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Podcast for Meadowbrooke Church

    The Dangers of Careless Worship

    The Dangers of Careless Worship

    Have you ever had someone offer an explanation for why they would not come to a church service with the following indictment: The Church is full of hypocrites.? I have always bristled at that statement not because I am a pastor and want the church that I serve to be full on Sunday, but because I know my own story and my own failures of the past and present. I am very aware that I will continue to fall short of a standard I believe I should meet when it comes to worshiping a God who is holy.
    Now, before I go any further, there are three things you need to know about the Old Testament system of worship. Israels worship included all of the things that you would expect such as the teaching of Gods word, the singing of songs and psalms, and gathering together to celebrate feasts and festivals where God was the center of it all. Included in their worship was a sacrificial system unlike the kind of sacrificial systems other people groups had. Israels sacrificial system was not based on paying God back for his grace and mercy, but served three primary purposes:
    1. There were the sin offerings. The shedding of blood through the sacrifice of an animal without defect for the atonement of ones sins, which ultimately pointed to the sacrifice Jesus would make in our place upon a cross (see Lev. 4; Heb. 9:22).
    2. There was a Thank offering. There was also the type of sacrifice that acknowledged the goodness of God in ones life, which is known in the Old Testament as a Thank Offering. The Thank Offering could come in all forms, shapes, and sizes (see Lev. 7:11-34; Psalm 107:21-22).
    3. There was a Tithe offering. The third type of sacrifice given in the Old Testament was the tithe offering which served as a way to acknowledge that all a person had was provided by God. Giving back a portion or tithe was and continues to be a way of acknowledging the goodness of God (see Lev. 27:30; Num. 18:2528; Deut. 14:2224; 2 Chron. 31:56).

    To be a priest, one had to belong to the tribe of Levi by birth and their primary responsibility would be to mediate the worship between all of Israel and God. According to the Law, their survival would be through what was brought to the tabernacle (when Israel was transient) and the temple (after they had inherited the Canaan). What was left from the offering, the priests were permitted to eat (see Lev. 6:14-26). When it came to the lifestyle of those serving as priests, they were to meet a standard of moral character and holiness (see Lev. 21-22). There were even certain physical requirements of the Priest to ensure that he was able to fulfill his responsibilities which included defective eyesight (Lev. 21:18-20).

    Of the priest, God commanded: They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lords food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 8You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy (Lev. 22:6, 8). And, as for the sacrifices that were allowed:
    Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the Lord, if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. (Lev. 22:18-20)

    God takes the worship of people seriously. When Aarons two sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered strange fire on the alter where the sacrifice was, they died (see Num. 6:23). When Uzzah touched the Ark when God commanded no one to touch it, because he assumed his hand was cleaner than the dirt, he died (see 1 Chron. 13:5-14). As you are aware, the nation of Israel was divided into two nations as a result of King Solomons sins and disregard for the holiness of God, whic

    The Unrestrained Goodness and Grace of God

    The Unrestrained Goodness and Grace of God

    Gods goodness and grace repeatedly overrules His fairness.[1] I read a version of that statement in a commentary on Malachi in preparation for this sermon. The story of Esau and Jacob reveals how true that statement really is. This is also one of the reasons Jacob and Esau are used as an example throughout Scripture in the way their story is used in Malachi to highlight Gods prerogative to love whom He wills.

    When God told Abraham that he would bless him, He promised that through his descendants, a child would be born who would bless the nations. To Abraham and Sarah was born Isaac. After Isaac and Rebecca were married, they wanted children together, but for some time Rebekah could not get pregnant; out of desperation Isaac prayed that God would allow his wife to become pregnant, so this is how God answered: Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger (Genesis 25:2123). God blessed Isaac and Rebekah with Esau and Jacob.

    God told Isaac and Rebecca specifically that the child whom God would choose in the same way that He chose Abraham and Isaac would not be the older son, but the younger. When Rachel gave birth to her two babies, we are told: The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esaus heel, so his name was called Jacob (vv. 25-26). Jacob literally means heel grabber. Yet, regardless of what God said of Jacob, Isaac favored Esau more while Rebecca favored Jacob; in fact, we are told in Genesis 25:28, Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

    The sad thing about the way Isaac and Rebekah treated their sons is that Esau grew up to be a willful, proud, self-centered man who exercised little self-control, while Jacob grew up to be a self-centered deceiver and manipulator. We see Esaus lack of self-control and the manipulative skill of Jacob in the last paragraph of Genesis 25; one day Esau was hungry and exhausted so he asked Jacob for some of what he was cooking that day: Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted! (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, Sell me your birthright now. Esau said, I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me? Jacob said, Swear to me now. So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright (Gen. 25:2934).

    Esau cared more about his stomach than he did his identity in Abraham; he was willing to trade in what was eternal for what was temporarya bowl of stew! Jacob was no better, for he manipulated his brother in a moment of weakness. Jacobs lying, deceiving, manipulating character reached its climax when he and his mother conspired together to deceive Isaac after he planned to give Esau the blessing of the firstborn, even though God said it would be Jacob who would receive it:
    When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, My son; and he answered, Here I am. He said, Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die. (Genesis 27:14)

    After Esau went out as instructed by his father, Rebekah pulled Jacob aside and plotted against both her son and husband by telling Isaac to do the following: Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies. Because Esau was so hairy, Rebekah told Jacob to cover his arms and neck with the skins of the goats so that hi

    Persistent Love in the Face of Everyday Apathy

    Persistent Love in the Face of Everyday Apathy

    The word worship literally means: To attribute worth to something. The etymology of the word is literally: worth-ship. The book of Malachi is a book about worship and is appropriately placed at the end of the Old Testament and just before the New Testament. The prophet Malachi was one of the last prophets called to speak for God and serves as a fitting conclusion between 450-430 years before the birth of Jesus. His name literally means, My messenger. Whether or not the prophets birth name was Malachi or a word identifying his role as the last voice to speak on behalf of God before the 400 years that would separate the Old Testament period and the New Testament period, marked with the birth of Jesus the Christ, the prophet was the last voice to be heard before God would speak through the birth of His Son.

    In our Bible you have 27 books in the New Testament grouped in the following way: The Gospels and Acts, the Epistles (Romans Jude), and the book of Revelation. In the Old Testament, there are 39 books organized by books of history (Genesis Esther) that cover creation to 400 B.C., books of poetry (Job Song of Solomon) that were written between 1400 300s B.C., and books of prophecy (Isaiah Malachi). The books of prophesy are categorized into two groups based on the size of those books known as the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets; both sets are equally the inspired Word of God. The prophetic books were written somewhere between 850 400 B.C.

    The Old Testament points to Jesus Christ while the New Testament reflects back upon Jesus Christ; however, all of the 66 books in your Bible are the Word of God. The great theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ as the promised redeemer who was born of a virgin, lived a life we could not live in perfect obedience to the Law of God, died a death we all deserved under the wrath of God the Father for our sin, and validated all that the Bible said of him and all that he claimed by rising from the grave. This is why the opening paragraph of Hebrews states:
    Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:14)

    Isaiah, as the first book grouped in the prophetic books, appropriately begins:
    Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its masters crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. (Isa. 1:2-4)

    Malachi, as the last of the prophetic books in the Old Testament, concludes with the great hope of a coming redeemer: For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall (Malachi 4:12).

    The Timing of Malachi
    After God lead Israel out of Egypt through Moses leadership, He gave them a code of ethics known as the Law. At Mount Sinai, God entered into a covenant relationship with Israel. He spoke to Israel through Moses, and said to them, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among

    Walking with the One who Keeps, Secures, and Sustains

    Walking with the One who Keeps, Secures, and Sustains

    Who are you Christian? With a specific appeal to Christians threatened by the danger of an enemy who sought to use people in their lives to introduce what the Bible calls: doctrines of demons, intended to move those in the Church off course from the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3). The devil and his demons are not threatened by those who claim to be Christian with their lips but deny Jesus as Master and Lord with their lives; the devil and his demons are threatened by those who are so convinced of who Jesus is that they can live no other way but to follow Him. Jude is not the only place where we are warned of the dangers that threaten the Christian:
    Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

    You therefore, beloved take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. (2 Peter 3:17)

    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Timothy 4:1)

    They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (1 John 2:19)

    In his parable of the four different ways people respond to the word of God as it relates to Jesus, only one type of person truly receives Jesus as Savior and Lord. Some will hear about Jesus, but the devil, comes and takes away the word from their hearts so that they may not believe and be saved (Luke 8:12). Others hear about Jesus, but the cares and riches and pleasures of life choke out any faith they had in Jesus (Luke 8:14). The third group Jesus described in his parable is what I believe motivated Jude to write his epistle; these people hear the truth about Jesus and receive it with joy, but because the roots of their faith do not go deep enough, they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away (Luke 8:13).

    According to Jude, those who have crept into the Church unnoticed are false Christians who say they know Jesus but deny Him as Master and Lord. Jude describes these people as ungodly people who have the appearance of religion but are rotten to the core. They walk the way of Cain, abandon themselves for the sake of gain, and stand condemned before God. On the outside, false teachers seem harmless, but under the surface they are deadly. They present themselves as spiritual guides, but they are guided by their own greed. They present themselves as alive in Jesus, but they are twice dead. They posture themselves as holy, but they are stained by their own shame. They say they know where they are going, but their moral and spiritual compass is broken. Jude describes these people as grumblers, malcontents, loud-mouthed boasters who follow their own desires (v. 16).

    To add to this, the Church is surrounded by a culture that is anti-Christian because it is anti-Christ. Judes epistle is filled with examples of how the culture of a fallen world is antagonistic towards God and His people. To walk in such a world can be scary and intimidating, and we see this in the example Jude uses of the Hebrew people who were so intimidated by those who lived in the land God promised them, that they refused believe God and enter into the land because they bought into the lie that the threats that lived in Canaan were greater than the faithfulness of the God who promised that land to them.

    Leading up to the flood, Jude reminds us of the decline of human civilization into moral bankruptcy and unhinged violence from Cains murder of Abel to Lamechs polygamy and disregard of the sanctity of life, to the harems of powerful men and their link to demonic possession and sexual deviancy. Sometime before Noah and the catastrophic flood, we learn that Enoch walked with God. Sometime after Enoch, Noah was born and grew up in a world

    Walking in Light of Your Calling

    Walking in Light of Your Calling

    There is a museum by the Dachau Concentration Camp that serves to remind its visitors of the horrors suffered under Hitler and the Nazi party. There is a sign posted for all visitors to see as they leave with a quote by Winston Churchill that reads: Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.[1] Judes little epistle serves to remind us of a history, that if ignored, we too might be doomed to repeat.

    The people Jude warns us of remind me of the morning my brother and I were late to the bus stop for school, I believe we missed the bus that day. On our way to the bus stop, a nice stranger invited us to get into the car so that he could take us to wherever we needed to go. My brother was tempted, and I was afraid to get into the car, so when it became apparent that we would not get into the car, the stranger drove off. False teachers are like the nice stranger who offers a child candy to get that child to get into the car, to take that child to a place that will forever impact that childs future. The candy often comes in the form of something that sounds good, such as the offer to gain a better understanding of the Bible, to grow closer to the true God through some hidden secret knowledge, or the offer of some key to unlocking the secrets of the Bible and reality.

    Permit me to push the stranger illustration a bit further. The reason my brother and I were able to sense danger when we were offered a ride from the person in the car was because our parents warned us of such people and informed us of a history involving such people, and the best way to resist them. The reason Jude saturated his little letter with examples from Israels past is because there is nothing new under the sun; the only thing that has changed is the dress. Since the birth of the Church, many have snuck into churches to introduce false doctrines that are labeled in the Bible as, doctrines of demons. Listen to the warning the apostle Paul gave to a young pastor named Timothy: Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:12).

    The reason Jude emphasizes the need to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3), and that the Christians everywhere must build on the, most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life (v. 21) is because the Devil is really good at using the ignorance of Gods people to harm them. John Wycliff said it best when he wrote the following warning: To be ignorant of the Scripture is the same thing as to be ignorant of Christ.[2] Listen, if you are ignorant of the Great Shepherd, you will be gullible enough to buy into the lies of a stranger who seeks your harm and not your good. These are the people we are warned about in Jude: In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions (v. 18). Daniel Akin wrote concerning false teachers: Disciples of Jesus must never let their spiritual guard down. They must be spiritually discerning, testing every teaching by the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. Eloquent speech is not the issue. Faithfulness to the Bible is.[3]

    The Scoffers
    When will the scoffers come? Jude says, In the last time. What is the last time? It is the time between Jesus ascension into heaven and his return to earth; the last time is the time we find ourselves in today and it is the time Christians have found themselves in since the birth of the Church that we read about in the book of Acts during the first century. The scoffers are the same people who have crept into the church, but not only those who snuck in. To scoff is to mock, but it can also include an attitude that is dismissive due to a self-assured arrogance[4] that following their, own ungodly passions is the best way to walk. In fact, it is their arrogance

    Living in Light of What is to Come

    Living in Light of What is to Come

    There is a habit that now has a name. This habit I have known about, but the name I just learned. You can now find the name on Dictionary.com. I will share with you the definition of the word, then reveal the name given to it: The practice of obsessively checking online news for updates, especially on social media feeds, with the expectation that the news will be bad, such that the feeling of dread from this negative expectation fuels a compulsion to continue looking for updates in a self-perpetuating cycle.

    The name given for this habit is Doomscrolling, and it is a word that was created because of the Coronavirus pandemic, and according to the etymology of the word, The act of doomscrolling, then, is to roll toward annihilation. Taken biblically, it has a Revelation tone. Simultaneously, each person watches the demise of so much, while also slowly destroying themselves.[1]

    The reason for doomscrolling has more to do with the fact that messages like the one from The Lion King do not sit well, even after our best efforts to prove otherwise. What do I mean? Well, the big message and song to match it, is that death is natural, it is a part of life, it is part of the cycle of life. According to Mufasa, When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so, we are all connected in the great Circle of Life So, in the end, your body returns to the earth, and that is it kind of like a long peaceful sleep with the possibility of a blissful afterlife. I have heard people say that death is natural and that it is just a part of life. I recently listened to a sermon by Timothy Keller where he commented on the idea that death is natural, here is what he said:
    When you say, Oh, death is just natural, you are actually killing a part of your heart, something quintessentially human, because you know deep in your heart that youre not like a tree. Youre not like grass. You want to last. The deepest desires of your heart are for love that lasts. You dont want to be ephemeral. You dont want to be inconsequential. You dont want to just be a wave upon the sand. To say that you are means youre demoting the human race and youre killing hope. Youre killing something within you![2]

    Death is not natural, because it is not the way things are supposed to be. Death is part of a curse we all find ourselves under. One of the gifts COVID gave us is the reminder that life is fragile; because we all want to last, doomscrolling has become a legitimate problem and for some, even an addiction because nobody wants to die.

    The reality is that death comes for us all. Few are prepared for it, most do all they can to delay it, and many live as though there is no judgment that will follow it.

    The false teachers who have crept into the church, whom Jude describes as ungodly people who pervert the grace of God and deny Jesus as Master and Lord, live in a dream world as though they will not have to account for their teaching and behavior before the One they so terribly misrepresent. That seems to be the way of things does it not? People live their entire lives with little thought that the decisions and actions of their lives will have consequence after death.

    Throughout Judes epistle, he warns that these false teachers are destined for condemnation (v. 4), will one day perish (v. 11), and that there is a gloom reserved for such people that will last forever (v. 13). In verses 14-16, Jude again warns that the judgment that is coming is imminent.
    A Word about the Book of Enoch
    There are multiple books that are attributed as having been written by the Enoch of Genesis 5, but the oldest one that was discovered with the Dead Sea Scrolls is known as 1 Enoch. This is the book Jude may have quoted from and is an ancient book that some really believe should be in our Bibles. The problem with 1 Enoch, and the reason why it was never included in the category of holy and inspired Scripture as are the 66 books that make up the Bible, is because

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