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Hearts Fully Committed

So there I was last Monday – sitting in my office – in the privacy of my own basement – minding my own business… At the time, I was reading through 2 Chronicles chapter 16 when all of a sudden – without any warning – a verse jumped out of the Bible and smacked me!

Now I don’t know if that’s every happened to you – you know, when you’re just reading your Bible and you run across this verse that just seems to jump off the pages and grab your attention?

Well, that’s what happened to me this last Monday. I was reading through 2 Chronicles chapter 16 – and I came across this verse… And it wasn’t a new verse – it’s not like I hadn’t read it before. In fact, several years ago I had even preached right from this very chapter that I had been reading. But for some reason, on this day, this one verse grabbed my attention and it totally struck me in a new way.

And so this morning, I want to share that verse with you. Now, I don’t know if it’ll strike you in the same way or not – I’ll leave that to the Holy Spirit – He’s the One who does the smacking anyway… But I’ll share the verse with you and then explain a little bit of the thought process that I had as I thought about that verse and how it applied to me.

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Separated By Sin

This morning we want to continue to count the cost of sin. Well, actually, that may not be entirely true. We probably don’t WANT to count the cost of sin. If fact, I think most of us would much rather not talk about sin at all!

Talking about sin is unpleasant. It’s depressing. It’s discouraging. But it’s also necessary. To ignore the topic of sin is to ignore the reality of the world in which we live. 

As we talked about last week, sin and its consequences are unavoidable. We have all experienced the shame, the guilt, and the fear that comes when we do wrong. We know what’s it’s like to have broken relationships. We know what it’s like to endure the struggle and the pain of this life.

That’s the reality we all experience. But of course, that’s not the reality that God intended for us. We were reminded last week that the world that God created was very good. As John MacArthur put it….

When God completed His perfect creation it was very good because there was no disorder, there was no chaos, there was no conflict, there was no struggle, there was no pain, there was no discord, there was no disease, there was no decline, there was no death. ~ John MacArthur

That’s the very good world that God created – a world free from all that junk. But that’s sure not the world that we find ourselves in today. The curse of sin has tainted and twisted God’s good creation – and we all suffer the consequences for it. We suffer because of sin in the world and we suffer because of the sin in our own lives. 

We saw two weeks ago that we are born as slaves to sin – slaves to our own selfish inclinations. As a result, much of the shame, guilt, fear, broken relationships, struggle and pain we experience in this life – we bring upon ourselves. Not all of it, of course, but much of it – because we act selfishly and we fail to love one another and we fail to love God. We fail to be accurate reflections of God’s goodness and glory. 

And as a result, we suffer the consequences of our own sinfulness. And we talked quite a bit about that last week – about those consequences of sin, and today I want to dig into that a little more – specifically regarding the consequence of death. And again, I know that’s not a real uplifting topic to talk about – but it’s the reality that we face.

We read Romans 6:23 last week which says:

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

So today we’re going to continue to count the cost of sin – or as this verse puts it “the wages of sin” – which is death. But don’t worry – we’re also going to look at the second half of that verse and see how the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. We’re going to see how Jesus came to make right the wrongs – and to restore God’s good creation and to free us from the slavery of sin and to give us life.

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The Curse of Sin

Last week we took some time to increase our vocabularies with some old English words that most people today have never heard of – words like sluberdegullion, glabriety, quockerwodger, snoutfair and of course, that ancient word that hardly anyone uses anymore – the word sin.

And I noticed something very interested as I was speaking last week. When I was talking about sluberdegullions and quockerwodgers – the mood in the congregation was light-hearted and jovial. People were chuckling and smiling at these strange words and their definitions. But as soon as I said the word “sin” – the mood instantly changed. Everyone quickly become solemn and quiet.

And I suppose that shouldn’t be surprising. Sin isn’t a very pleasant topic. It’s not fun to talk about. After all, sin is the word that reminds us that each one of us have missed the mark. We have failed to be who God created us to be.

That was really the main point of what we talked about last week. Last week we tried to define sin. 

When we looked at the original Hebrew word for sin “Khata” – we saw that it literally meant to miss the target. We read in the book of Judges about these expert slingers would could slingshot a stone at a hair and not miss it! They would not Khata – not miss the target – they would not sin.

And so the basic definition of sin is to miss the mark – to fall short of whatever we’re aiming for.

The Bible tells us that we have all Khata-ed – we have all missed the mark and fallen short of our target. And do you remember what our target was? Our target was the Glory of God. Romans 3:23 tells us:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 NIV

All of us have missed the mark and failed to do what God created us to do – that is to reflect his glory.  We looked back in Genesis and saw that when God created mankind, He created us unique in all of Creation. God created us in His own image – to be as much like Him as humanly possible – to be reflections of his goodness and glory.

But that is the target that we have all failed to hit. We fail, probably on a daily basis, to love God and to love one another the way that God loves us. We’ve failed to reflect the glory and the goodness of God. We have sinned.

And I think that most people – at least most people who believe in a good God – would not argue against the fact that every one of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Most people will admit that there are times when they have lied or acted selfishly or thought evil things about someone else.

It’s impossible to go though life without sinning. In fact, we briefly looked at how the Bible says we are slaves to sin. We have this inner drive to be selfish. To rebel against or to ignore God and to care for our own well-being at the expense of others. Try as we may to mimic God’s goodness, our sinful nature makes it impossible for us fully reflect the goodness of God. We just can’t do it.

And to say that that creates a problem for us is an understatement. There are all kinds of consequences that come with sin – some of those consequences are experienced here and now in this life and some of them will be experienced in the life to come – but all of sin’s consequences are extremely destructive.  And so for the next couple of weeks I want us to look at what some of those consequences are.

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Falling Short of the Glory of God

This morning I want to expand your vocabulary a little bit and teach you some new words. Now these words aren’t new in the sense that they’ve just been invented – they are actually very old words. These are words that have fallen out of use and have become somewhat archaic – kinda like some of those words you hear in Shakespeare or the Old King James version of the Bible. Words that were maybe quite common at some point of time, but you’d probably never hear them today. 

But these are some great words and I think we should start using them in our everyday conversations. So let me teach you four new old words.

  • Sluberdegullion—slacker; couch potato
  • Glabriety—baldness
  • Quockerwodger—marionette/puppet on a string
  • Snoutfair—a good-looking person

Aren’t these great words? I would challenge you to use each one of these words sometime this week! 

And there are so many great words out there – I found these four in a list of nearly 500 other archaic words and I’m sure there are many more than that!

In fact, I’d like to share with you one more archaic word that I found. And this word, perhaps even more than these other four words, was once widely known and understood throughout the English-speaking world. But in recent years, it’s use and most people’s understanding of this word has dropped dramatically. Fewer and fewer people today understand this word.

But it’s a very unique and important word – and so I wanted to bring it up and explain what it means for you today.

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Seeing God’s Love in His Wrath

Last week we spent some time looking at the lavish generosity of God! 

We began by trying to understand our own jealous tendencies – that feeling that all of us seem to have where, no matter how good we have it, if someone else has it better, we feel envious of them and sometimes even resentful.

We saw this quite clearly in Jesus’ parable of the vineyard owner. You’ll remember in the parable, a vineyard owner hires a whole bunch of different guys throughout the day to work in his vineyard – some work 12 hours, some work 6 hours, some only work 1 hour because they were hired so late in the day. But at the end of the day, the vineyard owner pays them all a full days wage!

Of course, for those who only worked 1 hour, this is an amazing blessing! This is incredible generosity! But those who worked all day, they’re not quite as excited about it. They think it’s rather unfair that the guys who only worked for one hour should be paid the exact same amount as those who worked hard all day long.

And they were probably right. It may not have been fair – but the story wasn’t about fairness – it was about the generosity and kindness of the vineyard owner.

The point of the parable was to illustrate God’s goodness and kindness to us. It was a reminder to us that God isn’t stingy or reluctant to give to us – but rather he is lavishly generous – giving us more than what is needed or expected. 

We saw that theme repeated in the writings of Paul as Paul explained how God loved us and chose to adopt us into his family before time even began – and that doing that gave Him great pleasure! God loves to love us!

David had the very same understanding of God – as we saw in the Psalm 23. David talks about how God is our good shepherd and He takes awesome care of us – providing for our needs, protecting us from evil, even preparing a feast for us in the midst of our enemies.

And then we ended last week’s message by sharing communion together – and we remembered Jesus’ ultimate act of goodness and generosity – giving up his own life and dying on the cross so that we could live.

So I trust that last week was a strong reminder of the generosity of God.

But I want to be careful that I don’t present a lope-sided view of God. That is, I don’t want to emphasis one aspect of his character and leave out some others.

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The Lavish Generosity of God

Isn’t human nature interesting? It doesn’t matter how good of a deal we get, if someone else gets a better deal than us – we’re not usually happy about it, are we?

For example, let’s say that you decided to buy a brand new truck, and being the shrewed negotiator that you are, you manage to convince the dealer to sell you the truck for $10,000 less than what it’s really worth. You’d be pretty pleased with the deal you got, right?

But then, what if, after you got your truck and you’re feeling great about the deal you got – what if you found out that your friend went to that same dealer and got the exact same truck for $5000 less than what you paid?

Now be honest: Would you be happy that your friend got such a good deal – or would you be upset that you had to pay $5000 more than he did?

Seconds ago you were very pleased with the deal you got – now you’re upset over the same deal!

So why is that? Why is it that no matter how well things are going for us, if someone else seems to have something better, we get jealous and envious?

Well, Jesus once told a parable that addresses this very issue. This is one of those “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…. This” stories. It’s found in Matthew chapter 20. And I want to read that for you today. Starting in verse 1, Jesus begins the story like this…

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ 

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage.10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner,12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

Matthew 20:1-15

And that’s where Jesus ends the story. It’s quite a pointed question at the end, isn’t it? Very applicable to us… In fact, this story illustrates exactly the problem that we’ve been talking about.

So let’s walk through the story and point out a couple things along the way.

The story begins with a man going out and hiring a few men to spend the day working in his vineyard. Now that in itself was a quite a blessing to these men.  Back then it would be very common not to have a regular job that you go to every day, but rather, you would get hired on a day-by-day basis. All the men looking for work would gather and hang out in the marketplaces hoping to get hired for the day by a local farmer or businessmen so that they would be able to buy food for their families. Of course, there was no guarantee of work – and thus no guarantee of pay that day.

So the fact that these men were hired at all on this day was already a blessing. I imagine these fellows would have been quite pleased to earn a days wage. There would have been many men who wouldn’t get the chance to work and earn anything that day. So these guys would have been pretty happy to have been hired by this vineyard owner. 

If that’s where the story ended, I’m sure these men would have eagerly worked all day and then gone home with their money – very happy they were hired and very satisfied with their wages.

But of course, that’s not where the story ends. It just so happened that the vineyard owner traveled through the market several times throughout that day – at 9:00am, at noon, at three, and even at 5:00pm – and each time he finds men standing around doing nothing – so he offers them all a chance to work in his vineyard that day – even if it’s only for an hour or so.

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