December 14, 2014 [Matthew 1:17-25]

December 14, 2014
"Used By God"
[Matthew 1:17-25]
Pastor Kenny Lee

One of our church member’s relatives suddenly died recently. He was older. One thing that occurred to me as we are going through this time of Christmas is, “Where did that forty years go?”. When I was in school, I couldn’t wait to get older. I couldn’t wait to graduate. I couldn’t wait to go onto the next stage in life. Now I’m a middle aged man and realized I missed out on my youth. I missed out on my childhood. Someone really took me off guard recently when they asked, “What did you want to become when you were a child?” And I was like, I don’t know. So I looked at my own children. They’re both eight and six. How much more time do I have with them? The oldest one, maybe ten more years. That’s it. Until they go off to college. Maybe I’ll have more years if they’re unemployed. Which is okay. Then they’re going to get married and then they’re going to have a life of their own. That’s it. I’m going to miss the opportunities where they are. So with that said, how about you guys? Some of you guys are in high school. You have very few years left with your mom and dad. Remember that in that stage your life, the relationship you have with your mom and dad – that’s it. And then next thing you know, you’re a middle aged man or woman just like me. People, you have to make Christianity a reality in your life. You know, not video gaming. Not going on you tube. Not to amass the most knowledge. It’s through a relationship. Relationship with your father and mother. Relationship with people next to you. Starting off with your relationship with God. That’s how we are designed. We are social beings. We need to have an urgency in this.

People used by God
As we are reading through Matthew, we kind of skipped over genealogy part. We start here with verse 17. Like I said during Children’s Corner, what do I like about the Bible? What do I like about God and His story? What I love about it is the fact that it’s real. It’s so real, it talks about it not in terms of a galaxy far away. But rather, “Here’s who Jesus is”. It talks in generations. It talks in genealogies. In talks in names. Jesus’ grandfather was this person. His grandmother was this person. Jesus’s mom and dad were these people. It talks about it in those terms. But what I want to concentrate on today is this. How are we to be used by God? What kind of person are used by God? That’s what I really want to focus on today. Because of the fact that as we grow up in life, some people who are even semi-religious want to be used by God right? That’s why a lot of people who win Grammy Awards, other awards say, “I want to thank the Lord Almighty. I want to thank God”. Isn’t that what they say too? They want to be used by God too. I’m sure a lot of us want to be used by God as well. So, it’s really important to see -What kind of family does God use? What kind of person does God use? So we’ll get into that.

It’s relevant to the time of Christmas, where we see the birth of Jesus. It’s obvious that the family where Jesus comes from is used by God. So how does Christmas begin? Christmas begins with God. The birth of Jesus begins with God. So in verse 17, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.”  It’s God who called Abraham from where he was and to come follow Him. That’s where Christmas began. Starting from God to Abraham. Abraham to David. David to the deportation to Babylon. From the Babylonian deportation to Christ. It’s God working through the family. As we look at how God works through a family, the first thing we note is what kind of family does God work through? Well, when we look at the line of Jesus, it’s a kingly line! Jesus comes from King David! And that’s pretty cool. And I’m sure it’s like this in many cultures but especially in an eastern culture here, a Hebrew culture – it’s very similar to my culture. Where your name has so much significance. Even in my generation where you talk to a Korean person, you get asked “What kind of Lee are you?”. I’m that kind of Lee and that kind of Lee. It was even worse when I wanted to get married. On my side my parents asked, “What’s her last name?” It’s Chung. “Oh really, who did they descend from? What part of this place do they live?”. And even on the day of our wedding, I got asked, “How many doctors do you have in your family? How many this do you have in your family? Engineers? Lawyers?”. Things like this mattered so much to them. It was almost like, a resume. And so when we look at the genealogy of Jesus we think – “That’s right. He’s the Messiah. He should come from a line of Kings!”. And He does. But is that why this family that starts with Abraham and then ends with Jesus, that’s why God would use that family? No, I don’t think so. Why? Why do I say that? Remember, Jesus comes from a wonderful family. He came from a line of kings. Consider the Hans. The Hans are from a line of kings. It’s good family! Jesus too. He came from a line of kings. A king that was anointed by God. that is pretty impressive. But let me go through the genealogy with you. We have to because it says, “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations”. So we actually have to go through the genealogy a bit. Let’s see what Matthew highlights.

If I were to write a genealogy of Jesus, you know what I would do? You know that weird uncle we all have? He’d kind of be out of the picture. That odd cousin? The black sheep of the family? He’d be quietly omitted. That person that married this person. And that person that got divorced. Ah, that would be swept under the rug. Especially if I was talking about my Lord. My King. Matthew doesn’t do that. Let me give you some highlights. When we read in the genealogy, Perez and Zerah are there. Nice lads. Nice boys. Except for the fact that their mother was Tamar. Who is Tamar? Well Tamar is this woman whose husband died. And then another husband died. And then she didn’t have any kids so long story short – what she did is she dressed up and she kind of disguised herself as a cultic prostitute and she slept with Judah. Who is Judah? Her father-in-law. Woah. But there’s more. There’s Boaz. Boaz is great. Do you know who Boaz is? He’s a kinsmen redeemer in the book of Ruth. Who is his mother? None other than the Canaanite prostitute who helped save two spies from Israel. That’s his mother. A Canaanite prostitute. David’s in the line too. We have to show David too right? But what does Matthew write about David? David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah. Who is this wife? Her name is Bathsheba. But the Bible doesn’t say Bathsheba does it? What Matthew says it deliberately – Solomon’s mother is the wife of one of David’s good friend, Uriah. So what am I trying to say here? You may have a great family. You have a wonderful family. When you look at it one way. But when you look at it another way, not so much. The family God uses is a family that knows that they need God. That they can’t rely on their family. They can’t rely on their family lineage. They can’t rely on their family tradition. They can’t rely on the fact that their daddy is a pastor. An elder. Three generations of missionaries. They can’t rely on these things. What I am saying is that you can’t rely on that. Who cares if everyone if your family is a pastor. It doesn’t matter! You can’t rely on that. You can’t depend on that. You need to know that a wonderful family isn’t so wonderful. The reality of who you are, where you come from, and at the end I need God. I need Christmas. I need to know that God has come into this world to save me. That’s what kind of family God uses right? Because that’s the kind of family that produces people that God uses. And what are the people who uses? What I want to do today is talk about a person that is not really talked about all that much? In most families its like this. You always talk about the wife. You always talk about the kids. But the father is in the background. It’s like that here too. You don’t usually hear about Joseph. But here in this section of scripture, from 18 and down, it talks a lot about Joseph. Because clearly God used Joseph. We’re going to see what kind of man he was and what kind of person is used by God. What can we learn from Joseph?

Joseph trusted God’s word
The birth of Jesus took place in this way. First, Mary the mother of Jesus was betrothed to Joseph. It was an arranged marriage. Their two fathers would come together and agree that their households coming together was a good plan. So Mary and Joseph were promised to one another. And that promise was good as any legal document. That’s why it says verse 19, “And her husband Joseph”. Even though the ceremony did not take place and they didn’t consummate the marriage – but the fact that they were betrothed, it was legally binding. How old was Mary? Mary was probably about fourteen, fifteen years old. And they usually waited about a year or so for the actual marriage ceremony. So what happened was that somewhere between being betrothed and the actual marriage ceremony, the Holy Spirit gave Mary a child. Here I want to talk a little about something. For example, Muslims don’t understand the concept of Mary and God and Jesus. They just can’t get that concept so they just say, how can Mary have a relationship with God? They just can’t grasp that thought. But the fact of the matter is that God gave Mary a child. It wasn’t this weird interaction the Holy Spirit but rather that the Holy Spirit gave Mary a child. And so because of that, Jesus Christ 100% God and 100% man.

Joseph is described as a righteous man. He’s a just man. And why do I say that? We got to understand that Mary and Joseph got together and started talking. Remember, Mary has a child. But Mary didn’t know any man, Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Can you just imagine the thoughts that are going through Mary’s head and Joseph’s head? Can you imagine the conversation? Can you imagine the feeling that Joseph would have? This little girl – fourteen, fifteen years old. A single mother has a child. And Mary is like, “Joseph, sir, the Lord has given me a child. The Angel came to me and told me this and I am with child”. Would Joseph respond, “Oh, bone of my bones. Flesh of my flesh. Of course!”. That’s not the case! We always think that somehow in 1st century Palestine, that somehow these Archaic folks are more spiritual. More apt to accept these things from the Angel and all that. No! Not at all. They’re just like you and me. They can’t believe things like that. So do you think Joseph believes that? No! Not at all! And Joseph’s like, “Come on! That’s not true! What do you take me for? A sucker?? I know how biology works”. Just imagine the feelings that this man having – especially during this time when women were considered just a little above a slave. Women couldn’t even testify in court. They weren’t even considered a viable person. What I love about Joseph is this. When we look at it superficially, Joseph did no wrong. Joseph was heinously wronged! But in verse 19 it says, “Being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Although you may be right. You don’t have to show the world that you’re right. You don’t have to go, “Oh! Look at me! I’ve been unjustly treated! This woman is bearing another man’s child!”. Note what it says again. I think it’s really important for us to learn this. “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly”. He wanted the divorce to be done really quietly. We are in an age where, that is just so bizarre. In our righteousness, we have to let our righteousness be known don’t we? No. But what I love about Joseph is that He put God’s word above all. Joseph is going down the street, back to his village. And I’m sure he’s like thinking so much. How am I going to resolve this quietly? How can I take all this in? And the Bible says,

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”

Christ our reward
What Joseph was willing to do was put God’s word above all else. Why do I say all else? We don’t realize what’s going on here. It takes about nine months for a baby to be born. These people in this community knew much better than us. You know why? It’s a small community and on top of that you know what they do? They interact with one another all the time. They’re always in each others’ faces. It’s a small provincial town. So they’re always bumping into one another. And Joseph was a carpenter. We look at carpenters as something really highly skilled but Joseph was a poor man and how do we know that? When he went to the temple, he brought pigeons instead of goats and sheep because he couldn’t afford it. And so we realize that Joseph was not a man of great wealth. He didn’t have money. What am I trying to say? For Joseph, reputation meant a lot. Especially in this culture. What would his reputation be for marrying this woman who already has a baby? Look at that man. That man had violated that woman even before marriage. His reputation was on the line. It’s a small village and everyone will be looking at him. Pervert! But you know what Joseph does? He puts his reputation aside. He puts his thoughts aside. And what he does is submits to God’s word. Joseph remember? It said, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”. That’s you. That’s your wife! Take her. Love her. Be good to her. Take the humility. Not only that, Joseph was able to set aside his own desires. His rights. He gave up his right. In first century Palestine when they married, they really married. The marriage ceremony took three to five days. It was all drinking. And it was partying like crazy. It was a really festive occasion. And in the middle of the ceremony, the husband and wife would go into a room and consummate the marriage. Completing the marriage as it were. It was Joseph’s right as a husband to do so. But what Joseph does is put his rights away. Because in front of God, what rights do we have? Verse 25: “but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” You look at that and you’re like, “Man, that seems unfair!” All that burden. All that work. Reputation is ruined. It’s not like Joseph got more money out of it. He didn’t get anything out of it. What is the reward? The reward is Jesus. The reward is God in the end. At the end of this whole verse, it says “And he called his name Jesus”.

It’s funny because some person emailed me and asked, “You know Pastor Kenny. I know that when we go to heaven, somehow we’re going to be rewarded for everything that we do”. And he’s right. We are going to be rewarded for what we do. But the reward isn’t what you think. We think that we’re going to be rewarded with what – more money? More gold? If you don’t have a monetary system, what good is it? If diamonds were plentiful, then would diamonds hold their value? No. They would probably skip diamonds instead of rocks. So what is the reward? Well, the reward is Jesus! The reward is God! Let me explain. Younger people may not know this. Actually, maybe you do. Because we all have infatuations. Justin Bieber! Or whoever is that new heartthrob. You have that. And even for me, while I was dating my wife from New York, it took a lot of money to go back and forth. That’s why I was like, “Man, just for economics sakes I gotta marry her fast!”. But the thing is, I had to see her all the time because the very reward was to be in front of that person! You ever see the Ellen Degeneres or Oprah? They gave guest stars like Fergie! And the fans go crazy. They’re so excited. They would give anything and everything. Jesus Christ is your very reward.

That doesn’t sound too impressive? You know why? It’s because you don’t know the reality of what Jesus Christ has done for you. You don’t realize what God has done for you! if you could just think for a moment. Take your time out of yourself and think about this! The fact that God through generations and generations and generations and generations, would plan so that you, we would not be damned. That God so loved the world that out of the only child that He had, He would send Christ and sacrifice Him to this wretched world. To save wretched people like you and me. Jesus Christ had everything. And literally became a baby. Raised by people that He created. Would live His life. He would go on to die on the cross. He would rise again. He ascends into heaven and sends us the Holy Spirit. You know why we have insecurities? Fears? Because we don’t believe. Can you imagine if you knew? If you knew that God Himself loves you so much that He would send His one and only Son to save you? How about if you actually believed that? How about if you actually knew that? And your life. Your worldview comes from that. Not from your experiences. But the realization that God sent His one and only son, namely Jesus whose name means deliver. Savior. How about if you believed that? Then we’d be saying – “Oh, come. Let us adore Him. Oh, come let us adore Him.” Then we would have some response like, “We got Fergie in the house! OMG!”. We would have a taste of that wouldn’t we? See the gift of God is Jesus. if you don’t know. If you’re not excited. If your mouth isn’t watering for that gifts, its because of the fact that you don’t the reality of who God is. That’s why. You may have the saving grace and things like that. But you don’t have the intimacy or closeness. And that’s a problem. For you to make Christmas meaningful, you have to know what it means that God, stepped into time for me. God who is in eternity, created time. Actually stepped into time for me. You gotta know what the meaning of that is for you to know what this means at all.   

December 7, 2014 {Isaiah 9:1-7}

Isaiah 9:1-7
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.  You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.  For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Second week of advent.  Advent is the four weeks which lead up to Christmas after Thanksgiving.  The whole time is called the holiday season.  Where does the word holiday come from? It’s a holy day.  It’s a holy day.  It’s leading up to a holy day.  And we’re in the second week of advent and what am I trying to do? What I’m trying to do is that I’m trying to make Christmas more meaningful.  We all want that that’s why we have Christmas trees, presents, mistletoes etc. So I’m giving you reasons why you should celebrate Christmas day.  And I’m hoping that this Christmas time will not be just one day or season, but it will embody your whole life.

Why did I title this sermon “Hope in THE child”? Well because this whole passage alludes to a child.  For unto us a child is born, for unto a son is given.  So when we read this we’re like, “Sigh. So what’s the power in a child?” Unless you’re in star wars and you have hope in a child “oh my God he has the force let hope in him”. But in our everyday life, most parents know this, when you hope in a child.  You know seriously when my first child was born, the doctors asked me “Mr. Lee would you like to see your baby” and I have to be a good husband so I’m like “no. I want to be with my wife” yea that’s what you say.  Husbands remember that.  And then my wife goes “no goes see the baby” and I’m like “oh.  OK” and I’m looking at him and I’m like “it’s beautiful! Five fingers and toes” and I’m looking at that baby and I’m mentally speaking with him and I don’t want to seem crazy so I talk to him mentally and I say “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.  YOU’RE MY SON!” in the back of my mind.  And I’m like: you are the only lineage to me.  You will carry on the Lee name. You are my lineage. You are my hope! In the back of my mind, I’m looking at him and I’m like “He’s so pure.  He’s so innocent. He has so much potential.  I’m going to raise you up; I’m going to make you a president of the world! You are my hope.” For a while, maybe like 2-3 weeks, month, I still had that hope.  Couple month later, you take something away, “WAA”.  And you think to yourself “Sigh.  Well there’s still hope.”  Six months comes around, “mine.”  “Me”  “no”  “ME”.  Hitting.  Not listening.  Center of the universe.  Don’t like food so just kicks it away and I’m like “sigh.  Maybe not the president of the world.  Maybe president of the United States” They grow up. Have another brother.  Jealous of the son so he kicks him.  Sits on him.  “Sigh.  Alright.  Maybe uh.  Maybe a governor?” and so slowly slowly “maybe a doctor? Maybe an engineer?” and we’re at that stage right now. And what I’m saying is that there is a hope in a child.  We all have it.  In a child there is new hope.  In a baby there is all this hope. Let me tell you the three points that I’m going to talk about with you today. The first point is darkness.  The second point is light! The third point is a child.
First is darkness.  In order for any kind of light to exist, means that there is first darkness. In the verse, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwell in the land of deep darkness, on them is light shown” what is this darkness? When I describe the darkness that these people are going through you’ll be like “that’s not that bad, but I still feel like I’m in the dark.”  The only way that you could experience Christmas, that you could actually know Christmas, is if you’re in the dark.  Is if you’re walking in the darkness. Where you don’t know where you’re going. 
So first, who is Isaiah? Why is he so important? Isaiah is a prophet.  He speaks the word of God. He doesn’t speak his own opinion.  He is guided by the Holy Spirit.  The word Isaiah means “The LORD is salvation.”  He lived around 700 BC; his ministry lasted about 50 years.  He ministered during a time when Israel was prosperous.  While things were going well.  He reached the peak of power.  So far sounds good, so far it seems like they are walking in light.  But yet in that peak of power, the seeds of destruction had germinated and almost reached maturity in both nations both the northern and southern kingdom of Israel.  Political corruption, personal immorality, etc.  And during this time there was Assyria.  This huge land with evil men.  They were like Nazis back in the day.  And Israel was afraid that Assyria was going to take over both kingdoms of Israel.  And what happened was that the northern kingdom aligned itself with Syria.  And the southern kingdom is like “oh no.  The north is going to align with Syria and attack us.” It’s like North Korea and South Korea.  It’s a dark place, a dark time. Israel is afraid that they are going to get destroyed. And yet they are at the peak of their political power.

How does that work? Often times when we are at the peak of our success, that’s when we worry the most.  That’s when we worry and be like “what if this happens, what if that happens, what if somebody comes and takes my business away” and what they do is that they constantly live in fear.  Mind you, Israel is at the peak of their success. They have a lot of money, a wonderful land, and a wonderful temple.  And yet it is when they worry the most.  In other words, they are in darkness. 
Why are you here? Are you in darkness? Are you not seeing well? Do you know where you’re going? Isn’t it wonderful, that God, that during this time of darkness, there was a few people, the remnant, that were able to see the light? That during this tumultuous time, during this dark dark time, there were certain people who were able to see hope.  To see some kind of direction of where they are going.  “You have multiplied the nations.” Meaning, look lord.  You have increased this nation.  Many people here, all these people are in fear, but you have increased joy!  They rejoice before you.   They look at the same thing, but they see things completely differently.  As with joy at harvest, they are glad when they divide the spoils.  For the yoke of his burden, the staff for his children, the rod of his oppressors you have broken as on the day of Midian.  God has taken the yoke of burden; god has taken the rod of oppressor. God has taken it all.

How can there be such opposing viewpoints? Ones in complete darkness, other people see great light.  The answer - Isaiah gives - is a child.  Remember this is 700 years before Christ.  But yet the hope, the light is in a child.  You see Israel, for unto us, a child is born. To us a son is given.  And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And everyone is wondering “who is this child, who is this son? Who is this baby?” this baby – somehow – is called the wonderful counselor.  Bringing peace to the soul.  Somehow, this child is: mighty God.” You know, when people of Israel heard Isaiah speak this, they must thought that he was crazy.  Do you know what historically Jewish are known for? “Here o Israel the lord your God is one.” In every synagogue, that’s the first thing that they say. And they would actually sing it. And for Isaiah to say that the child is born, wonderful counselor, mighty God.  The everlasting father? There is only ONE everlasting father.  But somehow this child is an everlasting father.  The prince of peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end.  On the throne of David, and over his kingdom. To establish it. And to uphold it. From this time forth and forever more.  And Isaiah finally concludes, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.  The God above will do that.  The key to this hope was a child.  The key to this hope is in a future child.  You know what the Israelites knew? They knew that this world wasn’t in a good place right now.  That Israelites was kind of in the darkness. But when some Israelites read this, they saw that 1) God didn’t forget them.  That God did not leave them.  And 2) that there is a purpose to all of this.  That God is in control.  And the practical application is this: where are you in life? What kind of darkness are you in? And what I’m asking you is, do you see the Son?  Do you see the Son? In the situation that’s going on in your life, do you see the son?  Do you see the hope that God has not left you alone?  Although you may feel like it, God has not left you alone. There is a purpose and design in all of this and that’s what’s going on in your life.  Is your life centered on yourself or is it centered on God?  And what people of Israel would do is that they would look at that hope. That someday that God himself would come and that he will make everything right. That God hasn’t forgotten me.  Emmanuel: that God is with me.  That God hasn’t forsaken me.  And we all know that 700 years later, a child would be born.  And his name is Emmanuel; God is with us.  Can you imagine that God, in the entire world.  All of heaven.  The Lord who made oxygen.  The lord who created every fiber of my hair. That God, who created literally everything, would send his one and only child to this world.  That’s amazing enough in and of itself.  But you know, he could have come in form of a… of a God.  He could have stepped down and said “hey I’m Jesus.  I’m God’s son” and we’d be like “ugh I can’t see you.  Give me sunglasses” but God didn’t sent his Son in that way.  He sent his Son as a child.  Being taken care of by people like us. And that’s wow enough.  He could have come in a household like King Charles.  Like Prince Williams child, but no not Jesus.  Jesus was born into a family of a young girl, and a carpenter, a blue collared worker. Who didn’t have any money who weren’t that rich. And you know they were poor, lower, middle class people. And it was funny when my son was born, there was me, there was my wife, there were all these doctors and nurses. There were all these people. You know when Jesus was born, you know who was there? Mother and Father of course. No people. Just animals.  Can you imagine? The most important event in history, the only witness to that birth was farm animals.  But Jesus would be born in that way.  And Jesus would grow up in that kind of household.  And eventually he would live his life, live his ministry, and ultimately die for a wretch like me.  See? That’s why I can go to Jesus.  That’s why I could hope in Jesus because Jesus knows what I know.  Jesus knows more then what I know.  Jesus walked in the footsteps of a person like me.  He knows what it feels like to be rejected.  He knows what it feels like to not have any money.  He knows what it means to be in pain.  That’s why I can hope in him.  That’s why the people could look forward to a hope.  And we are now why we can look back to the hope.  Because he knows! He’s experienced all this.  And eventually, he would die for my sin.  He’d be buried.  My goodness three days later he would rise again from the dead.  Defeat the power of sin itself and ascends into heaven.  And that’s good enough, but then he does something crazy when he gets into heaven, he sends his spirit down to us! For those who 1) believe, for those who 2) trust, for those who 3) have a relationship with him.  What’s a working relationship? It is living with hope.  Living in the light.  You have seen the darkness, now can you see the light? Can you WALK in the light?  Having a relationship with the light.  I pray that, uh, and I hope during this advent season, that’s what we are able to do.  That we would see the light.  But light in the sense of, can you see the hope in your life?  You’re going through a hard time.  Do you know that there is a purpose to that hard time?  Don’t’ think that God isn’t with you, because God IS with you.  That’s the hope, that’s the light. Live in the light, hope in the light, experience the light.  Hang out with people who have light. Because sometimes it can be really infectious.  That’s what we’re going to do this holiday season.  We’re going to walk in the light. 

Transcribed by: Andrew Chung 

November 30, 2014 [Psalm 2:1-12]

"A Really Big Deal"
[Psalm 2:1-12]
Pastor Brendon Wu

On December 3, 2008, I was writing up a list of all the things I wanted to do in my life. And apparently I sent it to Rebecca Lee on May 2, 2010 at 11:13pm. And I think I was trying to tell her, if you want to marry me, you’re gonna have to care about all these things. So there was a long list of things I really wanted to do. And I made this list when I was a junior in college – about five years ago when I was 21. Here’s some of the things I wanted to do.

1)    Achieve a 4.0 GPA next semester. (That never happened)
2)    Mountain bike some of the hot spots in Maryland (That kind of happened but I don’t want to talk about it. I was really bad at it)
3)    Build a house or at least part of it
4)    Mow a lawn (I did that one)
5)    Learn how to cook (I faked that one)
6)    Run a 26.2 mile marathon and finish with dignity (No.)
7)    Learn to read and speak Korean by age 22. (Yea, that clearly happened)
8)    Get my degree in public administration and international studies development by age 24 (I don’t even know what that means)

The list goes on and on, and it’s just too long. I think I wrote all the way up to age sixty. Apparently I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro at age 60 and know that I still “got it”. I don’t even know what I had. So I don’t know what got it means. I sent all these to the girl that I was really interested in back then. And I’m still interested in her and that’s why we’re married. More than that. But that was my bucket list. Do you guys have a bucket list? Do you guys have a list of dreams, things that you aspire to in your life. Things that you care about in your life. Maybe these are things that you shared with other people. Maybe these are things that you’re afraid to share with other people. And I think a lot of these things on our bucket list – things that we want to accomplish in our lives before we die. These things are a very big deal to us. This idea of a “big deal”. It’s a slang term that refer to things that we feel like we really need to accomplish. We really want to achieve for whatever reason. And I think there’s a long list of things that we make a big deal out about. In our Psalm today, we’re going to see what people make a big deal about, what God makes a big deal about, and how to be a dealer – or how to have the right idea about what should be a big deal in our lives.

A lot of people in our lives worry about a lot of different things. I kind of took my sociology degree out of the closet, wiped off the dust this week, and I started asking people (both inside and outside the church) what they consider a big deal. The things that you are worried about. And then this is the list of things that people came up with: bills, money, haters (?), work, aging, what other people think of me, what other people are doing, safety, mistakes, what can go wrong, things outside of your control, being perfect. And then another really insightful person said really small stuff. Meaning, we take small stuff and then make a big deal out of it. So there’s a long list of things that a lot of us make a big deal about.

I want us to take a look at the Psalms today. The reason we are going into Psalm 2 is not because we’re doing a series on the book of Psalms. But just to explain really briefly, we’re doing a series of passages for the next five weeks that concentrate on Jesus Christ and His coming. So a lot of have heard of Advent season. Advent means “coming”. So it’s celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ came once when he lived, died, and rose again. And then we’re also looking forward to when He comes back. So His second Advent. His second coming. Jesus Christ came once and He’s coming back again. And it’s in light of Christmas. This is something that the pastors and I decided that it would be a really good idea. And so Psalm 2 really focuses on Jesus Christ. A lot of it. The book of Psalms has a 150 psalms. A lot of people treat it like poems or songs. A lot of people like it because it feels like your reading a blog entry and it’s kind of interesting. Today we have a look at Psalm 2. Psalm 1 said, “Meditate on God. Focus on God. Make a big deal out of God and you will be blessed.” That’s what Psalm 1 said. In Psalm 2, it shows what happens when you don’t meditate on God. When you don’t make a big deal out of God and instead make a big deal out of yourself.

What’s the big deal?

Psalm 2 was written by King David. I really like King David because this guy was bad. Like Michael Jackson bad. He’s a bad dude who loved God. I think a lot of times when we think of King David, we think of the guy who was a gentle Shepherd before he was a king. We think things like, “Oh, King David. I like King David. He was a man after God’s own heart. He was so nice and so soft. He played the harp. And that King Saul was so mean. Saul threw a spear at David twice but he was able to dodge it.”. We think of King David in innocent, soft terms like that. But this is a bad dude in the sense of the idea that he is bad due. Meaning, there’s a real rawness and realness to him. He’s not a good person and he is open about it. This guy killed tens of thousands of Philistines. By himself. That’s crazy. He killed tens of thousands of Philistines by himself. And this is somebody who didn’t get by on his own but trusted God. He looked to God. So when King David is writing this, he is writing this for all sorts of different people. And he wants us to look at a question. And the question is, “What’s the big deal??” In verse 1 he asked,

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 
The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, 
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, 
“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”

In another words, what’s the big deal? Why are people getting so angry? So upset? Why is there so much drama? People are freaking out. And they want to quit. People are not content with their life. They’re really unhappy with their life. And there’s a decision that they’re making. Kings are setting themselves and they are thinking, “You know what. I’m going to make a decision.” Not only that, but kings are talking with other people. And people are making decisions together. The rulers are taking counsel together. And they’re doing this against the Lord and against His anointed. And when it says, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” – what they’re saying is, “We’re bonded. We’re in accord with God and His anointed. But we don’t want to be with God anymore.” And back then, there was an idea where there were kings who were ruled by other kings. This was called “suzerain-vassal relationship”. Suzerain is the greater king. Vassal is the lesser king. So there is a greater king and a lesser king. A lot of these lesser kings were thinking – “You know what, we don’t like the way things are going. Let’s split apart. Let’s quit. Let’s get away from the greater King.” So they’re raging. They’re plotting a way out. And I thought, a great way to think about this is rage quitting. It’s apparently something our generation really enjoys doing. I spent about ten minutes trying to track down the origin of this term. And it could not be found. But one place where it was very popular was in video games. In these games if you were playing against people and then you got really frustrated, because they were so much better than you, you would “rage quit”. Meaning, you would sign off or disconnect your computer so you don’t get a “loss” in your loss column but rather you get a disconnect. That’s what I used to do. People do this is sports and video games.

People start losing and they get angry and discouraged, so they quit. I think that’s our natural reaction in life a lot of times. When things aren’t going our way, how many times do we want to just avoid God? When school isn’t going our way, we think “I need to pour more and more and more of my life into school”. When things aren’t going well with family, we think “I don’t have time for other things. I need to pour more and more of my time and energy into family”. And on the surface level this seems to make sense. If you want to get good at something you have to practice it. You have to concentrate on it more. But it only makes sense on a human level. We don’t realize that as we’re doing this, we’re rejecting the Lord and His anointed. We’re rejecting God. We’re rejecting his anointed – His chosen one. That’s Jesus Christ. Somehow we think in our minds we think that when friendship isn’t going well, school isn’t going well – all these things we make a big deal out of aren’t going well, we have to concentrate and salvage that mess somehow. I think what happens a lot of times is that those things at the end of the day, don’t satisfy. They don’t work out in the way we think they should. My question right now is, “Have you been through that?”. Where you wonder, “What am I going to do in the future? What am I going to do in the next step of my life?”. I know a lot of us are in transitions. Some of us in our last year of high school. Some of us in our last year of college. Some of us considering new work opportunities. Is that really a big deal? Is that really a big deal? How does God think about these things?

The real big deal  
In verse 4 we see how God responds,

“He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. 
Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, 
“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 

Now what God is not doing is that, He’s not looking at our problems and the things we go through on a daily basis and thinking – “Oh man. That’s totally ridiculous. How could you possibly care about any of these things? Yeah, I just laugh at you from afar. I don’t care about you. I’m just sitting in heaven and I’m just mocking you, scoffing at you”. But something that really struck me this week as I was fighting to understand what God is doing here, is that God doesn’t think that a lot of the things that matter to us is that big of a deal. It’s not that important. At the end of the day, at the end of life, these things aren’t that important. I feel like, 80% of ministry from my experience a lot of times is just dealing with freak-out sessions. I freak out a lot. I have brothers that I can freak out before and I’m really grateful. And when we freak out, we need a reminder that these things aren’t that serious. 95% of the time, the things that we freak out about aren’t that serious. If it’s not a life and death thing, it’s probably not that serious. And we take ourselves to seriously. We make too big a deal out of nothing. And when that happens, there’s no enjoyment in God because we’re too serious about ourselves. A lot of our sin, a lot of our selfishness. A lot of our struggle doesn’t come from somewhere out there. But deeply lodged within our own hearts, a lot of times we take ourselves too seriously. We think we are too important. And God laughs. And the reason why He laughs is because that’s not what He is concentrating on. And that shouldn’t be what we concentrate on. If we don’t make it into the college of our choice, that’s not a big deal. If we don’t get the job we always wanted, that’s not a big deal. If everything in the next 10, 20, 50 years don’t turn out the way it should turn out, it’s not a big deal. But what should be really important to us, is the fact that God sets Jesus Christ on Zion, His Holy hill. And what that means is that, God sets Jesus Christ at the top of everything. Jesus Christ is important.

One thing that is really practical for us is this. I never knew this, but whenever I saw a little child fall, I always thought you should care for them and run to them. Make sure they are okay. A few years ago, my friend’s child fell. And he totally ignored him. And I was just like, “Hey man, um he just fell and he’s crying. Hello??” I thought, aren’t you supposed to care for the baby, lift him up, throw him in the air and say “It’s okay!”. But the father said, “Don’t do anything. Because if you do something, the infant counts on that and depends on that. And the fall becomes more than what it really is”. Lo and behold, what happened was, the bay fell, he got up after a few seconds, and he was totally fine. I think a lot times in our lives, we need to realize that it’s not that crazy. Do we have enough security in Jesus Christ to be able to laugh. Laugh it off. Laugh at some things. I’m not saying, if you didn’t study at all for your exam that you should say, “Hahaha! I didn’t study at all for my chem exam and I got a negative twenty!” I’m not saying, laugh at the fact that you’re purposely missing shots in basketball. That would just frustrate your teammates more. But what I’m saying is that a lot of times when we make mistakes or a lot of times, even with our sin, can we have an optimistic, can we have a hopeful, can we have joyful – not a serious (I’m going to my own funeral. I can’t believe I did this for the thousandth time, I want to hang myself) kind of thought. Why is God laughing? Why is he making fun of these things that we care too much about? It’s because these things that we care too much about, don’t matter too much.

I think a good marker of our security in Christ is when we’re able to laugh at ourselves and we’re able to also joke around and laugh with other people. And I think that’s something that a lot of us struggle with. I definitely struggle with that. Insecure people, when we’re insecure, we don’t have the ability to be openly made fun of and make fun of others. Because we’re just too serious and we’re too wound up and everything. And a lot of it’s because our security is in ourselves. And we take ourselves too seriously. But just to say, it can’t be like, everything is just a joke. And everything in life is something that we just flick off our shoulder and it’s not a big deal. Something has to be a big deal. Something has to be a big deal. And in verse 7, we hear of “the decree”. In another words, we hear of the announcement. The command that King David heard from God. We really need to listen to this. King David wrote for us,

“I will tell of the decree: The LORD said to me, 
“You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, 
and the ends of the earth your possession. 
You shall break them with a rod of iron 
and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” 

In another words, what this decree is saying is that the big deal is Jesus Christ! We’re all alive and in existence today only because of Jesus Christ. Even the things we have is only because of Jesus Christ. The minds that we have, the hearts that we have, the bodies that we have. This decree is talking about how God the father, ultimately said to His Son Jesus Christ, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.” So it wasn’t that Jesus Christ was born or anything, but He was begotten. Meaning, Jesus Christ was sent from God. And when He was sent from God, from Heaven to Earth, for us. This is our good news. God told Jesus Christ that Christ could ask God of anything. And He would give Him everything. I want to say that again. God told Jesus Christ, you could ask me of anything and I will give you everything. When Jesus was on Earth, the reason why He got baptized was because He was here to take on our sins. He was here to represent each and every single one of us. And when Jesus Christ was baptized, God said from Heaven, “You are my beloved Son.”

I think when I first read this, I was thinking “Okay, God is saying to Jesus Christ, ‘Ask me of anything. I’ll give you everything. So Jesus Christ is everything.” But when I started to realize what this meant on a deeper level, this is what I realized. If Jesus Christ is the King, why did He die on the cross. And what are the things Christ asked of God? And it just struck me, and it was incredible and amazing to me how Jesus Christ could have asked for literally anything from God. But what He wanted from God was to willingly and joyfully lay down His life for us. The things that He asked for were our sins. The thing that He asked for was this opportunity to become a man, and to die on the cross for us.

When it says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”, it doesn’t mean we can ask God for anything we can think of and He’ll give it to us. Whatever we can dream of, whatever we are angry about, whatever we just rage over, God will just give us that. No. But actually what God gives us instead is Jesus Christ. Christ is our heritage. Chris is our possession. Because He took our heritage. He took our possession. Meaning, He took what we inherited from Adam, and what we had on our own, our own sin.

“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Jesus Christ asked of this from God. And when He asked of it from God, He was slain. He was killed. He was sacrificed on the cross. He was destroyed on the cross in place of us. We wanted to burst our bonds apart from God. And what Jesus Christ did was, He took our place. We wanted to give up on God. But God never gave up on us. And Jesus Christ is the rightful king. I think the problem for a lot of us is that, we still struggle with the idea that we’re our own king and we’re our own Lord. Just because we go to church, this doesn’t become easier for us. I think as we grow older and older, we think even more somehow that we’re our own Lord. That life is our own life. And that’s the most important thing. That’s what Satan wants us to think. That our life is the most important thing. That’s what this world has been lying to us about up to this point. That we’re number one and that we’re the most important thing. We’re not real kings and we’re not real Lords. And that’s actually the freedom of the gospel. We don’t have to care so much about our different worries. Anxieties. The things that we’re so angry about. The things that haven’t gone right in our lives. And none of us are kings or Lords because we serve something or somebody. We all serve something or somebody. We have to. But God is the only one that is truly a King. Because out of all the things in the whole universe, God is the only one that doesn’t have to serve anybody. But God chose to serve us. He is an amazing King. God chose to serve us. The good news of Jesus Christ is not that we have to come to God, serve him, serve Him, serve Him, labor, labor, labor, for Him to serve us. The good news in Christ is that Jesus Christ first serves us. And because of that, we serve Him.

How to be a big dealer

In verse 10-12, I want us to be able to see some really important things here.

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.”

To be wise, is to be warned. All of us are warned but I don’t think a lot of us are wise. Because of that, Bible studies are so important. Are you in a Bible study where you are getting to know the real king? The problem isn’t, you have to get to know the real you, to find out your direction for life. But get to know Jesus Christ the King. Men’s group and men time is really important. Women’s group and women time is really important. Are you spending time with fellow brothers? Sisters with sisters? Talking through, reflecting on who God is. Rather than just sharing with each other, “Oh man, this isn’t going right in my life. This awful thing happened”. Are we talking with one another and talking about amazing things that God is doing. Instead of going against God, talking about how God is actually there for us. That’s the first thing. To know that we’ve been warned. But we need wisdom. We need to understand who God is on a deeper level.

The second thing we see is

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.”

If Christ really is our king, than everything that we do is concentrated on that. We serve God first and foremost. Not ourselves. I’ll definitely admit that there’s so many times in my life where I haven’t served God with what He has given me. And I think for all of us here, if we believe that God is enough, God has given us everything. We don’t need all the nations. We don’t need everything in this world. But God really has given us everything in Jesus Christ. In the fact that, we’re smart, intelligent, quasi-atheltic, handsome, beautiful people here. How are you serving God? How are you serving other people and the church? With the things that you’ve been given? And maybe you don’t think that what you’ve been is that much. Just laugh it off. Don’t take it too seriously. Jesus Christ is our King. It’s not about us. It’s about Jesus. And if Jesus gave us something, even if it’s a really small gift, or a really small apt. A car. Anything like that. How are you using those things to serve other people? Instead of going from point A to point B for our own agenda.

And then we see how the Psalm ends with:

“Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, 
for his wrath is quickly kindled. 
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

This phrase “Kiss the Son”, doesn’t mean to literally kiss Jesus Christ. Because that’s not possible. But what this is saying to us, is to love Jesus Christ on an intimate level. With everything that Jesus Christ asked for. With everything that He received from God, He used all that love God and serve us. To love God and to serve us. And the gospel doesn’t start with us serving God, but it starts with Christ serving us. So, even on the night before Christ died, traditionally when they were having Passover supper, it would usually be the servants. It would usually be the servants that would wash the feet of the Rabbi. But Jesus Christ went totally counter cultural. He took the sponge and the pail of water, and went down before everyone of His disciples and washed their feet. He washed their feet. And He served them. And He wasn’t thinking, you guys have to do this for me. You guys have to do this for me. You guys don’t care about me. Why don’t you guys do this for me. And when I see how Jesus Christ loved us, even when our love can in no way match His, this is the driving force of Christianity. That Jesus Christ would love us even though our love can never match His. He loved us, He served us. He wasn’t thinking, what are you going to do for me? He wasn’t thinking, “Man, this other person isn’t cleaning the bathroom or isn’t vacuuming. So why should I try so hard?” Christ wasn’t thinking, “Man, other people don’t care, so why should I care about relationships?” But Jesus Christ, focused on what was the big deal. And it was His love for God and His love for people. And when scripture teaches us to serve God, to rejoice with trembling, and to kiss the son. What it means is to concentrate on Jesus Christ. Yes, we are sinful. Yes, we are imperfect. There are so many things that we can point up and bring up, but if those are the things we concentrate on, our relationships won’t make it. Our relationship with God will not make it. And we will rage quit. And seriously give up. The only way to have an eternal relationship with God and with each other, is to know that it’s not about just the people themselves. But it’s about Jesus Christ. Christ started by loving and giving Himself up for imperfect people. And it’s our privilege to love the people that God’s given us. What is the heritage and possession God has given us when we’ve asked of Him? it’s this church. It’s our families. The people in our work place. All the different people that God has given us. God’s given us such an amazing opportunity to love all these people. And so, because of that, there’s where we find our blessing. We find our blessing in loving Jesus Christ and loving other people. And trusting Christ and His way of loving.