Sunday, May 24th

Sunday, May 24th

MESSAGE SUMMARY

FRAMED - “Safe and Secure”

Opening

It is Memorial Day weekend. It is a time when our country pauses to pay tribute to all who sacrificed their lives for our country before it is about picnics and family gatherings. How blessed we are to live in a country where freedom is taken seriously. There is nothing free about freedom. To those who gave their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice, we are deeply grateful. And to all of you who are here who have served or are serving in the armed forces we say, "Thank you."

Take your Bibles. We will be turning to two different passages. We will shuttle back and forth between them. If the Bible is new to you I want to encourage you to explore it own your own. We have been talking about frames. Last week we said that acceptance frames our lives. Until you understand God's love and acceptance you won't have the framework you need for living the Christian life succesfully. The frame protects the picture. It secures what's inside the frame. The security of the frame builds in us a boldness, a security, a strength. We need security and safety but insecurity is rampid, it's everywhere. We try to dress to fit in. We pretend to be confident. But everywhere there is insecurity. We act out to fit in and we fail to act to fit in.

1 - Our Security in Christ 

I am going to read the first part of our first passage and if you listen carefully, you can almost catch the insecurity.

Matthew 17:24-25A says, "On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” 25“Yes, he does,” Peter replied.

"Yes, of course," says Peter as he is confronted about the tax that is due in order to be a part of temple society. Their concern is about Jesus. Notice they say, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” Peter hasn't paid the tax either. The focus is not on Peter but on Jesus. Let's pause for a useful reminder. When you follow Jesus Christ it's always about Jesus. Security, boldness, etc. come from Jesus. He is our security.

Colossians 3:3 says,  "For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."

We are talking about when you accepted Christ, were forgiven, and the transformational moment of this verse became true. The old is set aside and your real life is hidden in Christ, secure, protected, and safe. Our security is in him and our insecurity is in us. When we look at the foundation of our security and we see that our life is truly hidden in Christ, we have boldness and confidence to walk through the deep valleys of life. Experiencing the acceptance and love of Christ helps me to realize that in this frame I am secure.

Growing up in my Springfield, MA neighborhood there were bullies to face. The beat you up kind of bullies. I learned to run. You don't know how fast you can run until you are chased. I learned to fight too. I also learned where the people were that were safe. My father was one. One day I was being chased by two bullies. I just had to get to the house. My father was in the driveway working on the car. Dad looked up, dropped his tools and chased them. The chase had turned the other way.

Turns out you don't have to be able to beat the bullies, you just have to get close to the father. Security is not in your strength. The beauty of security is that when you are close to the father your life is hidden, protected, and secure. This builds in us a confidence that comes from being close to Christ. When we have quiet times of prayer, or when we come to God's word, or we come together in worship, we remember how he loves us and accepts us.

2 - Let God Speak for Himself

The Gospel of Matthew is the only Gospel that includes this story. Matthew was a tax collector and new the rules.

Matthew 17:25-26 says, “'Yes, he does,' Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, 'What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?'  26“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free!

Peter is on the spot. With his mind it's don't think so, but with his mouth it's yes he does. Then he goes into the house to find Jesus. Before he can speak, Jesus speaks and asks him the question about who kings tax. Jesus is saying, "they (the people who charge and collect the temple tax) are not in charge of me. I am in charge of them." This is not the message Peter wanted to hear but he gives the appropriate answer. Peter has already said that Jesus pays the tax and wants an answer about what to do about it. It is easy to misinterpret life - what God is saying, what God is doing, where God is going.

Again Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."

What matters is life in Christ. (The pressure Peter felt in the heat of the moment caused him to speak for Jesus) We must be careful to let God speak for himself.

We began searching for a new used car recently. Mark who is on staff asks the most annoying questions, but he really is good at asking questions. He ageed to go with me to see a car I had located up in the Boston area. I really wanted the car and was not being very objective about it. We got there and went for a test drive. I''m thinking, good deal and Mark is thinging, no so sure. We went over a bump and there was a noise. I tried to ignore it but Mark became concerned. After several bumps and noises, I began to acknowledge the rattle but said it wasn't really anything to worry about. It finally got really bad.

This is how we are with things. We get dialed into something and we stop listening. We must let God speak for himself. Security isn't about getting what you want but knowing what God is doing. We must learn to listen and slow down. (1) We must wait patiently for God is rarely in the rush we are in. We must set aside the thing we are dialed into. (2) We must seek advice. God often uses other people. (3) We must hold our own interests lightly. The humility of letting go of what I want so I can discover what God wants, is the key.

3 - God has a Fish

We come now to the last point and a good ending.

Matthew 17:27 says, "However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.”

I love the gentleness and humility of Christ that we see here in his patience with people. Then it's as if he is saying to Peter, "By the way, you haven't paid your tax either." Jesus has a sense of humor. Jesus loved to give Peter fishing lessons. I've got a fish prepared with a coin in his mouth. God knows what we need and how to provide it. This is security. God has a "fish" so to speak for whatever it is that we are facing. Peter must never let fulfilling the demands of the tax collectors be how he finds security. The demands of other people and meeting those demands for their acceptance and approval is not our security.

Again Colossians 3:3 says, "For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God."

Our security, safety, protection are found in Christ.

Closing

Bow with me. Perhaps there are those here who are trying to gain the acceptance and approval of other people because of insecurity. Remember real life is in Christ. We are safe and protected in Christ. We are hidden in him. Lord, across the room you know every struggle and every insecurity.

We confess we try to find our security in the wrong places. We confess that we often miss the security that should come from our life being hidden in Christ. May it be Lord, that we hold lightly to our own interests and wait patiently for you. Help us through prayer, times in the Word, and in worship, to remember all over again how we are accepted and loved in Christ and are therefore safe and secure in him.

Help us to keep in view that security is not in us and our ability to take on bullies, but in our running back to the Father. Our security is in you. In Jesus' Name, Amen!


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