Satan the Interloper
Interloper is a funny word when you say it five or six times real fast. The dictionary has two meanings:
-a person who interferes or meddles in the affairs of others.
-a person who intrudes into a region, field, or trade without a proper license.
When you apply it to Satan, the term explains a lot. God created this world and it was good. Satan intruded and meddled in what God made, and took what was good and tried to make it a place he would rule. And though he is referred to as the prince of this world, he will never be king…not even Steward.
The European countries, during the age of empire building, would sail to places and claim them for their own. England operated by a principle called, “The Doctrine of Effective Occupation.” This basically stated that if no country physically occupied a area, it could be claimed as their own. If you get there first, you can have it.
Satan untiringly lies that he has effective occupation rights on earth. Yet the biblical message is one of recovering for God what his creative powers first established. Satan is the interloper whose opposition remains historical, not eternal.
In John 10, Jesus describes the actions of Satan as a thief and a robber. “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Satan is that thief and robber. He doesn’t come in through the place where authority is established, but side steps that to gain entry and assume control.
Once in, he begins to destroy that which is good. Jesus said the thief comes in only to steal and kill and destroy. There is nothing good in the work of the interloper. He spreads the seeds of hypocrisy, slander and doubt. He tries to get us to think that we are the problem and inspires us to attack and judge.
But Jesus said there is a way that is sure to discern what is good and what is not. Satan doesn’t know our name or know who we are. And if we stop and listen, we will hear that his voice is unfamiliar. There is a sneer and cynicism in his voice.
Just because the interloper claims to be in charge, he is not. Don’t let him meddle in the affairs of your life.
Drawing From the Well of this World
When Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman in John 4, concerning living water, she was confused because He didn’t have anything to reach into the well. It is often the case with people who are inclined to focus most on things we can see. Spiritual things can confuse us. Jesus used the physical element of Jacob’s well to communicate a spiritual reality. The confusion comes in when we think that the physical element is how God is going to sustain us. Living Water does not come from Jacob’s Well. Though God will bless us physically with physical things, spiritual blessings come from a different place. Physical water will quench our thirst temporarily, but Living water will satisfy to the point where we will never thirst again.
In the story of Jesus’ encounter with this woman, the well really symbolizes a hindrance to spiritual growth and maturity. The well symbolizes problems and challenges that we face. We often think our problems are deep and something that Jesus cannot help work out. And as long as our eyes are on those physical things, we will never trust the leadership and solutions that Jesus provides. Deep wells are a problem for us, but not for Jesus.
For the woman of Samaria, her well was how she looked at herself. She didn’t see herself as lovable so she loved who ever came along. It was a well that reached deep into her soul. Her lifestyle was how she coped with her deep hurt. Relationships that might start out passionate and satisfying but end up cold and empty. She was just barely living. Of her, and many others, these words are true, “everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives.” William Wallace was talking about the importance of risking your life for what truly matters. Here we mean, if we think we can solve the deep hurts of life with the things of this world, we will be disappointed.
It is important for you to recognize your need for God. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.
A Closer Walk With Jesus… that is the theme for the efforts of the Lakeview Congregation for 2014. Of course, it is also a song that sings about the desire of our hearts, to be closer. As we have been developing the idea among the leaders, I have found myself constantly singing or humming this song. It is a song that reminds us of humility and dependence. It also reminds us where our strength comes from. Daily walking close with Jesus is the goal of the theme. Who doesn’t want or need that? It is our intent, therefore to craft our year and the things we do and teach around that theme statement. Just as the first disciples asked Jesus, “Teach us how to pray”, we need to ask Jesus, “Teach us how to walk closer to you.” We hope that this is helpful to you as you seek to grow in your faith.
Upcoming Preaching Schedule
Sunday AM-“Decisive Disciples”…Lessons from the Prophet Jeremiah taught by Dennis Baker – Part one of this series of lessons will continue through March 9th.
Sunday AM-“Being Manly” will begin on March 16th and run through April 6th. Ben Cook will present this series of lessons that will teach principles of Biblical Masculinity.
Sunday AM-“Decisive Disciples II”, Dennis will continue studies form the book of Jeremiah will begin on April 20th.
Sunday PM-“Walk With Me” – Lessons on the invitation of Jesus to follow Him. Dennis will conclude these lessons on March 16th.
Sunday PM-“Connecting With Friends”…These lessons will focus on the biblical principles of connecting with people and helping them investigate the claims of Jesus. These lessons will be presented by Dennis.
Sunday PM-“Shine: A Brilliant Idea”…Ben will present a series of lesson from the book of 1 John.
It is our hope that these lessons will help you know what you need to know to have a closer walk with Jesus. We are excited about the dynamic that our ministry team can bring and pray that as you “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, you will be filled.
Paul uses sports as an analogy to describe the kind of effort we should give as we follow Christ. 2 Timothy 2:5 refers to the importance of playing according to the rules of the game. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 speaks to the fact that not all who compete win the prize. Paul exhorts us to run in such a way to win the prize, for we receive a prize that will never fade or perish.
We have concluded one major sporting event and started another. From the Super Bowl to the Olympic Games, athletes will follow these principles as they compete. In both of these events there is a mixture of individual and team elements. When talking about the Seahawks, many have emphasized the team chemistry. Other teams may have a superstar that carries the team but the Seahawks were different. While they definitely have a team chemistry, it isn’t really the best explanation for their success. No one person stood out as the MVP of the game and I heard it was hard to determine. Everyone played their position well and made significant contributions.
One sports commentator said Seattle doesn’t even have a model for their defense that others may copy. It is the individual players that make the difference; their talent and also their attitude. In addition, their conviction that every day was game day; every game was the championship game. Because of this conviction, they strive to bring their best to every game. And it shows on the field. Sometimes players have big games but most of the time all players have good games.
The Olympic Games depend more on the strength of the individual, and so bringing their best every day is key. I think this has application to our lives as Christians. The church is a team, but our congregation is only as strong as the individual members. We may have times when one person really shines, but to accomplish what God wants us to accomplish, we all have to bring our best every day.
The difference between our best and an athlete’s best is ours is guided by God’s Word and empowered by His Holy Spirit. We are reminded that there is no doubt who will win the contest. God will win and Satan will be defeated. Whose team will you be on? Will you commit to the training and the preparation our task requires? Will you share in the benefits of the work God has called His church to accomplish?
Financial Peace University
You may have noticed the banners, the Facebook event, the posters, or other material around here. We are going to host Financial Peace University at Lakeview. If you’re not familiar with FPU or Dave Ramsey, I highly recommend that you get to know what he teaches about finances.
Here are a few reasons why:
· Jesus spoke about money more often than He did about heaven or hell.
· 72% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and cannot survive a significant medical or employment crisis.
· Less than 1/3 of Americans are currently on target to retire with their financial savings goals.
· Financial-related arguments are the single best predictor of divorce in America.
· The average evangelical Christian gives less than 2% of their income to church.
Learning to communicate and value money the same way is huge in a young marriage. Simply put: we spend money on what we value. Jesus said it very clearly when He said “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Lk 12:34). Young couples are figuring out what they value as a couple. Oddly enough, conversations about money are usually conversations about values.
Handling money is important for many reasons. Some are obvious. Retirement and financial independence are good examples, but what about this one: generosity? One thing I am certain of: Jesus expects His disciples to be generous, and yet our personal generosity is directly connected with our ability to handle our personal finances well. Have you ever met a truly generous person? Surprisingly, generous people are not necessarily wealthy people.
Here are the logistics for FPU at Lakeview: The course costs money to enroll and become a member of FPU. Once you are a member, you can attend an FPU class anywhere - for life. Currently, membership costs $93/household. You are free to purchase your own membership kit online, or sign up in the back and purchase through Lakeview. Whether you are new to FPU, or already a member, please go to the back and sign up so that we can make preparations for you!
We plan on hosting FPU on Wednesdays, March 5th-April 30th; 6:30-8pm. Our plan is to use room 4, and my expectation is that we will get a good mix of families from Lakeview, along with couples in our community who are already looking for a local FPU class in the Lakewood/Tacoma area. This means if you enroll in FPU, look for new faces, and greet them. If you attend one of our other Bible classes while FPU is going on, look for new faces to meet and greet when we all dismiss.
A Prophet For Our Times
Some have referred to Jeremiah as the “reluctant prophet” or the “weeping prophet.” Both do describe this person who was called to serve God in difficult times. And both tags speak to how he responded to the Lord’s call on his life. He was reluctant because he had a sense of the importance of the task the Lord had in mind. Who is able to speak on behalf of God and who is qualified to be an “expert” on all things God in such troubling times? A time when everyone is an expert and everyone has an opinion. I wouldn’t want that job (oh, wait…). Anyways, who wouldn’t be reluctant when you feel unqualified for the task and believe everyone else would be more qualified…in fact others should already have been doing what Jeremiah has been called to do. But they weren’t. The reforms of Josiah were significant, but people were not following their king. God blessed him, but others probably resented this young punk trying to tell them how to live. Young Josiah couldn’t possibly understand the complications and the sophistication of life in the real world. Society has moved past the superstitions and myths of the past. And as Galadriel tells the story of the Ring she says, “And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” God’s people forgot their past and bringing them to it would be a difficult task. And because they forgot their past, Jeremiah wept for them and for his land of birth, and for all that would certainly be lost. Jeremiah says that his “dear people have broken his heart.” They have given up the Lord who has loved them and cared for them. He gave them his very life, and they exchanged it for gods and a law that would only take them back to Egypt. They rejected life and chose death.
What a message for our time! Jeremiah is a message to our time. It is a message that strikes at the heart of God’s love and action on our behalf. A message of patience and grace. A message that exposes our rebellion and harden hearts. A message that we should hear, because the warning to the Lord’s people is a warning to us today. We are challenged to look around and see how far we have strayed. We are challenged to see what we are losing when we live so close to the morality of our culture that we can’t see the difference between the commands of the Lord and the dictates of culture.
The response to the message of Jeremiah is to for us to be decisive as we repent and arrange our lives under the priorities of the Lord. Don’t hesitate and don’t doubt too long, because much is at stake. Remember the covenant you made with the Lord. Acknowledge your guilt. Obey the voice of the Lord.
The Second Great Awakening (1790 to 1870) stirred our nation with a greater commitment to follow Christian principles. It motivated men and women to get serious about what they believed and it led to many efforts to spread the Christian faith. One of the necessary elements surfaced in the hearts and minds of people; the need for unity as the Christian faith spread. The Cane Ridge Revival (1832) marked the beginning of that effort. This led to the Restoration Movement. The churches of Christ in American are the spiritual heirs of that movement. The core principle to that movement was the conviction that God’s word, the Bible, was the only reliable source for how the church should be organized and how Christians should live.
These are things God’s people have always struggled with. In John 8, Jesus shows compassion to a woman. In the context of this encounter, the Jews accuse the woman of breaking the Law of Moses. In their accusation, the weakness comes out. The truth is, a man and a woman had committed a sin. Their statement was, “The Law tells us to stone such a woman.” The Law actually says more than they stated (Lev. 20:10). It is a struggle for humans to be people who “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
In John 8, Jesus teaches us the importance of knowing and putting into practice all that He has taught. After the accusers realize their own guilt, and have walked away, He extends mercy and grace, and tells her to go and sin no more. Often times we come down strongly on one of these important elements of the Christian faith. We either emphasize grace and minimize the ethic or we emphasize the ethic and minimize grace. Both are crucial, for both grace and the ethic reveal the character of God.
As heirs of the Restoration Movement and those who seek to promote New Testament Christianity, we have to be faithful in restoring and teaching all of the “counsel of God.” We should feel honorable that we are attempting so great a feat; representing the Creator to the world He created. It has changed many lives for the better, but the unbalanced approach, ethic without grace or grace without the ethic, will change very little. It only appeals to the flesh. It isn't the word of God, but a tradition of men.
Hitting The Mark…
We had a good Men’s Gathering this past Monday evening. We started out talking about how those who were there came to be a Christian. Hearing the stories of faith of other men is encouraging. We then talked about breaking the chains that hold men to the struggles of the past. God’s Word to us that evening was found in 2 Kings 22:13 and 2 Chronicles 29:5-6. These verses highlight how these men were chain-breakers when it came to their lives and areas of responsibility. We ended with a group prayer and we prayed about the things discussed. Our next meeting is Monday, February 3rd at 6:30 pm.
I have been convicted about several inappropriate comments I have made while speaking in the last few weeks. Twice I have referenced the Affordable Healthcare Act, in a way that was sarcastic and offensive. My remarks disrespected the current Administration. I ask you to forgive my remarks and hold me accountable for these types of comments. As Lanita and I discussed this, we noted that Jesus never made disparaging remarks about the Roman Government and Paul told us in two places to respect those in authority and pray for them. My remarks accomplished neither of these biblical mandates.
The pulpit of the church is not the place for these kinds of remarks as it is a one sided discussion and such comments are divisive. They do not create the unity we need to have if we are going to achieve the goals that God has for us. I agree with the statement made by one Brother that God is neither Republican not Democrat. I also agree with another who said, we don’t have time for these issues…they are small when compared to the work God has called us to do.
I am committed to praying for our national government, for a nation is only as strong as the faith of its people and its leaders. We live in challenging times and now, more than ever, it is the message of the Gospel that is needed.
Unity in the Churches…over the last several months we have had successful efforts to build unity among the churches in the Puget Sound Area. The Spiritual Growth Workshop and the 5th Sunday Singing accomplished the goal of bringing hope for greater fellowship among sister congregations. As a way to build on these efforts, the Lakeview and Puyallup congregations will “swap ministers” next Sunday morning. Robert Henton will serve as a Mission Sunday speaker and talk about the importance of the work at the Mountain States Children’s Home. I will be speaking at Puyallup.
“Therefore, say to the Israelites: I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment” (Exodus 6:6). These words are so encouraging, hopeful and relevant to us today. Through Jesus, God has redeemed us from slavery. Not the slavery of the Egyptians, but the slavery of sin (Romans 6:15-ff). Although sin involves a willful decision on our part to live contrary to the law of God, the Bible also portrays sin as a power that can hold us in captivity (1 John 5:19). Every person on earth faces this reality; we are in bondage and in need of redemption but we can’t redeem ourselves. The power of Satan is too great. Nothing less than the blood of Jesus and the power of the resurrection could free us.
The Spirit in us enables us to experience this freedom. It is a freedom from the compulsion to sin. We can chose not to sin. It is a freedom from the dominating power of Satan, as long as we are, “Strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” It is a freedom from fear because perfect love casts out fear.
Our response is the commitment to honor God. Paul said it well when he wrote, “You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Honoring God can happen in many ways. When you have time, look up Matthew 5:16, John 15:8 and Romans 15:5-6. Write down what these verses tell you and then spend some time praying about honoring God in these practical ways.
The New Year gives us the opportunity to make a mental break from the past and once again embrace the freedom we have in Christ. Honoring God with your body is positive action as you move forward and have a closer walk with Jesus.
“Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.”
This passage in Ephesians is a key passage to understanding unity in the body of Christ. While many struggle with the phrase, “unity in diversity,” this passage really speaks to that. Unity is in what we believe and practice and this passage gives us an impressive list of what binds us together as followers of Christ. It is important to underline that diversity is not about what we believe or practice, but what we bring; the gifts that God gives us. Things gifts or abilities to work and serve in the body of Christ are things that are unique to each one of us. The giftedness is designed to use the diversity of humans to bring life and encouragement to the entire body. (See Ephesians 4:16)
It is this diversity that we will celebrate this evening as the Puget Sound Churches come together for a time of fellowship and praise. These times are important because they give us the opportunity to accept one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us. The passage teaches us that unity is the result of diligent effort. It teaches us that unity resides in the Spirit; is built in to God’s plan for people and we must work at keeping that unity. I hope you plan to attend the 5th Sunday Area-Wide Singing and that you make every effort and do your part to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. The evening of singing will begin at 5:00 PM and after that will be a time of fellowship. We should finish up a little past 7:00 pm. Lakeview members are asked to provide finger foods.