1 CORINTHIANS 13 PREVIEW

Tomorrow I finish our very long sermon series from 1 Corinthians (it began on Easter) with 1 Corinthians 13, what is often called the great love chapter.  We will discover why it is that passage might not be what people think tomorrow, but I thought for now I would share with you my opening section.

 

What is love?  That is too great a question.  What is love like might be a better question?

Love is a virgin forest that has never been logged.  It is a forest that has never been scarred by a road etching across its wooded skin.  It is pristine, tall, strong, enduring, and ancient.

Love is an undiscovered waterway that human eyes have not yet coveted for exploitation.  A waterway where the fish are undiluted and genetically stable, the marsh and silt are in perfect harmony with the flow of time and the changing seasons.  The water is clean, and its cleanliness sustains the purity of all else.

Love is a child who hasn’t learned to distrust yet.  It is a child who has never been hurt or disappointed by the actions and the lies of the world.  The eyes are bright and the curiosity is wholesome, sadness doesn’t exist for the edenic child who lives in completely undefiled innocence, an innocence that intuits hope.

That is what love is.  Love is pristine and undefiled.  It doesn’t clean our mess, it replaces our mess with God’s own intention toward human beings—for God loved the world that was polluted with sin and defaced by greed, jealousy and pride that he gave his one and only son to clean it, and he cleaned by his great act of love.  For greater love has no one than this, that he gives his life for others.

God showed us the purity of love in that, while we were still covered in the mud and filth of our sin, Christ Jesus, who was perfect and clean inside and out, died to wash us off and make us clean again.

DEVILED HAM

Pastor Greenbean has had a very, very busy and bustling week.  However, my work load did not deter me from remembering to post for you the promised ‘snippet’ from the upcoming sermon from Mark 5:1-20 where Jesus heals the man who is troubled by so many demons they call themselves Legion.  The tentative title for the sermon is Deviled Ham.  This particular section of the sermon comes very early as we examine the different way this story is handled in Matthew and Luke.

Images from Brick Testament

DISCREPANCIES

As I said earlier this story is found in Matthew and Luke too, but Mark’s is the longest telling of it.  There are two things that often trouble Bible students about the story—and no, the troubling part is not the demons.  The Bible, particularly the New Testament, is filled with spiritual conflict and we are told by Paul in that great passage in Ephesians that we, “Wrestle not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities in high places.”

No the problem with this story is textual—so let just address that right now.

Mark tells us there was one man who had demons named Legion and that he was healed at a city called Gerasene.  Luke agrees with Mark and tells us there was one demoniac man and he was at Gerasene.  Matthew, however, changes the location and the number.  Matthew tells us that there were two people healed and it was located at Gadarene.

So they don’t agree.

Most preachers just skip that stuff because they don’t want to confuse their audience or they somehow act like it happened twice or that Gadarene and Gerasene are the same place (they are not).  I, however, think you’re a pretty smart group of people so I want to pull it out and show you.  I also don’t want the first time you see that there is a difference in stories to be when you have it pointed out by someone trying to tell you the Bible is not true or that it has contradictions.

A classic way of understanding these differing accounts is to liken them to eyewitnesses to a crime.  If three people see a bank robbery take place, one might say there were four robbers and another might say there were three and someone else might say the drove a Lexus as the get-away-car while another says no it was a Prius.

What matters is not those type of  details, what matters is the fact—there was a bank robbery.  I take it as supporting the biblical witness that these two stories are slightly different because it verifies real world experience—witnesses remember things differently.  But what they all agree on is that Jesus healed a demoniac with dramatic results.

SERMON PREVIEW–JESUS AND THE STORM

As promised last week, I am trying to post a little bit of the upcoming Sunday sermon every Thursday.  This weeks sermon is from Mark 4:35-41 where frightened disciples wake up the sleeping Jesus when the storm begins to threaten them.  This excerpt comes from about half way through the homily, which is based around the four questions we find in the text.  Enjoy.

TEACHER DO YOU NOT CARE?

Someone wakes up the sleeping Savior and asks him, “Teacher, Rabbi, Do you not care that we are about to die?”

The first thing I need to do with this question is analyze it for veracity.  Were they about to perish?

The text says that water was coming in on the boat.  The mental image one gets is not rainfall filling the boat but instead the high waves white capping so ferociously that with each swell the water crashes into the boat and it is filling it up.  The 12 are making calculations and they have determined that too much more this and the boat will sink.

If the boat sinks, and all the other boats sink, out in the middle of the lake, chances are pretty good they will drown in the middle of the storm.  Therefore, I don’t think they are speaking in hyperbole.  I believe they are in real danger of dying.

Now, what is the reason for the question?

Well, that takes me down a whole new path.  A disciple—I don’t know which one, calls him “teacher” or “rabbi.”  It is clear by Mark’s portrayal of these 12 that they do not know exactly who Jesus is yet.  They do not wake him up so that he will calm the storm.  That is beyond their expectations.  They probably woke him up to get him to help with the buckets to bail the water out of the boat.  The thinking is, “This is so serious that even the big shot should help.”

That question that is asked, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” really carries with it the urgency of, “This is serious, why are you not helping us?  Do something!”

Twist it around a bit and we can hear it asked a million times fresh and new each day.  What it usually boils down to is, “Why doesn’t God do something?”

  • Doesn’t God care that we are dying of cancer
  • that I can’t find a job
  • that my children are having problems
  • that I am suffering mental anguish
  • God, do you not care?

Watch this—look at the text—does Jesus answer that question?
No.  He gives no answer.  I think he gives no answer because . . .

ALIVE IS FINISHED

Yesterday I finished my ALIVE sermon series that started on Easter.  The series was topical as it focused on essential issues in in life.  These issues are universal, but the way Christ-follower’s deal with them is unique.  In a nutshell, here are the five sermons.

#1–ALIVE FAITH–this was the Easter sermon.  I decided to preach not on the resurrection of Jesus so much as the resurrection of our faith.  Many people who attend church on Easter have a connection to church and God, that is why they come.  The problem is they let their faith die.  This death can be because they are brain dead (logical problems) or because they are cardiac dead (they’ve been hurt.)

#2–ALIVE FAMILY–Far too many families, Christian and otherwise, are broken and near relational death or on the morgue slab.  But there are some concrete things that families can do to be alive again.  Part of this involves a broad definition of family, investing time, and creating boundaires.

#3–ALIVE DREAMS–By far and away this was my favorite sermon in the series.  Sometimes our dreams are dead because of life and we need to revive them with concrete actions.  Other times, our dreams are needing to be euthanized so we can dream new dreams.

#4–ALIVE FINANCES–One of my key goals this year was to preach about money more.  So far I haven’t lived up to that, but I’m doing better than int he past.  One third of Jesus’ lessons were about money.  I’m nowhere near that.  This sermon used five words to highlight how we can bring our finances back to life:  Wait, thrift, ant, give, record.  My favorite part was the ant–based on the instruction from Proverbs 6 for us to observe the hard work and preparation of the ant.

#5–ALIVE CHURCH--I used Revelation 3 and the church at Sardis to talk about the things that can bring a church back to life again that is dead as well as keep a church alive in the first place.  A fun part of this sermon was that I read, straight from my iPhone, a part of a blog post from a friend who pastors in Florida.  Thanks David for helping our church keep it real.