Welcome to Expound, our verse-by-verse study of God's word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Hey, I'm grateful tonight. I'm really thankful on a number of levels. I feel like the Psalmist in Psalm 45 when he said, my heart is overflowing with a good theme. And I've been with a friend for the last couple of days that I met when I was 15 years old, and we've been friends ever since.
And as we were together, we were reminiscing about how bad we were when we were kids and how we got arrested and the trouble we got into and how we almost died a couple of times, but how we both got saved around the same time, and we're both in ministry serving the Lord all of these years, and we still like each other after all this time. It was just an amazing thing.
So I've just sort of been in touch with that thankful grateful theme for what God has done, and I am very grateful. I'm thankful to God for you. I'm thankful to God for this city, for this state, for this amazing time in history that we have, and for the opportunities that God has set before us.
I'm going to do something a little bit different tonight. It's communion, and we've been in Deuteronomy. And usually what we do is we read a couple verses, and then we expound and dig deep, and then read a few verses, and dig down, and go deep, and go an hour, and we cover a chapter or two.
What I'm going to do is something different. I am going to look at Deuteronomy chapter 12, but I am just going to read it through, and I'm going to make some comments after we're done that apply to us and take communion, so it's not going to be a lengthy message.
But as I go through Deuteronomy 12, there's three basic undercurrents, three themes that I want to draw out from that I think are very pertinent to us taking the Lord's supper tonight in this amphitheater. And first is the theme of regathering, regathering. You see, the children of Israel were going to go into a land, and they were going to scatter everywhere, and once they scatter into different regions of the land, they will have the need to regather, to get back together for fellowship, and to do that frequently during the year at a special place that God chooses. So the first theme is regathering, getting together, back together frequently.
The second is the theme of redemption. Sacrifice is mentioned in this chapter. The shedding of blood is mentioned in this chapter, and then there's a third theme, and that is rejoicing. You'll hear it when I read it, but it's a command that God gives to his people to rejoice.
Maria, I loved what you said. You saw a bunch of grumpy Christians, and it turned you off. And so God will give a command to his children to rejoice, and as I think about these three themes-- regathering, redemption, and rejoicing-- I think, it's not a coincidence that we're in chapter 12 of Deuteronomy. I think that's exactly the theme of what we're doing with communion here tonight. So I'm going to read the chapter if you don't mind, and some of it might sound laborious, but just hold onto your seat. We'll be done with it soon.
Deuteronomy, chapter 12, beginning in verse one, "These are the statutes and the judgments, which you shall be careful to observe in the land which the Lord, God of your fathers, is giving you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations, which you shall dispossess, served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree, and you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, burn there wooden images with fire.
You shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place. You shall not worship the Lord, your God, with such things. But you shall seek the place where the Lord, your God, chooses out of all your tribes to put his name for his dwelling place, and there you shall go. There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifice, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your free will offerings, and the first born of your herds and flocks.
And there you shall eat before the Lord, your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand and you and your household, in which the Lord, your God, has blessed you. You shall not at all do as we are doing here today, every man doing what is right in his own eyes, for as yet, you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you to inherit, and he gives you rest from all your enemies around about so that you do well in safety, then there shall be the place where the Lord, your God, chooses to make his name abide. There, you shall bring all that I command you-- your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings, which you vow to the Lord, and you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.
Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see, but in the place which the Lord chooses. In one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.
However, you may slaughter and eat meat within all your gates, whatever your heart desires, according to the blessing of the Lord, your God, which he has given you. The unclean and the clean may eat of it, of the gazelle, of the deer alike. Only you shall not eat the blood. You shall pour it on the earth like water. You may not eat within your gates the tide of your grain or your new wine or your oil of the first born of your herd or your flock of any of your offerings which you vow your free will offerings or the heave offering in your hand.
But you must eat them before the Lord, your God, in the place which the Lord, your God, chooses. You and your son and your daughter, your male servant, your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gate, and you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God, in all to which you put your hands.
Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite as long as you live in your land. When the Lord, your God, enlarges your border, as he has promised you, and you say, let me eat meat, because you long to eat meat, you may eat as much meat as your heart desires. If the place where the Lord, your God, chooses to put his name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which the Lord has given you.
Just as I commanded you, you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires. Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten, you may eat them. The unclean and the clean alike may eat them.
Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life. You may not eat the life with the meat. You shall not eat it. You shall pour it on the earth like water. You shall not eat it that it may go well with you and your children after you. When you do what is right in the sight of the Lord only the holy things which you have in your vowed offerings, you shall take and go to the place which the Lord chooses. And you shall offer your burnt offerings-- the meat, the blood-- on the altar of the Lord, your God, and the blood of your sacrifice shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord, your God, and you shall eat the meat.
Observe and behold all these words which I command you that it may go well with you and your children after you forever when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord, your God. When the Lord, your God, cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell on their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their god saying, how did these nations serve their gods?
I will do likewise. You shall not worship the Lord, your God, in that way, for every abomination to the Lord which he hates, they have done to their gods. For they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.
Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to observe it. You shall not add to it, nor shall you take away from it."
There's a lot of information to be given on this chapter, but I want to restrict what I have to say to those three themes that I announced for the purpose of taking the Lord's supper communion together. First of all, they were to be regathering together. You see, while they were in the wilderness marching through, there was a tabernacle, and they were always together. They were camped around the sanctuary, so they were always with each other. It was like a tent city.
It was like a camp of refugees for 40 years with each other in the wilderness camped around the tabernacle marching from place to place. But now it's going to be different. Now they're going to cross the Jordan River. The land will be plotted out for different tribes, so they're going to be scattered all over a larger piece of real estate.
Therefore, they need to regather. They need to gather together again with each other, and they need to do it frequently. God, knowing that, prescribed three mandatory festivals where they would all go to one place, and that is Jerusalem, where the Tabernacle will eventually end up, and the temple will eventually be built.
Those three festivals are the festival of Passover. The second is the festival of Pentecost, and the third is the festival of Tabernacles. It is mandatory for the males within a certain radius to come to Jerusalem, but it is preferable that everybody in Israel can gather together and worship together on one of those feasts.
Now we don't live together, and that's probably a very good thing. We'd probably all get on each other's nerves if we all tried to camp out here at this church day in and day out. So we live in different places in the community or in communities around, but we are called in the Bible to gather together frequently. We need to regather like they needed to regather.
Listen to what the writer of Hebrews said in Hebrews chapter 10. "Let us not neglect our meeting together as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back is drawing near."
Let me put it to you this way. As we move on toward the coming of the Lord, and the world gets darker and darker, and it's harder to be a Christian-- it's more difficult. The persecution is mounting. Perhaps you're starting to taste a little bit more and see more of it than you ever have before.
And as you're feeling the pinch of the world around you, there is the need to regather frequently and more frequently to get reoriented in a place like this at a time like this, in fellowship with each other, to worship together in song, to hear the Bible taught, to get on the same page spiritually.
This is why the Church of Jesus Christ will never go out of style ever, and here's why. In our world that is increasing with its technology, that face-to-face fellowship becomes even more important. I just read an article before I came out here on my computer-- two of them, actually-- about how technology is making people feel more isolated. Sure, we can text. Sure, we can Instagram and tweet. But there's nothing like looking somebody in the eye, opening up your heart, and having true koinonia or fellowship with that other person. That is becoming harder, and you can't do it with a little mobile device or a computer.
So the article went on to say that with all the advances we have in communication, we are feeling more lonely, more alienated, and more isolated. Sometimes I almost feel like if I had a computer screen for a face, people would look at me more. Ever been in a restaurant, and you see people at the same table, and they're looking at their devices? They're not even talking to each other. They're probably texting each other.
But I'll tell you what. As long as the church stays biblical, it will never go out of style, because one thing we ought to be really good at is letting our guard down, being real with each other, being a community together-- it's not always the case, but it ought to be. When we're a biblical community and we gather together to lift one another up, to bear one another's burdens, to encourage each other, to teach each other, it becomes something that is irreplaceable. You can't get it on a computer screen. You can't get a fellowship app for your phone. You need another person to have fellowship with.
I know you can FaceTime, but it ain't the same thing as being together with one another. There's an old Jewish proverb that says, a friendless man is like the left hand bereft of the right hand. And I would say that a Christian out of fellowship is like a left hand bereft of the right hand.
Proverbs 18 says, a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire, and he rages against all wise judgement. You need a family. I need a family. And that's why we want to welcome you as we did at the beginning as part of a family of God. You're not an audience. You're a family. You're my brother, my sister. We should treat each other in that capacity. So the need of regathering-- that's the first theme.
Here's the second theme I want to draw out. That's the theme of redemption. You noted while I read through Chapter 12 the mention of offerings. We've already taught in depth on them and Leviticus, but there were five different prescribed offerings that were to be brought to the Tabernacle and later on to the temple, and a couple of times in our passage is the mention of blood-- the shedding of blood, pouring out the blood, not eating or drinking the blood.
I know that sounds really gross, like who would drink or eat blood? Well, there's an answer to that. Scottish people would do that. Just saying.
I've been to Scotland before, and they have a thing called blood pudding, where they take congealed pig's blood and put it inside an intestine, and they eat it. And they think it's great. I don't get it. I'm not here-- that has nothing to do with my message, but it's just like, I'm thinking, that's pretty gross, but there are people who still do it.
But did you know in ancient times in some of the pagan worship, it was a common practice to actually take an animal's blood and to drink part of it or to eat it? And you say, why is that? Because it was a superstitious belief that whatever that animal was known for, that character trait would become your character trait.
So you could become as fast as a lion by taking some of its blood. You could be as free as a gazelle by taking some of its blood. You could be strong as an ox by taking some of it's blood. You would take on the characteristic that that creature is known for, and so that became part of pagan worship in antiquity.
Because of that and because of this commandment that we read, the Jews developed a system to cut meat, to drain the blood after washing it, drain it out so that the meat became what they called kosher. Kosher means fitting or proper meat. And a rabbi would inspect it to make sure it's cut a certain way and washed a certain way and drained a certain way because of the commandment that we just read.
And though that is Old Testament, some of you remember that in the New Testament, when Gentiles, non-Jews were being saved all over the world, the Council of Jerusalem said, look, let's not lay some heavy burden on these people. Let's just tell them they should abstain from things polluted by idols, from fornication, from things strangled, and from blood. Blood. If you do these things, he said you do well.
So we gather tonight, and we are celebrating shed blood, the shed blood not of an animal but of the Lord Jesus Christ, and isn't it amazing, isn't it fascinating that Jesus never said, make a mausoleum that celebrates my importance and my life, or erect a large marble pillar where I spoke the Sermon on the Mount? No, he said. There's one thing I want you to do to remember me, and that is have a meal together. Take the elements that speak of my broken body and my shed blood just like the Passover meal, because it would remind us of redemption.
We are reminded of redemption. We regather to remind ourselves of redemption. The themes actually go together. And we drink, and we eat to remember Jesus said, do it in remembrance of me.
I've often said that the world goes to bars, and they drink to forget. They want to forget the day. They want to forget their boss. They want to forget their job. They want to forget their spouse. They want to forget all the bad things in their life. They drink to forget. We drink to remember. We drink to remember. We eat to remember.
It's a priority. And I will say I am so glad for a church, a group of people-- when I say church, I don't mean a building. I mean you. You are the church. I'm so grateful for God's people, a church that makes communion a priority, makes the cross of Jesus Christ a priority, because when churches forsake the cross, and they become liberal in their thinking, they become liberal in their theology, they start forgetting that they were redeemed by blood. So it's always to be a priority. The cross is always to be a monumental priority to us. We must never forget it.
So we take communion. And why do we do it? Why do we do it to remember him? For a simple reason-- not just to remember him, but because he said to do it. You know, people say, well, why should I get baptized, or why should I take communion? Easy answer. Jesus said so. I don't think you need any more answer than that. If you love him, if you worship him, if he is your savior-- Jesus said, if you love me, you'll do what I say, right?
So he told us to do it, and he was smart in doing it. Like he told the children of Israel, regather, and as you regather, you remember your redemption with these sacrifices and the shedding of blood. You don't drink it like the pagans. You don't conduct your service, worship service like the pagans, but you make sure that part of your priority is that you remember the redemption as you regather.
So regathering, redemption, here's the third, and then we'll take the elements together-- rejoicing. You noticed a couple of times where the Lord said, any you shall rejoice. You shall rejoice. You and your children and your children's children shall gather together.
In fact, I discovered that eight times in the law of Moses is the commandment to rejoice. No how many people do you know that have said something like, well, you know, the Old Testament is full of a vengeful God, an angry God. There's no real happiness and joy until you get to the New Testament. Well, I think you need to read the Old Testament a little more closely, because eight times in the law, especially in Deuteronomy, even Leviticus, is the command, you shall rejoice. In fact, 23 times in the scripture we are given a command to rejoice, all of those in the Old Testament.
Why would God give us a command to rejoice? Does that mean we all gather together and do one of these? Just plant a fake smile. I'm rejoicing. No, I don't think it should be that lame, but it does show me that joy is a choice. It's a choice. You can choose to be grumpy. You can choose to be angry. You can choose to hold a grudge. You can choose to be whatever, or you can choose to rejoice. It's a command, because it is a choice.
And when you make the choice, here's the deal. The disposition or the feeling will eventually follow the choice that you make. You've all read, I'm guessing, the Book of Philippians in the New Testament. Am I right? OK, so you've read that book. Now that book was written from prison. Paul was in jail when he wrote that book. So here's a guy chained in jail, and he writes to the Philippians, and he says, rejoice in the Lord always.
Again, I say rejoice, and he uses the word "joy" 12 times in the letter of Paul from prison to the Phillippians is the word "joy" and "rejoice." And in that letter, as a prisoner locked up in a cell, he writes these words-- "I have learned in whatever state I'm in to be content." I can be content in the state of freedom.
I can be content in the state of being locked up. I can be content in the state of sickness or health or poorness, poverty, or wealth, in whatever state I'm in to be content. In the state of New Mexico, you can be content. In whatever state you're in, you can be content.
Paul is in prison, and he tells people, and he himself is rejoicing. By the way, when Paul first came to the city of Philippi, remember that he was thrown in prison the first night, and he was beaten? And he was with Silas, his buddy, and it says, about midnight, Paul and Silas started singing hymns to the Lord. How do you sing at midnight after being beaten up and put in a cell? Well, you regather, and you focus on your redemption, and that should cause you to rejoice.
I've often wondered what it was like to be around Paul the Apostle. I bet it was a hoot. I mean, this guy was effervescent. This guy was unstoppable. He gets beat up. He recovers. He goes to the next town, keeps preaching. He gets beat up. He recovers.
He goes to the next town, keeps preaching. He just is like the Eveready bunny. God winds him up, and he just keeps going, and he keeps going, and to be around him must've been like being around an artesian well-- full of joy, full of rejoicing, full of a positive spiritual attitude like God's going to do great things.
Now you're given a command to rejoice. Wouldn't you love it if people would say, you know, when I'm around you, it's like being around an artesian well? I've been around some Christians, and honestly, not all of them, but some of them, it's like witnessing an autopsy. It's like, man, dude, it's like, are you really-- you're walking with God, the living God? Jesus has saved you, because I just don't get what I see and hear. Rejoice in the Lord always.
Charles Spurgeon put it this way. "Our happy God should be worshipped by a happy people. A joyful people is in keeping with God's nature and character." I love that.
When I was a kid, I went to church, and I, like Murray, I didn't like it. I hated it. You know why I hated it? Because I had to go. I don't have to go now. I want to go. I like to go. I like hanging out with God's people. I love regathering with God's people frequently. And I love thinking about our redemption, and I even love the command that God knows I'm giving you a choice to rejoice, and I want you to take that choice, and do it.
We're happy because of what he has done. Bars have happy hour, don't they? No, no, no, this is happy hour right here, right now.
So we're going to pass out these elements, and we're going to take them together. And it was Spurgeon, , again, who said, don't use the bread and the wine, the elements-- in our case, the bread and the juice-- don't use them to just have in front of you to look at. Use them as a pair of glasses to look through. Use the bread and the juice, the reminder of the shed blood and the broken body of Jesus as lenses by which you are looking through and seeing life.
You are looking through rose-colored glasses, blood-stained lenses. The blood of Jesus Christ has colored those lenses, and you are seeing your world, your reality through what he has done. So as we regather, and we focus on redemption, we rejoice for what he has done. Let's pray.
Our Father, we just thank you for your body. That's what you call us. We are hands and feet and eyes and ears. We are muscles and sinews and bones. But we are all together hearing what the brain is telling each one to do, moving in a coordinated fashion, serving one another, loving one another.
When one member of the body suffers, we all suffer. When one member rejoices, we all rejoice. Lord, I pray that you would just put within us a spirit of rejoicing, a holy joy as we have regathered to focus on redemption in Jesus's name. Amen.
Well, Pastor Kerry and I are very honored to lead you in sharing this meal together. We were told that Paul was effervescent, and Jesus was fervent when he came to this time of instituting the Lord's supper with the disciples. In fact, Luke records that when the hour had come, Jesus sat down, and the Twelve Apostles with him. Then he said to them, "With fervent desire, I have desire to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
For I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God." And then Jesus took the cup and gave thanks and said, take this, and divide it among yourselves, for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes. And Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it, and gave it to them saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
Likewise, he also took the cup after supper saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is shed for you." This is good news, folks. In fact, from what we were reminded of this past weekend, this is great and awesome news.
And in as much as there's time for a solemn consideration of our sin before God, we always have to come to that point of emerging from that after confession to just thanking God fervently, just as Jesus was fervently sharing this meal with the disciples, that we are a forgiven people, folks. This is great news. We get to share tonight in this enduring meal that Jesus instituted-- very simple, very plain-- to remind us to remember and to never forget, as we were reminded of tonight, what he's done for us.
And so you have the elements. If you haven't already done so, peel back the top film to release the bread. Take it in your hand. I'm going to lead us in prayer before we take the bread together, and then Pastor Kerry's going to lead us in prayer before we drink of the fruit of the vine together. Let's bow our heads.
Father, we thank you so very much that in a world that seems to be entirely consumed with provoking our flesh, with stimulating our flesh, enticing our flesh, your example was to give your flesh away for us. God, in a world where we are constantly beckoned to accommodate our bodies, to make our bodies comfortable, and to give our bodies pleasure, you yielded all of your body for our sake, God. And so, Lord, thank you for leading the way.
Thank you for leading by example, and thank you for this meal of remembrance, God. Then, Lord, we can consider that these elements represent the ultimate Passover, that because of what these elements represent to us, death glides right over us because of your broken body and your shed blood which covers us completely. God, we're so grateful as we remember that you gave your flesh for us, and we take fervently, effervescently, so proud of you as our savior, God, we take this bread in remembrance of you. Let's take together.
Father, as we were taught tonight, I pray that we would choose to remember, to remember like Murray did our testimony before we knew you, our life before, and that from the foundations of the earth, you had a plan. You set your love upon us like you did Israel. You came to cover us, because we cannot cover ourselves, and we thank you so much.
We choose now, Lord, to do what you asked, to remember, to take this meal and rejoice in our redemption, to believe with all our heart that you chose us from the foundations of the earth. We love you. We thank you for this opportunity and the pleasure of knowing you. In your son's name. Amen. Please take that.
Well, friends, with unshackled burdens, we encourage you, with all of us, to go in the grace and knowledge of our common Savior Jesus Christ, as we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our great and awesome Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Right on.
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