#Qualities#NewCovenant

Written by cycleguy on January 12th, 2020

I’m thinking that sometimes we who are Christ-followers really do miss out on the importance of the New Covenant over the Old. Now…before I say even more I want to make one thing very clear: I am in no way discounting the importance of the Old. The TRUTH is that we miss out on a lot of the meaning of the New by discounting the Old and we miss out on the observances of the Old by relegating it to “non-person” status. The power of the New Covenant is enhanced by our understanding of the Old.

In my sermon Sunday I brought to light 8 distinctive qualities of the New Covenant as found in 2 Cor. 3:6-18. I’d like to share them with you but also ask you to go to your Bible and see them for yourself. Underline and highlight them and use them to earn a greater appreciation for what we have. Here they are:

  1. It gives life. (v.6) Check out this verse on your own. “The letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” What a powerful statement against legalism. I’d almost say it was this one verse that solved the mystery for me years ago.
  2. It produces righteousness. (7a,8-9) The phrase “now if” can be translated as “since.” Since the law was a ministry of condemnation it could not offer righteousness. That could only come through Christ.
  3. It is permanent. (7b,10-11) Just as Moses’ covered reflection faded, so does the Old Covenant. The glory of God never fades away.
  4. It brings hope. (12) Those under the law had no hope, which also meant (are you ready for this?) no forgiveness of sins. Hope is the confident belief that God will fulfill all the promises of His New Covenant. It is a hope the Law could not offer.
  5. It is clear. (13-14a) Moses had to put a veil over his face after being in God’s presence.  He did that for two reasons: to hide the blazing glory of God, and to hide that it was fading. In contrast, the New Covenant reveals the mysteries of God that were obscure in the Old. All those sacrifices. All those rules. All those rituals.
  6. It is Christ-centered. (14b-16,18a) The veil which obscured the Old Covenant was removed in Christ, and was made plain in Him.
  7. It is energized by the Spirit. (17) The same God who gave the Old gave the New. The same God who gave the Law is the same God who gave salvation to all. The same God who gave the rules and regulations of the Old is the same God who set us free through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
  8. It is transforming. (18b) We are daily being transformed in the image of Jesus.

There is no doubt the New Covenant is superior to the Old. Let’s not denigrate the Old; let’s just remember its place and purpose. Galatians tells us it was a “schoolmaster to lead us to Christ.”  Paul was upset with the Galatians that they were going back to the “old ways of the Law.” Let’s not go backwards. Let’s move forward in faith.

 

#SecondBest#WhySettle?#New/Old

Written by cycleguy on January 10th, 2020

It is common among children, either on a playground, a class or a field to say something along the lines of “My dad is stronger than your dad” or “My dad can beat up your dad.” Since I am not a fighter, I sure am glad my girls never made those kinds of boasts about me! Talk about being in hot water. My Man Card would definitely have been called into question. 🙂

The whole purpose behind those statements is the idea of superiority: my dad is superior to your dad. Many who call themselves Christ-followers are content to settle for second best. We have a group around here-and perhaps you do as well-that want to be known as Torah observant. My question to that is why? Paul’s book to the Galatians effectively-least I think so- negates the life of the one who chooses the OT over the NT. Please understand that I am not taking the stand of one well-known pastor that we need to cast aside the OT (old covenant) and solely follow the New, but I am saying the New Testament should be our “go-to” not the Old. Paul himself said the Old covenant was not evil or wicked, but  it was and is certainly limited in its ability to save us.

My sermon for this Sunday is entitled Why Settle for Second Best? and as you have probably gathered it will on the Old versus the New Testament. I’ll be doing a comparison of both and will obviously come out on the side of the New Testament as being superior.  The Scripture is 2 Corinthians 3: 6-18. I’d love it if you would read it and then listen to the podcast if you are unable to attend. But above all I covet your prayers.

I’m sorry you are unable to listen to last week’s sermon via podcast. We had a guest leading our worship and a person on the soundboard for the first time on a Sunday morning. He pushed a pause button but when he turned it back on it had disappeared. He felt bad. Ryan just doesn’t have a job anymore as the Youth Pastor.  🙂  I wouldn’t trade him for anyone or anything (unless an exchange of significant money was made).  I jest about it all (except for the high praise for him).

Thanks for your prayers. They are much appreciated.

 

#Truth’sTruth#Can’tForget

Written by cycleguy on January 8th, 2020

In my last post I talked about PostModernism and the importance of feelings to our culture’s way of thinking.  I can’t think what I want to think because it is “all about me anyway.” I don’t like God’s rules or standards so I’ll make up my own. Talk about a world of hurt for a world in hurt!!

For this post I’d like to take you a bit further. Back in April of 2018 I purchased a book by Steve Lawson entitled The Moment of Truth. Steve is a pastor, a professor and has a ministry dedicated to biblical preaching. I bought it because I was appalled by what some were calling preaching these days. You know…the kind of nonsensical garbage from the “Your Best Life Now” author and others who want to preach their own ideas as Gospel-even though those ideas violate Scripture. Even though they leave out vital truths like sin, salvation by the blood of Christ, etc. Anyway, I digress. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t falling into that hole myself so I bought this book.  The first chapter was titled “What is Truth?” and he gave 8 distinguishing marks of truth. I chose 4 that I shared this past Sunday. The main thoughts are his; the commentary is mine.

#1- Truth comes from God. Truth is divine. All truth originates with God.  I’m certainly glad it doesn’t originate with man. We can’t even make up our minds what we are going to wear in the morning! Salvation is what God says it is. A lifestyle is wrong or right by what God says, not what I think.

#2- Truth reigns supreme. Truth is absolute.  Our culture may say truth is relative but it isn’t. Just like water conforms to its container, so does our version of “truth” today. Not God’s version.  Let me give you an illustration; I am 6’5″ tall. You can disagree with me but it doesn’t change the truth. You can say I’m only 5′ or I am a giant and must be 7’6.” But your thoughts don’t change the truth.

#3- Truth is a fact. Truth is objective. Truth never blurs the line of distinction. We can’t say something is truth one minute and then “fudge” the next. That is why we can’t base truth on our feelings. They change and waver too much.

#4- Truth stands as truth. Truth never contradicts itself. What is says once; it says again and again. If it changes then it is not the truth. God doesn’t say to you, “I love you with grace” but turn to me and say, “I can’t stand you. You aren’t good enough for me.” God’s truth is always the same.

Four marks that make truth stand out. I hope you will grasp onto truth and not let go. What do you think?

 

#PostModernism#Feelings

Written by cycleguy on January 5th, 2020

In my last post I talked about my sermon theme for 2020: TRUTH.  I’d like to expand on that a little in this post and then in my next post say a bit more.

A number of years ago a philosophy made its way to the forefront of our culture and eventually into the church. That philosophy was called Postmodernism. It is much more complicated than I am going to tell you, but I don’t want to muddy the waters too much by complicating things.

The basic premise for postmodernism is there is not absolute truth. In place of absolute truth postmodernism said we can trust our feelings. Whatever you feel is the way to go.

Does that sound scary to you? It does to me.  Some of you will remember a song by Debbie Boone called You Light Up My Life.  It had the lyrics in it which said, “It can’t be wrong; it feels so right. ”  When you shake Postmodernism down to its basics it is safe to say that the only absolute seems to be there are no absolutes, and the only truth is there is no truth.  It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “You have your truth; I have mine.” Chances are good that our truths will not sync up because we are using two separate platforms.  I mean…how can someone who uses the Bible and God’s truth as his/her basis have the same outcome as someone who has no basis for truth whatsoever?

Romans 1:16 tells us the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth. But we also read in verse 18 that to suppress the truth always leads to believing a lie. Take out truth and everything is up for grabs.  Rebecca McLaughlin in her book Confronting Christianity (my choice for 2019 Book of the Year) quotes Nicolas Kristof, a liberal journalist. See if this doesn’t ring a bell.

We (liberals) champion tolerance, except for conservatives and evangelical Christians. We want to be inclusive of people who don’t look like us-so long as they think like us.

My next post will highlight 4 marks of truth. Meanwhile, ask yourself this question: what or who is the basis for my truth-God’s Word or my feelings?

 

#Truth#Nitty-Gritty

Written by cycleguy on January 3rd, 2020

Bible-based Christianity is dead. Well…at least to listen to some it is. Society wants us to believe that. Churches are closing their doors (and not for good reasons).  Recently several high profile evangelicals have left the faith-some to go to false religions and some to defect.  It is not unusual to read about some who have turned from God completely and have declared themselves atheists or one of the “nones.”

So that begs a question: is the handwriting on the wall? Is the church almost done? Will it go the way of the dodo bird? The movement afoot seems to be either change or become irrelevant. (Which by the way is not a new movement at all).  Many, afraid of irrelevance, have changed and given in to the secular media, Hollywood values and the LGBTQ+ thrust.

As you can see my theme for 2020 is TRUTH. I thought the best way to start is to ask and try to answer the question “What is truth?” For a forward glance check out Romans 1:16-17.  I want to lay the groundwork for this series by trying to answer the question.  My approach is to ask whether truth is really all that important or then whether truth is a reality. I’m going to share some of my thoughts in blogs next week.

Meanwhile, I would greatly appreciate your prayers for us this week.

 

#AnnualSong#Countdown

Written by cycleguy on December 31st, 2019

Ever since I started this blog back in 2008 I have concluded the year and begun the new year with a song.  I know. I know. I should find a new one.  I had planned on doing that this year but you know what they say: “time flies when you are having fun.” Well…time flew. Like a supersonic airliner. Probably in the next post or two I will do a little wrap up of my year.

BUT UNTIL THEN!!!

Enjoy this one from 2011.

Enjoy this one from their heyday when big hair was king and tenor voices were all the rage.

And here is one from a few years ago. Man, the dude still has the pipes. But he sure isn’t as high as he used to be. Very few can keep that range as they age. Michael Sweet from Stryper comes awful close with more depth to his voice.

Okay, so call me a heathen. I have wide shoulders. 🙂 🙂  I also like 80s rock and big hair. My favorite? Stryper. Maybe I’ll find something by them for my next post.

We know the final countdown officially began when Jesus ascended.  But who knows when the bell will ring (or is it that shout will come?)  Have a safe beginning to 2020.

 

#ClosingChallenge#2020

Written by cycleguy on December 29th, 2019

Jo and I are leaving right after worship today for Sandusky, Ohio. Her sister has a procedure tomorrow in Lorain, OH (near Cleveland) on her eyes that she must have. Unfortunately, there were no openings in Sandusky this time so she has to be taken to Lorain. Also unfortunately, the woman who would have taken her is out of the country right now so it is up to Jo to get her there. She is unsure about driving to Lorain and asked (tears were involved… 🙂 ) if I would go. So we leave today and will be return home Tuesday before the crazies get out on the road.

I will be out of commission for writing a blog so I thought I would post one early and then another for Tuesday/Wednesday. I can approve your comments and even comment but writing a blog on my phone is another matter and I don’t want to drag the computer around.

You can go to my other blog to see my thoughts about the year end challenge I gave today. I’ll not do a double take on that. But I would like to encourage you to listen to an old song that still challenges me today.  I can’t say it any clearer than Dana Key sings it.

 

#Challenge#SeeingGodInvolved

Written by cycleguy on December 27th, 2019

Hard to believe isn’t it that this Sunday will be the last Sunday of 2019? As they always say, “Where did the time go?” My theme for 2019 was Unsinkable. Over the year I looked at different Psalms which anchored our faith. I took a look at the sayings of Jesus on the cross.  I spent several weeks in Romans 8- IMHO one of, if not the, greatest chapter in the Bible. We spent the summer looking at various OT heroes-Daniel; S-M-A; Deborah- and then a multi-week study on Joseph. I rounded out the year by looking at the 7 churches in Revelation; being a servant; and finally, of not missing Christmas.

We now stand at the brink of a new year with no clue what it brings. I’m sorta glad of that. Depending on what it is to be like (and only God knows that) could determine where I felt like getting up or staying in bed.  I kid.  The theme for 2020 is TRUTH and I’ll unveil that graphic next week.

Every year at this time pastors across the land will be preaching on the past and the future. I am willing to wager (although I am not a betting man) more that one pastor will say something like this: “You have no clue what 2020 will bring, but one thing I can guarantee-whatever it brings you will not be able to navigate it alone.”

My sermon this Sunday is titled “I Challenge You!” My challenge for me and for my folks (and you by proxy) is that we allow God to be actively involved in our lives-past, present and future.  I’m using Exodus 33 for my text this Sunday and will be approaching it from two plains: God At a Distant (33:1-6) and God In The Present (33:7-23).  Lots of rich OT history to show God’s distance as a result of sin/choices and God’s presence in the present using the Tabernacle as the backdrop.

A little different sermon for me but one I pray makes a point about God’s desire for us to know His presence in our lives. I’d appreciate your prayers as I close out the year. I’ve also been fighting a cough that wracks my vocal chords and makes them raw. The doctor says all signs are clear. So prayers for my throat and an end to the cough would be more than welcome.

 

#ChristmasChallenge#Post25

Written by cycleguy on December 25th, 2019

This will be my last #ChristmasChallenge post for this year. I thank each of you who have taken the time to drop by and read and even comment. Thanks for giving up some of your precious time to come to my world and spend a little time with me.

So…what could I do as the final post? That haunted me yesterday as I pondered it. I decided to do what we all need to do. Remember that old commercial when the telephone companies (when they still had phone books) would say, “Let your fingers do the walking?” Well…I’m going to allow the Scriptures to do the talking.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:6

“For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

“Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’ “ Mt.1:21-23

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.’ “ Luke 2:10-14

May the truth of Scripture fill your heart with that which God has promised: LOVE. JOY. PEACE. HOPE.

Thanks to Ed and Diane, my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers.

 

#ChristmasChallenge#Post 24

Written by cycleguy on December 24th, 2019

Several years ago I listened to Country Music. Let me restate that: over 20 years ago I listened to CM. No more. But one singer I did like also did a Christmas Album: Collin Raye. As I read a Christmas devotional this morning the writer mentioned the story of Christmas Eve 1914 when the guns fell silent on the battlefield. The story is told in various ways and lengths but the basic fact is this: for a few short hours guns were silent and men in battle laid aside their common hatred for the other and spent time together. Personally, knowing me, I would have had a really tough time picking up my weapon and firing it at someone I just spent time with.

Anyway, Collin Raye did a song on his Christmas album called It Could Happen Again. With the help of Johnny Cash’s narration, the song’s message stands strong: if it could happen then it could happen again. Please take a moment to listen to the song.

May you know the PEACE that the song speaks of but more than that, may you know the true PEACE Jesus gives.

Join my fellow #ChristmasChallenge bloggers:

Diane at Hadarah.

Ed at Word!