Sunday – June 1, 2014 Ruth 3:1-18 “Undercover Operations”

Sunday – June 1, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Ruth 3 “Undercover Operations” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – June 1, 2014 Download / Print

Ruth 3:1-4
“Then Naomi her mother-in-law said to her, “My daughter, shall I not seek security for you, that it may be well with you? Now is not Boaz our kinsman, with whose maids you were? Behold, he winnows barley at the threshing floor tonight. Wash yourself therefore, and anoint yourself and put on your best clothes, and go down to the threshing floor; but do not make yourself known to the man until he has finished eating and drinking. It shall be when he lies down, that you shall notice the place where he lies, and you shall go and uncover his feet and lie down; then he will tell you what you shall do.”

Naomi has proposed to Ruth a shortcut to getting what Naomi wanted, but by the grace of God, the two principle characters – Ruth and Boaz – remained sterling examples of godly conduct. I have found I have been influenced by some Bible teachers who have tap danced all around the threshing floor, fervently trying to sanctify Naomi’s actions. It is time to take off the rose colored glasses and see the godly manner in which Ruth and Boaz handled the risky situation into which they had been placed by others’ plans.

You might rightly ask why I hold to this position, when others I highly respect and admire see the text quite differently. It all comes down to one’s hermeneutics (the interpreting of Scripture). First, I believe that the Bible is to be understood as it appears. Second, I believe that the Scriptures provide the willing student with all the supporting information one needs to understand what they find in any biblical text. I do not believe that the interpretation of any text hangs upon information discovered outside the Bible whether that is from historical narratives or scholarly commentaries. External information may supplement and illustrate biblical truth, but the interpretation of a biblical text does not hang on something outside of Scripture.

When it comes to the Book of Ruth, many want to see a common cultural practice underlying the actions which Naomi directed. The reality is that we see no such practice in the Bible – anywhere! (Please search for yourself!) Without other biblical texts to support this conclusion, I must take the text at face value. There is no unique cultural interpretation here. In other words, when a woman bathes, puts on perfume and dons her best dress, and then secretively climbs under the covers with a man who has had his fill of food and wine, I don’t think anyone in any culture would read this in any way but what we all assume.

That being said, the godly character of both Ruth and Boaz is dramatically displayed against the backdrop of Chapter 3. Circumstances were far from ideal here but that did not prevent them from living in a way that should command our respect. We often bemoan the fact that we live in dark days and are more than willing to complain about the evil of our day. Is today any different than the times of the Judges of Israel? It is during such times that the light of the gospel should shine ever more brightly from the distinctiveness of His people so God will get the glory!

Sunday – May 25, 2014 Ruth 2:1-23 “Can Christian Mingle Beat This?”

Sunday – May 25, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Ruth 2 verses 1 to 22 “Can Christian Mingle Beat This?” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – May 25, 2014 Download / Print

Ruth 2:15-17
“When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her. “Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her.” So she gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.”

For many years the issue of giving to the church and charity to the poor has been one of the great debates in the Christian community. Should our giving be to the church allowing the church to meet the needs of the poor or does the Christian have an obligation to meet the needs of their community as an individual. And when you finish wrestling with that, does giving to the poor offset your tithe to the church or should it be above what you give to Christian ministry?

For many years, I thought of giving as a New Testament teaching. Since we are now under grace, rather than under law, the Christian is not obligated to tithe or give a tenth of what they make to the work of the kingdom of God. The Christian still has the obligation to give because this responsibility is clearly taught in the New Testament, but the amount that is given was a matter of personal choice. When it came to the amount that was to be given I had lost my way in the discussion over tithing. I was caught up in the details of giving and lost sight of the heart of the giver. To put the matter in the mind of Jesus, I had fallen into the trap of straining gnats while swallowing camels.

Reading the account of Boaz’s generosity in Ruth 2 challenged me to consider giving in a new light. The Israelites of that day were “doing what seemed right in their own eyes,” which is but another way of saying that they disregarded the Word of God as it was revealed to them in the law. Boaz was a man who (like Paul in Romans Chapter 7) loved the law and who delighted (like the psalmist teaches) in doing it. Boaz, like Ruth, had the law written on his heart, a heart of flesh, not a heart of stone. As a New Testament believer, that should be true of you and me as well.

The instructions of the law pertaining to giving (particularly to the poor) were not a burden to Boaz, but a delight. He did not strive to figure out how he could reduce his benevolence to the bare minimum, but instead he went far beyond what the law required of him. The law was just a baseline for Boaz. This, my friend, is the kind of heart we should have toward giving to the poor and all those who are in need. No more debates for me about the minimum requirements of the law, or of the New Testament, for that matter. I pray God would give us all the heart of Boaz, who gave bountifully and joyfully.

Sunday – May 18, 2014 Ruth 1:1-22 “Best of Times, Worst of Times”

Sunday – May 18, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship


Word On Worship – Sunday – May 18, 2014 Download / Print

Ruth 1:16-18
“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

What a relief it is to leave Judges behind and come to the Book of Ruth! In spite of the fact that Elimelech, his wife Naomi, and his two sons (Mahlon and Kilion) are living according to the spirit of their day (doing what is right in their own eyes), two people (Ruth and Boaz) stand out as examples of those who live by faith in the God of Israel, and whose lives exemplify living in accordance with God’s Word. And one of these two – Ruth – is a Moabite, not an Israelite. In the dark shadows of the days of the judges, we find two individuals whose lives are truly lights in the darkness. Here is a story that not only warms our hearts, it encourages our faith by unveiling the providential hand of God in bringing salvation and blessing during one of the darkest periods in Israel’s history.

The opening words of A Tale of Two Cities are: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Surely these words aptly describe Ruth in the period of the judges. The final chapters of the Book of Judges are certainly the worst of times, and yet the Book of Ruth describes them as the best of times. This shows me that godly character is not only evident in the good times, but even more dramatically revealed in the bad times. Many, including me, are troubled by the times in which we live, but this is no excuse for ungodly behavior. These are the times of darkness when godliness should shine forth as a brilliant light. The story of Ruth and Boaz (yes, and even Naomi) should encourage us to live godly lives in dark days, days of unbelief, disobedience, and disregard for the Word of God.

I am reminded of the sovereignty of God by our text, but unfortunately most of the emphasis on God’s sovereignty in Chapter 1 comes from Naomi, and she is not seeing things as she should. Her God is all powerful, but not merciful and gracious. It is true God also punishes the guilty, but that is not the totality of who God is. God loves to show mercy and compassion. He is slow to anger, and He does forgive sin. He keeps loyal love; that is, God perseveres in His love, and thus He is a covenant-keeping God. If Ruth tells us anything about God, it is that His ways are not our ways. What a mighty, magnificent, merciful, awesome God we serve! I pray that you, like Ruth, have forsaken all confidence in yourself and have cast yourself upon the one true God for salvation.

Sunday – May 11, 2014 Mother’s Day

Sunday – May 11, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Mother’s Day 2014 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – May 11, 2014 Download / Print

Philemon 15-18
“For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.“

Year after year we are flooded with supposedly Christian books telling you how to use God and the Bible to reach your full potential, to boost your self-esteem, and to achieve your best life now. Mankind will speak about good intentions, but they are arguments to make life about ourselves. We have missed the point. These books and sermons convey the worldly message that it’s all about you, when the Scriptures make it clear it all about God and His glory.

The Bible is radically God-centered. It’s all about God and His glory, not life coaching to have health, wealth or success in the home and marketplace. The main reason that you should work through your marriage problems and relate to your children in a loving manner is not so that you’ll have a happy family, although it will result in that. The main reason you should work through your family problems in a godly manner is so that God will be glorified and others will be drawn to the Savior. The main reason we resolve conflicts in the Body of Christ is not to have friendship in the church, but that will happen. We resolve conflicts so that God will be glorified!

Worldly people should look at your marriage and home life and marvel at how you love one another. That’s when you tell them the difference that Jesus Christ has made in your life. He gets the glory and, of course, you enjoy the harmony of a happy home. But it’s all about His glory and the testimony of the gospel first. That’s why when Paul gives instruction to wives and husbands in Ephesians 5:22-3), he says (5:32), “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” Your marriage is to reflect the loving relationship between Christ and His church.

The same is true with regard to unity in the local church. When believers cannot get along and split over minor doctrinal differences or personality conflicts, it is not a great advertisement for the gospel. The world looks at the church, shrugs its shoulders, and says, “They’re no different than we are.” But when we demonstrate the love of Christ, especially across cultural, social, and racial barriers, the world takes notice. And most importantly, God gets the glory.

Sunday – May 4, 2014 Philemon: How the Gospel Changes Us

Sunday – May 4, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Philemon: How the Gospel Changes Us from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – May 4, 2014 Download / Print

Philemon 10-13
“I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment, who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me. I have sent him back to you in person, that is, sending my very heart, whom I wished to keep with me, so that on your behalf he might minister to me in my imprisonment for the gospel…”

Philemon is Paul’s shortest and most personal letter, written during his first imprisonment in Rome. Philemon, the main recipient of the letter, was a wealthy man from Colossae, about 100 miles inland from Ephesus on the west coast of modern Turkey. The letter was also addressed to Apphia, who was probably Philemon’s wife; to Archippus, who may have been the pastor of the church there (some think he was the son of Philemon and Apphia); and to the entire church that met in Philemon’s house. (There is no record of a church building until the third century.) Paul had not visited Colossae, although he hoped to do so soon. But somehow, perhaps during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, he had come into contact with Philemon and led him to Christ.

One of Philemon’s slaves was named Onesimus. He had stolen from his master and run away. In the Roman Empire, masters had absolute authority over slaves and they often tortured or killed them for minor offenses or mistakes. So Onesimus was a fugitive slave, under a capital offense, running from a household where the gospel was proclaimed. But just as the Old Testament prophet Jonah found out, no matter how far Onesimus ran, he could not outrun God.

In his travels, God providentially led Onesimus all the way to Rome, where he crossed paths with the apostle Paul. We don’t know whether he was imprisoned with Paul or how they met. But the Hound of Heaven was pursuing Onesimus. Although he had undoubtedly heard the gospel in Philemon’s household, Onesimus ran from the place where he easily could have been saved. He traveled hundreds of miles to a large city where he happened to meet Paul. When Paul shared the gospel, God opened Onesimus’ heart and he trusted in Christ. He then stayed with Paul and the two men formed a close relationship as Onesimus served Paul.

Maybe you once heard the gospel before without understanding, but suddenly God opened your blind eyes and it made sense. You never could hope to pay God back for all of the sins that you have committed. But you don’t have to. Christ paid your debt on the cross. Everything that you stole and all the back wages that you owe were charged to His account. You put your trust in the Savior who paid the debt that you owed. You returned to the Master and willingly put yourself under His lordship. For the first time in your life, you were truly free. Now, you live to please Him and do His will from the heart. And to your amazement, the blessed Lord Jesus, who paid the debt you owed, is pleased to call you his beloved brother or sister, just as Paul refers to the slave, Onesimus!

Sunday – April 27, 2014 Judges chapter 19 to 21 “Saving Private Benjamin”

Sunday – April 27, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges chapter 19 to 21 “Saving Private Benjamin” from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – April 27, 2014 Download / Print

Judges 21:24-25
“The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance. In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

The final five chapters of Judges function as an appendix to the entire book. Instead of focusing on the sins of Israel or of their judges, these chapters look closely at the lives of two Levites. Levites were the priestly tribe in Israel, the religious leadership of the nation. Sadly, we will discover that the religious leadership is not holding the nation accountable for its sin. Instead, the Levites are as messed up as the people they are supposed to lead. Their small, personal failures escalate to tribal and national dimensions and plunge Israel into political and moral anarchy. Thus, Judges concludes with a finger pointing in the face of the Levites.

When the Scriptures tell us each man did what was right in his own eyes, it is not singling out a single level of society or position of leadership. It was across the board. The surface issue is what people were doing, but the elephant in Israel’s room was the standard by which they governed themselves. It was no longer God’s standard but their own eyes and results in people insisting on following the leading of their own lusts, declaring their independence from God and echoing the lie of the serpent from the Garden of Eden.

The message of the Book of Judges is a message for the church today. How many of us are outraged at the conduct of the covenant people of God? They were called to be the people of God by a covenant but still refused to be subject to His commands. We have been saved by a covenant of God, but in our self piety, reject the rule of God for what is right in our eyes. We come to church on Sunday because it is congenial and find our moral standard commendable in our own eyes. Yet in our hearts we are as stubborn and sinful as the people of Gibeah in our rejection of God’s authority and standards in our lives.

Sometimes matters appear quite proper on the surface, but if we are willing to look past the obvious and dig a little deeper we will find the true enemy. We may be shocked at the author’s selection of Gibeah and their sins to document Israel’s depravity. But do not let the outrageousness of the offense blind us from the point that the Scriptures are making. The root of it all is each man doing what is right in his own eyes. That root may show itself in the grossest of sins as we see here at the end of Judges or in the veneer of righteousness that can be seen with the rich young ruler, but it all comes from the same source.

Sunday – April 20, 2014 Resurrection Sunday CHRIST IS RISEN!

Sunday – April 20, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Easter 2014 from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – April 20, 2014 Download / Print

Luke 24:45-49
“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

If there is one thing I despise, it is those phone calls that come from toll free numbers, which begin with the assurance that the caller is not “selling” anything. The Bible could not be more open and direct about the purpose of the Scripture. Through it God has one goal for the unbeliever: He wants to demonstrate as clearly and as forcefully as he can that Jesus not only claimed to be the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of God, but that by many miraculous signs He proved it! The last and greatest of these signs was His resurrection from the dead.

While the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was prophesied in the Old Testament, and by our Lord Himself, the Bible makes it very clear that the disciples – just as many people today – were not predisposed to believe it. Only after the most forceful and compelling evidence that they could see and touch, would the disciples believe Jesus really was alive. And having become convinced of this great truth, the disciples never ceased to proclaim it, first in Jerusalem, then in Judea and finally to the ends of the earth. The resurrection of Jesus is the final and compelling proof that He is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

Believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, is the only way God has provided for the forgiveness of your sins and for the gift of eternal life. By believing in Him, you will be saved: John 1:11-13 “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him. But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.”

In many ways, the Bible is not a simple book. But its message to the unsaved is incredibly simple: Jesus Christ saves from sin, death and hell. If you have never come to believe in Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Son of God, then this book is addressed to you, and for you, to give you all the evidence you need to believe in Him. Have you believed? This is the most important decision you will ever make. It determines your eternal destiny.

Sunday – April 13, 2014 1st Peter 1:17-19 “The Impartial Judge” Ken McAuley

Sunday – April 13, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

1st Peter 1 verses 17-19 Ken McAuley from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – April 13, 2014 Download / Print

 1 Peter1:17-19
And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

Most of the time we don’t want to think of our God as a Judge because that’s ‘scary’; most of the time it means condemnation, humiliation, and penalty to us. But we forget that a judge can also give a reward for work done. The question then becomes: will the judgment be condemnation or reward?

The Impartial Judge judges us based on our status before Him. If we obey Him, He treats us as sons. If we don’t obey Him, it doesn’t go well with us. We have no hope for a good outcome. If we are treated as sons, we can expect grace and mercy. So, how can we tell if we are pleasing to Him? The Word of God says that we must have faith to please God. What is faith? Simply stated it is trusting that God means what He says. If God says that we must trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, it requires that we look into what He means by that so that we can make a valid decision. What He means is that there is no way that we can accomplish our own salvation without Jesus Christ.

Can He really be that restrictive? Surely there is something that I can do. I mean, I am a good person after all. Didn’t He make me this way? The problem is that we inherited an evil nature from Adam when he sinned and disobeyed God and God had to ban him from the Garden. Since then we have a tendency to displease God just as Adam did. We can’t do anything about that. That means that anything we do is tainted by evil motives. We’re always looking to get around having to obey God. We want to do everything our own way. If that condition isn’t fixed, God can’t accept anything we do as good. He compares our good works to “dirty rags.”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” That confirms that we must trust in Jesus Christ for our salvation, as stated earlier, which He states in John 3:16. There is nothing else we can do to get to heaven – it is God’s place by the way – except trust in what God says is necessary. It cost Him the precious blood of His only begotten Son to make it possible to restore the relationship that He intended to have with us before Adam sinned. Why should we think that our desires must override His at such a cost to Him. He not only offers Salvation but adoption as sons and an inheritance.

What more could we ask for in exchange for perishing in a Lake of Fire and eternally suffering apart from the presence and power of a good, kind, righteous and loving God who is not merely loving but just and holy.

Accept God on His terms since He is the potter and we are only clay. After all, He is the Impartial Judge.

Sunday – April 6, 2014 “Signs in the Heavens” Thom Rachford

Sunday – April 6, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Signs in the Heavens Thom Rachford from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – April 6, 2014 Download / Print

Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years”

The Lord has used His handiwork in the heavens to display His glory and provide for time keeping and for seasons and for signs. Times are easy to understand. We mark days by the rotation of the earth and years by its movement around the sun.

Seasons are more difficult to understand. Yes, seasons can mean winter, summer, fall and spring. We do mark them by the positions of the sun and earth. But seasons are more than that. Consider, the horse breeder’s statement that the mare is in season, or consider the baseball season, or a season of peace. Webster’s Dictionary defines season as a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature. The time itself is undefined. It may be long or short. For example, The church age may be said to be a season of Grace.

What about the term sign? A sign, per Webster, is something that gives information through a motion or gesture by which thought is expressed or a command or wish made known. The Lord placed the “lights” in the sky to make known His thoughts, commands and purposes (wishes). The Star of Bethlehem is such a sign in the heavens. The wise men saw the sign and interpreted its meaning. According to Matt 2:2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” They followed up by taking a 700-mile trip extending about 2 years including the preparation.

Are there other signs in the Heavens the Lord has used to fulfill His wishes? Yes, in Joshua 10: 12-13 the Lord made the sun and moon stop in the sky until His purpose (wish) was accomplished and Israel won the battle.

Also for King Hezekiah. When, in 2 Kings 20:9-11, Hezekiah asked for a sign to certify he would live, God said He would move the shadow from the sun forward or back which ever one Hezekiah wished. The shadow moved back. You can also read about this in Isaiah 38:8.

At the crucifixion of Jesus – the sun was darkened. Matthew 27: 45 tells us, “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.” That was three hours, from noon to 3 p.m. Was it only in times past that God caused signs in the heavens for man’s information? Does He do the same today? Yes, tetrads (blood moons) are a modern example of God’s signs in the heavens. How should we respond? Will we be like the wise men who saw the sigh of the Star, recognized it was from God, interpreted the meaning and followed it? Or will we be like the leaders and King of Israel who either paid no attention to the sign in the heavens or if they did observe it, they ignored it for it did not suit their purpose? By ignoring the Bethlehem star, the leaders of Israel put their purpose above God’s.

We are now entering a season of signs in the heavens. Watch and be ready in Christ.

 

Sunday – March 23, 2014 Judges 18 “The Danites Promiseland Part 2″

Sunday – March 23, 2014 – Read the Word on Worship

Judges 18 “The Danites Promiseland Part 2″ from Sunrise Community Church on Vimeo.


Word On Worship – Sunday – March 23, 2014 Download / Print

Judges 18:30-31 “The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s graven image which he had made, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.” The subject matter of the Book of Judges can be very difficult for our generation to study. Many want a technical commentary to simply explain the tradition and history of this book in hopes of finding the background of ancient Israel. They avoid wrestling with the text, having chosen to be distracted with the possibility of a textual problems or reading into the Hebrew idioms so they do not have to hear the clear teaching of the text. The question we need to ask ourselves is why are we so afraid of the Book of Judges?

Since I have found so few Christian teachers who have willingly attempted this task, forgive me if I step on a few toes. The general theme of this book is God’s dealing with false religion. On one hand, we can intellectually agree that God would be upset with false religion and with so many warnings in the preceding books of the Pentateuch and Joshua; we jump on the band wagon and condemn Israel for surely they should have known how stupid false worship is and where it leads.

Do not pat yourself on the back and think how wise you are to see the failure of the Israelites. We are afraid of the Book of Judges because we do not want to see the stupidity of our own false religion. We may not make molten idols but how different are we than Micah, who thought he had the favor of Yahweh because he had an actual Levite as his priest? We have our own forms of such “magic.” For example, by thinking a child is a member of the kingdom because they were baptized as an infant or because they went forward while they were at youth camp. The person who assumes they have entered the kingdom of God because they completed a task is engaging in a false religion and that is just stupid. It does not differ from Micah’s religion in principle or form, only in the details. So our folly remains invisible to us.

We have traded idol worship for subjectivism, but it is still a false religion. The people of Dan made their own convenience store of worship where they could remain in control and worship how and when they chose. They were convinced God was not picky when it came to glory, honor and praise. Modern day Danites tell us worship is an individual affair, and like our toothbrush, a very personal thing. When they come to worship it is not Yahweh, the all powerful saving God they praise. Instead, they want a blob of molten silver that they can squeeze and shape the way they want God to be. And that is self-serving idolatry, unworthy to be called worship.