Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Sermons (Page 2 of 7)

What Should Motivate Humility?

What Do You Want?

Do you desire joy for yourself? Do you desire glory for yourself? Do you desire your own exaltation? Do you want to be great? Then, believe it or not, humility is your ticket. In fact, you should seek humility more than anybody!

This past Sunday I was blessed with the opportunity to preach at Grace Fellowship Church in Rexdale — the church which planted us almost a year ago now — and I had the challenge of preaching on humility. There is so much to say about a topic like this that I felt that I was barely scraping the surface. One of the places I wanted to go, but simply did not have time, was the whole area of the motivation for humility. I wanted to talk about that because biblical motivation for humility can be so counter-intuitive…

What Did Jesus Want?

In Philippians 2, the apostle Paul holds up Jesus as the paradigm of humility. He alone had equality with God, but didn’t grasp on to it. Instead he was willing to come be mistreated, rejected, despised, beaten, and murdered, bearing the hatred of people and the just wrath of his Father. That is humility. A willingness to subject himself to whatever his Father has for him; he alone models perfect humility and contrition, he alone trembles at the word of his Father (Is 66.1-2).

So if we’re to imitate Jesus it would be helpful to know what motivated Jesus, right? What moved him to go to the cross in all humility?

For one thing, he desired joy (Heb 12.1-2). He also desired glory (John 17.5). He also desired vindication and exaltation, in the view of people (John 17.24). He also wanted to be great (Mark 10.43-45). Not what you would expect to hear, right? And it begs the question…

Should I Want That Too?

The short answer is ‘Absolutely!’ The reason those things seem so wrong for us to desire is because we are so full of sin that we typically associate the desire for those things with whatever means we determine necessary to get joy, glory, exaltation, and greatness. We’re typically so convinced that God doesn’t want us to have those things that we ultimately want that we refuse to trust him to give them to us. We seek them by our own means.

But the essence of the message of Jesus is this: Trust God, he is for you. He will exalt those who are his… in the mean time, stop fretting about what other people think. Stop fighting for position here and now. Entrust yourself to God fully and be content with his providence. He will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you (1 Pet 5.10). He will freely give you all things; nothing is too good for you (Rom 8.31-32)!

So What Should I Do?

So what is the New Testament message on the motivation for humility? Stop fighting for glory and honour here and now in your time and your way; embrace God’s providence, and trust him to exalt you in his time and in his way (1 Pet 5.6-7).

Believe it or not, God wants your joy, vindication, and glory more than you do. He sent his Son to prove it. So stop contending for his supremacy and seek your exaltation through humility and service. He is for you more than you are.

Three Reasons to Have Joy in Trials

The Apostle Peter

This past Sunday at GFC we began a new series in the book of 1 Peter called ‘A Holy People Living Wholly for God.’ One of the themes that’s immediately apparent in this letter is that of suffering. Peter is clearly writing to Christians whom he expects will undergo trials. The suffering for them, to this point, is not extreme or absolute. Rather, they are ‘grieved by various trials.’ Some are worse than others, all are different, none are fun.

Peter reminds them of their salvation (1 Pet 1.3-5) and tells them that in light of their salvation they can still rejoice despite undergoing hardship (1 Pet 1.6). Apart from their salvation itself (with a certain future hope of an inalienable, glorious inheritance), there are at least three reasons given by Peter why Christians can rejoice in their trials. Though many of our circumstances are different, all of his reasons still pertain to us today.

1. Whatever trials I have are necessary

These are Peter’s words: ‘In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved…’. In other words, you have not been grieved by anything that is not necessary. Peter began his letter by reminding them that they had become ‘elect exiles … according to the foreknowledge of God the Father’ (1 Pet 1.1-2), indicating that all their sufferings in this life, like everything in their lives, had been ordained by their Father who loves them. Here the same holds true. Whatever a Christian suffers, it is necessary. God the Father does not discipline his children or call them to suffer on a whim. When he calls them to this it is necessary for their good, according to his wisdom.

So whatever you are suffering right now, here is one reason to have joy: God the Father, who loves you, deems it necessary. It is not meaningless, but full of purpose.

2. Whatever trials I have are for proving my faith

Sometimes we are tempted to think that my sufferings are intended to break us. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Peter says your trials are ‘so that the tested genuineness of your faith’ may be seen (1 Pet 1.7). When God ordains trials in your life, they are not to break you, but to prove to you and to all onlookers that your faith is genuine. The trials are just the fire which refines your faith and makes it more pure. As your faith is purified it becomes even purer, more enduring, more precious.

So whatever you are suffering right now, you can remember this: even in the trials, God is proving and purifying your faith which is the very thing which guarantees your inheritance (1 Pet 1.4-5). Through trials our living hope grows stronger thus giving us even more joy.

3. Trials will result in praise, glory, and honour

The tested genuineness of our faith (while something to find joy in) is not an end in and of itself. Rather, our tested and proven faith has a result: praise, glory and honour (1 Pet 1.7).

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself to whom the praise and glory and honour go? Our gut instinct is obviously to respond that all praise and glory and honour go to God alone. But I think Peter is getting at something different here. Compare these other texts:

For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Rom 2.28-29)

Therefore do not pronounce judgement before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor 4.5)

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1.12)

And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Pet 5.4)

Isn’t that mind-blowing? Somehow in the wisdom of God it pleases him to crown us for our genuine faith, even though our faith is only upheld by his power (1 Pet 1.5).

So if there was ever a reason to rejoice in trials, here it is: When my faith is proven genuine it will result in praise and glory and honour from God! Can you imagine anything better than that? Can you imagine anything more joy-filled and humbling than that?

A joy greater than circumstances

Of course none of these things make suffering easy. The trials themselves are never joyful, nor are we specifically to find joy in the circumstances of the trial (as if we delight in pain). But we do have joy in this transcendent reality: the trials are necessary because our all-wise heavenly Father has ordained them for the proving of our faith, that we might receive praise and glory and honour from him. And of course, as we receive it, we will reflect all of it back to him as the one who upheld our faith by his power.

Our joy is not found in the trials, it is found in a hope and a future that is greater than our trials. God is working all things for our good.

Are You Cheerful?

Today in the car I was listening to a message by CJ Mahaney on Luke 17. He made a comment just in passing about this phrase from  James 5.13: ‘Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.’

CJ pointed out that James doesn’t assume that just because we’re cheerful, we’ll allow our cheerfulness to show. What a shame! If we are cheerful, we are actually instructed here to ‘sing praise.’ That is, if you are cheerful, let others know! Let your outer demeanour match your inner joy.

As he went on to note, too often, like the lepers in Luke 17, we simply receive gifts, enjoy them, and move on like a spoiled child at a birthday party. I need to hear this. If God has given me gifts that make me happy, I need to let my happiness show. It will give him glory, and my joy will invite others to participate in my joy with me.

Has God been gracious to you today? Have you received from him better than you deserve? Has his grace cheered you today? Then sing! Let others know! Give him glory. Let your cheerfulness be seen!

The Messiah They Never Imagined

This morning we looked at the two Sabbath controversy stories in Mark’s Gospel (Mk 2:23-3:6). What we saw is that Jesus continues to ‘burst the wineskins’ of Jewish expectations for their Messiah (Mk 2:18-22). As with demons, disease, forgiveness of sins, and association with sinners, Jesus continues to take every opportunity he can to proclaim his greatness and superiority to all that has come before.

That kind of a claim is either loving and kind (if true) or arrogant and insane (if untrue). The question the Pharisees faced on that fateful Sabbath is the same question we face today: Who is this man Jesus?

As usual, stream or download below.

05 – Mark 2:23 – 3:6 – The Messiah They Never Imagined – Julian Freeman – GFC – February 13, 2011

Sermon from Week 3

Okay, so as backward as this may seem, here is the audio from week 3, Mark 1.21-45: The Powerful Mercy of God on Display. Due to some technical difficulties, the posting of the audio was delayed until now. This is the sermon from January 30.

As with the others, use the player below to stream, or right-click and ‘save as…’ on the link to download the mp3.

03 – Mark 1 21-45 – The Powerful Mercy of God on Display – Julian Freeman – GFC – January 30, 2011

The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Today I had the privilege of preaching the beginning of the Gospel according to Mark in our second week as a church.

Rarely, if ever, in my study for preaching have I been so floored by the wisdom and the plan of God as he puts the gospel of Jesus into action. Rarely, if ever, have I seen the deity of Jesus so supremely and transparently evident as in this section of Scripture.

What an amazing blessing to be able to study the Word and the teach it week-by-week! I’m so thankful for the blessing I received this week in the study–I only pray that some of that over-flowed in blessing the people.

Anyway, while we’re currently figuring out website and hosting issues, I’ll continue to post the sermons online here. You can stream or download below.

02 – Mark 1 1-20 – The Prophesied Preacher of a Gospel That Changes Everything – Julian Freeman – GFC – January 23, 2011

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