Due to technical difficulties, the sermon was not recorded. We are so sorry for any inconvenience. However, Communal Prayer did record. So, here it is:
Highland family, we continue on with firming up our grip on “good.” This sermon offers more of a road forward, as to our roles as those who profess Christ as Lord. Below, you will find our central passage:
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8).
I look forward to seeing you all tomorrow. I am so thankful for to be part of the Highland Tribe!
I love you,
*This blog is a continuation of the prior blog.
Good hearts are repentant hearts.
“For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God” (John 3:20-21).
A good and honest heart admits its bad condition. By repenting, God’s Holy Spirit dwells within our hearts, producing God’s works in us. Therefore, God gets all glory for any “good” that comes from our lives.
For us to define “good” is bad.
If we do not understand that our Lord invades our wicked hearts and produces good within us, then we get to define good - and that is bad! Mankind defining good is bad because we use our own judgment, moral code and opinions to inform our definition. This results in us earning our own moral status, even salvation. It then leads us to condemning those who fail to meet our version of good. Ultimately, to define good is bad because this is the birthplace of religion.
God defines good.
“Just then someone came up and asked Him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?”
“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” He said to him. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked Him. Jesus answered:
Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
“I have kept all these,” the young man told Him. “What do I still lack?”
“If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:16-22).
Behind this young man’s request for knowing more about being good, he is asking:
‘Jesus, sign off and confirm my definition of good.’'
‘Jesus, acknowledge the good I have performed.’
For the young man, his possessions served as his personal reward for his goodness. Perhaps he saw the poor as undeserving of his resources, which means he saw himself as deserving - my personal observation. Either way, in response to the young man’s request, Jesus makes it crystal clear that there is only One who has a firm grip on the meaning of “good.”
Good defines bad.
“Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. 4 “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. 5 In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” 6 They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.
Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. 7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. 9 When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, Lord,”she answered.
“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
13 So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself. Your testimony is not valid.”
14 “Even if I testify about Myself,” Jesus replied, “My testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I’m going. But you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by human standards.I judge no one. 16 And if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me judge together” (John 8:3-16).
To use this woman, who is a sinner, as a pawn to prove their own self-righteousness simply manifests their own guilt. For us to define good is bad because sin-stained hearts always look to define others as bad, so that we can define ourselves as good. Jesus makes it clear that to weaponize the law against the guilty calls down condemnation on the one who is passing judgment. He goes on to say that his judgments are right and true because His judgments are in alignment with the only One who is good, the Lord, who ‘judges justly.’
This is a written recap of our current glimpse into Scripture. It begins with the reading of Luke 8:11-15.
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:11-15).
To the make the effort, I think, is necessary to attempt to explain why I would hone in on one word, like: ‘good.’ Based on the Parable of the Sower, the Word of God is presented to each condition of soil (heart). Only one condition of soil (good soil) produces and cultivates a mature crop. Hence, it is critical to the life of the believer to grasp what Jesus intends to be understood by this parable.
In summation, I offer that Scripture affords only one explanation as to what Jesus means when he says: ‘honest and good heart.” That being: Good soil (heart) acknowledges and admits its bad (sinful) condition. Simply put: ‘good hearts’ are repentant hearts.
Scripture offers clear indicators as to what tenants make up a repentant heart. Here’s an overview.
The Repentant Heart:
Realizes sin is offensive to God
Submits to and surrenders in belief to Jesus, as Lord.
Out of a new-birthed desire for the honor of Jesus, now hates their sin and its affects.
The Gospel salvation is so free, that the poorest is not shut out; and so full, that the most burdened conscience may find relief from it. Yet the evil of sin is so displayed as to cause every pardoned sinner to abhor and dread it.” Matthew Henry
Realizes sin is against God, and destroys lives.
Rejoices in God’s mercy being afforded to personal encounter with sin.
That joy is then expressed through obedience.
Burdened for wicked to know salvation, not judgmental.
Compelled to proclaim the message of reconciliation - the Gospel - in every encounter/environment.
Understanding that good hearts are repentant hearts matters because Jesus says the result is a mature crop will be produced. So, does that mean we will behave in a better way or that there is new source residing and producing “good fruit” within us?
Where does “good” originate from within our lives?
The point here is that good soil has been produced by the Lord by way of our submission to the Lordship of Jesus. Thereby, the Holy Spirit, by way of conviction and counsel, breaks up the hard, fallowed ground of our hearts, allowing the Word of God to be implanted within us, securely. As we remain yielded to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the seed of Scripture produces good, mature and Gospel-flavored fruits through us.
Grasping this reality is critical because the word “good” is dangerously subjective and deceiving on so many levels.
What does “good” actually appear to be in our lives?
In human-nature, putting a face on the word “good” typically results in two over-arching evidences:
The absence of bad.
The presence of morality.
These definitions of “good” are rooted in behavior, not motive. The heart is always behind behavior; it houses our motive. However, our general understanding of a “good heart” is, one, that our hearts remain sheltered from bad things and, two, remain true to a socially-approved moral-code established by our peer group. However, these behaviorally-rooted definitions just really speak to our human-nature becoming agreeable to our human-environment. The more adaptable we become, the more self-gratification we produce, thereby resulting in the glory for good-works belonging to us.
Rather, in Luke 8, Jesus makes it clear that it is the Word of God implanted into our hearts that produces fruit. It’s not our fruit. We, like soil, are now in service to the seed, which does all of the work. Chambers says in his Studies in the Sermon on the Mount:
“If our hearts are being changed by the Holy Spirit, we will not exhibit good human characteristics, but Divine characteristics in our human nature” - Chambers.
Any goodness that comes forth in our lives is the result of our hearts holding fast to the Word of God, allowing His active and living Word to mature within us, producing good, Gospel-flavored fruit.
*This blog is continued in the following post.
Due to technical difficulties, the sermon was not recorded today. We are so sorry for any inconvenience.
Gathering to get a good grip on God’s Word!
While I mentioned that we would begin our new series on Philippians this Sunday, the Holy Spirt has made it clear that we need one more week to complete our “In-a-Word Series: Good.” I remain under keen conviction about where the Lord wants me to preach. Bear with me, as I attempt to follow His lead.
I love you. Looking forward to being with you.
Starting this Sunday, our Youth Class, for students 6th grade and up, will start at 10:15am. Following the class, all students will attend our 11am service. This time change provides our team of Youth Leaders the opportunity to be more engaged with our students and to create a Youth Culture, not just a Youth Class. Plus, our students will be afforded the chance to take part in the 11am service in appropriate ways.
As the Youth Culture strengthens, we also intend to designate space for our teens to sit together during service in our sanctuary, or with members of our church family where they’d feel welcome. I urge you to go out of your way to make sure they feel valued and welcomed throughout our service. Also, make every effort to get to know them and express your appreciation for the ways in which they serve.
We plan to do more youth events this year. Having the chance to make lasting memories with our teens is so important and this window of time closes so quickly; so let us go after the moments in order to pour the love of Christ into these young men and women.
Finally, if you are interested in helping in any way, please let me know. I would welcome the chance in getting you plugged into this amazing Youth Team.
Grateful for you,
Our plan is to complete our “In-a-Word” Series tomorrow. The word we will grapple with is: “good.” Bring your Bibles! Be ready.
Highland, I am so thankful for you! I cannot wait to see you all again. I am so privileged that the Lord would allow me the chance to serve you! I do not take this post for granted; I aim to always give you my best, in honor of our Lord.
He has done a great work in our midst. I want us to keep our eyes fixed on His glory and our hearts attuned to His Holy Spirit.
Let us press on.
I love you,