17 July 2016

THE NARROW ROAD OF BLESSING


Psalm 1:1-6

DO YOU REALIZE THAT WE ARE A BLESSED PEOPLE? I think we need to stop and ponder that truth in how blessed we really are!

I’m blessed to have a personal relationship with the living God.
I’m blessed to be able to share and teach His wonderful Gospel.
I’m blessed with the privilege to expound His awesome glory to you.
I’m blessed to have a wonderful Christian wife, who puts up with me in all my perfections…I mean imperfections!  LOL.
I’m blessed to have 6 healthy children who I love with all my heart.
I’m blessed to have you as my family here at Calvary Baptist Church.
I’m blessed to be able to see, hear, touch and smell things that God created for His glory and purposes.
I’m blessed to be just simply alive today.

What about you? What would your list be? As one writer said “Enjoy the blessings of this day…” But sadly our blessings turn into sorrow for many of us. The things of this world drown out those blessing when we turn on the TV or read a newspaper. And worse we allow this world to get us bogged down with all the overwhelming stories of tragedy, loss and so on…..losing focus of Christ and His goodness in our lives. And usually ten times out of ten we miss the blessing that God had for us. Sometime it isn’t the world though; it can be our focus on self! Those other things that interest us and we tend not to see the blessings of this day. But listen to Corrie Ten Boom; she said “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.. We need to stop and smell the roses from time to time. Humble ourselves and understand true happiness and blessing depends on the true riches found in God’s grace, not in earthly pursuits or anything that takes our eyes off of Christ. We come to this Psalm and right out the gates the writer pens these joyful and happy words! “Blessed is the man” (v1a). By definition “blessed” or better translated “blessednesses” is someone who has a deep seated joy, someone who is happy, a contentment that can be only found in the Gospel, the redeeming work of the cross? In fact, in the Hebrew the word actually is plural, which denotes either a multiplicity of blessing or an amplification of them “blessednesses”.

We are a blessed people! This verse literally means “oh, the happiness” or “O the blessedness of that man " Blessed is the man or woman when you are walking in the riches of His grace and mercy….. rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What does that look like! JESUS SAID "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt 5:3-12. As one writer puts itTo love God is the greatest of virtues; to be loved by God is the greatest of blessings.” And though we are extremely blessed we also see a warning to the Christian! Something that we are to be aware of or precede with caution. There are 3 postures that do not lead to blessing but trouble for your soul. Three warnings that a blessed man/woman should always flee from or don’t entertain on a day by day basis as they persevere by faith down the narrow road of His righteousness! So what are they? The answer is found in the remaining words of this verse (v1b)

YOU WILL NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY (THE UNREGENERATE MAN OR WOMAN)

“Walking” denotes a choice, a continuance of action! Which means: a genuine Christian doesn’t listen to, or put into practice (associate in their evil doings) or take advice from ungodly people! We are to walk by faith and listen to the counsel of the Living God. Jer 17:7Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD.” Why? The counsels of the ungodly are the ones who leave God out of everything. They are the ones who have no fear of God before their eyes. This is a type of person that lives if God doesn’t exist. We are not to walk with such a people, we are to step aside! This doesn’t mean we can’t be around them or associate with them. BUT IT DOES MEAN we are not to follow in their footsteps ungodly living. As Jesus said “Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." Matt 15:14

YOU WILL NOT STAND IN THE PATH OF SINNERS

“Stand” gives the idea of settled residence as the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God’s commandments. These are the type of people who don’t quit live as they should. They are comfortable in their sin. It’s like the person Peter describes in his letter “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” 2 Peter 2:15. This could be a religious person, a nominal Christian professing but not a possessing Christian. It’s the type of person that knows that they’re sinners and don’t care because they think they have the fire insurance under the blanket of love and grace. They are the kind of person the Bibles speaks of when it says….“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” Prov 14:12
  
Prov 16:2 “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.”
  
1 John 2:18-19 says “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.” We are not to stand with those who take delight in their sin which means in their manner of conversation....or lifestyle and choices.

YOU WILL NOT SIT WITH THE SCORNFUL

“Sit” a planting posture or association or incorporation of themselves with a group of people. Who are the Scoffers?  A person who are not only diseased, but reject, despise, and scorn all remedies and truth. A person who mocks sin and could care less about God’s threatening and judgements against sinners. It’s the “Where is your God” mentalityA person who mocks wholesome correction and counsels and make their business to scoff at goodness and good men and women. We love Lady Gaga, BeyoncĂ©, Justin Bieber because they are great examples for our culture…..but those Tim Tebows we can’t have them trouble makers. Scoffers….which really are haters of God and anyone associated with Him (the true Church). As Vernon McGee said “the drunkard in the gutter today is not nearly as low as the man who denying God.” See if you’re that kind of person here today! I’m here to plead with you that God is displeased with this kind of behaviour in your life. Why? “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, And beatings for the backs of fools.” Prov 19:29. The Word of God also says “God will scorn the scornful” Prov 3:34

What does that mean? He will expose you for who you truly are! A fool who is lost and will face the wrath of God one day because you refuse to submit to Him. God’s children are never to associate or accompany these types of people. We are to love them with the Gospel, BUT NEVER walk.....stand...or sit with those who spit in the face of the Living God and His blessed Gospel.

SEE A BLESSED MAN OR WOMAN IS SOMEONE WHO IS DEEPLY IN LOVE WITH CHRIST AND HIS WORD! (v2)

It’s impossible to visualize a happy man or woman who is not a man or a woman of God’s word. It’s that deep rooted hunger and thirst for the word of God ...they love the bible and the God of it. They love it so much they can’t put it down! “It’s his delight” to them not a duty. Delight means: something that is a desire, a pleasure, something you do willingly. Not only does he delights  in God’s Word but he “meditates  day and night” Meditates implies a deep and serious thoughtfulness about something. That why it says “day and night” Something to ponder and think about! A great picture of this is the cow! Mediate is a very figurative word.....It pictures a cow chewing it cud. A cow has several compartments in their tummy. A cow can go out in the morning, graze on the grass when the dew is on it in the cool of the day. Then when it gets hot in the middle of the day, she lies down under a tree and begins to chew the cud. She moves the grass they had in the morning back up and she masticates it, she goes over it again.
  
THAT’S WHAT WE ARE TO DO WHEN WE READ THE WORD OF GOD. We are to read it, ponder it, think about it and live it daily. When you read God’s word ask ourselves these questions. Questions that I found might help you by DesiringGod.org

What did I learn about God?
How do these verses help me fight my sin?
How was my heart stirred for Jesus?

Let me ask you something that only you can answer! Do you hold the word of God that way in your life as a treasure or delight to pick up and meditate on? As Job did? “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” Job 23:12. Parents do your children see God’s word as a blessing to you or a burden to bear? If you can’t answer that question then look to your kids and see what they say about your devotion to this book. Church family what is consuming the most of your time on a day to day basis? Is it God and His precious word or is it consumed with your fleshly desires and passions, stubbornness, outward religion that leads a person down the broad road to HELL?

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE GRIPPED BY THE GLORY OF GOD?

To have the privilege to hold the spoken words of God in our sinful hands and say “this is my greatest delight!” This is a book for us to read as we wait until He calls us home. This is a book that speaks about the glory of God and awesomeness that He is. This book is something that brings us closer and into a deeper relationship with Him. Do you realize you can serve the church all your life........attend all the meetings......come to all the prayer nights and bible studies and still be lost? If you’re not picking up the Bible and reading His God breathed words for yourself, then you’re only hurting yourself. The same hurt that Jesus warned the Pharisee’s, because He knows the heart of each and every one of us here in this sanctuary as He did them.

“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life...........” John 5:39. See, God doesn’t want your head knowledge; He wants your heart and your devotion. D.L Moody said "The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives”. God wants our devotion be towards to Him out of love not duty. God wants to see you find blessing as you read His words........without huffing and puffing! God wants you to be blessed by falling deeper in love with Him.........not resentful and bitter because you have to sacrifice some of your precious time for Him. God demands and deserves more than an hour a week or 10 minutes at best every day of your time. Why? A. W Tozer said "I did not go through the Book. The Book went through me."
  
SO WHAT DOES A PERSON WHO DELIGHTS AND MEDITATES ON GOD’S WORD DAY AND NIGHT LOOK LIKE?

The answer is found in (v3) The Psalmist gives us a great picture of what that looks like! A tree that is deeply rooted and planted in the ground in the Word of God.The word of God is…… our river....our food....or lifeline that leads to righteous and ultimately our home. Isaiah wrote “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isa 55:10-11. (v3) is a beautiful picture of our salvation! A tree doesn’t plant itself.....it needs someone to plant it. That’s the Gospel! God justifies you and saves and secures you and sanctifies (sets you apart) for Himself as you walk the narrow road to glory. That‘s what draws us to His word and to our knees everyday........ The saving grace found in the Gospel. THERE ARE TWO THINGS THE WORD OF GOD DOES TO A PERSON! The word of God will always transform and cause you to grow deeper in love. Or it will cause you to be angry, resentful and hater of God. Why? Because you love your sin.
  
THERE ARE TWO ROADS THAT A PERSON CAN WALK ON IN THIS LIFE!

There is one road

that leads to destruction which is God’s wrath for your sin for all eternity.......separated from the One who gives you air to breath and a chance to be saved by the Gospel (v5-v6)

The second road

is narrow that can be very hard at times (because you will stumble) but you will always get up and move forward down that narrow road that leads you to glory. (v1-v2) The narrow road is the person who desires the things of God, despite what happening… in or around us. The narrow road is a person who seeks God’s counsel not this world. The narrow road person doesn’t walk, stand or sit with sinners as they await judgement from a holy and just God. The narrow road that delights and mediates on His word; because He is the most important person in the entire universe. My prayer for us is that we will be strong trees feeding on His goodness, grounded in the written word, as we walk this narrow road into glory.

How? By….
Embrace Him
Love Him
Delight in Him
Walk......stand...and sit in Him
Be content and happy in Him
Believe in Him and live for Him as you’re pearl of great price.
As MasterCard commercial would say “priceless” Because “He’s priceless”

11 July 2016

ARE YOU GRIPPED BY HIS GLORY?



The Psalms Overview

There is a story of a professor of philosophy who was a committed atheist and is primary goal for the class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldn’t exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He can’t do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. Well, a few more years pasted until a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith...he hoped. Finally, the day came. The professor said, “If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!" He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professor’s jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall.

Is God getting your full attention or is your heart like this foolish professor? What has God been doing in your life to get your attention these past months or weeks? Maybe you’re thinking God feels distant to you or He is silent in your life these past few weeks?
Can I tell you, you’re not alone in thinking this way at times? We all feel this way from time to time! To affirm that read the Psalms of David “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” Psalm 13:1. Remember the Apostle Thomas was a prime example.....very similar to this story about the professor! If I don’t have proof “I will never believe.” John 20:25

Think about it! Just because we can’t see, feel, hear, or rationalize Him, doesn’t mean God isn’t here at this moment and working in your life! It says in Psalm 139:2-8 “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to Heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol [Hell], you are there!” Are you like the professor? Or Are you falling deeper in love with him? See, it’s the longing of every human heart, even before we know what it is or how to fill it: To be gripped by the reality of whom God is and how awesome He truly is in our lives. The term for this is “a God-shaped hole” that every person has a void in his soul/spirit/life that can only be filled by God. (Example the Donut Man). The “God-shaped hole” is the inborn longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something superior. Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God's placing of "eternity in man’s heart."

God made humanity for His eternal purpose, and only God can fulfill our desire for eternity. All religion is based on the innate desire to “connect” with God. The problem, though, our natural bent ignores this hole or attempts to fill it with things other than God. Jeremiah 17:9 describes the condition of our hearts: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Solomon echoes the same words “The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live…” Eccl 9:3. The New Testament harmonizes this realty about sinful man and woman “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so” (Romans 8:7). Romans 1:18-22 describes humanity ignoring what can be known about God, and instead worship anything and everything other than God. That’s the danger……….. But there is hope! To truly connect to God is to connect with the only Living God found in the scriptures and the finished work of Christ in the gospel.

So! Are you getting gripped by His glory in your life? When was the last time you were gripped by the greatness of God? Because to be gripped by his glory is to understand.......


God’s unfailing love and mercy towards creation and His called out ones (me and you).

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Ps 136:1
Because to be gripped by His glory is to understand.......

The child of God can find a deep -seated joy and comfort when we are faced with a world that looks like it’s spiralling out of control.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Ps 46:1-2 

God’s everlasting forgiveness for sinners like you and me.

“.....If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness...” Ps 130:3-4
  
To be declared by the King of glory, His sons and daughters.

“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4
  
A brokenness over your sin which brings you into a proper relationship with the One that paid your debt in full on the cross of Calvary.

“....For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.” Psalm 51:3-4

God’s resume and awesome track record that displays His trustworthiness.

“Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. On the glorious splendour of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.” Ps 145:2-6

That God would be mindful of me, this small speck of sand and show such mercy and love.

“When I look at Your Heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?” Ps 8:3-4
  
To be blessed with the privilege of holding the words of God [Himself] in the palm of your sinful hand and to delight in Him daily.

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Ps 1:1-2

That God would give us dads [fathers] the wonderful and serious responsibility of teaching our children about the glory of God.

“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;...” Ps 78:2-7
  
Worship God truly the way He intended us to worship grounded in the finishing work on the Cross.
  
“Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous works among all the peoples!” Ps 96:1-3 

A holy and awesome God would take a people you and I, once haters and fools and bring us into a proper understanding of saving grace through His Son.

“The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Ps 53:1-3

That He would give us anguish or a burdened heart for the lost which is ONLY found in the Gospel.

“My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law. Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules. You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness.” Ps 119:136-138

We should be screaming from the roof tops that God is awesome ALWAYSHe is the one who spoke all things into existence from nothing into something. We are living proof of that. He is the one who said “it is was good” when He created all things for His gloryHe is the one sent His only Son to be our substitution for the payment of our sin. He is the one gave us His written word and implanted it into our hearts for present and future use. He is the one who promised us a Helper the Holy Spirit to understand His word though His gospel of grace. He is the one who is continuing to lead us home, the eternal promise of Heaven. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil 1:6. Again God is awesome and we should always be gripped by His glory no matter what happens in this present life! I’m forever speechless when I think about the glory of God that He would love me….especially when I think of whom I used to be and what I’ve done. I’m forever humbled by His everlasting love towards me and His creation. I’m forever fearful for those who will face the ultimate wrath of God for their hatred towards His unmerited grace each and every day. Whether its family or our neighbor. I’m forever blessed and amazed to be called “His very own”. As 1 Peter 2”9 says “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” And as one Theologian said “Just as a square peg cannot fill a round hole, neither can the “God-shaped hole” inside each of us be filled by anyone or anything other than God. Only through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ can the “God-shaped hole” be filled and the desire for eternity fulfilled.” May God today grip your heart so tight that you will never forget where your love and mercy comes from, as you are faced with the next hour He allows you to breathe? Be gripped by His glory in the Psalms and fall deeper in love with Him as we take this journey together for His glory, and your good.

03 July 2016

GLORYING IN THE CROSS


There are two basic religions in the world. A False Religion: that is man-centered and self-gratifying and it builds on works righteousness. The True Religion: is the gospel of Jesus Christ, a divine accomplishment by God’s sovereign grace provided for man’s redemption through the sacrifice of Himself on the cross. This has been the foundational truth of Paul’s letter…so let me ask you as we close out Paul’s letter this morning. When you think of the Cross of Jesus Christ, what comes to mind? Do see your sin and shame and your inability to save yourself?
Do you see yourself as the problem and His glory and restoration? Do you see God’s destructive wrath and mercy for sinners like you and me as He killed His only Begotten Son? Do you see Jesus Christ as our substitute, our sinless and spotless Lamb of God?
Do you see yourself hanging there and the punishment you and I deserve?

Because you should! Whenever you think about the cross, in your mind's eye….. picture yourself there. Picture your face in the place of Jesus' face. See your blood spilling down in place of His. You should have been there, but Jesus took your place. Thinking about that is very humbling……..Shouldn’t that humble you this morning? As James MacDonald said “You can't understand the Gospel until you understand this idea of substitution. Jesus' death was in the place of every person who has ever lived. I am in that line. You are too. Each of us deserves to die in payment for our own sin, but Jesus stepped in and took that penalty for each of us.

What are you boasting in Christian Brother or Sister?


Is your skills and accolades?
Is it your looks and riches?
Is it your athleticism?
Is it your job or certificates of higher education?
Is it your trade or ability to craft things with your hands?
Is it your favorite hockey player or team?
Is it your family?
Is it you?

Paul is very clear in this closing section of his letter! (v11-v13) Why do I say that? Paul lets them know “See with LARGE LETTERS I am writing to you with my own hands.” Why Paul says this is unclear and it cannot be interpreted dogmatically, In one camp they say “it’s because he had poor eye-sight.” And they refer back to Gal 4:13-15The other camp says “Paul used bold block leaders to emphasize the importance of the context rather than its usual form.” And they would refer to the present text (v12) “IT IS THOSE WHO WANT TO MAKE A GOOD SHOWING IN THE FLESH…” Whichever it is……is not the main point, and not worth starting a new denomination over it. But the main point is “What are you boasting in?”

John Piper said this in sermon “Boasting Only In The Cross” You don't have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things. If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don't have to have a high IQ or EQ; you don't have to have to have good looks or riches; you don't have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them. Acts 20:24 reveals Paul’s heart for the Cross "I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." One thing mattered to Paul and it should matter to us! That you and I finish our course; run our race with endurance and our eyes focused on the glorious Christ. Philippians 3:7-8 speaks of what we are to be boasting in "But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ." 

“Boasting” The basic meaning of the word is "to praise, or "to puff up oneself"" Usually when Scripture talks about idle words we think about profanity, but it can also be the sin of bragging. This sin is very easy to commit and we can fall to boasting without even knowing it. I have to constantly ask myself did I handle that discussion with grace and truth or did I just want to boast and prove them wrong?

Boasting is Sin

Jer 9:23-25 says “Thus says the LORD: "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight," says the LORD. "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised." Psalm 75:4-5 "I said to the boastful, 'Do not deal boastfully,' And to the wicked, 'Do not lift up the horn. Do not lift up your horn on high; Do not speak with a stiff neck.' "

False teacher love to do it

Jude 16 “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” Gal 6:12-13 says “As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.”

What is Paul saying? Its man centered and man-made efforts to please God with their outward Christianese. They have no concern about pleasing God by an inward righteousness grounded in Christ alone and His precious gospel. They are more concerned how they look and impress other men by outward legalism. Look at me I don’t do this or that and defiantly would never do ______- fill in the blank. Only concerned by an outward showing, an attitude of human righteousness. Remember what Jesus said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Matt 23:27. Outward appearance and keeping an image to boast in the flesh destructive. Not only destructive it labels you a coward and spineless weasel. (v12b) “simply that they may not persecuted for the cross of Christ.” The Judaizers not only were proud but they were cowards as well. They were never willing to pay the price of persecution in order to identify themselves with Jesus Christ. They might use His name and attend church to look good in the community. They have a wonderful outward devotion to making displays of religious devotion that require no heart righteousness or dependence on the Holy Spirit. It’s the idea that they think people observe them and say “Wow! Joe is a super religious guy. He attends church every Sunday and prays at every meal.” It’s superficial and empty full of dead men’s bones. We need to proceed with extreme caution if this is how we see the Christian life. Any religion that relies on the flesh and promotes religious superiority has no part in Christ and is damable by association. Matt 23:15 Jesus said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte (a person who comes over from a foreign nation, religion, or sect to join us… a convert.) and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” SO WHEN IS OR IS IT EVER OK TO BOAST THEN? YES IN ITS PROPER CONTEXT. The only time we as god’s children should ever boast is….

In our weakness

2 Cor 11:30 says “If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.”

In our lack of eloquence

1 Cor 2:1-5 is very clear about this “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
  
In the cross of Jesus Christ

And here in Paul’s final words to the churches we see that truth "May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (v14)

Only boasting in the cross of Jesus Christ. What Paul is saying! It’s my single idea, my single goal and my single passion. “Only boast in the cross.” The word can be translated "exult in" or "rejoice in." Only exult in the cross of Christ. Only rejoice in the cross of Christ. Paul says let this be your single passion, you single boast and joy and exultation. Our lives are to emulate this truth by living each and every day in this MOMENT! The ONE THING that you love, the one thing that you cherish, the one thing that you rejoice in and exult over……… be the cross of Jesus Christ.
  
What does your life emulate the most? Is it Christ or self? Because Paul closes this letter by saying…….. 

A cross centered life is humble not prideful (v12-v13) 

False religion promotes self, self-interest and their own agenda and they are compromisers who want to avoid any kind of persecution. The cross is about sacrifice and His unmerited grace, humility and willingness to go to the cross to have His blood shed for our pride and rebellion.

 A cross centered life boasts in the cross not self (v14a)

As Paul says “I will never” which is the strongest expression he could us to emphasize his point. Do not ever boast in anything other than the cross. It’s all about Him and overflowing grace that saved my wretched soul from eternal damnation.
  
A cross centered life treasures Christ not the world (v14b)

The cross has a present power in our lives. The cross has the power to free us from the “world’s system of bondage” My greatest achievement in life is not what I’m capable of, but what He has done in and through me for His glory and my good by setting me apart unto Him and not this world.
  
A cross centered life values spiritual transformation not external rituals (v15-v16)

The cross has done for us what the flesh couldn’t do. As new creations in Christ, we are now for a new creation. We enjoy this new blessing because of the cross and the freedom it brings. It’s not about my church attendance and outward ability, but an inward heart transformation of grace to desire the things of God.
  
A cross centered life walks in truth not error (v16)

Paul says this new gospel community, called “the church” walks by a “standard” which means a measuring rod or carpenter’s rule. Peace and mercy are for those who remain faithful in the truth. One more reason why theology matters to the Christian. We walk in His truth as He leads to the promise “eternal life” with Him. 

A cross centered life seeks to please Christ not man (v17-v18)

“let no one cause me trouble” means I will not allow myself to be troubled, harassed or bothered by the agenda and rules of people. Our lives matter and we live for someone else! Jesus Christ. Paul can say “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” referring to the wounds he received numerous times thought-out his missionary journeys. Paul was a faithful messenger and scarred messenger for the precious gospel. This portion of scripture shows Paul’s great love for the Savior. He not only bore the spiritual marks of a believer, he also bore the literal scars for his obedience to Jesus. This verse reflects Christ’s call to all of us.

God forms a family through the gospel. Our lives have been changed and transformed by the gospel. Now may grace multiply to us as we live cross-centered lives for His glory and our good. The Sunday question! What are you glorying in brothers and sisters? Is it Christ and His glory cross or are you boasting in you and works righteousness?



Close with “When I survey the Wondrous Cross” Hymn 258