This is Where I Stand…I Refuse to Fight…

Let me be clear right off. I refuse to fight over this issue.  My stance is what it is. It is not bigotted, nor is it “intolerant” or “fearful” of those who prefer a different sexual lifestyle.  I do not hate the homosexual or any part of that community.  I simply disagree with their lifestyle choice. Since when is it wrong to disagree with people? There are a lot of things in life that I disagree with and yet I am not considered bigotted for my disagreement. For one,  I disagree with the lifestyle and the politics of Donald Trump, and yet I am not labelled a “bigot” or a “politi-phobe“. I simply have the right to express my disagreement with his lifestyle, position and politics. It is the same with many other issues such as divorce. I do not like or agree with divorce for simply any old reason at all. And yet I am not categorized as a “divorce-a-phobe“. Can I not hold to that opinion?  Can I not own a viewpoint that is based upon my own personal convictions? Or must it be dictated to me by special interest groups that happen to have political clout and sports  and rock star status? I doubt that Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams will come to my aid when my beliefs, choices and convictions are attacked.

I think everyone knew that this would be contentious.  Everyone in their right mind knew that the lobbyists of the GLBTQ community will not rest until they have quietted anyone and everyone who opposes them. While at the same time there are those who are militantly opposed to the legislation and are looking for a confrontation on the issue.

Currently, there are a number of states down in the U.S. who have legislated protection for religious groups to practice their faith without being forced to compromise their civil rights, personal faith and convictions.  To me this makes perfect sense. Even with the  writing of this blog I know I will be castigated as a”homophobe” or a “bigot” and an “intolerant” Christian pastor. But please know that nothing could be further from the truth. I ask simply for respectful dialogue and clear and respectful thinking on these issues.

I, as a Christian, simply adhere to a different authority, the authority of the God of the Bible. I choose to obey Him as He has directed my beliefs that are found in the Bible, as countless millions have done throughout the history of the world. And yet, today, there are those who say, that I should not be allowed to do this, or to even have the freedom to do that.  Well who, then, is being intolerant?

So, as a Baptist pastor, and one who is given the responsibility, opportunity and privelige to perform marriage ceremonies in the province of Ontario…I take each marriage ceremony very seriously. And so, as a matter of personal conviction, I cannot in good conscience formalize and bless a relationship that God has clearly forbidden. But the real issue at hand is…why are religious people or the the church considered to be the intolerant ones of the rights of gay people…but it is not considered intolerant of the Gay  and Lesbian (GLBQT) community to disagree with the position of the Church?

I honestly do not see any other way to pave over this issue and bring a harmonious resolution.  In almost every community there are churches who do provide those same services to the GLBTQ community that they are seeking. Why then are those of us who choose not to marry these individuals considered to be intolerant? Why is there a target of accusation on our backs? As nations, Canada and the United States were both founded upon the right to religious freedom…however that is expressed. This means that the Mormon has every right as the Baptist as the Unitarian and as the Jehovah Witness to practice their faith driven lifestyle as much as the Gay and Lesbian individual have the freedom to practice their chosen lifestyle. The GLBTQ individual does not agree with what I believe…and yet I do not accuse them of bigotry toward me and my commnity of faith. And at the same time,  I do not agree with what they believe…hence we have the beauty of religious freedom… the freedom to choose according to our own conscience.

The Biblical church will always have their belief system based upon the Bible which is their ultimate authority. You take that belief system away and you are subjugating their freedom to practice according to their conscience. What kind of a world will be the result?  The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms should protect those who choose to follow their authority of their faith. Be it the Bible, the Koran or any other standard of authority.  It is not intolerant, it is not racist or bigotted. It should be loving and yet disagreeing. In a civilized society there is nothing wrong with that.

This my dear friends is where I stand.

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“The Precious Blood of Jesus”

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1 Peter 1:18-19
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things…but with the precious blood of Christ…”
Some may consider this an unpopular subject. “Pastor David…we need sermons on morality, how to live upright, good feeling kind of sermons! Why would anyone consider speaking on “atonement”…the subject of a sacrifice covering sins? Why “the blood of Christ”? We know that without blood there can be no life in the body! So in case you were wondering, I am glad you asked! There are 427 references to the blood of Christin the Bible 30x in NT…22 sermons in Acts by 4 preachers all deal with the death & resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

So why do we sing about “the precious blood of Jesus Christ”? Why is blood so necessary?
Why do we have a preoccupation with blood and with what happened on the cross…are we morbid?  Do we have a sick fascination about death caused by an ancient form of execution?  We actually celebrate with reverence the precious blood of Jesus…we focus on this perfect sacrifice that was made on our behalf for our sin…here at the Lord’s Table. Not just the blood from the nails piercing the hands and feet…the crown of thorns that was forced onto His head…wounds from the stripes of the Roman scourge…and after He died the blood and water that spilled from His side…His precious blood was spilled for you and me. So…Why is the blood of Jesus Christ so precious?

Please keep in mind that the blood is a symbol of the perfect sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Leviticus 17:11  God said that “the wages of sin is death”…death is the judgement for sin…Jesus paid that price for us! Jesus shed His blood…He died…so that you and I might be forgiven.
So as we focus on the blood of Jesus…it is the perfect sacrifice for our sins…His death on Calvary.
What is it about His BLOOD that makes it so precious to you and to me?
1. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because… IT REDEEMS… (1 Peter 1:19)
The word “redeem” means many things today. We speak of people “redeeming themselves after failure.” They have done something to bring their reputation back in line with honesty and success. We use “redeem” to refer to a coupon that is given to a retailer in order for us to receive a discount.

But to really know what it means we need to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden…to the time of the Fall… when Adam and Eve sinned…and sin nature was passed on to all their descendants…sin brought corruption on all creation…so now all creation groans…this is called the “curse”. And as a result , all creation groans because of the curse…it is in bondage to sin.

But even in Eden, God promised there would be a “Deliverer”. In other words, One who would “pay the price” to deliver mankind from the curse of sin. (Genesis 3:15 “He will bruise your head and you will bruise Him on the heel.”) All Scripture (66 books) point us to the coming Deliverer/Redeemer. the Lord Jesus…the living Word of God. So in the 1st Century Peter, the apostle wrote to the dispersed believers reminding them: “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold…but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:19) When Peter wrote this “redemption” was well known…there over 60 million slaves in the Rome. They knew the reality of what was necessary for their freedom. A price had to be paid.

Many slaves had become believers in the Lord Jesus…they were now Christians and were part of local churches. They knew very well the word REDEMPTION. A slave in that day could purchase his freedom if he could collect enough money…or his master sell him to someone who would pay the price and set him free. Redemption was a precious thing in the first century.

So a working definition of “redeem” …means to…set free by paying a price. A slave could be set free with the payment of money…but be sure to…you and I are a slave/bondage to sin…What amount of money can purchase a sinner’s freedom? The answer? Only the precious blood of Jesus Christ can REDEEM us.

  • Galatians 3:13Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us…for it is written “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.””
  • Acts 20:28 Paul told pastors: “Shepherd the church of God…which He purchased with His own blood.”

Christ’s blood was the FULL PRICE of our redemption. He sets us free by paying the price for our freedom! Our freedom is paid for in full. Not only has He created…He has purchased/redeemed us back to Himself.

2. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because…IT CLEANSES
A second reason why the blood of Jesus is so precious…is because it CLEANSES! (PAST/PRESENT) Believe it or not, you and I actually need CLEANSING!…every one of us are sinners…we have sinned…we have broken God’s laws. We deserve death. Our hearts are stained with sin…therefore we need cleansing.How can we cleanse ourselves? Going to church, being religious, sticking up for the environment, NO. We cannot cleanse ourselves from sin. You can’t live a good enough life to cleanse yourself!

We can only be cleansed of our sin by the blood of Jesus Christ! When Jesus died on the cross…He took our sin upon Himself…He actually became sin for us…He died in our place.
And so, as a result, 1 John 1:7…the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from ALL sin.”
Revelation 1:5To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood…”
Isaiah 1:18Though your sins are as scarlet they shall be white as snow…”
Because of Jesus’ blood there is no spot on the believer, no wrinkle…His blood removes the stains of sin. What does this look like? The moment you believe in your heart that Jesus died to redeem you from sins bondage…that very moment your sins which were scarlet became white as snow. This is good news for all mankind! (Hebrews 9:11-14)
He allows us to stand before God accepted in the Beloved…In Jesus Christ.
By His death on the cross…Jesus takes away our GUILT by His blood on the cross…
But also the PRESENT aspect…God cleanses us every day. Every day we need cleansing…
Before I fall asleep I can rehearse and think about those things I have done wrong in the day and I confess them to God. I agree with Him they are sinful…so I ask His forgiveness…and He cleanses me right then and there. Then there are other times when I am reading His Word and I am confronted by my sinfulness and I repent and confess them…When I stop and see what a great price was paid for my forgiveness…I am overwhelmed…God cleanses me from my sin!

When we confess our sins to Him…we are agreeing with Him that they are wrong…God does a cleansing work in our hearts. CLEANSING AGENTS…He does this by His Spirit (John 16) and His Word. Keep in mind the next time you plan to sin…that you are going to sin against a faithful and loving God. Don’t take lightly the grace of God. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? Absolutely not How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1)(“Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit within me…” Psalm 51:10)
The blood of Jesus is precious because…it REDEEMS, CLEANSES and it also SAVES.

3. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because… IT SAVES
If we go back to the first Jewish Passover…the Jewish people as instructed by Moses took the blood of a spotless lamb and put it on the door posts and the lintels of their homes. So when the angel of death came to bring judgment on Egypt and secure their release…he would PASS OVER where the blood was spilt. The blood on the doorpost and lintels was all that was required!…NOTHING but the blood of the Lamb. They were saved from the God’s judgement on Egypt…destroying angel… passed over them, didn’t touch them! In the same way…God sees the blood of Jesus Christ shed on Calvary…and He passes over us…we are completely covered…we don’t get what our sin deserves. We are SAFE… saved… preserved from God’s wrath upon sin.
The Israelite on that fateful night was not partly saved…he was completely sLamb-on-a-rockaved. Exodus 12:13 God had said to them: “When I see the blood I will pass over you.”

Jesus is the Lamb of God…when God sees one who trusts in the blood…he is completely saved. We are saved only by the blood of Jesus Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation…

4. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because… IT SANCTIFIES
To “sanctify” = means to “set apart”…to “consecrate something as holy”… God has always required holiness. God had said: “Be holy as I am holy.” To fully understand this requirement…we need to go back to the Old Testament again…where the Jewish High Priest would take the blood of the sacrifices and sprinkle it on the instruments of the Temple…this was Ceremonial Cleansing…in the same way the Jewish priests were constantly washing themselves …to sanctify them…to set them apart for their holy ministry…

The same blood that redeems, cleanses, saves…sanctifies…also sets you and I apart to live holy lives.Through His perfect sacrifice upon the cross God …Jesus sanctifies you and I. Only Jesus can sanctify your heart…He cleanses your heart through the Spirit and the Word. Not sure who wrote this but it is true nonetheless: “There is no motive for holiness as great as that which flowed from the veins of Jesus.” Hebrews 10:19Therefore brethren having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus

5. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because…IT SATISFIES
God is holy…and a holy God…demands justice. You break the law…you pay the penalty for breaking the law. God sets the rules…and He says “the soul that sins will die…” “…the wages of sin is death.”
So how can we stand? How can anyone have hope? Again it is only because of the blood of Jesus Christ. 1 John 4:9-10In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Your standard dictionary says “propitiation” means to appease someone who is angry…if you apply that here you get the wrong idea…you get the picture…of an angry God who has to be appeased for all that you do wrong. God is angry at sin…because He is holy…but the Bible reassures us that He is also loving….and He does what is necessary to satisfy His wrath. So the word “propitiation” means “…the satisfying the wrath of a holy God…and His holy law.” Romans 5:9 “…having now been justified by His blood we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

6. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because…IT RECONCILES
When Adam and Eve sinned they basically declared war on God. But God did not declare war on them. Instead He provided continually ways for their sins to be covered. The Bible says apart from Christ we’re at war with God. Romans 8:7 “the carnal mind is enmity with God.” Man cannot negotiator bring any kind of peace…even if they are religious, moral, and upright living people. The only One who can reconcile God and man is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It was not Jesus becoming flesh that reconciles…His miracles didn’t reconcile, His example didn’t reconcile God and man…ONLY through His sacrificial death upon the cross that peace was made. Colossians 1:19-22 “For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

6. The Blood of Jesus Christ is Precious Because…...
In Revelation 12 there are believers who are experiencing great persecution for their faith. Revelation 12:11 “…they overcame Him by the blood of the Lamb….” They overcame Satan through the blood of the Lamb…in other words they knew in their hearts that nothing can rob them of their salvation which is in Jesus Christ alone. Believers in any age can rejoice…because the price that was paid is complete and victory is won! Satan has been defeated by the blood of Jesus Christ upon the cross! So it doesn’t matter what kind of opposition he throws at God’s people…the blood has already defeated that accuser of the brethren! Please remember that…He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus cannot know defeat. Trust its power!

The blood Redeems…Cleanses…Saves…Sanctifies…Satisfies…Reconciles and Overcomes. It never loses its effectiveness! Make sure dear reader… Are you trusting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by faith today? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Easter Bunny & Eggs…or Not?

easter-bunny.jpgWhat is my view of “EASTER EGGS” & the “EASTER BUNNY”…(So, of course, this is a personal opinion)

Someone once asked me this question, and it required an answer. Is it true that Easter eggs were “once used as part of a pagan celebration of fertility“? Maybe it was. I cannot really say for sure. I admit that I Googled it a few times in a weak and paltry effort to find some facts…and well, I found a lot of nonsense with no solid reference points. (Note #1 to reader: I happen to trust more of the written/spoken documents when there are a solid list of reputable, and accurate researched references attached at the end. Note #2 to reader: Use the bibliography it saves so much time and effort) In fact, what I did find in my “research“, was that most of the sources revolved around personal preferences, opinions and personal beefs (that is not a typo…I really did mean “beefs“…people upset with people and so they slam what they do and believe)  and they cannot truly say for sure just exactly where the origin of such practices stemmed.

All I do know is that one weekend a year little children love to run through their home, or maybe outside in their community, like here in Burford…looking for chocolate mini eggs…because their mom and dad have lovingly and carefully placed them throughout…looking to put a brief moment of joy in the little hearts of their children.

As a pastor of a local church, should I or should we speak against it? Ban it? Walk out on it? Get our little baptist hairs on end because of it? Quite frankly, there are greater concerns in this world’s popular culture that I would be more concerned with than with cute little bunnies with baskets and chocolate Easter eggs.

Then again, if we do ban it, and speak against it…then we should in fact probably be aware that there would be a grievous double standard. So we should be prepared to follow through with eliminating all vestiges (appearances) that smack of our surrounding culture that have all too quickly have become an interwoven part of the everyday local church. Alas, what might these things be? Things such as:

  • Our beautiful Piano…(After all…pianos are often used in lounges and bars for some half inebriated piano player to entertain more inebriated adult patrons. “Play me a song I’m the piano man…” comes to mind.)
  • Our Drum set…(After all…drums have been used in rock & roll bands that sing about hell and glorify all kinds of sin.)
  • Our Pews… (After all… even pews can remind us of pagan rituals…who also use wooden pews)
  • Our Songs…(Many songs should be forbidden because the tempo remind some of pagan tribal dance. Yes I have actually heard this one too)
  • Our Attire…(People dress up in suits and ties for their pagan work places…which we should not be associated with…then again they also dress down for work…another topic for another day.)
  • Our Christmas Tree…also once was used in pagan practices of seasonal festivities…and really has nothing to do with Scripture or with the Biblical Jesus…except that it is a tool to proclaim Him.

So how can we resolve/reconcile this in good faith and in solid truth and of course maintain a genuine love and acceptance for one other?
First of all, we must understand that God is sovereign. He is the One who has always chosen to use the weak and defiled and seemingly meaningless traditions to point people to Himself. He is known to use the weak and imperfect vessels for His own purposes…to point people to Himself. (See also: 1 Corinthians 1:27-28; Hebrews 7:28)

Secondly, it is pretty much assumed that Jesus was very faithful in observing the Jewish festivals. If He had not He would have had that accusation thrown at Him. Each of the Gospels record that Jesus attended the Passover. And I am sure that the Jewish festivals that Jesus Himself attended were not at all what they once were when they began…and yet Jesus was very faithful in observing and preserving a right focus, even if Jewish hierarchy had not. The one example of Him overturning the practice of popular culture was when His Father’s House, the Temple was not being used for the right purposes…it was being used for business practice rather than worship. Admittedly, this would be a very dangerous precedent. But the distribution of Easter eggs hardly compares to what was happening in the Temple. (See also: Matthew 26:17ff; Mark 11; Luke 22; John 2:13ff; 12:12ff)

Thirdly, we need to understand that these vestiges of popular culture are simply “tools” that God allows us to use to proclaim His excellencies! And if my Christmas tree, which every year is beautifully and carefully adorned with Christ exalting and meaningful emblems…which by the way it is (was)…if it can be used by my family to proclaim the beauty, the majesty and the redemptive purpose of the Christmas Season…well, so can Easter Eggs…and Easter hunts…Oh! And chocolate too.

To my beautiful community and church family…have a blessed Easter season…truly remembering the death, burial and the glorious resurrection of the Saviour of the world…and consuming your share of chocolate!

Your Marriage Matters!

Mingling

So it seems like everywhere you look…be it on the television or at the movies…marriage is almost a bygone word. Politicians and legislators have tried to redefine it and pop culture has tried to dismiss it or twist it. But someone needs to point out the obvious.

Your marriage matters! It is not a bygone word and nor is it a forgotten institution. God has blessed mankind with the obvious ability to relate with one another. Everywhere you turn you are in relationship. You relate with people. And for the most part…relationships actually work. In almost every context relationships between human kind is a beautiful thing. It is not necessarily based on dominance, it is not merely some animalistic grunting and groaning where only the strongest survive. But rather, God has created human relationships to be a beautiful thing. This beautiful thing can be traced back all the way to the Garden of Eden where we see a perfect human relationship between Adam and Eve as God originally designed it.

But that is where the trouble began. When Adam and Eve sinned against God, death and corruption entered their beautiful human harmonious relationship. Fighting, blame, accusations, insults hurts, use and even abuse sadly entered the human picture. And imperfect relationships, and marriages were the result. And so today, marriages suffer breakdown, the foundations that once held them stay together are now crumbling and deteriorating.

But this does not mean that marriage is meaningless and/or pointless. But rather, God, who designed the human relationship desires your marriage relationship to work by His grace. He wants to help your marriage last. He desires for you to know what His design is for love and marriage. There are a lot of voices that can be heard in today’s culture on the topic of love and marriage. But God’s Word, the Bible, has lasted far longer than any of them. And so instead of listening to a culture where the foundations of attraction, love, marriage and sex are rapidly eroding and twisting…God wants to share His perfect and lasting design with you.

Fellowship Baptist Church, Burford is hosting a two day Marriage Event called “The Mingling of Souls” (Yes…you got that right…the souls would be both you and your spouse) on Friday February 19 (7-10pm) and Saturday February 20 (9-Noon), 2016. Some of the topics that will be discussed frankly and matter of factly will help you understand all the stages of the human relationship we call marriage. You will probably laugh and you will probably cry…but for sure…you will be challenged as you discover God’s good design for love, sex, and marriage. For more information go to our website at http://www.fellowshipburford.com or contact Pastor David Virr at 519-449-5315 or email at fellowship.baptist@bellnet.ca

GIVE YOUR MARRIAGE A SOLID FOUNDATION!

“A Great Deliverer!”

In the grand narrative of the history of God’s people…as we see it unfolding in Exodus…the power of God is on display! If there is anything God’s people need to know is the fact that God is able to deliver them! When circumstances are too great and out of our own control…and back is against the proverbial wall…God is in control! Though His people have been in captivity in Egypt for 430 years…God has not forgotten them…nor has He forgotten His promises. In fact, since the beginning of the book God has been moving to fulfill His promise to make them a great nation. In order to do that…He would have to DELIVER them from the slavery in Egypt and take them toward the land of promise! LIFE IS A JOURNEY and God knows where it is going! The parallel for you and I is to see that we too are…ON A JOURNEY. Just as God had been faithfully working out the fulfillment of His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is doing and has done the same for you and me.

REMEMBER…In Exodus…the people of Israel had become so great in number that a new Pharaoh, one that did not know Joseph, had committed them to forced labor and ordered the killing of all the Hebrew baby boys. God protected one of those boys, Moses, allowed him to be raised for 40 years in Pharaoh’s house, and then sent him to the wilderness for another 40 years to prepare him for his God-assigned task of leading God’s people out of the land of Egypt. God called Moses…He commissioned Moses out of the burning bush to lead His people. From Exodus 5-11 there have been signs & plagues…God orchestrated events to get Pharaoh’s attention. To ultimately demonstrate to Pharaoh, and Egypt and all of God’s people for every generation…that He is the One in control. He is the One who is orchestrating these events. The One to deliver! We come to Exodus 12. A point of new beginning…the dawning of a new day…the beginning of a new life!

1. GOD IS ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING MOMENTOUS…v.1-4
When we look at the signs and plagues in the preceding chapters…Aaron’s rod turning into a serpent then devouring the rods of Egypt’s sorcerers, the water turning to blood, the lice and the flies, then the livestock dying, boils, hail and locusts and then darkness…all significant displays of God’s power. But now there is evidence that He is going to do something even bigger…momentous…look at v.1-2.

“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:1

God changes the calendar year for them to remember what He has done! This is a starting point! It is interesting to note that the different cultures of the day had varying starts to the New Year. Some began the year in the fall others began in the spring…the Canaanite cultures typically had fall starts to the year. So it could be that God really wanted to set His people apart from who they would

The Jewish people in OT would have two calendars…a CIVIL calendar beginning in our September and a RELIGIOUS calendar beginning in our March-April…
All of worship would come from this point of deliverance! Your worship too!
This is a pivotal moment in their history…it is the beginning of their religious calendar…they would look back to this event that God is going to do…it would be an important marker in their history! In other words, God is saying to His people…YOU ARE NEVER TO FORGET THIS!

How God’s people first became a people…begins with a lamb. Abraham and his son were journeying up Mt. Moriah to sacrifice to God. Abraham thought it was to be Isaac and Isaac wondered where the lamb to be sacrificed was.  Isaac asked “Where is the Lamb?” to which his father replied “God will provide a lamb.” And then centuries later, John the Baptist would point to Jesus and say: “Behold the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

We can be so forgetful of the Lamb. God is the source of everything about our lives. Every thing He has done for us points us back to Himself. The lamb is the centre-point of this chapter. No lamb, no Passover, no lamb means death. No lamb means no freedom, no lamb means no Promised Land. Never are we to forget what He has done to bring us freedom from sins bondage!

“No lamb means no passover, no lamb means death, no lamb means no freedom, no freedom means no Promised Land.

2. GOD DELIVERS ACCORDING TO HIS PLAN… (Exodus 12:5-11)
NOTE: the details of God’s plan…He gave them instructions on HOW He would deliver them. They were to follow the plan…they were not delivering themselves…they could not do whatever they wanted to deliver themselves…they had to follow the plan God set out for them. God was delivering them, and they were to follow/obey Him completely.

When we find ourselves in a difficult situation are we willing to follow God’s will rather than your own will? Will you trust His plan for your deliverance!  Will we trust Him to do what is right? Even if we do not understand His ways and His timing?

Here is the PLAN (Exodus 12:3-11) : A lamb would be chosen. That lamb would be without blemish…no spots, defects, or disease, just a perfect little lamb. This lamb will be kept till the 14th day of the month and then it will be killed at twilight. The blood of the lamb was then put on the the doorposts and the lintel of the house. This would be known as the Feast of Passover. “The Lord’s Passover” celebrated every year as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and deliverance from bondage and slavery. NEVER FORGETTING!

3. GOD DELIVERS FROM SLAVERY AND DEATH… (Exodus 12:12-13)
In Exodus 12:12-13 God tells them exactly how this sacrificial lamb would deliver the people. Note: no one is exempt…all are to be judged. “All the firstborn” = every Egyptian, Hebrew, man and animal. Yahweh, the one true God, the God of Israel, was bringing judgment upon the land of Egypt. Everyone in Egypt, Israelites and Egyptians alike, was guilty of sin against the true God. Romans 3:23 His coming judgment would be swift and severe. ALL HAVE SINNED! Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

Want to be delivered? The only way to avoid God’s judgment was faith in Yahweh that resulted in obedience to His substitutionary plan. THEY HAD TO TRUST GOD’S SUBSTITUTIONARY PLAN! The Israelites had to follow God’s directions completely, the key step being the application of the blood to the doorposts of their houses. It was not the blood of the animal that saved the Israelites  (See: Hebrews 9:12-13; 10:4The blood on the doorposts showed that the people had accepted God’s plan for rescue and trust in His word. After all, the sight of dried blood by itself had no power to deter death. It was only as the dried blood painted on the top and sides of the door was a testimony to the faith of the inhabitants in Yahweh that it had its efficacy. Thus the statement, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you‘ i.e. God was saying: “I will spare all those who show that they have placed their faith in me.”

The thing that brought deliverance to the children of Israel was FAITH in their one, true, covenant-keeping God, and obedience to His command to apply the blood of the substitute (goat/lamb) to the doorposts of their houses. As we also see in these verses, God was distinguishing Himself from the false gods of the Egyptians. Israel’s faith was in the true God.

NOTE: This was not the people saving themselves…this was God’s plan. The power to execute the plan was God’s power. The result of God’s deliverance could only take place as He would bring it about. The people had simply to obey Him from a heart of faith.

4. GOD RECEIVES THE GLORY FOR HIS GREAT DELIVERANCE! Exodus 12:14, 17, 24-27
This day would be memorialized! God delivered His people out of Egypt…word travelled! The Red Sea deliverance ….all of this is a testimony of God’s mighty power went throughout the lands.  Just read about what Rahab would later have to testify in Jericho (Joshua 2:10). God gets the glory!

SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU AND I?
We are just like the Hebrew people in bondage in Egypt…we are in bondage to sin and death…all of us, there is none righteous no not one. We are stuck in our trespasses and sins.  We all have a natural inclination to sin. And it it that sin that separates us from God…and as a result we face His wrath!

But then God did something momentous…something that we will never forget! Jesus is the perfect sinless spotless Lamb of God 2 Cor. 5:21 “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” Being the Lamb of God…His blood was shed to cover your sin! To deliver you from God’s wrath! Ephesians 2:3 “…by nature were children of wrath”
God receives glory through our lives as evidence of His salvation is seen and declared to others.

Have you received God’s deliverance…salvation…through the blood of His Son, the spotless Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ? Do others see evidence of the power of the one, true God in your life as you walk in faith, surrender and obedience to Him?

Do You Believe in the Virgin Birth?

Larry King, the retired CNN talk show host, was once asked who he would most want to interview if he could choose anyone from all of history. He said, “Jesus Christ.” The questioner said, “And what would you like to ask Him?” King replied, “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” (RZIM)

The world laughs at the virgin birth. Many think of it as some kind of weird, medieval superstition held by Christians. Sadly, fewer and fewer people, including professing Christians believe in the virgin birth…they doubt it or deny it, trying to explain it away as incidental, or not important.  There are even some pastor’s who say they may not deny the virgin birth…they just can’t teach it.

When you think about it…IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE in the virgin birth, you have some PROBLEMS that you are going to have to resolve:

  • It would mean Mary is a liar…her character is questionable…and there would eventually be proof…and why would God or Mary for that reason cover up the truth for so long?
  • It would mean her son Jesus must have had a human father, maybe it was Joseph or maybe not…
  • If Jesus had not been born of a virgin, that would mean he too would have had the same human propensity to sin that you and I have
  • It would also mean that the Word of God is flawed, because it plainly teaches it prophesied about centuries before! “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…Isaiah 7:14

In other words…if there is no virgin birth…no deity. No deity…no sinless life. No sinless life…no sacrificial death. No sacrificial death…no salvation. No salvation…you and I are not going to heaven…we are on our way to  hell. Jesus came to earth that we might go to heaven; born of a virgin that we might be born again! If you remove the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, there is nothing else in the Bible that is trustworthy and you destroy the foundation of Christianity. It is not incidental. It is fundamental to your faith!

1. Accept the Fact….THE VIRGIN BIRTH IS A MYSTERY!
Do not be afraid of “mystery” in the Bible. In your faith, biblical worldview…mystery is a part of faith. Deuteronomy 29:29The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things revealed belong to us
In Luke 1:26ff the angel announced to Mary that she is going to be with child. Now, Mary is a virgin…so Gabriel says, “Mary, you’re going to have a baby.” She asked a very pertinent question v.34How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Huge! In other words, “How is this going to happen? This is a mystery to me. I don’t get it.” We too would ask the same question.
Gabriel responds to her question Luke 1:35ffFor with God nothing shall be impossible.”

How did Mary respond? v.38Let it be to me according to your word.” She accepted the word and surrendered to it. Now did Mary “get it” completely? Probably not…but the virgin birth does not depend upon on our understanding in order for it to be true! You don’t have to understand it to validate it. There are a lot of things that we don’t understand…it doesn’t make them not true or impossible.
But some will say, “It’s biologically impossible!” But remember… “With God nothing will be impossible.” Here’s the thing…God, the Creator/Sustainer of all things is not bound by the very laws He Himself made. He is the Master and the Lord of that universe. That means…God can do anything He pleases! Why? Because He is God.

So if I believe in Genesis 1…the God who creates something out of nothing I should also be able to believe that He can make something impossible happen! Therefore I have no difficulty with the virgin birth if I believe in creation. It may be a mystery to you and me…but it is not a mystery to God. I think it was still a mystery for Mary Luke 1:38.

  • 1 Timothy 3:16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh….”

That’s what the virgin birth is all about. “…God revealed in the flesh…

Don’t worry if you can’t explain the virgin birth…Great is the mystery of godliness. We say with Mary: “How can this be”. And we can say with the angel: “With God all things are possible.”  If you have difficulty believing the virgin birth…your God is too small. Your god is in a box and he is not the God of the Bible!

2. Accept the Fact…THE VIRGIN BIRTH IS A NECESSITY…
Why is the Virgin Birth necessary? First some background…God created Adam and Eve, placed them in the Garden…instructed them they could eat of any tree except one. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The devil tempted them and so they ate…lost their sinlessness, sin entered the world through them. And death entered too…the “wages of sin is death.” The Bible then calls every person “sons/daughters of Adam”.
Now please follow this…IF Jesus was born of a woman and a man…he too would be a “son of Adam” …just like you and I. Born of a man born of a woman and that would make him  a sinner with the same propensity to sin…just like his mother and father. And if we are all honest with ourselves this morning we would recognize that we too are sinners…we are sinners by CHOICE, by PRACTICE, by NATURE…

So, to restore what was lost…God’s plan of salvation involved a perfect sacrifice to pay for the sins of all mankind…not through some animal or some super human. The sacrifice must be perfect, sinless and acceptable. So. He, the Creator, chose to take the punishment for His creation…upon Himself. So He sent His Son the Lord Jesus to earth to be that perfect, holy and acceptable sacrifice. In the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the “second Adam” He would make right what the first Adam got wrong. See Romans 5:12-21 This perfect sacrifice must pay the penalty for sin! “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” The price for sin must be paid. And because God is Spirit…He had to become like us, a Man, to pay that price. If Jesus had been born naturally like you and I He would have been a son of Adam, guilty of sin Himself…and as a result He could not have been a perfect substitute.

That is why Jesus came…BORN OF A VIRGIN. So…if there is no virgin birth there is no salvation. Jesus would not be sinless had He been born of a man and woman. In order for sin to be paid for…a perfect/sinless sacrifice had to be made. Perfect blood! Jesus was the perfect God-Man!
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” that we might be saved. Therefore, God’s answer is a sinless man, a perfect man, the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, someone who was both truly human and fully sinless.

That’s why if…no virgin birth…there is no hope of heaven. Jesus came born of a virgin, in order to be sinless. so He could do be our substitute! He died in our place to atone for our sin. So that we might be born again and go to heaven. No sinless sacrifice, no atonement; no atonement, no new birth; no new birth, no hope of heaven. He became the Son of man so that we might become the sons and daughters of God. That’s what it’s all about. That is why we have the virgin birth.

  • The fact is that Jesus, is the Son of God born of a woman..God in human flesh. He is the God-Man…fully God fully Man. He is the only One qualified to pay for our sin. This is the GOOD NEWS of Christmas!

Who is this baby born of a virgin? He is God in human flesh. “…the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of His person and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He Himself had purged our sins…sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”Hebrews 1:3

Why the virgin birth? He came to earth that we might go to heaven. The whole purpose is wrapped up in the substitutionary death. You see, Isaiah 53:6All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned every one, to his own way; and the Lord has las on Him [on Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” You are a sinner. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” We are destined/doomed to eternity without Christ if something is not done about your sin? God will never overlook sin. So “...the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” All of our sins are laid on the sinless, virgin born Jesus…who had no taint of sin, no blame…the sinless Jesus carried all of our sin to the cross, and in agony and blood He died upon that cross to pay for our sin. Because our sin is on Jesus, thank God, His righteousness is on us. That’s good news. And the Bible says it simply,

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” 

“The King of Grace”

Matthew 1:1-17behold-your-king

I have heard it said that when writing a book you want to catch the reader in the first few lines.  Most books have that line that grabs the readers imaginations or else they put it down and may never read it.  But Matthew, under the inspiration of God chooses to start his book of the Christ…with a genealogy!

Many Bible readers generally skip over genealogies…you know the seemingly endless list of names, often difficult to pronounce and seemingly unimportant names of people who lived long, long ago…But for Matthew, the Gospel writer, it was vitally important. His sole desire throughout his gospel record was to point to Jesus as the rightful King.

If someone is going to be a king their royalty will depend on their royal lineage. They must be able to prove their right to the throne. This lineage that Matthew begins with…shows the kingly line of Jesus Christ.

As a genealogy…it shows that Jesus Christ is an actual part of human history….no one can question this fact. But it also shows that all of Jewish history from Abraham was preparing for His birth…God in His divine providence ruled and overruled time and time again to accomplish His great purpose…in bringing His Son into the world.
Someone has referred to this section as “The Skeletons in God’s Closet” Because it ain’t pretty! From Matthew’s listing…we see God’s beautiful hand of grace! Jesus was sent by a God of grace to be a King of grace! He was not going to be a rock star king! Nor a king of the law nor a king of iron force…but instead a King of Grace! His royal credentials speak of royal grace! And the people He chose to be His ancestral line…reveal the wonder of His grace!..Let me tell you today…this gives me hope…in fact it gives hope to every sinner!

GOD in His Grace PROVIDED A KING…through a line…I WOULD NOT HAVE CHOSEN…
I must confess through my idealistic eyes…I would not have chosen many  on this list. But God did! Just for a moment follow along in Matthew 1:1-17 and pick out some of the well known names. These people were known for  unfaithfulness, immorality, idolatry and apostasy (walking away from God)…and yet God deals with them by grace.

Abrahamwas a liar…and Isaac learned real well from his daddy and was a liar too…and the apple did not fall far from the tree because Jacob…was a schemer and a cheat and a swindler. Judah…While Joseph was resisting temptation and living a blessed and holy life in Egypt, Judah was hanging out with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who was disguised as a prostitute and he had relations with her and got her pregnant. So their son Perez was illegitimate…born out of immorality. Goodness gracious…look al three are included as part of Jesus’ ancestors! Wow! Do you see where we’re going here?

Now, they weren’t all bad guys. Boaz was a very honourable man even though he married a Moabite woman who the Jewish Law forbid him to marry.  Some of the kings were pretty good…David was a man after God’s own heart, but if truth be told…he was a murderer and he did commit adultery with Bathsheba who is also noted here in Jesus’ lineage.

And we may say with our self righteous judgement…it’s just not the lineage that I would have chosen. I would have chosen…you know pretty people. The best and the brightest. People who look good on a royal resume.  Kind of like when Israel chose Saul to be the first king of Israel. They chose him because he looked like a king!  He was handsome and stood head and shoulders above the rest. All in all he looked  like a king. But make note… Israel chose him to be king…God didn’t.  God instead chose David. A little ruddy shepherd boy that wasn’t even worth bringing in from the field to see the prophet. But doesn’t that show God’s goodness and mercy?

Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t just choose the best and the brightest?
He chooses to work through the weak, imperfect things of this world that we might see His grace/strength. God’s glory shines through this motley group of people…that’s the way that God works. People who were in no way qualified to be in the human lineage of the Son of God…

LESSON #1 God’s Choice is Not My Choice…
God’s ways are higher…than my ways…(Isaiah 55:8-9) you and I may look at the exterior…and maybe we are quick to make a judgement…but God is the One who looks at the heart…God is the One who looks at the heart He is the Potter who makes His vessel the instrument of His grace!

LESSON #2…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Work Through Imperfect People…
Jacob is a great example. Known for his deceitful scheming, yet it is through Jacob that God would lead and sovereignly rule and overrule in his life to bring him to the point of submitting to God.
Just look at all the imperfect examples of faith full believers in Hebrews 11…
LESSON #3…GOD in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Weak Things of the World…
All of these men listed were sinful and often known for some kind of weakness or unfaithfulness But God was continually faithful to them…and His grace was always with them, even when they were in trouble or even in times when God was rebuking them. (See: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
LESSON #4…God in His Grace…Chooses to Use the Outcast…
Tamar…(v.3) In Genesis 38  Tamar, the recently widowed daughter in law of Judah, acted as a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law Judah into making her pregnant so that she could continue the line of her husband. Despite her prostitution and the incest…God’s grace fell on her and her son to be born as well as Judah.
Rahab…(v.5) In Joshua 2 also was a prostitute and a Gentile, a foreigner, living in Jericho. But she, in faith courageously rescued the 2 Hebrew spies. Not sure how she came to faith but somehow she knew about God and His people. By faith she knew she had better intervene on behalf of her family. She would marry Salmon and become the mother of Boaz, who would become king David’s great grandfather.
Ruth…(v.5) – She too was another foreigner, a Moabite and was under the Old Testament curse against Moabites found in Deuteronomy 23:3No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever”. She was a descendent of the incestuous Lot. But we love Ruth. Her story of faith and commitment God has resounded for generations!
Bathsheba…(v.6) was the woman involved in David’s scandalous affair and cover-up. She would become the mother of the next king, Solomon.
So as you can see in this list you have some great people…but you have people with a scandalous past. You have men, women, adulterers, prostitutes, heroes, and Gentiles. And Jesus is the Saviour of them all. “Right from the start, Matthew is telling us that Jesus is immersed in the grit and the grime of fallen humanity…” To the world Jesus’ way seems foolish…but to those who are being saved it is the power of God! (1 Corinthians 1)

So what? God in His grace…took a lineage of broken, sinful, imperfect people and outcasts and used them for His purposes and His glory. He can do the same thing with us today. He can take worthless broken vessels like you and me and cleanse us with His blood and fill us with His presence and use us for His purposes and for His glory. No matter who you are, people like you are already part of Jesus’ story. Right from the start, God chooses the most sinful, broken, and unlikely people – people like you and me. (See Matthew 9:13) Tell me Matthew didn’t have this foremost in his heart  as he walked with his Master and listened to Him speak and reach the last of people!
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSE1. AWE-Some wonder…this is our Jesus!  The King of Grace! It makes me want to sing of His grace…His love and mercy!
2. KNOW that God includes you and me…the fact that God uses these imperfect, weak people reminds you and I that God will take us and use us for His own purposes. Jesus Christ is the friend of sinners who did not come to call the righteous but sinners…to call the Zaccheus’ the Simon Peter’s, James’ and John. Reflected in His choice of disciples! JESUS CHRIST IS THE KING OF GRACE!