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FEAR and fears-Part 9

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The Fear of Broken Relationships

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SKU: 16-05 Category: Date: 2/8/2016 Scripture: Luke 12:49-53 Tags: , , , , , , ,
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While one day all pain and problems will be behind us, for now we must draw strength from God’s family as we endure the sting of strained and fractured relationships that are inevitable because of our alliance with Christ.

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16-05 Fear and Fears-Part 9

Fear and Fears – Part 9
The Fear of Broken Relationships
Luke 12:49-53

We are in cold season are we not? Some of you I’m sure working through that, if you are perceptive in my preaching here in the past month or so you probably heard I was trying to work through that congested head cold. And I got to admit it was painful this time. I was able to make my preaching post, I missed a lot of appointments in between but I’ll tell you it was a miserable couple weeks for me. I mean nothing devastating but I was hating life going through a lot of boxes of Kleenex, I was quoting Psalm 103 to myself often which speaks of God’s benefits one of them being he’s going to get us through our illness, its forget none of his benefits who heals all your diseases. I was thinking God, now’s the time for that, can you…I gotta get back to work there’s stuff to do, I feel awful, I can’t even speak clearly I’m ready to be done with this. And it’s true what they say you don’t appreciate good health until you don’t have it and ah then you get over it. And it was great, I came out of it in like 3 or 4 days, and I was like, I feel good then every morning you wake up going, I feel good today, which lasts for about a week. You recognize how great it is to be done with feeling bad and I lived Psalm 103 at that point. God, I’m so thankful, bless the Lord Oh my soul. I don’t want to forget how good it is that you get me through even the stupid things like a head cold. I’m so grateful for that and I’m glad that’s behind me for this year. (1:35)

As I had that little experience I thought well that’s kind of a microcosm of what we’ll all experience one day when we get to the other side of this life and look back and you’re going to say, I’m glad that’s over. I mean that may not be what you view your life now; it may not be the way you were taught to view the Christian life. And I’m not saying we look at it as a disaster, its awful and it’s as bad as a head cold but I’m telling you the Bible is very clear between here and the kingdom there’s going to be this period of time that isn’t going to be marked with a lot of fantastically fun things. You know the famous verse that Jesus gave us as he told his disciples in this world you will have fun, remember that? Is that what he said to his disciples? No, in this world you will have tribulation. Oh, yeah, we’ll have moments of joy and all of that but you know the forecast for the present is a lot of tribulation. You know the next line? But take heart, I’ve overcome the world. (2:41)

See the point is to give you the forecast not to bum you out that you’re about to go into this season between here and the kingdom and it’s going to be a real pain. It’s that just know the forecast is coming so you can brace yourself for the inevitable symptoms, but take heart I’ve overcome the world. Now I know in Southern California forecasts aren’t all that important, but in other places, really important to know the forecast. I cannot prepare to get through the storm unless I know how bad the storm is going to be, know when it’s going to hit. So passages like the one I need to walk you through today, because we’re committed to going verse by verse and passage by passage through the Bible. I know you’re going to look at this a go; couldn’t we have skipped this part of the Bible? But the answer is no, because if you look at this as negative as it seems on the surface, if we don’t have this forecast in our mind in the middle of it, it’s going to happen, it’s going to be true, everything Jesus says is true here, if you don’t know it, if you don’t have it firmly in your mind, then you may have periods in your Christian life where you lose hope all together. And I hear Christians do this all the time. God, well if you, then and why this? Right? If you’re so good, if you’re so loving, if you care about me, if I’m your child then why all of this? So you gotta know this is coming and then you need to make sure this kind of hope keeps you from being despondent and distressed and downcast and all the rest of the bad “d” words in the dictionary, right? You don’t want to be all those things and God doesn’t want you either. He wants you to do this. Take heart, I’ve overcome the world. There’s a solution and it’s coming, but hang in there. Endure (4:22)

So with that in mind you can read this passage along with me if you haven’t turned there already, please do now. Luke chapter 12 verses 49 through 53. Only five verses because that’s all we can digest this morning because they’re hard verses. They’re hard because the topics seem very negative. And yet I hope by the time we’re done this morning there will be a sense of encouragement that you know what, this is good that we know this, this is good that we anticipate this and even to reflect pastorally on how we can respond to these realities with hope. (4:53)

Let’s start in verse 49. Jesus says, these are red letters, right, if you have a red letter Bible. Jesus says here, “I came to cast fire on the earth” We’re already off to a bad start here are we not? Cast fire on the earth? Doesn’t sound good, and not only that it gets worse, bottom of verse 49. “And would that it were already kindled!” I came to cast fire and man I wish it were blazing right now. That’s not on any of our greeting cards in the bookstore, this verse. No one, you know, knits this in some wall hanging, there’s no posters that, you know, at Christian.com with this verse because it’s negative. And if you read it that way, you’ve read it properly, even though some commentators will tell you some how, they’ll do some fancy footwork and say maybe that’s a positive thing. And then he says this, “I have a baptism to be baptized with”. And I got more confusion, well what is that? Didn’t he get baptized by John the Baptist? Is this water baptism, is this Jordan River, is this salvation, what is he talking about? Well, whatever it is the bottom of verse 50 says, “How great is my distress until it is accomplished!” I gotta do this thing and it’s coming up and I’m distressed until it’s over. If that weren’t bad enough now he says, “Hey, do you think I’ve come to give peace on the earth?” Well, I thought so. “No, I tell you, but rather division.” Peace, now we must be talking about relationships and am I going to improve your relationships here on earth? And the answer here is no, I’m going to cause a wedge to be driven between you and people. Well, not my family because I know that Christianity equals family friendly, right? Family radio, Focus on the Family. Verse 52, “from now on in one household there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” And if you’re not keeping track, that spells five people, right? You’ve got a mother, father, a son, a daughter and a daughter-in-law married to the son. Maybe she’s the problem, right, in all this, why there’s so much trouble in the family. But no, apparently not, two against three, three against two, this has to do with the division that Christ is bringing to this family. So in short, Christ wants to burn the earth, you’re not going to have peace and your family is going to be in chaos. Let’s pray. I mean, can you imagine being me this week? Right, I got to come to preach on Super Bowl Sunday with a passage like that? Go enjoy your football game. This is a hard text. But you know what? These things are important for us to catch. Jesus isn’t wasting words on us. He wants to make sure we understand the reality of what it means to be a follower of Christ. (7:51)

Here are some things that he says that are distressing for me. Now let’s start with those two verses, verses 49 and 50 and untangle a few of these things. By the way, I’m mentioned some commentators will want to make you think that fire is a good thing. Yes, there are passages where fire is an analogy or an example that’s used in a good context, right? Fire of the spirit, fire of holiness, fire of the cherubim and seraphim, I mean I understand that, but there is no way in the world you’re going to go from Genesis to Revelation and find fire being cast on earth, being rained on earth, being brought on earth and say well that’s a good thing. That’s not a good thing. Matter of fact the first time we see it are with two really cool cities named Sodom and Gomorrah, remember those two places? Was that a good thing? Was that raining the Spirit down on those people because they were having great times reading and studying their Bible? No, this was bad. I mean you can just look through the Bible every time fire is cast on earth or fire is brought down on earth that these are bad, these are signs of God’s judgment. So, now take the analogy out of it. I came to judge the earth and would that I already judged it. Wow, why is he so anxious to judge the earth? And then it says, I have a baptism to be baptized with. Well, let’s deal with that in a minute. Let’s start with this, we know this is negative and whatever the next thing, it’s distressing to him, so why is he wanting all this to happen? Okay, we’re going to jot this first point down in a minute, but before you jot it down could you jot down this reference underneath that first point? Daniel chapter 9 verses 24 and following. But all I want to do is read the first verse, 24, you don’t need to turn there but let me give it to you real quickly. If you know your Bibles and you’ve ever read a book on prophesy surely you’re familiar with the ninth chapter of Daniel. Because in Daniel chapter 9 God gives a prophesy to Daniel, his people, the Jewish people and his holy city, the city of Jerusalem, and he lays out a prophetic calendar that is seventy sevens long. And we take it to mean because it makes sense and it fits perfectly that it’s seventy sets of seven years. And those seventy sets of seven years if you look at them and you read through that passage you’ll see it’s marked by a lot of bad things. A lot of bad things, negative, opposition, some body who does terrible, a lot of trampling down, it’s just not good, but it starts this way. Let me just read it for you. (10:09)

First four things on the list, seventy weeks are decreed for you and your holy city. Two – here’s the purpose clause – number one, to finish the transgression, put an end to sin, to atone for iniquity, and to bring in an everlasting righteousness. Question, does that sound like a good thing? Absolutely. I would like there to be no more transgression. I would love sin to be behind us. I would love for our sins that we have committed, our iniquities to be atoned for and it would be great to have an ushering in of an everlasting and forever kind of righteousness where we don’t have the problem of sin anymore. We don’t have a problem with sin, you don’t have tears, you don’t have crying you don’t have morning, you don’t have death. That’s sounds good, that sounds like Revelation chapter 21 and 22. Sounds great, let’s have that. The problem is that it spells out the prophetic calendar just like in the book of Revelation. You start reading from Revelation chapter 7 through chapter 20 you realize we got a lot of bad things coming and guess what? A lot of it is depicted by the word fire. As a matter of fact we often quote and we did recently in our series, Revelation chapter 21 where we got excited about this new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells and out from this new heaven comes a city prepared for the people of God. A fifteen hundred miles by fifteen hundred miles by fifteen hundred miles. It comes down out of heaven something from here to Houston, Houston to the Canadian border. This gigantic city this urban setting and it comes down beautiful with out sin, without reference to any decay like a bride adorned for her husband, coming down some processional down the middle aisle of some church. And God says, “Here is my gift to you, a perfect place where righteousness dwells. Well that’s how Revelation chapter 21 verse 1 starts. But at the end of Revelation chapter 20 the verses that proceed that our minds often don’t see the context because we put a big division there when we start a new chapter is all about fire. It’s about the fact that ultimately all the dead will be raised brought up before the great white throne of God, he will judge them and then it says and cast them, after a judicial measured kind of response to their sins, he will cast them into the lake of fire. Everyone who’s name is not written in the Book of Life. (12;25)

So before the end of sin, before the everlasting righteousness, before we have all the issues of transgression and sin done away with, you got to have the fire of judgment on those that are not repentant, you got to have that. And you think, still he seems pretty anxious to have this get going and that just doesn’t seem like the Jesus on my poster in my bedroom. That sounds like it doesn’t work for the kind of image I have of the gentle Jesus who loved us all. I’m assuming that you are for yourself, for your body, you would like to have good experiences versus bad experiences. You’d like to have good things happen to you versus bad things, you’d rather have pleasurable experiences rather than painful experience, you’re a normal person you like that. But I’ll bet there’s been a time for many of you in this room where the doctor has diagnosed the problem and said to you the only way we’re going to fix your health is to put you under the knife and you’re going to have to have surgery. And in the distress that you have over the upcoming surgery date, and as you think about it, particularly if it’s your first surgery, you’ve never been under, you’ve never had to have your body cut open and you have it on the counter, and maybe some of you right now have surgeries scheduled and it’s giving you some anxiety. I’ll bet at some point, leading up to that surgery you’ve said, “Let’s just get it over with. I just wish that it were today and we could just be done.” See, this is the picture, not that God enjoys meting out his justice on lost people. It’s not that he says I came here to judge sinners and I just wish we were doing it now because I really want to torch some sinners today. Jesus is saying this is a terrible and dreadful reality that sinners who are unrepentant do not have the atonement that I offer them and you know what, they’re going to be there one day facing the judgment, I wish it were already, I wish it were that day now. So it’s no more strange than you wanting your body cut open sooner rather than later, because it would be good to get it over with. Why? Because I know what’s on the other side. Now finally I’m ready to have you jot the first point down. Number 1, it would be good for us to do what Jesus is doing here, and that is he’s anticipating the end of sin. (14:34)

1. Anticipate the End of Sin

Now, we’ve dealt with that in our series but I want you to think about it in light of what comes between now and then. And that is, not that you’re going to say I can’t wait for the non-Christians in my life to be torched at the Great White Throne, no, but you know what? The things I hope for in Revelation 21 and 22 they cannot happen until God finishes this judgment. Now by the way, before we leave verse 49, you may be saying, “Well, I don’t know if I buy that interpretation because it says, “I came to cast fire on the earth” and it seems like he came and he left and he didn’t do that”. No, that’s true, but understand the pattern we’ve already seen in the book of Luke. Matter fact jot this down if you would, Luke chapter 3, make sure you understand this connection, verses 16 and 17. Luke chapter 3 that’s the passage where John the Baptist makes that famous statement there’s one coming after me who’s sandal I’m not worthy to untie. And he says this, he’s going to come to put both of our metaphors in here, to baptize you – here’s group number one – with the Holy Spirit – that sounds like a good thing – and with fire. And when I taught that passage to you, many moons ago, I said to you, listen there’s no way to make that a positive thing though many commentators try to make it a positive thing because even that verse division makes us see that segmented from the next statement is. And that is this, in verse 17; his winnowing fork is in his hand. He’s going to come, time for harvest, to clear the threshing floor, to gather the wheat into his barn and take the chaff and burn it with unquenchable fire. So, he’s going to come, he’s going to deal with people and he’s going to separate the chaff from the wheat. He’s going to have to take the sheep and separate them from the goats. He’s going to take his people that are penitent and trusting in forgiveness that’s provided in Christ and take those who reject it and divide them into two groups. Now, John talked about Jesus coming to do that as though that were all going to happen in his first coming. Did it all happen in his first coming? No, as a matter a fact, John was so confused about that when he got put in prison. He had to send envoys to Jesus to say, “Are you even the Messiah?” Do you remember that? Wasn’t that a head scratcher? Why is he asking that? Because he wasn’t seeing the judgment side of the first coming. Jesus makes clear I’m coming the first time to atone for iniquity, I’ll come back a second time to deal with sin. In the mean time it’s a chance of grace. It’s an opportunity of grace to find people encountering the guilt of their sin, repenting and getting the solution to their sin that he’s about to talk about in verse 50. Important for us to recognize this, if you want a passage on this you can jot it down, 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verses 6 through 8 and in this passage it makes very clear that the coming of judgment with fire when Christ comes it’s not the first coming it’s the second coming. By the time Paul writes 2 Thessalonians of course Jesus has already died, resurrected and ascended. And then he says he’s coming again and when he comes he’ll come in flaming fire. So the fire reference here is to the judgment of the lost. He’s not excited about accelerating that because we learned he wants to delay that only for the sake of getting people to the place of repentance so they don’t have to encounter his wrath. But as we think about his coming, one of the things he had to do was, punish sinners, hasn’t happened yet. Then he says this, well, there is something in the first coming that he does accomplish and that’s in verse 50. (18:07)

Luke chapter 12 verse 50, I have a baptism to be baptized with and how great is my distress until it is accomplished. Is this the verse for people nervous about baptism in a church service? This is the verse, I’m nervous about getting, he was nervous about giving his testimony, no. What baptism are we talking about? Baptism in water, in the Jordan river, by John the Baptist? Of course not, that happened years ago. Well, at this point he’s talking about another baptism that he refers to elsewhere if you’re a copious note taker you might want to jot it down, Mark chapter 10 verse 38 when James and John, comes with the mother and says, “Jesus will you let my boys sit one at your right hand and one at your left?” And Jesus said, “Sure, that’s great.” No, he said what? He asked them a question, are you able to drink the cup that I’m going to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism that I’m going to undergo? And then he said listen I’m not even going to discuss this with you now. The Father is working this out the path that some people are going to pay a serious price to have that place of honor in the kingdom so it’s not for you to figure this out, it’s not for you now, but he makes the connection that he’s going to have to drink a bitter cup and be baptized with a distressing baptism and of course that was made clear when he goes to the garden and he prays to his Father let this cup pass from me. So the cup is clearly his crucifixion. The baptism is clearly in that context, tying those two passages together, is clearly his crucifixion. (19:38)

So he says there’s two things that have to happen if I’m going to put an end to sin, I’m going to wrap-up transgression, and I’m going to bring in an everlasting righteousness. There’s going to have to be the judgment of the lost, and there’s gonna have to have the judgment of the sins of those who are repentant, how’s that going to happen? Well here’s the picture of the cross right here, verse 50. The baptism he has to undergo is dealing with sin, only this time it’s not judging the lost it’s having the Father judge the saved as though he were the lost. That’s the substitutionary atonement of Christ. He atones for our sins by taking our place, the Father than pours out his just wrath, his righteous anger at sin on Jesus on a cross so that your sin and my sin would not have to be punished by us. We wouldn’t have to incur that penalty. Christ would take our place and die and suffer in our place. That picture is something here he says, “I’m distressed until it’s over, till it’s accomplished.” I thought he loved us so much that he lay down his life for us. Well, he did, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t distressing sacrifice, of course it was. I hope you see in verses 49 and 50 the way that sin is dealt with. It’s dealt with in only one of two ways, either your neighbor who rejects Christ will pay for his sin himself or he’ll come to Christ, he’ll repent of his sins and Christ will pay for his sins for him. Either way, verses 49 and 50 are about the payment of sin, and he says it needs to be done with. It needs to be over with, the payment needs to be made and meted out, and I’m distressed until it happens. So the reality for Jesus here is I’m encouraging all of us to do. To look past the pain that we have to go through, for him it was the redemption of our sins, and looking past that to the prize. As Hebrews 12 says, he despised the current shame so that I can look ahead to when it’s over, and that’s a good perspective. Christians don’t have enough of it, partly because they’re trying to create some kind of kingdom experience now that makes them sense and feel as though hey there’s no pain, no problems there’s no relational conflicts, everything can be fine because Jesus loves me. Well, I realize that but even in Jesus’ love for us it wasn’t done without great pain and sacrifice. And he’s about to say it isn’t just me, it’s not just me that’s going to be distressed until sin is taken care of you’re going to be left living in a sinful world. Now look at verse 51. (22:07)

Thinking of your time on earth, I’m going to leave when I’m done with my time on earth, you’re going to be on earth, my disciples, and it is going to be rough. Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? And I’m thinking, I though so. I heard the bells on Christmas day, their old familiar carols play. Mild and sweet their songs repeat, what? Peace on earth, good will to men. So if my carolology is right, yes, you came to bring peace on earth and not only that good will to men and Coke-a-Cola and good times and Christmas tress and yes, unite, we are the world. I mean sure, that’s what you came to do, right? Well, he answers his question, no, I tell you, but rather division. Now, you’re going to throw a flag on this play and you’re going to say, see there, Bible’s got some problems, full of contradictions. Now 99.9 percent of the time when someone says the Bible is full of contradictions they have no clue what they’re talking about. But someone might say, “Well, wait a minute, where do those Christmas carols get that line?” And they’re going to say they get it from, Luke chapter 2 verse 14 when the angels showed up and they said, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to men.” Jesus did come to bring peace on earth it says it right there. Here he asks the rhetorical question, do you think I came to bring peace on earth, and he answers no. See the Bible is full of contradictions; I don’t know what to do with it. (23:47)

Well, I guess we go back to Luke chapter 2 and we figure out exactly what’s going on there. So turn in your Bibles to Luke chapter 2 verse 14. Luke chapter 2 verse 14. We’ll fill in the second point here in a second. We’re well into it, but let me hold off on having you write that down. Luke chapter 2 verse 14. Glory to God. Here’s the angels announcing the birth of Christ. Glory to God in the highest. Why are we so excited about the arrival of this baby? And on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! Now here’s a conspiracy we have because the carols don’t put it that way. And there’s someone here with their grandfather’s Bible that opens that up and says, “Hey, little fancy footwork there, a little tap dancing. You may have read that from your new-fangled Bible but that ain’t what my Bible says. My Bible says exactly what “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” says, and that is peace on earth goodwill to men.” (24:54)

Hey, I will confess to you, that’s true. If you have a King James Bible translated with large effect from the Geneva Bible, there’s another one that’ll say it, “peace on earth, good will to men”, certainly the 1611 King James. And you may say, “Well I don’t have an old antiquated Bible. I have a New King James here”, you’re right, New King James is going to update the language, you’re going to have another Bible that says, “peace on earth good will to men.” Jesus came to bring peace on earth, it says it right here. The problem is, in your English text here in the ESV or the NIV or the NASB or the ASB or the Net Bible or the CSV or CVS or whatever you’ve got. You’re going to say they changed it. I guess that’s the tricky conspiracy of them changing this because they don’t want there to be conflict in the Bible. That’s not the case at all. As a matter of fact what you’re translators do if you have an English Standard Version or any other modern, it isn’t because there’s a satanic conspiracy going on to change the Bible. What’s happening in this text is the translator is saying let’s look at all the manuscript evidence that we have, all these copies that were made from the original Greek New Testament manuscript that we do not have from Luke’s pen, what happen now in all these old manuscripts, that we have, what do we see and what you see is two different readings. The oldest in my contention clearly the obviously proper manuscript is going to have one teensy tiny little difference. And that little difference I put in a chart for you. I’m sorry it’s Sunday morning and we have charts. But that little chart for you in the second point that shows you that the difference is simply to transliterated it into our language, one little ‘s’, and if you know a little bit about Greek it’s a sigma which it’s the one letter we have with a distinctive ending and the time in which the manuscripts diverted it was a what we call a lunar sigma which sat above the line like a superscript that almost looked like a little comma, it wasn’t even the full sigma, it was something very small, it was the smallest of Greek characters. It’s like in Hebrew you’ve got the serifs and the yod, it’s like the yod it just a little tiny almost like a breathing mark. It was at the end of the phrase. Now I’ve transliterated it there for you.

Luke 2:14 epi ges eirene en anthropois eudokias
doxa en hypsistios theo kai on earth peace in people favored (adj.)
glory in the highest to God & epi ges eirene en anthropois eudokia
on earth peace in people favor (noun)

“Doxa” that’s glory, “en” in, “hypsistios” the highest, “theo” God, “kai” and. So we got, glory in the highest to God and. “Epi” on or upon, “ges” the earth, “eirene” peace, “en” in, “anthropois” the plural for mankind or people, and now the top line, “endokias” in the bottom there it was all the same until that word and now it’s “endokia”. Well we’re missing an ‘s’ there in the bottom in Greek we’re missing a lunar sigma sitting above the line. What’s the difference? Well, what are the boxes all about? Well, the boxes are that if you have a sigma at the end of “endokia” it’s really reading “endokias” then you have one phrase and the phrase talks about men and it qualifies it in our English text with an adjective. In other words, there’s peace coming to the earth to a certain group of people and those people are the people that are favored. If you have that sigma it makes it an adjetible noun in our language it makes it an adjective. It’s a genitive noun for you grammarians. The bottom one, if you take that sigma off, you now have two nominative nouns that create subject that have a sense of now two different phrases and that is, why are we praising God, why is there glory to God in the highest? Well, because he’s bringing peace to earth, everyone, and he’s bringing good will to men, to everyone. That little tiny sigma makes that difference. I can spend a lot of time on this but I don’t have time to spend a lot of time on this so on the back I gave you the sermon that I subtitled, “the case of the missing sigma” and you can go into that if you want more on that to show you why the proper reading of this text is the fact that there should be a sigma there and you don’t need to know textual criticism and you don’t need to know the Greek language which to know that. All you need to know is the Bible, because if the promise of the coming of Christ, his first coming, was to bring peace on earth and good will to men, well then Coke-a-cola commercials are correct, right? They would be right, but that’s not what he says because he clarifies it in Luke 12 verse number 51, I didn’t come to bring peace on the earth, I came to bring something that causes division. Now that sets us up for a forecast that’s bumpy. I put it this way, number 2, we need to expect a turbulent interim. (29:51)

2. Expect a Turbulent Interim

Until sin is put away with from now until we enter the kingdom we will have a lot of trouble. Now how do I know the sigma belongs there, well for a lot of reasons both interior to the text and exterior to the text but I don’t even get out of chapter 2 until I recognize he can’t mean what the Christmas carols say. Why? Drop down to Luke 2 if you still have that open. Drop down to verse 34. Here’s the promise from the very beginning when Mary was told what the angel said I guarantee you there was a sigma on “endokia” it was “endokias” why how do I know that? Because Mary is told by Simeon and under the inspiration of the Spirit this old man waiting for the Messiah to show up, he cradles the 8-day old Jesus in his arms, he takes this baby from Mary and Joseph and he says this prophetically to her. Verse 34, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for” – now watch the bifurcation of the people in Israel – “for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel,” – this starts a theme we see throughout the gospels. We have the fall and the rising, we have the chaff and the wheat, we have the goats and the sheep, we have the punished impenitent ones that end up receiving the fire of God and we have those that are forgiven and atoned for. We have the bifurcation; we have the falling and the rising of many in Israel. And what else is he? He is a sign that is opposed, a sign that is opposed. In other words, people see him rise up, he bifurcates people into two groups and then people look at him and they attack him. If you say, “Hey Mike, why don’t you come down to the pistol range with me, let’s go to On Target this afternoon, skip this whole football thing and you come shooting with me.” And I say, “Okay, let’s do that.” So we go down, you pull out all your hardware, lay out all your guns there and you put that little target there on that clip, you hit the button and it goes [sound effect] “zzzz” out there. And you say, “Alright Mike, I got all my buddies here, we’re going to shoot that target, are you ready? Well, before we do, why don’t you go out there and stand by the target?” No. No, I don’t just want you to stand by the target; I want you to put your arm around the target. No. I’d like you to be as close to the target as you can possibly be. No! Why? Because you’re shooting at it, I might get shot. No, no, we’re going to aim at the target. I’m not going to stand near the target if you’re going to shoot at the target because you’re going to hit me. See every time you come to church you know what we’re trying to do? Draw near to God; he’ll draw near to you. Hey, get close to God; get a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. See if you’re not careful, you may think that’s going to make your life easier. But if you understand that from the very beginning the baby wasn’t even ten days old and the prophet says, “This kid is going to be shot at”. Oh and by the way we want everyone to get close with him, if you’re repentant you’ll get close to him. Oh, there will be some that are and they’ll be raised up in God’s economy, there will be others that reject him and they will be falling down. (33:06)

Oh and by the way Mary, I know you’re going to love this kid but look at the next phrase in parenthesis verse 35. There’s going to a sword that will pierce through your soul also. Not only is he going to get shot but you’re going to get this, quote unquote “friendly fire”. People on this earth are going to look at you, and you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to get run through, it’s going to be like someone jams a knife through your torso. Another verse you don’t see on DaySpring Cards, right? A knife through you. Now why is that? That’s parenthetical; he follows this up, because Jesus has an issue when he comes on the scene he polarizes why? Because the thoughts of many hearts are revealed, that’s he brings convicting work and either you take that truth and you shove it down in your unrighteousness and you run from God or you’re convicted by it and you acknowledge the truth of it and you’re repentant and you draw near to Christ. (33:59)

It’ll be turbulent for you and I’m assuming in the language of this point in the grammar of this point that you and I are on the same team and we want to draw near to Christ. You trust Christ, you believe his atoning work for you, you believe that baptism of the cross where he went through that terrible dregs of drinking that awful was for you and you want to align yourself with him. All I’m saying is I can’t even get out of Luke 2 before I realize that’s not going to mean peace on the earth, that’s going to mean a polarization of people on the earth. And in this world then if I stand with Christ it means I won’t have peace, as a matter of fact my life will be characterized by division and it’s not that I’m going to be on the team throwing the rocks I’m going to be on the team that people are going to be throwing the rocks at. Have you felt that way Christian, increasingly of late in our culture? I mean that wasn’t meant for you to verbally respond to but you do feel that don’t you? The rocks are coming fast and furious at us and if you want to stand with Christ and what he taught, you want to talk about the one who is the fulfillment of all the biblical scriptures and say I stand with him, then you’re going to be shot at and it’ll be tough. So Jesus is saying, “I just need you to know the forecast. Forecast for me is we’re going to have to punish sin, I’m going to have to be punished for your sin. I’m looking forward to it being done but you guys in the meantime you avail yourself to the atonement for your sin it’s going to mean some not peace but division for you.” It’s going to be bumpy, it’s going to be difficult, Jesus said it all the time as he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3. He said everyone who does wickedness hates the light. The unrepentant they hate the light. Why? They don’t come into the light because their works might be exposed if they step into the light. You and I have stepped into the light we admit that we’re sinners; we know we need the grace of God. We’re not going to rationalize or justify our sin, we know we’re sinners, we need the grace of God, we need the atonement of the cross applied to us and that is going to bring you and I into a place where the world, as he says in John chapter 15, it going to hate us. Why? Because they hated him, they shot at him. If the world hated me he said a pupil is not above his teacher, a servant not above his master. They hated me they’re going to hate you, why? Because you stand with me, and I love how he puts it, it’s so clear. If the world was you, in other words if you were of the world they would love you as their own but as it is I’ve chosen you out of the world. I’ve told you to stand with me; I’ve aligned your life with mine that’s why the world hates you. It’s going to be bumpy; it’s going to be hard. (36:32)

Now he’s going to get in verse 52 and 53 to our families, but let’s start in a more broad way, I mean we talk about our work life, our church life, our home life, our neighborhood. I mean we have all these spheres of influence we talk about last week. In every one of those spheres there is potential for relational damage, at least strain if not a fracturing of relationships because you stand with Christ. It can be as relevant as what goes on this afternoon, and I’m not saying because you’re a Christian everything you do feels like a church service, I’m not saying that. In other words, is Pastor Mike saying there’s a Christian way to watch a football game, I’m not saying there’s a Christian way. You don’t have to start with a prayer and sing hymns at halftime. It’s not what I’m talking about. But note this carefully, there is a non-Christian way to watch a football game, am I right? If you don’t think so you haven’t read much of the Bible. Oh yeah there’s a non-Christian way to do it, a way that is offensive to the Spirit of God, a way that would celebrate and do things that would really grieve any real Christian because these are the things that pin Christ to a cross, they are the things that God does not in any way tolerate and one day he will judge and I cannot participate and be involved and be party and privy to those things so I can’t even laugh at the things everyone laughs at, I can’t even be entertained by everything the world entertained by, so I can enjoy certain things obviously in this world but there’s going to be a distinction even in the most basic things. If my neighbor is having a Super Bowl party, there’s going to be issues. I just don’t fit in here anymore. (38:05)

Well then, let’s build monasteries. No, the Bible doesn’t allow us to do that. But we do recognize this, we going to have divisions and I need to say that I suppose as we transition to verses 52 and 53 because here he’s saying there’s divisions even in homes. You may be blessed to say every member of my home is submissive to the Lordship of Christ. Fantastic, you are blessed. But I’ll bet even by the way some of you are looking at me right now, that’s not true for everybody in the room. Matters of fact some of you have some real difficult relationships under your roof because there are people that are rebelling against God and it’s causing conflict in your relationship. Some of you may be the only Christian under your roof. And if that’s the case, these verses are ones that should make you recognize that is not unusual, that is expected. When God calls someone to himself we don’t get saved in groups you understand. We get saved as individuals. And when you get saved as an individual and you turn your life to Christ, you repent of your sins, you get indwelled by the Spirit, it’s going to cause conflict with people that are not, you will not share the same values, you won’t be pulling in the same direction. From now on in one house there will be five divided, two against three and three against two. Father, son, mother, daughter, mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, there’s going to be conflict. Now praise God if you’re exempt from that but move those circles out and you can go to a work place and you can say I work in the world and I got my office there and there’s Christians and non-Christians. Well, most people look at their work and say let’s try and be friends and get along with everyone as a Christian you start saying well some cases I can’t get along because they’re doing things, involved in things and doing things that are not virtuous and it will not pass the mustard at the Beema Seat of Christ so I can’t just fit in everywhere. I’m going to be the odd man out sometimes. It’s going to be a struggle; it’s going to be hard. And before we talk fully about those realities, let me just say this. Number 3, God’s got a solution, it’s not for you to live by yourself in isolation, it’s not to live in a monastery and it’s not to bail on your job or your family. But it is to recognize that there is a surrogate family that God supplies that he expects to provide you strength. And something that’s going to meet relational needs that will take you through this world, through the bumpiness and the turbulence in this world and that is for you, number 3 to draw near to God’s family (40:31)

3. Draw Near to God’s Family

You and I need to draw near to God’s family. With that said I don’t want you to make the mistake that what I’m saying is that if you have the reality of verses 52 and 53 you pack your bags and you leave. As a matter of fact because this is such an important thing to God I got to have you turn to this passage, 1 Corinthians chapter 7, I know many of you are familiar with it, but let’s look at it afresh. When it comes to your relationship with your family and you find yourself in a relationship, whether it be with your kids, your parents or your spouse and you are unequally yoked under that household, the solution isn’t for you to bail. It may end in a fractured home but by God’s grace we hope that it doesn’t as painful as that may be because you may sit there and muse about how great that would be if I didn’t have this division, if everyone in my family were like those people in my home fellowship group with and they have everyone there a Christian in their family. Well, he addresses that, look at verse 13. 1 Corinthians 7:13, if any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her – which is basically flipping on it’s head verse 12 said – if any man has a wife who is an unbeliever, she consents to live with him, then he should not divorce her and she should not divorce him. Now it won’t make for an ideal home to be married to a non-Christian. It doesn’t make for an ideal situation if you as a child have non-Christian parents that do not share your values in following Jesus Christ but the solution isn’t for you to pack your bags and leave. And he gives some rational, verse 14. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (42:10)

Now the keyword there is holy, clearly, and we’ve got to understand what the word holy means, to look at the variations among what that might work out to be. Holy means to be set apart. Holy means to have a distinction be made. Holy means that I’m no longer here but I’m over here. Now there’s two ways in which holy is used, in a positional sense and in a practical sense. In other words, I’m made holy the day that I become a Christian. Another word for that in the Bible is saint. Not someone who has been canonized by some church council. A saint is someone who has become a Christian. They’ve been set apart for God. They are a holy one. They are adopted into God’s family; they are separate from the world. It’s just as John 15 says, “I’ve called you out of the world.” That’s being made holy. What does that mean? I’ve become a Christian it’s an act of justification. Holy is also used in a practical sense, that I’m increasingly holy because I’m set apart from the world. I don’t think like them I don’t act like them, I don’t laugh at what they laugh at. I have a different lifestyle because I’m trying to please the Lord, and they’re trying to please themselves. So I’m increasingly looking more like Christ and less like my old self. That’s the process of becoming holy. And here in this text it says, don’t bail either at that job, to expand it further, from your neighborhood or cul-de-sac. I need to move into a Christian neighborhood. No, no, stay where you’re at until they kick you out or fire you or your spouse walks out on you. Stay where you’re at and try to have the effect of holiness. Now what we’re shooting for is the ultimate one, the context if we had time we could look at it. Ultimately I’d like to see my life lead other people to Christ. I’m not going to leave my non-Christian cul-de-sac because I want to see my neighbors come to Christ. I’m not going to leave my non-Christian job and the coworkers there because I’d like to see my life be a testimony so that they may become Christians. And I don’t want to leave my non-Christian family even if I’m the only Christian there and I get a lot of grief for being a follower of Christ because I’d like to see my life be used by God to see them come to repentance and be set apart, be made holy in the act of justification. I can’t do that for them but I can certainly tee it up and set them up, hopefully to respond rightly to the gospel. (44:10)

But even if that doesn’t happen, there’s a second tier reality even if we think of our children, there’s a kind of decay or uncleanness that takes place when you remove the effect of righteousness, the sanctification in your life. If you don’t think that your life has an effect on your family, even if you’re the only Christian, well then you’re wrong, the Bible says you do. As a matter of fact even in your workplace as Jesus said, you are salt and you are light. I guarantee you if you take every Christian out of your company it will function differently. And the Bible says we have that preserving effect, they think twice because some of them think practically that what are you going to think of them. Or we’re going to get grief from the stick-in-the-mud Christian over there. There are things they don’t do, because they recognize what you are and what you stand for. It may not feel like that but the Bible says you have a sanctifying effect. And what does that do? Well that benefits everybody involved, even the people that don’t like you’re the stick-in-the-mud Christian in the family, the work place or the neighborhood. (45:09)

What do I mean by that? Here’s what the Bible says, “God is not mocked whatever man sows he also reaps.” Sinful decisions have consequences that are negative. You sow to the flesh, you reap from the flesh corruption. Therefore if I can take 25 sinful things that might happen in my neighborhood, my workplace or my family and my presence there prevents that from happening for whatever practical reasons then there are 25 less things that happen in response to that sin in the reaping of corruption in those lives. I want to be there if I can. By the way that’s one of the reasons when the church is extracted from the world as they often say all hell breaks loose on earth. Why? Because the preserving effect according to 1 Thessalonians is removed from the world. And that preserving effect reaps a lot of negative corruptive consequences. So I expect that turbulent interim, one of the reasons is because we’re not running into the Monasteries but with that said I want to draw near to God’s family. (46:10)

Which means I’ve got to have a foot in both worlds, I have a foot in both worlds, I have to say listen if I can’t at my workplace fully fall in line with that social environment there I got to have a different set of people in my life that are pulling in the same direction that I’m pulling at the core of who I am as a Christian. And that’s where the church comes in. Turn to this one last passage I’d like you to look at today, Mark chapter 3. Mark chapter 3, Jesus models for us something that is so shocking if you really think of it and envision it in your mind and that is when his family came, his bio-family came and said we’ve got some concerns about your life, and he responds to it in a way that for most of us seems so revolutionary and crazy. Mark chapter 3 verse 20, please look at this narrative. Mark chapter 3 verse 20, and then he – that is Christ – went home – that’s to his home town in Capernaum – and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. So he goes there, people want his time, they want to hear what he has to say, they want these things that he’s doing that are positive and miraculous in the families of these people, they want that, so they’re there crowding in and when his family heard of it that they couldn’t even get their meals because they were doing so much ministry they went out to applaud him saying we’re so proud of your great example you’re setting in ministry. No, they went out to seize him, to take him, to kidnap him for they were saying he has lost it now, he’s out of his mind. The intervening verses now talk about the blasphemy against the Spirit. He’s saying now be careful thinking that the things that are done through me for the glory of God are somehow lunatic or crazy or demonic, really severe warning. (47:54)

Now drop down to verse number 31, when his mother and brothers finally show up, when he’s in there teaching in a house they stood outside they sent to him and they called him. And the crowd – verse 32 – was sitting around and they said to him – the crowd said to Jesus – “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Yes, tell my mom I’ll be right there.” No, he says something so revolutionary and I want you to picture, the brown eyes of Mary, the mother of Jesus saying, “I’m really concerned about your health and I just think you’re over doing it, you might burn out, could you just…can you just come out? I hate to interrupt the teaching and all that but, I just want you outside.” And Jesus turns around and says about his own mother, can you imagine if Mother’s Day was just around the corner, he says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Huh, they’re outside right now, they think you’re nuts, and they’d like to have to stop doing all this crazy ministry. Looking around at those who sat around him, you can picture him teaching and all these people sit around. He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!” What are you saying? “Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” What does that spell? Well, sometimes when there’s tension and fracturing of relationships there is certain aspects of that relationship that God knows we need and you’re not going to get it from your bio-family or your work group, your cohort in that industry, your sales force, your team, your neighborhood, or whoever it might be. You’re going to have to find a surrogate family in the family of God and some of you are sitting here and you’re not doing that. You’re trying to live the Christian life on your own and you don’t come to anything but main service church were your chairs are locked side-by-side and you have to listen to Pastor Mike yack at you for an hour. That’s all you do when it comes to the people of God. And all I got to tell you is you are compromise waiting to happen. You absolutely are putting yourself in a perilous situation. As a matter of fact you can always call this one because it true in every case because the Bible has promised it so, that if you are a lone ranger Christian you are already involved in compromise not just to mention the sin number one is forsaking the assembly of yourselves together. Well, I’m coming to church, look at the context of Hebrews 10 some time, it is not about you sitting in chairs facing the front while some guy teaches you the Bible, it’s about you in chairs face-to-face encouraging one another considering how you can stir one another up to love and good deeds. That’s a group setting, that a group with your chairs face-to-face. And by the way, if you say, well I use to be into that, but now I’m a real mature Christian, I could preach that sermon, I could do that, I’ve been there man, I don’t need small groups and all. Listen, then you haven’t read the verse, the verse is, don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together and the context is, that chairs face-to-face, as is the habit of some, but all the more as you see the day approaching. As Paul said to the Romans that day is nearer to us now than when we first believed. Your involvement and need for you being engaged with the surrogate family, and by that I mean the real primary family, the family of God is more necessary at this point in your live than it has ever been. So if you’re feeling conviction about not being involved, that’s intended. You need to feel it, you need to say God I need this and I know my life is impacted because I’m not drawing from the body of Christ what I need to be strong and I quoted and as long as I’m quoting Hebrews 10 the verse right preceding that says this, it says, “hold fast to the confession without wavering.” That’s the problem, you’ll waver without what? Without you stirring one another up to love and good deeds. You cannot live in your neighborhood, you cannot live even in your family, even if they seem to profess Christ, or maybe they do and your workplace without the active regular relational involvement of people who share a commitment to the Lordship of Christ and that means we got to live in two worlds, a foot in both worlds. (51:56)

Here’s some words for you from Philippians chapter 2, encouragement, comfort, love, fellowship, affection and sympathy. Encouragement, comfort, love, fellowship, affection and sympathy. Those are things relationally that we need. He says if you want that, then you’re going to have to find a group of people who share your commitment to Christ and be of the same mind with them, celebrate or have the same kind of love as them, have the full accord and agreement of one mind with them and be sure that you’re engaging in that with a selfless attitude. Do everything without selfish ambition or vain conceit. I need things that I can’t get from my neighbors and my neighbors don’t love Christ. I need things if I work in a secular workplace in my comrades in life that I’m not going to get from my coworkers if they don’t share the commitment of following Christ. I’ve got to invest, I’ve got to prioritize and I’ve got to schedule the kind of drawing near to the body of Christ that God intended. More can be said on that but you get my point. Yeah, homes will be divided, workplaces will be divided, neighborhoods will be divided but God’s solution to that he modeled for us in Christ, who are my mother and my brothers, my sister, those who do the will of God. (53:22)

As you know my oldest is now freshman in college. He’s got his car out there a couple thousand miles away at college and we were talking to him last week about summer and his plans to drive across the country and that took me back in my mind of the breaks that I had driving back to California because I went to school, my undergrad in Chicago, and I thought, yeah, that was quite an experience back then. Especially when you have no money as a college student, I had to come up with creative ways to figure out how to get home, and one of the ways in Chicago that I could do that is I could go down to Michigan Avenue where all the rich snow birds lived, right? And they would always flock to Florida and California so they could avoid the terrible winters in Chicago and of course they wanted their Cadillac where ever they were going to have their summer homes. Those are the people who weren’t so rich they had two sets of cars in both places. So I would go and say I’ll drive your Cadillac from Chicago to Palm Springs, I’ll do that for you, I just need you to pay for gas and some of them were even rich enough to toss me extra money, I call them suckers but, I thought this is a win-win, they get their car out there, they’re paying me, I don’t have to buy a ticket on an airline, it’s fantastic. And I thought that for the first, you know, 300 miles. And then I realize this is painful. I remember my first one, you know, the one going one direction was certainly be the winter time. So I remember leaving Chicago and heading across the country and I remember the first one I did, I did all by myself in a big boat of a Cadillac and it got so painful. The windows could not roll down far enough and the music could not play loud enough to take you through those nights because I had not money to stop at the Ritz Carlton to sleep, right? I couldn’t stop at the Motel 6 to sleep so I was just going to barrel through this and stop for gas and just go. And there’s some nights, especially that last night time part, and for me I don’t know why it usually ended up like I’m coming through Arizona moving through the California border and it’s 11:30 then 12:30 and then you think you can do it, you’re blasting the stereo and the you’re just going. I got to make it. And then it’s 3:30 and you’re about to die. It’s such a painful experience. You can’t wait for Blythe, maybe that’s my affinity to Blythe. I just want to see a California city here, I got to get back to Long Beach and it was painful. I remember having to pull off the road to sleep, oh, I’m going to die. I hated it. But the thing that kept me going was recognizing that the fridge in my dorm was a lot more inferior then the fridge at my Mom’s house. The pantry, you know had to put duct tape on and my name on it, hide under my bead, I mean the pantry was full of food that by Mom was glad to have me eat. My own bed, I just, oh it was awesome. It kept me going, it kept me excited, it kept me going through the grueling night time drives, makes me think in retrospect of that great Psalm that says, weeping may last for the evening, for the night but what comes in the morning? Right? My Mom’s refrigerator comes in the morning. I just can’t wait for that, it’ll be so great. (56:41)

As a freshman I was dumb enough to do it on my own. But I got a little smarter hopefully in several ways in college; and I realized I’m going to do a drive away as we call them. I’m going to try and draft some people to come with me. Now it didn’t make the nights any less dark, and it didn’t make the 3am, you know, drive through the desert any less, you know, terrible but it did keep me in a whole different state of mind. Now I could have this team that could at least punch me in the arm when I’m about to drive into the ditch, you know, in the middle of the California dessert. It was a sense of camaraderie that we were going there together and I could talk about how great it’s going to be when we get, it was just a whole different experience. The forecast is dark, weeping will last through for the night and the reality of this life it’s going to be tough until the end but take heart I have overcome the world. He’s going to bring us into the kingdom, I just want to make sure you’re not driving alone, that’s all I’m trying to say here at the end of this sermon. Don’t do this by yourself. Don’t run into your workplace and into neighborhood and into your situations and try to be the stand alone Christian there. You need the body of Christ and you need to make sure that it is prioritized, that you are connecting regularly with the people that will help you walk through this life. Take heart that’s much easier to do in groups than it is by yourself. I’ve overcome the world. Let’s pray (58:06)

God, this is a tough passage filled with some really negative words that we wish weren’t true but if it weren’t for sin I guess we could do without it, but we got a problem. A problem that needs to be paid for and there’s only one of two ways described for us in the Bible, either people will pay for it themselves or you’re going to have to have those sins accredited to your account and from your perspective I’m sure you’re quite thankful that that baptism is now accomplished for you and yet we still have sin in this world that we have to grapple with. And as you bring people to yourself through grace so that we are now your children we have the strained relationships the fractured relationships the tension in this earth and I pray you give us the kind of grace and encouragement that we need. And we know you do that through the body of Christ, so I pray we be committed to that. Help us God even with these negative texts to see the encouragement that you have for us. Prepare us and strengthen us to get through it all in Jesus Name. Amen (59:03)

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