I’ve posted our English service sermon summaries for 1/31, 2/7, and 2/14. – Tim
First Fruits (Deuteronomy 26:1-11) – February 14, 2016
Main point: Followers of Jesus give the first fruits of every blessing they receive back to God. Our best, not our leftovers. We give our best time to God (regular Sunday participation versus vacations, school breaks, family and friend socials), our youthful years (not waiting until we’re wealthy to do God’s will), our children (Children and Youth ministry rather than other competing demands). Deut. 26 also shows us four wisdoms about first fruits:
1. First fruits are not all fruits (Deut. 26:2). “take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket.”
Not all Christians are called to sacrifice everything for God like missionaries or ministers. Yet our lives are not about enriching ourselves, pursuing hedonistic pleasures, or enhancing our status. God wants us to flourish and sustain ourselves. The rest of our fruits are for cultivating his world and transforming it into the new creation. “We were meant to live for so much more!” – Switchfoot
2. First fruits are reminders (Deut 26:5-10).
Deuteronomy means “second law.” i.e., Moses presented God’s law to the next generation of Israel that did not remember Egypt. By commanding the next generation to give their first fruits while reciting the story of God’s deliverance, they are reminded about God’s love and grace to them. They are reminded about who they are. Too many Asian American Christians who grew up with privilege and seek the American dream or the prosperity gospel have forgotten their heritage. We need to remember so that we can experience renewal.
3. First fruits are sacred (Deut. 26:13-14).
Biblically speaking, sacred means something that is “set aside.” There’s nothing special about the “sacred object” itself. The first fruits are to be set aside for the Levite, foreigners, orphans, and widows – all people who are marginalized and more dependent on others. We normally give our leftovers, not our best to these people. So setting aside our first fruits for the most vulnerable reveal God’s sacred heart of compassion and justice.
4. First fruits point to God’s goodness (Deut. 26:10-11, 15). ”Then you and the Levites and the foreigners residing among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.”
By offering our first fruits, we bear witness to God’s goodness to all people. Our God is honored as the One who truly provides, loves, and serves a lost and needy world.
Conclusion: Giving our First Fruits renews our covenant with God (Deut. 26:16-18).
So let us give our first fruits and recommit ourselves to showing the world who our God is. Let us show the world what it means to belong to God.
Unveiled Love (2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2) – February 7, 2016
Main point: We can be fearlessly naked before God and people because God unveiled himself and his love to us through Jesus. We can be bold, open, transparent, and truthful. Why?
1. Our ministry is more glorious (see verses 7-11)
What God has given to us by the Holy Spirit is superior to what was given through Moses. The Law brought death, condemnation, and is transitory. The Spirit brings life, righteousness, and is eternal.
2. Christ removes the double veil of Moses and Israel (vv 12-16).
Jesus lifts the veil that prevents us from seeing God and God’s purpose clearly. The veil that covers the Law of Moses and the hearts of the people of Israel to God’s purpose was taken away by Christ’s death and resurrection. For many of us, the veil that blocks us from a genuine relationship with God and others is our shame-based culture. A real relationship with Christ unveils us from this shame-based culture.
3. The Spirit gives us freedom to reflect God’s glory (vv 17-18)
Because we know we are weak and imperfect, and that God is transforming us into his likeness, we can be free from feeling self-conscious. We can be released from a shame culture and the fear of losing face. Christ unveils what hinders us and the Spirit gives us freedom to show people that we are letting God transform us into his image.
4. Conclusion (4:1-2): We don’t have to be veiled. We can be a transparent, vulnerable, open, truth-telling people .
Prophetic Love (Jeremiah 1:4-10) -January 31, 2016
Main point: God made and makes his love known to the world by calling prophets to share his will and purpose. We looked at Jeremiah’s call to be the tearful prophet to God’s people in chapter 1. This sermon raised four questions about Jeremiah’s call:
1. What is Prophetic Love?
God showed Jeremiah that Judah would be destroyed, but that God promised a new, better kingdom. This is prophetic love. Unlike other expressions of God’s love, prophetic love is about revealing God’s ultimate purpose to the world, namely, the coming Kingdom of God. It calls us to repentance and participation in a new way of living.
2. How is Prophetic Love shared?
Prophetic love is shared primarily by the proclamation of God’s word through verbal communication. So when we share God’s will to the world, and when our words are shaped by the bible, we are, in effect, sharing prophetic love.
3. What hinders Prophetic Love?
When Jeremiah gave the excuse that he was too young and inadequate, that potentially could have hindered the sharing of God’s prophetic love. We hinder prophetic love by making excuses and declining or not responding to opportunities to serve. While these non-responses may hinder the sharing of God’s prophetic love and damage the ability of our church to bear strong witness, the most damaging result is spiritual atrophy.
4. How to be a Prophet of God’s Love?
Three ways: (1) stop saying no to opportunities to respond to God; (2) treat service opportunities as apprenticeships not obligations, as investments not burdens; (2) increase biblical literacy – we can’t share God’s word without knowing it.