The Past as an Indicator of the Future

There is a leadership principle that says, “Your past is the best indicator of your future.” Meaning, if you want to know what a person will be like in the future, don’t listen to their promises, words of how they think they will be in the future, look at how they have been.

I think the same can be said with God. One thing that has blown me away reading through the Bible in 90 days is God’s patience with Israel. He continually gives them second, third and fourth chances.

Followers of Jesus talk about the amazing God has done in the past. How he has rescued them. Jesus coming to earth, dying in our place, rising from the dead. We look back when we take communion, share in the celebration of baptism and hear the stories of redemption. Our thinking though, often stops there. We don’t take God’s past performance so to speak and look to the future. If what God has done in the past is so incredible, so life altering, imagine what the present can be and what the future will be like.

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The Details of God

Katie and I are reading through the Bible right now and I just got done with Exodus and I’m moving into Leviticus.

One of the things that blew me away in Exodus are the details of God. While Exodus is a great story of how big and powerful God is, a great reminder about how God rescues us and redeems us.

Exodus shows the details to which God goes to redeem us. The details of the plagues, the provision of Israel in the wilderness. The details of the sacrifices and worship. Everything has been thought through.

It is a great reminder to me of how important all the things, big and small, in my life are to God. There is no detail too small, no detail that’s unimportant.

It also shows what God redeems us from. This past week, I preached on how the gospel frees us from our past, old ways of thinking and feeling. In Exodus, God goes to great length to show Israel that they are a new people, a redeemed people, his people. The passover is a great picture of this, the details that God gives them on how to eat, when, how quickly, etc. Showing them, you have a new identity, a new way.

Exodus also shows us how quickly the Israelites forget who God is, who they are, what God has rescued them from, what he has done for them and in them, and how quickly they fall back into old ways of thinking, feeling and believing. They complain more than almost anyone else in the Bible it seems. On and on they go, whining about how slavery is better than freedom.

I wonder if when we sin and fall into old ways of thinking, we are like the nation of Israelites. My old body image, my old goals and dreams, my old way of looking and thinking about money, marriage, sex, career, kids are better than a new way that’s formed in the gospel.

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How we Forget God

I was reading in Psalm 106 today and a verse jumped out to me, verse 7. David is talking about how quickly the nation of Israel forgot God. God, after 400 years of slavery, rescues the nation of Israel. Takes them out of the superpower of the day, protects them, gets them to the red sea and verse 7 it says, “They  did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.” Even after God rescued them, took them out slavery, they forgot God.

It got me thinking, how easily we forget God. God blesses us with health, a home, food, clothes, money, stuff, relationships and when something falls apart in those areas (often because of our sin, but not always), we wonder where God is. We forget God.

I know for me, God has helped us get out of debt, provided for us in miraculous ways as Revolution got off the ground and yet, when money is tight it is easy for me to forget all of that and wonder how we’re going to get through it.

David goes on in Psalm 106 and says that God rebuked the Red Sea, it became dry and they walked across it. In verse 11 it says that the waters covered their adversaries and not one of them was left. Then in verse 12, “They believed his words; they sang his praise.” God does things to remind us of his presence, of his grace, of his love.

I take comfort in the fact that God will do what he does again and again. What I pray is that I can be different from the Israelites and just trust God in those moments instead of needing another sign as they do and as I often do.

Verse 13, gets even more depressing, it says they forgot his works soon. And then the rest of the Psalm gives an overview of the book of Exodus and how the nation of Israel sinned to the point that in verse 24 “they had not faith in his promise.” After all that, they had no faith in what God had promised.

Incredible.

How quickly they forgot. How quickly we forget and lose hope.

The Irresistible Revolution: The Movement Begins (Acts 2:1 – 41)

The passage we looked at today is really the turning point in the book of Acts. The Holy Spirit that Jesus promised has now come and the movement of God has begun in the lives of these few gathered people. The revolution has started.

I started by looking at Exodus 19 when God gave Moses the law on Mt. Sinai. This happened 50 days after passover. The day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the church, it was 50 days after passover. I think it is incredible that God had both important things in the life of his people happen on the same day.

As Christians today, this is part of our story. The beginning of the movement of the church is part of our story, we carry that on today.

I closed by giving an update on where we are with moving Seth and Kindra Baron out.  Seth is coming out to be our worship pastor, but from the beginning we have told them we can’t afford to pay him.  Seth has spent the last 2 months looking for a job here from Indianapolis.  We have tried to take the sensible route and be safe about it, which is a good thing.

Kindra watches kids in their home to earn some money for their family, but on February 15th, they will lose that income.  When they told the families of the kids she watches about the job out here, those families began looking for other childcare options and so her work opportunity will come to an end.

As an elder board, we have had the conversation of faith and safety for several months.  But during these last few weeks of this series, we have just been challenged about how much we are trusting God in this situation.

So we are asking Seth and Kindra to move out here, we are going to pay them part-time to start to help while they both look for jobs.  To do that, I am going to reduce my salary so that the church has some money to give to Seth, he is that important to the next step of our church. I am asking our church to sacrifice with us. Every week. I think this is going to be a time when we look back as a community and see the way God grew us in this area.

Here’s the call:  if you aren’t giving financially to Beginnings and sacrificing that way, then this would be the time to start.  If you are, that’s awesome.  I want to ask you to pray about doing more. God will reward your sacrifice. Also, we are going to be looking for people who are willing to help with childcare for them, as well as caring for them as a community and with part-time or full-time job opportunities. There are a ton of ways we can get involved. Sacrificing hurts, but I believe that God calls us to do that throughout lives. 

Someone in our church after hearing about this decided to donate their tax return so that we can move them out here. It has been amazing to see the way God is moving in people’s hearts.

I think we are standing on the edge of an incredibly exciting time in our church. The future is bright for what God is going to do in Tucson and the world because of Beginnings. Hang on for the ride.

Books to check out on the topic:
Let the nations be glad:  The supremacy of God in missions  (John Piper)   
Fresh power:  Experiencing the vast resources of the Spirit of God  (Jim Cymbala)   
Taste & see:  Savoring the supremacy of God in all of life  (John Piper)   

Vintage Jesus: How did People Know Jesus was Coming?

We started our series Vintage Jesus today. We talked about how people knew Jesus was coming. There are over 60 Old Testament prophecies concerning someone called the Messiah. We looked at 20 of those today and how Jesus fulfilled each one of those. Jesus actually fufilled all of them, but that would have taken longer to go through each one.

It was amazing to see the prophecies line up as I was writing this message. The messiah is someone who came through the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Judah (Genesis 12:3, 17:9, 49:10; Numbers 24:17). His mom would be a virgin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14). He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). He would spend time in Egypt as a refugee (Hosea 11:1). He would commit no sins (Isaiah 53:9). He will go to the temple (Malachi 3:1), which is amazing because the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, so we have a deadline on when the Messiah will come. He would perform miracles (Isaiah 35:5 – 6). He would be celebrated like a king, while riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). He would be betrayed by a close friend (Psalm 41:9). He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12 – 13). He would be beaten, despised, rejected & he would not defend himself (Isaiah 50:3, 6, 53:7). He would be crucified through his hands and feet, even though crucifixion was not invented for another 300 years after this prophecy (Psalm 22:16). None of his bones would be broken (Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20). He would be forsaken by God (Psalm 22:1). He would be crucified with sinners (Isaiah 53:12), buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9). He would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10 – 11). That after death, he would ascend to heaven to sit at the right hand of God, which is where he is today (Psalm 68:18, 110:1).

When you boil it all down, it is an incredibly detailed list. It is a short list of people who even come close to filling the list, let alone fulfilling everything on the list. And Jesus fulfilled them all.

As I was writing this week, I was struck by how involved God is in history. How much a part of the unfolding of the story of creation He is and how a part of our story He is. The power that he has for these to be true is incredible.

I think this was a great way to start off a new series, especially as we head into the holiday season.

Books to check out:
Vintage Jesus (Mark Driscoll)
The Case for Christmas (Lee Strobel)

Vintage Jesus

We just finished our series on the book of Titus called Convergence.  This sunday we will start a brand new servintage-jesus.jpgvintage-jesus.jpgies called Vintage Jesus.  We will spend the month of December looking at different questions that people have about Jesus and what the Bible has to say about them.  The series will go:

Dec. 2:  How Did People Know Jesus was Coming?

Dec. 9:  Where was Jesus Before He Came?

Dec. 16:  Did Jesus’ Mom Need to be a Virgin?

Dec. 23:  Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

Dec. 30:  What Difference has Jesus Made in History?

Below are some interesting quotes from different people about Jesus:

  • Mahatma Gandhi: “I cannot say that Jesus was uniquely divine. He was as much God as Krishna, or Rama, or Mohammed, or Zoroaster.”
  • Adolf Hitler: “In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read
    through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His
    might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of
    vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the
    Jewish poison.”
  • Larry King “was once asked who he would most want to interview if he
    could choose anyone from all of history. He said, ‘Jesus Christ.’ The
    questioner said, ‘And what would you like to ask Him?’ King replied, ‘I
    would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that
    question would define history for me.’”
  • John Lennon: “Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I
    needn’t argue with that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re
    more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first—rock and
    roll or Christianity.
  • Carlos Mencia: “You know what, I became more Christian after I saw
    the movie [The Da Vinci Code] because, I, you know, as a Christian, I
    was like, you know, Jesus died for our sins he suffered. But now that I
    know that he’s married, I’m like, wow, did he really suffer. Poor guy.”
  • Friedrich Nietzsche: “Jesus died too soon. If he had lived to my age
    he would have repudiated his doctrine.”
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Socrates died like a philosopher; Jesus
    Christ died like a God.”
  • Joseph Smith: “Mormonism is the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ; of
    which I myself am not ashamed.”
  • Mark Twain: “If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not
    be—a Christian.”
  • H. G. Wells: “I am a historian, I am not a believer, but I must
    confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is
    irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most
    dominant figure in all history.”
  • Oprah Winfrey: “There couldn’t possibly be just one way . . .” [Lady
    in the audience: “What about Jesus?”] “What about Jesus? . . . Does God
    care about your heart or does God care about if you call his son
    Jesus?”