Man takes leftovers and form gods from them. We make idols like us. These are empty and we feed on ashes. Good work in us is the broken and contrite heart, this is better that all burnt offerings. The walls of the ditch are tight so cannot climb out. We worship the living God, not the stump of a tree. (Genesis 37:23-26; Proverbs 23:27; Lamentations 2:14; Isaiah 44:8-20)

Speaker(s): Pastor Thomas Schaller
Sermon # 11661
11:00 AM on 4/14/2019



P. Schaller

Praise God. It’s Easter week right now. Hosanna, hosanna when Christ rode the donkey into the town in the city of Jerusalem and they tore down the palm branches and were moved by the Holy Spirit. Have you ever been moved by the H.S. like that? That’s amazing. The H.S. is in the world and dwells in you and speaks to you. The words of the wise are heard in secret more than the cry of the foolish. Is there a lot of crying of the foolish in the street? The words of the wise are heard in secret or heard in quiet.

Someone said to me, no matter how wrong mathematicians could be, 2 plus 2 still equals 4. Can you figure that out? No matter what people would say, 2 plus 2 still equals 4. That’s comforting. Truth is truth. You are, we are people of the truth.

This morning we are going to speak about the cross and what it means. The cross and who Christ is and why he went to the cross and what it means for us today. The cross. It’s overlooked, not talked about. People don’t think about it or meditate on it or learn about it. But we do. We are worshippers of God. To God, the cross is where he meets us. There are certain things about it so powerful and important to us. The cross.

This week, we have a play here starting Tuesday night, and it will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. They had the dress rehearsal yesterday. Keep it in prayer. I had this idea that we have never done at the 11:00 but I think we can do it this morning. I’ll tell you about it later. Praise God. Okay.

I want to show you one simple little lesson in Ge. 37 before the message and a principle.

Ge. 37:23, they stripped him out of his coat. Joseph is a type of Christ. In a sense, Christ had a coat of many colors when he was living on the earth. He was highly favored by his Father like Joseph was.

vs. 23-25. I’m going to end there and talk about the pit. Joseph was put in a pit and his brothers are thinking what to do with him. They decide to sell him to the Ishmaelites. While discussing it, the Midianites came and saw him and they took him out and they sold him to the Ishmaelites. Where did he go? He’s gone. The brothers never really knew where he went because they didn’t sell him, though they planned to. There are people that get into a pit and it seems they can’t get out.

Prov 23:27, a whore is a deep ditch. I wonder why it says that except a man could be in a relationship with a woman and his life is boxed in. He is in a deep pit, a narrow ditch. It seems he can’t get out. So Joseph was in a pit but he got out. Christ was in a pit and he got out, also. God brought Joseph out of the pit to Egypt because the pit isn’t your destiny. The pit is part of the process. The cross isn’t your destiny. The cross is a part of what God is doing. It’s where God is taking you, where he’s taking Christ. He’s taking Christ to a place. With Joseph it was Egypt. He ended up in prison and in prison he is brought out and made like a king and promoted. Christ comes to the cross which is a narrow pit, a very bad place but three days later, he is raised from the dead.

This is important to us because we have in life, times when we also are in a narrow pit and unfortunately, we sometimes think I’ll never get out. My marriage is a problem. My child, my grown up child never calls me. My cancer, my job, my boss, my struggle and I’ll never get out. My depression, my drug addiction, my alcohol addiction, my pornography addiction. Whatever it might be. It’s a narrow pit and people define their life by their pit. It seems they enjoy the fact they will never get out. This is who you are; now you live in it. You made your bed; now you sleep in it. Now you’re stuck. This is how we define it maybe in psychology. We can define your problem and put a label on it and say that’s reality.

It happened with the false prophets in the Old Testament. The false prophets would not find the real solution for the people. They were locked in, frozen in their world without God. Without God. That’s a great statement. Without God. People live without God and they are in a narrow pit and they believe this is their life. Without God, it is their life. Without God.

This morning, I know this is serious talking. I know and you are listening but I also want you to rejoice with me by the end of the service. I hope. So we will say thank you God. You make a difference. You brought Joseph out and then here and here and he’s a picture of Christ. Also, more he is a picture of you. He brought you out. He brings you here. He brings you here and he brings you here. We are moving. We have a living God. He is able to take us and carry us and lead us. No matter what your past or future holds, our God cares for us and gives us abundant life. Don’t let anyone say you are in a pit and get used to it and stare at the walls. That’s your world. That’s the end of it. That’s a lie. God himself came into this world clothed in humanity. God came to show us. God himself was raised from the dead in his humanity.

God himself is teaching us the doctrine and leading us in faith. We are understanding something extraordinary, amazing. Paul couldn’t find the word. He invented a word. He said EPIGNOSIS. It means full knowledge. It’s his word. Like we can talk when we see something and say it’s super. It’s incredibly super. Great. It’s extraordinary. It is powerful. It is exceptional.

(Lam. 2) That was Tracy and Daniel who do a great job singing. There are so many great people here that we could say thank you all day long. Praise God for you. Thank you. You are left in a pit. Amen. Thank you, Lord. Praise God! Praise God. So glad to be in God’s house.

14 years ago there was a decisions made that I would be the pastor here in Baltimore. That was almost to the day I think. It’s been 14 of the hardest – wow, does time fly when you’re having fun! Thanks for your prayers and love and also remember when Jacob loved Rachel and worked for her 7 years. It was like nothing because of how much love he had for her. There is such a thing when in the Spirit and in the love of God we don’t think of sacrifice but his grace and what God is doing. It’s not like that always. But it does happen the Spirit carries you and also you find such meaning and value in it. I want to say thank you to the church for praying for us, for me and my family, each other and our work and vision. It is extraordinary what God does by his grace. How many graduates of MBC&S, how many graduates of GGCA, how many books and booklets, missionaries, and new churches planted. P. Scibelli face timed me yesterday and in graduation they had 178 graduates in Malawi, Africa. 178 people that are learning that I can get out of the pit.

Learning that trauma does happen in life and pain happens. But we have God and he is our healer and our guide. Trauma doesn’t define our life. God defines our life. This verse is interesting. Lam. 2:14 a whole message could be on this verse. It’s not our message but I have to use it illustrate something.

Leah and James are here and the rehearsal was yesterday. The acting is amazing. Drop the mike moments. It is long at the moment and we are working on cutting it down and making it shorter. Leah has done an awesome job. The cast is excellent; the acting is great. Keep it in prayer because we are not done.

Go to this verse with me. Your prophets. Can we put another word in there? Prophets are the people that are supposed to have the message from God. In this case, they are not from God because they have seen vain and foolish things for you. Sometimes our trauma is defined by the prophets of our culture and they tag us with these problems we have. Let’s say depression which is a common thing with people. It happens. They say you are depressed. A diagnosis. They have seen vain – what does it mean? Empty, futile and foolish things for you. I believe in post- traumatic stress syndrome. I do believe in that. I don’t have a doubt in it. In those cases. They have not discovered your iniquity. Iniquity means your selfishness. They have not discovered your selfishness. They have not found the real problem. They have tagged you and labeled you. They have not found it. To turn away your captivity. They haven’t found what you really need to know so you can get out of this thing. They haven’t found what you really need to be free. They haven’t found the primary problem. Look on the wall. That’s the cross. That is the answer. The cross is the answer. The prophets of our culture, our professors and teachers and leaders and everyone else are they really able to help us and lead us out of the pit. We lean too much on them. Jesus Christ came. Remember, Jesus Christ came and he is God in the flesh. When he looks at you, He is able to tell you the truth. He said you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. He is able to be your counselor. He is able to fill you with the Spirit. He is able to give you the knowledge of God. He is able to discover what you need. People are not listening.

Is. 44, I believe this will be simple for you to understand. I believe God will say a couple things to you today about it. I’m happy if you learn one thing or two things to take home. You can say that’s spiritual food. I went to church and learned a little bit more of the Bible. I found something I needed to hear.

Is. 44, log of wood. Three parts: first you burn the wood to warm yourself. The second part is bake bread and the third part they make a god out of it and idol.

vs. 8. I love that about God talking like that. Listen, is there another God? I haven’t found any? I know not any.

vs. 8-9. Then he talks about gods, with small g or idols. He describes it here. He explains how it goes.

vs. 15-16. It’s like taking a toothpick and he looks at the leftover piece of wood and says I’ll make a god out of the leftover. Out of the leftover he makes a god. There it is. Good way of describing us people. That’s what we do. We have our job and food and family and the left over we make a god. Yeah, I believe in God. I have a God. That’s how it goes. Me and my control, my plan, my problem. It’s about me. Not only do I get warm and bake the bread, but I make a god like myself. It’s all about me. God is saying, is there another god other than me? I don’t know of any. These are all empty. You feed on ashes. That’s what it says here.

vs. 17. Deliver me; for you are my god. But you know what? The god doesn’t do anything because he is not god. The man says deliver me. I’m in a pit. But he doesn’t get out of the pit. He’s caught. He worships god but nothing changes. He isn’t god. The god he worships is not god. The god he worships is the own idea of god. We all meet people like this. I’m good. I believe in god. And they go their way. I don’t know. I don’t understand who they worship or what they believe but it’s very likely they are talking like this. I have a god and he’s my god, my ideas, my theology, my way of thinking. They cannot do anything.

vs. 18-19. vs. 20. He feeds on ashes. Where did the ashes come from? When you burn the fire to warm yourself, you got ashes. You bake the bread and got ashes. What are you going to feed on? Dirt. There is no change. There is no power. You only have the label. You have the label of the pit defining for you your life. Here comes the good news. That was the first point.

The second point is Jesus Christ comes into the world and shows us God. He shows us God. He shows us the mind of God, the Spirit of God. Wow. He shows us truth here in this world.

When he’s a young man in Lk 2:52, he’s growing in wisdom and stature. He’s a human being who is also God, but in a mystical way he is a humble servant. He is in a mystical way God in the flesh and God in the flesh is thinking with internal truth. That internal truth is not in a pit. God is in the clouds. God is eternal. God is Spirit. God is love. God is free. Christ is in a human body but there is freedom and the authority of God, the wisdom of God, the mind of God. We love him because he’s not in bondage to sin.

If you go back to Lam 2:14, you see this verse that the prophets have seen vain and foolish things for you. Put Jesus there. Jesus does not see vain and foolish things for you. He discovers your iniquity and turns away your captivity. He is the liberator, the Savior, God coming in the flesh so that we could see that God is for me, not against me. God’s mind and this is the important thing about Jesus’ life. He’s always doing when he’s a young man the cross is there. He’s saying not my will but your will. He’s always enjoying that. He enjoys the cross. He enjoys surrendering and being obedient. He enjoys this walk of faith and has this authority on the inside. The world of Christ is able to suffer well. He’s hungry, thirsty on the cross. On the cross, I thirst.

Mt. 4. Homeless, Luke 8 without a place to lay his head.

He’s despised and rejected in Is. 53. He’s really unique. The only begotten means the unique Son of God for he is God. This brokenness in Christ where he is saying I don’t have to be great. I just want to please my Father. I don’t have to be important. I can be silent for 29 years as a young man in his lifetime. I am unique. I am different from all other human beings. I am God in the flesh. It means a lot to us. We worship him and believe this.

Then when he goes to the cross and he says my God, my God, as the prophet said in Ps 22.

I read that when Martin Luther in Germany in the 16th century read that and studied it and meditated on it, they said for hours he was sitting in a chair frozen thinking, deep touched trying to understand that God forsook God on the cross. He couldn’t come to understand it.

I agree. I understand what he is saying. The only way I think we can understand it is Jesus was so human when the sin came on his body and he became sin, God forsook him as a sinner judged and forsaken. Wasn’t he God on the cross? Yes, he was. But he was forsaken. That means trauma to him. Trauma of a degree we could never fathom. Suffering unimaginably, incredibly beyond anything we could ever imagine. The Son of God is forsaken by his Father. This is not like worshipping a stock of a tree or a log or afterthought. This is at the very center of everything. The gravity of truth in him that brought him to the cross is an example for us. Not only was it effectual in what it did in saving us, it also introduces the third point of our message.

You and I, here we are and we have truth in us. Christ in us. The Holy Spirit in us. The same love Christ had for the Father is the same love in you and me. Love. Holy Spirit worship in us. Same nature. We have a cross. The cross means what these people are saying don’t understand what we now understand. I’m in a pit. Lord, I’m in a pit and I’m suffering.

Let me read this piece to you: “The good work wrought in us is a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart and sorrow for sin. It is a heart that is tender and pliable to God’s word. Oh, that there was such a heart in every one of us. God is graciously pleased to accept it is instead a better than all burnt offering and sacrifice. The broken heart is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ. There is no true change without him. Men despise that which is broken but God will not. He will not overlook it. He will not refuse or reject it though it makes God no satisfaction for the wrong done to him by sin. Those who have been in spiritual troubles know how to pity and pray for others afflicted in like manner.” That’s Matthew Henry. “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop. Broken clouds to give rain. Broken grain to give bread. Broken bread to give strength. The broken alabaster box that gives perfume. It is Peter weeping bitterly that returns to greater power than ever.” That’s Vance Havner.

Tozer said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply. Being broken is both God’s work and ours. He brings pressure to bear but we have to make the choice.”

That’s a great point. He brings pressure in the pit. I feel the pressure of my bad decision, the pressure of the pit. The walls are this way. Failure. I feel the guilt of what I have done. I feel no way out. I feel lost in a narrow place. I have no future. God has put me in this place and now the question is can I in my heart believe God? Can I say to God, God I am sorry. Or God I have failed. Or God I am the issue here but you are greater than me. I believe you. I have post-traumatic stress disorder. That sounds like a permanent state of being. I have the pressure of my situation but I believe God. Can I ever get out of this pit? Can I be healed? Can I be restored? I am divorced. I had a bitter divorce and it broke my heart. For five years I weep at night. I’m hurt. I have trauma. I have a broken heart.

Wait. Is there God? Is there God? Is there Christ who went through this cross and on the other side became our counselor and priest and minister who comes to us and says, there is a balm in Gilead. There is a risen Savior on the throne. There is a future that you have bigger than your pain. The trauma is real. When we have physical trauma we go to hospitals but what happens when we have psychological trauma? Like, I lost another job. I lost another job. I lost my family. I lost my girlfriend. I lost a house. I lost my reputation. People slander me. What happens when these things happen to us? When my son doesn’t call me. What happens then? I can’t go to the hospital. I can go but what will they do for me? Where is the hospital for the human race? Where is the healing for people that according to this God loves people? God is in the pit with us. God is the Christ who hung on the cross. God is the answer for my life. He must redefine for me and give me something. I don’t worship the stump of a tree. We are worshipping the living God. Amen.

Let’s regroup here and think about it. Isn’t it true? Let me think. This is Easter week. What does it mean to Christians? It means everything. It means what we are talking about isn’t something we are making up and sound nice. If the tomb is empty, in other words, God didn’t make you to stay in a pit and he didn’t make Jesus to stay on a cross. God didn’t make us to live in our dirt and mud and feast on ashes but he made us to feed on the lamb. He made us so we would understand his power and not limit our life by our pain. We would be loved and encouraged.

Yes, I had a bitter divorce but I found if I could be broken before the living God, he would lift me up and heal me. It’s not about me. I’m finding the reality of a living God and may God bring healing to disappointment in my heart and my son’s life. The world may say that’s the way it is and I can’t help you. You’re prophets have seen foolish stuff. The secular world is filled with a lot of, excuse me, I won’t say it but you can fill in the blank! That is ridiculous. I don’t expect God’s people to believe in those ridiculous things they talk about. To embrace what the secular word is saying about the human race. They are vain and foolish things. They haven’t discovered the real issue which is my self-life.

Some people love the mud. I want to be depressed. We had one brother say you know what I miss? The teacher said, what? I miss a good depression. I can’t have them anymore. Three weeks in my apartment with the windows shut. Dark and melancholic music and me crying in my beer. That’s what I miss! A good, old fashioned depression. People gravitate to the dirt and feed on ashes.

You have found something greater. You have found something better. You have found God. You have found the way above to escape the hell below.

What do you got after three weeks of depression? We lost three weeks of your valuable ministry…The Body of Christ needs your presence, your humility and your service and your faith. Don’t underestimate the value of showing up and sitting here…

God anointed you above and beyond your self-life to set you free and lead you in a good place. In the words of David, a large room. We can leap over a wall and run through a troop backwards, and say with God, halleluiah! He is the way and the truth. Amen.


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