The Minor Prophets – Micah Part 2

Due to some technical difficulties (the batteries in the recording device died) I am unable to publish Micah part 1, but here is Pastor Jeremiah Blasi teaching through the book of Micah.

You can also find the Sunday sermons from Lawrence Street Baptist Church on Sermon Audio.

One of Two Things Happens

I say it quite often when I teach, but when we teach or preach the Word of God, there are only two possible outcomes.  Either the hearer’s heart will harden or it will soften.  There really isn’t a third way.  This was made abundantly clear by Tim Challies in his article Jesus Repulses, Jesus Draws.  I have thought pretty much the same thing he wrote in his article, but not quite so eloquently.  Here is what Tim wrote:

I think we all love the story of the Garasene Demonaic, don’t we? It is the story of a poor, pathetic, hopeless, demon-oppressed man and his life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. And there is something in the story I find particularly fascinating.

Though at one time in his life this man had been a normal person with a normal life, at some point demons had begun to oppress him. Maybe he was a young man still living in his parents’ home when something about him began to change. Over time his parents and family saw him start to exhibit erratic and downright scary behavior. Or maybe he was a married man and it was his wife who first began to notice that strange behavior. He began to act in ways that were out of character. He began to cry out in weird ways. Though he used to love his kids and cuddle them and tell them stories and play with them, over time he became distant, then even dangerous. Soon she had to protect the kids from their own father.

Eventually his behavior became so outrageous that the people around him acted in the only way they knew how—they chained him and locked him up. But then he grew so strong that he could break those chains and attack anyone who approached him. So they did the only thing left to do and drove him away. By the time we meet him in Mark 5 (and parallel accounts in Matthew and Luke), he is living in the tombs, roaming the hills naked, cutting and brusing himself, crying out in agony of body, soul and spirit. He can go no lower.

And then Jesus meets him. And then Jesus frees him. Jesus sends that horde of demons into a herd of pigs which immediately rushes into the sea and drowns. And then we come to a part of the story I find absolutely fascinating. The nearby townsfolk come running to see what has happened, to see this oppressed man in his right mind, to see thousands of dead pigs floating in the water. And we see two very different reactions to this encounter with Jesus Christ.

When this man has been freed by Jesus, he begs Jesus to be able to go with him. Please let me remain with you, let me learn from you, let me serve you. Where you go I will go. This man saw Jesus and wanted Jesus more than anything.

When this crowd of villagers saw this man freed by Jesus, they had a reaction that was exactly opposite. They begged Jesus to leave. Please go. Get back in your boat and leave and don’t come back. They saw Jesus and wanted Jesus less than anything.

The people wanted Jesus as far as possible, this man wanted Jesus as close as possible. And in those two reactions we see something fascinating: Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. Some people encounter Jesus and find him the most dreadful thing in the world; some people encounter Jesus and find him the most desirable thing in the world. Some beg him to leave and some beg to follow.

When we preach Jesus today, we preach for a response. And there is always a response. Jesus repulses and Jesus draws. But an encounter with Jesus never accomplishes nothing.


Every Dog Has Her Day – A Sermon

This morning on my commute into work, I was extremely blessed by a sermon on the following text:

And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.  (Matthew 15:21-28 ESV)

I’ve included the text of the message, but you can listen to it here.

She was desperate. She had no one to turn to. Her daughter was deeply oppressed by some sort of demon. No description of the symptoms, but the woman is at the end of her hope. Jesus is all she has left. She heard He was coming into her region, the district of Tyre and Sidon, the far north coast county named after the great grandson of Noah. Canaanite territory. The Canaanites were the inhabitants of the land before the Israelites came. They were the people the Israelites were to supposed to have driven from the land but didn’t. Needless to say, Israelites didn’t have much to do with Canaanites. The rabbis even called them “dogs,” which was about as low as it got. Filthy, garbage picking scavengers. A respectable Israelite wouldn’t even talk to a Canaanite if one came up to them on the street.

This Canaanite woman comes up to Jesus. Strike one. Canaanites don’t come up to Israelites unless a fight is about to break out. She’s a woman. Strike two. Women don’t approach men much less rabbis. She cries out to Him. Strike three. Women are not to address men in public. But Jesus is her last resort. She knows who she is; she knows who Jesus is. She’s a Canaanite; He’s an Israelite. So she does her best Israelite imitation: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.”

“Son of David” is Israelite talk; messiah talk. “Son of David” is what the Israelites were looking for in a messiah. Perhaps Jesus wouldn’t notice who she was. Perhaps He wouldn’t care. Perhaps He’d be sympathetic and compassionate. “My daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”

What would you have expected Jesus to do? Most of us would have expected Jesus to heal that woman’s daughter. He’d done that for others, including non-Israelites. But Jesus didn’t say a word to her. Didn’t even acknowledge her presence. Turned a hard, stony gaze away from her. And so she turned to his band of disciples. Maybe they had some influence. You know, if you can’t get to Jesus Continue reading

The Gospel and Moral Laxity

The original article can be found here.

The Gospel & Moral Laxity

1 Corinthians 6:9-20

by Fred G. Zaspel

One of the great lessons we learn from the example of Apostle Paul is the Christocentric or gospel-centered nature of every problem we face. He said as much to the Corinthians: “I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) This was true not just in terms of evangelism, but in terms of his ministry as a whole. He had nothing to say but that which related to Christ crucified; everything worked its way out from there.

This was true in the way he dealt with the problem of divisions, factions in the church. “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you?” (1:13). In chapter 3 he emphasized that any ministry which does not build on Christ was worthless. And in chapter 5, when he dealt with the problem of the immoral person in the church, his counsel was to put the man out of the church’s sphere of fellowship. Why? “Because Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (5:7). This demands purity.

Here in chapter 6, Paul continues to deal with the problem of immorality in the church, and his counsel is in the same vein. “No immoral person shall inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9-10). That is to say, there is no room in God’s kingdom for immoral people — only formerly immoral people. “Such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified” (v.11). And from the start Paul deals with the problem from the standpoint of the great cleansing virtues of the gospel. “Such were some of you!”

At once here is both the wonderful, free offer of the gospel and a statement of its effects. Yes, the gospel is good news to fornicators, adulterers, and every kind of sinner. It promises to all who believe, full salvation in Christ. But when God saves a man, He does not leave him in his sin. The Christ who justifies, declares righteous, also cleanses and sanctifies. It is not one or the other. It is both. Put negatively, no man whose life characterized by immorality has a right to claim that he is in Christ. In Christ a man is really saved. The salvation Christ gives is a thorough-going, life transforming work. It is a work that not only changes a man’s destiny — it changes the man!

Now evidently in Corinth some had confused all this. The society around them had so affected them that its vices began to creep into the church.

The Greek philosophies of the age often taught a form of dualism, one emphasis of which was Continue reading

Our Resources in Christ

Over the past couple of weeks I have been studying the book of Ephesians.  It is an amazing book full of a richness that our human minds can’t even begin to fathom.  What I find so fascinating about the book is the ebb and flow that it has caused in my own heart and mind.  It seems like I’ll be studying along towards the end of chapter 1, only to come across a thought or idea and have to go back to the beginning of the chapter to dig out something that I missed the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th time through the chapter.  It is incredible to think that God has so much richness to reveal to us that I haven’t even proceeded beyond the 1st chapter of the book of Ephesians in 2 weeks of study.  Who does that anymore?  We expect our Pastor’s to dig into the Word of God and feed us, but do we take the time to dig in for ourselves?  Do we have the desire to know for ourselves and not just take the word of someone else, a “professional” who is supposedly trained to teach us the Word of God?  It has been my experience that very few people, and this indictment even includes many Pastors, take the time to plumb the depths of Gods Word to grow in “…the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”  (Ephesians 1:17b-23)

Is it any wonder that the Evangelical Church (notice that I did not say the True Church as there is a difference), of today has to resort to shenanigans that 20 or 30 years ago would have been condemned as shameful, and in some cases, outright heretical?  If you doubt what I am insinuating, just head on over the the Museum of Idolatry and check out a few examples of things that are going on in supposed church’s near you, or, maybe even in your own church.  The way we live for Christ is determined by our understanding of who we are in Him.  I contend that our understanding of God, our position that He has purchased for us, Continue reading

Self-Promotion or Self-Denial

Last night I downloaded and watched a sermon entitled The Greatness of Being a Slave by John MacArthur.  What brought my watching this sermon about was several discussions I saw on twitter yesterday about Pastor MacArthurs’ book entitled Slave. It may have also had to do with something I read in John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ where Owen made a reference to Christ being equipped for the office he was appointed to and the scriptural reference was Philippians 2:7 which reads as follows:

“but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

The Greek word for servant is δοῦλος (doulos), which can be translated as “someone who belongs to another, the property of another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own.”  That made me wonder if Christ actually became a slave, which has much lower connotations in our present world, Continue reading

Brittle Clay in Tender Hands

Here is a 4 part message series from Ravi Zacharias of RZIM ministries. 

The idea of the potter shaping the clay sounds poetic. But sometimes the process isn’t so easy for the clay. God is always shaping us, but he often places a difficult call on our lives. That’s what happened to Jeremiah.

Click on the links above to listen or download the teaching series.