In Godric, Frederick Buechner wrote, “Lust is the ape that gibbers in our loins. Tame him as we will by day, he rages all the wilder in our dreams by night.” Yet in 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 our Infinitely Wise Creator calls us to “abstain from sexual immorality” and “the passion of lust.” In this message we learn why God issues such a counter cultural vision for our sexuality and we discover a way of life that He uses to help us more faithfully manage “the ape that gibbers in our loins.”
Sin is the exchange of good things for the ultimate thing: love of God and love for people. Although it can be difficult to admit, we all have a living and relentless sinful nature that drives us to wander from God’s created purpose of delight in Him and service for others. On this 4th Sunday of Advent the good news comes from an angel to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” In this message we celebrate how the arrival of Jesus provides salvation over the penalty, the power and eventually the presence of sin for those who believe in the One whose birth this angel announced.
Like many people, Ananias struggled with duplicity. Along with a secret desire to impress his friends at church he also had another shameful secret behind closed doors. These two unfulfilled desires made him vulnerable to Satan’s deceptive plan. At a time when the church was unified in witness to their city, Satan found this man to be an easy target. In the shocking events that follow Ananias’ duplicity we discover that Jesus, from His exalted seat at the Father’s right hand, is committed to expose hypocrisy in those who claim to follow Him and to provide an opportunity for us to confess because He is resolute in His promise to build a united community among every nation against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail.”
These four verses are one of those “head-nodders” of scripture. One of these short nuggets that’s easily passed by, because it makes enough sense and sounds familiar enough on the surface, not to feel the need to go deeper. But when we engage Jesus’ words, we find more there than we first realized. Our eyes are the lens through which we perceive reality, and they’re closely connected to our hearts. What we see informs what we serve, and what we serve informs what we see. What we believe leads to what we perceive. What we choose to focus on, leads to what we become. Jesus is the light that our eyes need to be focused on, to expose our own inner darkness, so that we can become wholly bright!
As we continue our journey through the Bible, we now meet Isaiah. Isaiah had a rare vision of God. Along with Isaiah we revel in some of the astounding realities which God revealed about Himself as well as God’s invitation to join in making His glories known among all nations throughout all generations.
The Ten Commandments were unveiled when God called Israel to a family meeting at Mt. Sanai. While they initially showed Israel, God’s redeemed children, how they were to live among the nations, they have implications for us as well. In this message we discover that Jesus and His disciples saw the Ten Commandments as useful for both unbelievers and believers today.
Sometimes it is hard to follow God’s ways when friends in our culture are critical of us. In this text, Peter reveals reasons to chose God’s will over people’s pressures even if we have to suffer for it.