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From Shepherd to King

This is an excerpt from the message “From Shepherd to King” by Pastor Buck Day, December 8, 2013.

…David was a man after God’s own heart. What did God see? What did God see that so many of David’s contemporaries did not? Part of that answer, actually, we find in the New Testament—from the apostle Paul, in Acts chapter 13. Listen to what Paul says. He says “God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ ”

You see, the kind of person that God wanted to lead his chosen people was a man whose priorities were God’s priorities, a man whose allegiance was completely to God. We see Saul, by contrast, was almost totally committed to God’s priorities. Saul wanted to keep a little part of his life to control for himself, so he withheld a little bit of his allegiance, thinking it wouldn’t matter. But it does. “Almost” never works with God. Why? Because God knows that we will never experience the fullness of his blessing if we hold back even a little bit from him.

You’ve probably heard the term “all in.” It’s usually used in reference to Poker, where someone who is “all in” pushes all of their chips into the center pot in the table. They’re betting it all. And when you go “all in” in Poker, you’re taking a huge risk. But when you go “all in” with God, it is a sure thing. When you go “all in” with God, you will be rewarded with life itself.

The Jews have what I might call an “all in” declaration that they repeat on a regular basis. It’s known as the Shema. We’ve heard it before. It says this:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD is God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all of your heart, all of your strength, and all of your soul.”

For the proposition, this idea of being “all in,” from a scriptural perspective means that you are totally committed to God. Every part of who you are and what you have, you commit to God. And this “all in” proposition reminds us that “almost” does not work, for it will always lead to devastating consequences….

So what does a person who is “after God’s own heart” look like? He or she is a person who’s going to courageously trust God with all of their life as they come against the giants in their lives. What are the giants in our lives? For some of us, they may be financial. For others, our giants might be health. For some of us, our giants might be relational. For some of us, they may be spiritual. And the question that each of us needs to ask as we think about that is: Are we “all in,” or are we almost in?

As you reflect on that, I want to hit on one more piece that I think we have to touch on in this chapter, for David is called the “anointed one.” “Anointed one” in Hebrew is the same word as “messiah.” I hope as you were reading, you began to see the parallels between Jesus and David are unmistakable. David was the greatest king that Israel had ever known and would ever know. Yet he points to the one who will come, who will be known as Messiah, who is none other than Jesus himself.

David and Jesus are from the same tribe.
They are from the same city of Bethlehem.
And both were anointed. David was anointed with oil. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit after his baptism.
And in many ways, David could be considered the messiah of the “lower story” Old Testament. And yet in that, his reign also points to a Messiah in the “upper story,” the one who is God incarnate, who we will meet in the New Testament, who we are celebrating as we walk towards Christmas.

I hope you have been seeing all the parallels, as you have been reading, of how everything continues to point to Jesus.
Jesus is our Passover Lamb from Exodus.
“Jesus” and “Joshua” both mean “Savior.”
Jesus is the ultimate deliverer that we saw in Judges.
Jesus is the Redeemer that we looked at in Ruth.
And now Jesus is the Anointed One, the Messiah from God.

From the story of David we can pull some things. The first one is that God can use those who are younger among us. Students, remember that David was only 16 when he was chosen by God to be the ruler of Israel. For it does not matter what we look like on the outside—how young we are, how old we are, how many wrinkles we have on our skin. For God is looking at what’s inside. He’s looking for someone who is fully and wholly committed to him…We must each continue the work of pointing people to God, no matter what season we are in in our lives.

As you think about that, I don’t know what best applies to you today—whether you’re young and you’re wondering what’s next for you. Or whether you’re struggling with being “in” or almost in. Or whether you feel like you’re going through a period of testing or refining right now. But no matter what season you are in, I encourage you to trust God, that he will reveal what is best for you. And as he does, be willing to go “all-in.” Push everything in your life to the center of the table for him. For when you do that, you will be blessed beyond compare.

Click HERE to listen to the message or read a full transcript.

Our horrible sin, God’s wonderful love, Christ’s finished work

This is an excerpt from The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott:

…the cross enforces three truths—about ourselves, about God and about Jesus Christ.

First, our sin must be extremely horrible. Nothing reveals the gravity of sin like the cross. For ultimately what sent Christ there was neither the greed of Judas, nor the envy of the priests, nor the vacillating cowardice of Pilate, but our own greed, envy, cowardice and other sins, and Christ’s resolve in love and mercy to bear their judgment and so put them away. It is impossible for us to face Christ’s cross with integrity and not to feel ashamed of ourselves. Apathy, selfishness and complacency blossom everywhere in the world except at the cross. There these noxious weeds shrivel and die. They are seen for the tatty, poisonous things they are. For if there was no way by which the righteous God could righteously forgive our unrighteousness, except that he should bear it himself in Christ, it must be serious indeed. It is only when we see this that, stripped of our self-righteousness and self-satisfaction, we are ready to put our trust in Jesus Christ as the Savior we urgently need.

Secondly, God’s love must be wonderful beyond comprehension. God could quite justly have abandoned us to our fate. He could have left us alone to reap the fruit of our wrongdoing and to perish in our sins. It is what we deserved. But he did not. Because he loved us, he came after us in Christ. He pursued us even to the desolate anguish of the cross, where he bore our sin, guilt, judgment and death. It takes a hard and stony heart to remain unmoved by love like that. It is more than love. Its proper name is “grace”, which is love to the undeserving.

Thirdly, Christ’s salvation must be a free gift. He “purchased” it for us at the high price of his own life-blood. So what is there left for us to pay? Nothing! Since he claimed that all was now “finished”, there is nothing for us to contribute. Not of course that we now have a license to sin and can always count on God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, the same cross of Christ, which is the ground of a free salvation, is also the most powerful incentive to a holy life. Continue reading

What’s His Is Ours

This excerpt is from “What’s His Is Ours” by Sarah Hinlicky Wilson, Christianity Today, September 2012:

Picture this: a bride and groom dashing out of the church, through the showers of birdseed and into the limo, all aglow with the light of love from the vows they’ve just taken. In the backseat of the car, en route to the reception, they embrace and kiss. Then the groom announces that he has something to say.

“Now you realize, my dear,” he begins, “that, as far as I’m concerned, we can’t really say we’re married, because I don’t know yet what kind of wife you’ll turn out to be. I hope for the best, of course. And I’ll help you all I can. But only at the end of our lives will I be able to tell if you’ve lived up to my expectations. If you have—then, and only then, I’ll agree that we truly got married today. But if you don’t, then as far as I’m concerned we were never married at all. After all, how can I call you my wife if you fail to be a wife to me?”…

But it would be just as awful a misunderstanding if the bride were to recite to her new husband the following speech: “I’m glad you married me. I’ve always wanted to be married. But mainly what I wanted was the status; I was tired of being a single girl. I’ll stick by you and never seek a divorce, so I can go on calling myself married, but don’t expect any closeness, friendship, or desire from me. I’ve already gotten everything I want out of you and I’ve already given everything I intend to give to you.”…

Comparing our relationship with God to a marriage is an age-old theological device. Hosea, the Gospels, Ephesians, and Revelation all use bride and bridegroom metaphors to illustrate divine-human relations…. Continue reading

D-O vs. D-O-N-E

This is an excerpt from Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels:

The simplest illustration I’ve come across to articulate what sets Christianity apart from other religions is called “Do versus Done.” I tell people who are on the Earning-Grace Plan that “religion is spelled D-O. At the end of the day, it’s all about whether you do enough right things to earn God’s favor. To get in God’s good graces, the thinking goes, you have to do this and do that and strive and sacrifice and clean up your act and make all sorts of promises.”

“But Christianity, on the other hand,” I say to people, “is spelled D-O-N-E. The Bible says that what Christ did on the cross is enough. He did what you could never do—he uniquely satisfied God’s requirement for a perfect sacrifice to take care of our past, present, and future sin—and if you receive what he accomplished, then not only will you be ‘in God’s good graces’ but your life will be made brand new. Because of what Christ did on the cross, your sins can be forgiven and you can find favor in God’s eyes right here, right now.”

Writing those two little words on a slip of paper cements this powerful truth on a person’s heart and mind. Whether or not they make a decision for Christ at that moment, they will never forget what sets Christianity apart. The work that must occur to pay for sin and grant eternal access to God—it’s already been done.

It’s no mistake

This is an excerpt from the message “It’s No Mistake” by Andy Stanley:

Sin. It’s such a pesky word. We don’t use it anymore….I mean, sin makes me think of God. Sin makes me think of judgment. Sin would mean there’s some giant moral absolute or absolutes out there, and I’m accountable and if I’ve broken those laws or those rules that God has set up, then I’m in big trouble and I’m accountable….. In fact, if I have sins, then after a while I think I’m kind of a bad person. So, we don’t use that word.

We like this word: “I didn’t sin. I just made a mistake. I made a mistake.” … See, this is a lot better word, because when you catch me, I can say, “Ah, my bad! My mistake.”… …You see, if everything I do wrong can kind of be dumbed down to where it’s just a mistake, then that makes me a mistaker, which means I don’t have sin. If I don’t have sin, I’m not a sinner. If I’m not a sinner, I don’t have any need for a Savior. You see, if you’re just a mistaker, then all you have to do is do better. Mistakers just have to try harder….

The problem is that we know ourselves. The problem is that we know better. Continue reading

Liar, Lunatic, or Lord?

This is an excerpt from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:

…God selected one particular people and spent several centuries hammering into their heads the sort of God He was—that there was only one of Him and that He cared about right conduct. Those people were the Jews, and the Old Testament gives an account of the hammering process.

Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says he has always existed. He says he is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world, who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God this is really so preposterous as to be comic. Continue reading

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