we are going to focus on the KINGDOM and next week on the power and glory of God.

Today I want to look at three passages from Revelation, and what each has to say about God and His Kingdom.

The Worth and Worship of the King (Revelation 5)


When you read or hear the text from Revelation 5, it’s hard to miss the worship going on there. There are heavenly beings worshiping: angels, living creatures, and elders numbering in the thousands of thousands. And then there is all of God’s creation – every created thing in heaven, earth, under the earth, on the sea, and in the sea. And all the beings of Heaven and earth are worshiping like some kind of giant antiphonal choir sounding a singular theme: God (and the Lamb of God) are worthy of all the praise that could and should be given because God is ultimately worthy of praise. Here is their mighty declaration:

The Heavenly beings:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.

Every created thing:
To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.

The four living creatures: Amen!

And the elders fell down and worshiped as well.

Rather than dissect and try to explain who all the players are, what I want to highlight is the theme of their collective worship: the Kingdom belongs to God and God is WORTHY of all possible praise and adoration. It’s a collective and comprehensive expression of worship.

Is God some sort of megalomaniac, who desires adulation from all beings and things in existence? No, that desire is only true of beings that aspire to be God. You’ve heard the adage, “It’s not bragging if it’s true.” This is the infinite, perfect version of that. Only a perfectly powerful, good, right, holy, just, and compassion being is worthy of the kind of worship and praise described here. It’s only right and only makes sense if God is who He says He is. And He is.

When we pray, “Thine is the Kingdom,” we are acknowledging what is true, that this is the God we worship and that recognition should lead us into worship.

The Kingdom is Comprehensive (Revelation 7)


In revelation, there is a similar scene of worship, but what I want to focus on with you is who is worshiping. These are the throne who experienced the salvation of God and they are crying out, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They are described with words that are probably familiar to you, but I don’t want you to miss the importance of it. It is a great (and uncountable) multitude “from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues.”

What I want to highlight here is that God’s Kingdom is comprehensive. I try to remind you often of God’s heart for the whole world, for His whole creation… that He did choose a people (Israel), but chose and blessed them that they might bless all the nations. God’s pattern is to use those who know Him to reach those who do not. This pattern is amplified and clarified in the New Testament, in the Great Commission of Jesus and particularly at Pentecost, when God’s Holy Spirit blesses the movement of early Christians to reach beyond Jerusalem to the people of the world. We will look at this some more this Fall, but over and again the New Testament texts describe a God who calls those who are far off, in order to bring them near.

As we have also heard many times over the past many years, the implications are that the Church doesn’t primarily exist for its members, but for its community. Like Israel, it is true that God has brought us together here for worship, growth, encouragement, and blessing; but all that is to feed and equip us to go out into our neighborhoods for Christ. The Great Commandment is to love God and love neighbor. Christ goes before us into the world and we are to follow!

All this, Old Testament, New Testament, and our own mission as the Church, finds expression in the glorious picture of the uncountable multitude in Revelation 7. When we pray, “Thine is the Kingdom,” we are recognizing that God’s comprehensive Kingdom includes us and has implications for our purpose and mission.

The Kingdom Is Here, but Not Yet Here (Revelation 11)


Finally, in Revelation 11, we are reminded of that theme of Jesus’ teaching that we’ve touched on several times this summer: God’s Kingdom is already in our midst, but it is not yet fully realized as it will be one day. The kingdom of this world is still in process of becoming the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.

This has implications for us as well. We no longer live completely in the dark; we have glimpses and experiences of God’s Kingdom in our midst. We have the teaching of Jesus. We have the comforting presence of God’s Holy Spirit dwelling in us. We have an identity and citizenship in God’s Kingdom through our identification with Christ. We have a hope and a purpose that are defined by God rather than by this world. And we have a future hope that all will be set right, that there will be no more tears and no more sorrow.

But, we are still in the “not yet” time where the shadows linger. We still endure the consequences of human sin and disobedience. We struggle against evil and the temptations and distractions of this world.

Though God does already reign in a certain sense, we look forward to joining the twenty-four elders who declare, “We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” (v. 17)

When we pray, “Thine is the Kingdom,” we declare our faith and hope that we belong to God even now, but will one day enjoy and celebrate the full and final victory of God’s justice and power.

The Omnipotent King is Father


And just as a kind of final note to connect back to the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, this all-powerful, amazing King of all things who will reign into eternity is the same one Jesus invited us to call, “Our Father.” Even with all the mind-boggling scenes of worship, the scope of God’s saving plan, and the assurance of a Day of justice and peace, the infinite God is intimately interested in each of you as beloved child, through Jesus.

So, even when we pray, “Thine is the Kingdom,” we also pray, “Our Father.” And our mighty Father hears our prayers! Amen.


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lead Us Not Into Temptation (John 17, Luke 8)


Sermon by: Robert Austell
August 9, 2015
Text: John 17:13-17; Luke 8:4-15

:: Sermon Audio (link) ::
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Some Music Used ::
Gathering Video: mission trip slide shows
Middle School (Wilmington, NC)                               High School (New Orleans, LA)  
Song of Praise: "Mighty to Save" (Morgan/Fielding)
Song of Praise: "It is Well with My Soul" (VILLE DU HAVRE)
The Word in Music: "The Lord is My Light" - summer choir; Gwen Ingram, dir (James Cleveland)
Song of Sending: "Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone" (Tomlin)
Postlude: Middle School mission trip video


:: Affirmation of Faith ::
adap. from the Westminster Longer (q. 195) and Shorter Catechism (q.106)
What do we pray for in the sixth petition, ‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’?
Acknowledging that Satan-1, the world-2, and the flesh are ready powerfully to draw us aside and ensnare us-3, and that even after the pardon of our sins we are subject to be tempted, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin,-4 or support and deliver us when we are tempted.-5

1-1 Chron. 21:1; 2-Luke 21:34; Mark 4:19; 3-James 1:14; 4-Matt 26:41; 5-2 Cor. 12:7-8
:: Video ::
Testimony video of youth participating in the summer mission projects is coming...


:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf)::
This "manuscript" represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.


After a week off last Sunday we are returning to our summer series on the Lord’s Prayer. Today we look at the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” I want to follow a fairly simple format today – I will look at a passage in John 17 where Jesus prays, and teaches us with his words. Then I want to look with you at a parable where Jesus has something to say about temptation. Finally, and with some further qualifiers on what ‘temptation’ means in the Lord’s Prayer, we will look at what it means for us to pray this part of the prayer.

Jesus’ Prayer (John 17)


We will look first at “deliver us from evil.”

John 17 records some of the events of the night of Jesus’ arrest. He has already had the Last Supper and is on his way to the place where he will be betrayed and arrested. On the way he stops to pray and his prayer is recorded in John 17. It has struck me increasingly this summer that in John 17 Jesus Himself follows after the pattern he taught in the Lord’s Prayer. I have noticed how many times we have turned to some aspect of the John 17 prayer this summer, and today is another example.

We heard this ask our Call to Worship today – Jesus praying: “I do not ask you to take [my followers] out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15) Jesus’ prayer for his disciples and all those who have followed him since is not that God would remove them from the challenges and temptations of this world, but that God would defend them from the evil one. For a time, God has allowed sin and evil to exist, prolonging judgment so that many might trust and be saved. Because of that, the “evil one” has a measure of authority or persuasion in this world. Scripture refers to the evil one as ‘Satan’ (the adversary), pictured as a “prowling lion” and the “Prince of the power of this world.”

But God’s authority is greater and is complete. And God doesn’t remove His people from the world because it is through them that God has chosen to bless the world. So, Jesus prays in line with God’s plan and will: don’t take them out of the world (and abandon it to darkness), but neither abandon them to the darkness… protect them from evil and the evil one.

A Parable (Luke 8)


“Lead us not into temptation” is a little trickier to understand. I say that because in the Bible there are several understandings of ‘temptation.’ More accurately, there are several understandings of the underlying word peirasmos. Sometimes it is used to describe a ‘test’ – and those can come from God, from another person, or from Satan. Do note that when God tests us, His purpose is to build up our faith, not tear it down! Other times it is better translated ‘temptation’ and describes the potential to turn away from God or God’s will. Listen to James 1:13-14 – “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed…” Those verses go on to say that desire gives birth to sin and that leads to death. So Scripture says that God does not tempt us in that way. More than that, Scripture also says (1 Corinthians 10:13) that when temptation comes God will provide a “way of escape.” We always have the choice to trust and obey God and therefore resist temptation.

Jesus describes a range of these temptations in his explanation of the parable of the Sower. Let’s look at each situation in turn.

So you heard the parable: a sower went out to sow his seed and a variety of things happened, depending on how and where the seed fell. Jesus explains, starting in v. 11. In the first case, the devil or evil one is involved and so distracts or discourages the hearer that they never believe. This is temptation by the evil one and the very thing for which we would pray deliverance in the Lord’s Prayer. Note, however, that neither the Word nor the devil have control of the human will; if we believe the Word God has spoken, we WILL be saved, but God won’t force us to believe. In the second case, those who excitedly heard the Word fall away in a time of temptation. Though this situation aligns the most with ‘testing’ it is still testing or temptation that is not from God, for God does not test to tear down, but to build up. In the third case, the hearing and believing of the Word is “choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” This is temptation in the world around us, and is the kind we constantly experience since we live in this world. Finally, there are those for whom God’s Word “bears fruit” and the key words for our application are “hold it fast… with perseverance.” This fruitful outcome comes from not turning aside from God or His Will.

For Us (1 Corinthians 10)


As we think about understanding and applying these things, I need to clarify a few more things.

There is a scripture (1 Corinthians 10:13) that says “God is faithful… [and] will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” This is the verse that is often quoted to say that God will not give you more than you can handle. That is NOT in the Bible! I’m going to let that sink in for a moment because I so often hear it mis-quoted. The Bible does not say that God will not give you more than you can handle. There is plenty in life that is more than we can handle! What the verse DOES say is that, in regards to temptation, we always have a choice to turn from God or obey God. Temptation is not action; it is not sin… it is the opportunity to sin and to turn. And there is always a faithful alternative!

As I have said, there is also a critical distinction between temptation and God ‘testing’ us for the purpose of building up our faith. That is the spiritual equivalent of me challenging one of my kids to swim the extra lap or run the extra mile and build up their endurance. While challenging, it comes from a loving father who wants the best for his children. Likewise, if God asks you to rise to a challenge – like sharing your testimony in front of the church or trusting Him with an area of your life to which you have been clinging, it is the Heavenly Father working for your best.

If evil or suffering happens to you – a car wreck, a medical diagnosis, a spouse’s betrayal, financial ruin – those are not ‘tests’ from God but trials that are a part of living in a sinful and fallen world. They do sometimes provide an opportunity to trust God, but they are not sent from God. And then sometimes there are out and out temptations – people or situations that actively invite you to turn aside from God and God’s will; and scripture says that Satan delights to send these your way.

When we pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we ask the God who has indeed called us to live in this world to protect us and help us hear and follow His voice. He has said that we will always have the choice to hear and obey.  So whether the temptation comes from others, the world we live in, or the evil one; our best hope is to turn again and again to God and His Word. When we do, we are praying just as Jesus prayed and taught us to pray. Amen.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Comfort and Affliction (2 Corinthians 1.3-11)

Sermon by: Quay Youngblood
August 2, 2015
Text: 2 Corinthians 1:3-11

:: Sermon Audio (link) 
Click link to open and play in browser; right-click to save. Sermon audio is also accessible as a free podcast in iTunes. Search for "Good Shepherd Sermons" or "Robert Austell." 

:: Some Music Used
Gathering Music: "Jesus Shall Reign/Fairest Lord Jesus" (Kelsey Gilsdorf, piano)
Hymn of Praise: "Jesus, Come, for We INvite You" (SICILIAN MARINERS)
Offering of Music: "Jesus, Rock of Ages" (Cathy Youngblood, Carmen Betts, vocalists)
Hymn of Sending: "Blessed Assurance" (ASSURANCE)
Postlude: Kelsey Gilsdorf


:: Sermon Manuscript: 
There is no manuscript available this week.