Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

Taking Care of How You Hear, Part I

In Church Life on January 26, 2009 at 12:42 pm

(This sermon was preached on January 25, 2009 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.  You may listen to the mp3 , then go to listen to other sermons in the archive.  Take time to read Luke 8:16-21.)

Would it not be wonderful if large crowds gathered at a  house of worship automatically meant that God’s work was being done? In Luke 8:4, the Word says, “And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him.” Yet, great crowds at Christian churches, even the crowds that followed Jesus, did not mean that they would become followers. John 2:23-25 says,

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many
believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. [24] But Jesus on his part did not entrust
himself to them, because he knew all people
[25] and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew
what was in man.

People saw what Jesus did, heard what Jesus said, and even followed Jesus’ lead. Did this show saving faith?

In Luke 8, Jesus demonstrates the Spirit power of the Word. From the calming of the storm to the healing of a demoniac, to even raising someone from the day, Jesus showed the authoritative power of the Word because it bears the seal of God. God sends His ambassadors from His heavenly country with His message of deliverance and mercy from his wrath against our sin and into His mercy through Jesus’ work on the cross.

As we look at this passage this morning, Jesus gives us a phrase that we must take to heart. “Take care then how you hear. . . .” Mark 4 in the parallel passage says, “Pay attention to what you hear.” Jesus seems to be making a distinction on how one hears. Apparently, one can hear without hearing. You can have the sound waves hit your eardrum, pass through the small bones in the ear which resonate, sending a signal to your brain so you can hear the words which are spoken. How you hear the word and what you do with the Word you have heard reveals much about the condition of your heart before God.

1.   Hear the Word as a light for your path.

In verses 16-17, Jesus says, ““No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. [17] For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.”

Understand where this passage falls. The Sunday before I went to Trinidad, we examined Luke 8:4-15 in looking at the Parable of the Soils. The sower went to plant seed, which Jesus tells us served as the Word of God. The parables served to proclaim the Word, but the message of that Word was hidden to those who not only refused to hear, but from those whose hearts did not have the proper soil for the Word to take hold.

Jesus though goes further. He says basically, “If you have good soil and have received the message, don’t cover the message up! You are
lamps because of the Word that is in you. Now shine!” You see, we as the people of God cannot be lights in the world unless the Word of Christ is dwelling in us richly (Colossians 3:15). In fact, do you recall that Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

What are lamps good for? Lamps light up rooms so people can see where they are and what is located in those rooms. Lamps also
light the way we are going. And His Word moving in us shows the way. While in Trinidad, they had this Christian radio station on the
majority of the time. During one of the breaks in music, the deejay came on and said, “Dear Christian, you just need to dream those big dreams that you have, and when you have faith to believe it will come to pass, God will give you what you want.” I had just read about where Joel Osteen said that you need a life of generosity, and because of your generosity, God will bless you abundantly.

In America and in Trinidad, so many preach the message, “Do this, dream this, smile more, pray more, read more, give more, and God will
bless.” Messages like this are not lamps, but are caution lights blinking for us to move away and detour to the actual gospel. The lamp of God’s Word always shines upon Jesus Christ and Him crucified, who says, “I am extending my grace and mercy to you based upon what I’ve done. You are like sheep who have gone astray, each turning to your own way. What you need is not to chase after dreams by drumming up more faith and doing more so my Father will bless. He has already blessed you with the cross and empty tomb. You can dream and do and act, but you do not have the spiritual furniture arranged in your mind to handle, because even our best dreams drift
away from God.”

James 1:16-18 says:,

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. [17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creation.”

Notice: every blessing we have does not begin with a “dream within,” but from the Father above. Notice that our “dreams” may change with our inner emotions or our outward circumstances, but the Father has “no variation or shadow due to change.” He is steadfast, our rock and refuge. Notice that we become believers not by our own will and decision but “of his own will … by the word of truth.” Notice it is all of him. And once we get away from the Word of God, we stray from the path of God until the Spirit of God convicts us of the truth of God so we will repent and ask forgiveness of God so we will be restored by God.

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Can We Trust Our Eyes — Even in Watching the Olympics?

In 2008 Olympics, China on August 22, 2008 at 2:42 pm
2008 Olympics Logo

2008 Olympics Logo

Mark Alexander of the Patriot Post and fresh off his return from the Olympics in Beijing gives some firsthand perspective on what is and what is not being reported from China. Here’s an excerpt:

Having just returned from Beijing, where I was the guest with a corporate association, it is a bit disconcerting to watch NBC’s glossy coverage of the Olympic games, and China in general, and to endure the echo NBC’s coverage is receiving through other media outlets. The network dared not venture off the reservation, and its coverage offered no observation on the obfuscation outside the Olympic village.

Of course, it’s the Year of the Rat.

While in China, I enjoyed major Olympic venues, but I was far more impressed by meetings with several Chinese leaders of underground Christian movements, Chinese entrepreneurs, and other Chinese reformers.

Suffice it to say, I found China to mirror what I anticipated: A great people enslaved under the rule of the tyrannical Red Chinese government—1.329 billion people, in fact, who share none of the rights outlined in our Constitution, which most Americans take for granted.

(Click here to read the rest of this compelling article.)

Personally, I have enjoyed the Olympics, but have noticed that if I went solely by the coverage NBC and other media outlets give, I would never know of the oppression, Christian persecution, and other human rights’ atrocities that plague the Communist China’s government. The scandal surrounding the age of the Chinese gymnasts and their age (or lack thereof) should result in the removal of their considerable number of gold medals (but time will tell if this will prove to be an actuality).

Do We Believe What Is, Or Only What We Wish To Be So?

The lesson here is somewhat clear: we are not strong nor able enough to believe everything that meets the eye. We may approach our TVs and news outlets and believe everything they feed us, although our culture which is growing more skeptical of all things by the seconds seldom does not struggle with this nearly as much. Yet, even the most observant of us can fall under the illusion of something being true because we want it to be so.

Consider the following: I have difficulty with the notion that there are any people on earth who truly commit such crimes and atrocities against humanity as we have heard of the Chinese government. As a result, I don’t want to believe it and find myself looking for any and every newsbit to prove those other reports wrong. We often only process what we want to believe rather than what reality presents.

As a pastor, I see this happen frequently. Some clear teaching from God’s Word is brought out and it is the truth that bears His authority. Yet, too many do not wish it to be so, and thus say that it cannot be so based on a variety of desires, feelings, or notions that have anchored themselves in their psyche. Therefore, many who claim faith say they are “rational” or “balanced” or something similar. They long to be “balanced” because they find some things that make sense while they disregard other things based on their own notions of what is truth. That’s their balance.

Some do not want to present reality because they will be seen for what they are. As for China, they sweat at what Alexander calls the “porcelain facade” being broken or even cracked. Truth cuts through like a hot knife.

What about us? Do we put forth facades to deceive others of even God of where we stand and of who we are at our core? Christ came to give us His Word which serves as follows. Hebrews 4:12-16 says:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. [13] And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
[14] Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. [15] For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. [16] Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Christ calls through all pretense. We will either see this now or see it later at the Judgment Seat. So let’s come to Him now with our masks and facades and learn a lesson from China. Perception is not reality. Truth is reality.

Galatians 6:7-8 says:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. [8] For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (ESV)

(c) 2008, Matthew Perry.

Why Do Christians Hold to Such an Old Book? (Introduction)

In Church Life on September 24, 2007 at 12:24 pm

(You may listen to this sermon in its entirety by clicking here. This was preached at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY on 23 September 2007.)

In our culture, ‘old’ is out. When it comes to fashion and trends, to be told “Uh… that is sooo yesterday” is a death knell for that particular product.
Now, there are certain things that come back into style (remember the bellbottoms a few years ago which came back from the 1970s?), they seem to just as quickly get out of style. “New” is in — ‘old’ is out.

Yet, here we are meeting in this place. Here I am and here you are, I pray, with something rather old in your hands. Older than your wedding ring. Older than this building. Older than this church. Older than this country. We’re talking old. This book you have in your hand called the Bible goes way back. The oldest portion of the Scriptures could go back to as far as 1600
B.C. with the book of Job. The newest portion of this was written by the Apostle John somewhere between A.D. 85 and 90. These forty authors from different cultures and backgrounds and occupations find themselves writing various types of literature (history, poetry, biographies, letters, works about the end times, etc.) which all of us hold as something significant and special. And yes, I’ll even say ‘authoritative.’

This is the rub for many people. For our culture, ‘new’ is authoritative and
old is antiquated and outdated and to be relegated solely for a past day — not for today. We wouldn’t think of using a 50, 100, or even 200 year old anatomy book when considering surgery. Our math teachers here wouldn’t
pull out a 500 year old mathematics book as the main textbook in teaching
geometry. Each of these fields (and others) are constantly being updated with new advances — so why not Christianity? Why do we still use the same manual, the same ‘textbook’ as always? 

The reason stands on our conviction that this book is not simply a textbook, a history book, a manual for living — nor is it like any other book on the face of this earth.   While we do have history in the Bible, while we do have great stories, while we do have stirring poetry and exciting apocalyptic literature. While we have compelling biographies and heart-wrenching letters, the Bible is literature — but more than that. The Bible is the living, active, and authoritative Word of God.

(Tomorrow: Godly Inspiration, not Worldly Interpretation)

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