Second Place

In life’s greatest contests, everyone wants to come in first place because no one really remembers those who come in second.  But someone has to.  Not everyone gets to sit at the head of the table, but in no way does that make them less important.  The Bible is filled with stories of those who come in ‘second place,’ who are largely unnoticed by others, but are still upheld as examples of obedience and faith.

One of the most unnoticed characters in the Old Testament is Jonathan, the son of Israel’s first king.  Jonathan was next in line to follow in his father’s footsteps.  Had God not intended to bring Saul’s failed dynasty to an end, Jonathan would have indeed been king.  And yet nowhere do we read in 1 Samuel that Jonathan is resentful about it.  Instead, he was a friend to David and demonstrated great loyalty even though it meant he would not be king.  David would be the next king, and Jonathan would be passed over.  He was content with second place.

Jonathan is a picture of humility and a willingness to be second.  We live in a world that constantly says that you are number one.  Selfishly looking out for our own best interests comes natural to us.  Humility is certainly one of those character traits that we praise in others, but don’t necessary seek for ourselves.  Jonathan’s willingness to yield the spotlight to David merely illustrates the humility of the Christian life.  Rather than living as rock stars in our own minds, our lives must be gospel platforms that point others to David’s greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Even Jesus Himself, the One who is Lord above all, made Himself of no reputation and took the form of a humble Servant.  We must follow in His steps.

“Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son.  Help me today to realize that life is not about me, but is all about Jesus.  May my life be a simple platform for His grace and glory to be on display for others to see.  Amen.”

Hope Beyond Hurt

IMG_2562When your world falls apart, where do you go for strength?  When you hurt, where do you find hope?  Our world is filled with suffering, heartache, and pain.  People everywhere seem to be hurting in some way, yet many are without hope.  That is why the first epistle of Peter is so important.  It reminds us that as those who trust in Jesus, we have a “living hope” no matter what we face in life.  As someone who was well acquainted with pain, Peter writes to first century Christians who were suffering for their faith.  His timeless and inspired words are just as relevant now as they were nearly two millinea ago.  That’s why I am so excited that beginning this Sunday at Green Street, we will take a verse-by-verse look at this epistle and be encouraged to find our hope and confidence in Christ.  Invite a friend!

Sermon notes will be available each week on this website.

Finding Christ in Ezekiel

The Old Testament book of Ezekiel is truly an amazing book.  As a prophet of God during the exile, Ezekiel had a ministry among the captives of Judah who had been carried away to Babylon.  God used the Babylonian empire as an instrument of judgment against His people because of their idolatrous ways.  Even though they had been unfaithful to Him, God would never be unfaithful to them.  For the sake of His great name, His covenant faithfulness would remain.  He would still bring blessing into the world through the descendants of Abraham.  This is a major theme in the book of Ezekiel.

Yesterday at Green Street, I preached from Ezekiel 37 where we read about a vision that God gave the prophet Ezekiel, a vision in which he saw a valley that was full of dry bones.  After the experience of the vision, God gives Ezekiel an explanation of what he saw.  The bones were an illustration of His people.  It was an accurate depiction of the whole house of Israel.  Looking on their situation, they were under the impression that all hope was lost.  Jerusalem had been reduced to a pile of rubble.  The temple that once housed the glory of God was an ash heap, and its citizens were now captives in a strange land.  They were just like the lifeless skeletons in Ezekiel’s vision.  After all, can dry bones really live again?  Yet God shows the prophet Ezekiel how He Himself would bring His people up out of their graves!  By His mercy and grace, God would bring them back into their land after a period of time.  In the last several verses of chapter 37, He says:

“Behold, I will take the people of Israel from the nations among which they have gone, and will gather them from all around, and bring them to their own land.  And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel.  And one king shall be king over them all, and they shall be no longer two nations, and no longer divided into two kingdoms…My servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd…My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezekiel 37:21-28)

What a remarkable promise!  Though their situation was bleak and hopeless, they had something to look forward to.  God wasn’t through with them.  He had not abandoned His covenant, even though His people had abandoned Him.  God would still bring blessing into the world in fulfillment of the promise He made to both Abraham and David.  The hope of God’s people would be ultimately found in a future King.  They would be one nation with one King and one Shepherd.  God would make His dwelling place with His people and His sanctuary would be in their midst forevermore.  Here, we find Christ in the message of Ezekiel.

By way of application, remember that no matter how desperate and hopeless you think your situation is in life, you can be confident in a sovereign King who is seated on an eternal throne.  This assures us as believers that our hope is always secure.  When stock markets crash, we still have hope.  When we are abandoned by those we thought were our friends, we still have hope.  When we face sickness and death, we still have hope because our hope is in our resurrected Savior King.  He passed through the valley of death in our place.  Now through faith in Him, we have been given His eternal life.  Jesus Christ is the hope to whom our faith is directed in the book of Ezekiel.

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