1 Corinthians 8-10

Title: Living in Obedience: A focus on our behavior

Text: 1 Cor 8-10.23

Introduction: Were’ in chapters 8-10 in 1 Corinthians.

Let’s begin 1st: Ps 119.18; 18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

How we got here: healthy church – her blessings, her relationships

Preface: I don’t know why, but when I say what I’m about to say, it makes some people mad – angry. Usually, those folks are the very ones suffering from what I’m talking about. So, let me be very careful in how I present my finding. You ready?

I connect depression with sin. What I mean by that is this: from my experience on a personal level and from a professional level – people I’ve encountered in life who suffer from depression can trace that depression back to a time of rebellion in their life. So, I want you to contemplate, without sitting here being angry at me, sin with depression. This might very well be that moment in life right now for some folks. Hence, the anger. When you tell someone the reason behind their depression is their sin, their rebellion, it makes them angry.

With that being said, we might need to talk some more, because I’ve just opened a can of worms that I can completely deal with in one sermon. But, with that being said, once we’ve had a chance to work through some of those issues, people begin to find their way out.

That was my experience. I’ll just tell you: I used to suffer from severe depression. So much so, that I planned on three different occasions to take my life. I’m so glad God intervened in a way that has me standing alive and well here before you today.

I want to share two books with you. (1) Twelve Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. (2) Happiness is a Choice. It is by Dr. Frank Minirth and Dr. Paul Meier. In this book, these men teach about behaviors and the effect proper behavior has on one’s Psyche, as well as, the effect wrong behavior has on a person. They say, “Make better choices.” Here is the list narrowed down in this 2nd book.

  1. Be Kind. (read from pg 19) this reminds me of a message from Robert Garland some months ago that has stuck with me – mainly because of Lisa: Never pass up an opportunity to be kind! Being Kind is simply showing a Christlike love toward others.
  2. Focus on healthy behavior. this is getting harder to identify in our society. The current woke culture would like to eliminate what you and I understand to be healthy behavior because sin makes people feel bad about themselves. I discuss this in more detail at WEBS.
  3. Challenge inaccurate thinking with the Word of God. Put bluntly, this is false teaching. But the reality is that many folks just don’t understand what the Word of God says. There are a lot of bad ideas out there related to Christianity and the Word of God.
  4. Share hurts. Each of us has experienced our feelings of being hurt. It helps us when we talk about those feelings with others with whom we are in relationships. It is a part of growing up. It’s a part of maturing in our lives. Bottled-up feelings of betrayal, anger, disappointment, etc. lead to stronger relationships.
  5. Meet dependent needs through Christ and the local church. This is huge! Enter into healthy relationships! End relationships with folks that hurt you! Too many of us put our hope in relationships that can only be fulfilled in Christ. Too many women look for that fulfillment in a man. That man doesn’t exist on this earth! The same goes for men. Some people look for it in a bottle – pill bottle, alcohol bottle, smoking weed, and the list goes on.
  6. Consider the Medical. The truth of the matter is that some folks have a chemical imbalance and need the assistance of a physician. But, the percentage of these folks is probably a lot lower than you would think.
  7. Emphasize Christ.

Their premise, which is backed by years of study and validation, states that good behaviors cause connections to happen in the brain and result in good mental health; on the other hand, poor behaviors result in depression; These guys have latched on to an idea that Paul presented to the Corinthian Christians 1960 years ago.

This is what we’ll see in the next few chapters of 1 Corinthians: our behavior affects our emotional stability. Bad behavior leads to depression and good behavior leads to joy.

To begin look with me in 8.1; Rd 1a; so, the issue appears to be about eating meat that was sacrificed to idols; rd v 1b; I think, we can surmise right away that Paul is saying that doing and acting out of knowledge is one thing, but doing and acting out of love – that’s a whole different animal.

Transition: Though the issue is about the meat of animals sacrificed to idols – and the consumption thereof, Paul’s concern for them is first and foremost…

I. A Mandate for Obedience (8)

exp.: rd 1b again; So now we have a thesis dealing w/ knowledge and love; knowing is one thing, but doing is another; Jesus said, If you love me, keep my commandments (Jn 14.15);

ill.: Colossians 1.9-10.

exp.: Back in 1 Cor… There is a sense of pride concerning their knowledge; they’re missing what Paul’s been teaching, what Jesus has said; rd 2-3; So he’s saying, In your knowledge:

  1. Let love be your guide. Note: the 2 ‘we know’ v1; v4; Illustration: May I share your story about ‘Amy’?
    1. Remember there is One God (capital G) and many gods (little g); rd v 4-5; this is important! Their sacrifices are nothing; those ‘things’ are just wood or stone; the meat is just meat, fit to eat; it’ll taste just like the meat from any other animal; rd v 6-7;
    1. Don’t let your freedom become a stumbling block to others. Love them enough to abstain. Although they may know that there is only One God, they don’t grasp the full idea that those ‘little ‘g’ gods’ are nothing. They have too much history in this…

ill.: I see this principle applies to so many ‘things’ in the Christian life. 1st and foremost, beer and wine; you have a woman who struggled with alcohol, and she goes on a rampage about how evil it is. No one can have a beer or a glass of wine at dinner! Or, you have a man who struggled with secular music and how it was so harmful to him – causing him to think bad thoughts and act on them. Then, wah-la, no one can listen to Country Music because it is evil!

exp.: rd v 12-13.

app.: So, what, if you have knowledge! If you destroy your brother through your freedom, you’ve failed. That’s why it is so important to have love with your knowledge.

t.s.: Paul offers this mandate for Obedience to love, but then offers himself as a model…

II. A Model of Surrender (9)

exp.: Let’s look at Paul’s Work; rd v 1-3 and let’s look for the personal pronouns in the 1st person sg; And so he does this self-examination, and the 1st thing he does is establish…

  1. Paul’s rights; rd v 4-12a; but then…
  2. Paul’s Decision to surrender his rights; rd 12b; 15-18;
  3. Paul’s Obedience; rd 19; v 23;
  4. Paul’s Exhortation for them to do the same; rd v 24;

app.: So Paul offers this positive illustration – himself; My rights, set aside, and through my love for people – the gospel becomes real! Would you do the same? Listen, you have rights also. However, when you chose to do something right, for the wrong reason – relationships are destroyed; brothers and sisters in Christ are damaged;

t.s.: Now, Paul is thinking that his example isn’t enough -so he offers a negative illustration – Israel, and he does this through the bk of Exodus…

III. A Manual for Failure (10)

exp.: Exodus; Chapters 12-17; and what Paul says here is that these people were blessed, but they blew it! look in 10.1a;

  1. Their Blessings: Look at what they were:
    1. Protection – the cloud; rd v 1a
    2. Promise: Deliverance; rd v 1b-2
    3. Provision: rd v 3-4;
    4. Problem: God was not pleased! Rd v 5

But then Paul says, look at how they responded;

  1. Their Response: examples for us; Rd v 6-7
    1. Idolaters; rd v 8;
    2. Immoral; rd v 9
    3. Instigators; putting Christ to the Test; rd v 10
    4. Ingrates: whiners and complainers.

exp.: but Paul says they were that way to be an example for us on how NOT to behave! rd v 11;

app.: I don’t worry too much about you having statutes of Buddha in your living rooms, But I do worry about the other three; and in my own life – when have I been selfish, though right to do so and hurt the Body through my ‘putting Christ to the Test’ or whining and complaining!

Conclusion:

There is a movement by many godless people in the world who want to make bad behavior to be considered good. Implement gay marriage or remove marriage altogether. Get rid of sin. Sin makes people feel bad! Change long-standing laws to no longer make it wrong to steal or destroy property, etc.

ill.: Did you see the article in the New York Times by Steve Descano this past week? He is the District Attorney for the Commonwealth of Virginia. His article is entitled, “My Governor may pass bad abortion laws, but I don’t have to enforce them.” He has made a public vow to not prosecute laws he doesn’t agree with. We’re already seeing that in California, where people just walk into a store with large bags and empty the shelves and just walk out the door!  

This evil theory and this is my take on it all, is to change the laws so that people are no longer wrong. If they’re no longer wrong, then they don’t have to feel bad about it! They want to ‘help’ people who suffer from mental illness to feel good about themselves. Make it ok for a man to dress like a woman by removing gender stereotypes. If you can remove the stigma, then folks who have problems won’t feel bad about feeling the way they do.

Here is the problem: (1) it doesn’t work. I watch Daily Wire videos. In one video I heard Ben Shapiro say that if changing laws and removing the idea of wrongness worked, then why are just as many transgendered people committing suicide today as there were a generation ago. (2) Sin is a very important part of the Gospel. Our rebellion is why we’re in the mess we’re in. Sin is what we’re saved from!

As believers, we have a mandate for obedience that stems from love.  Eat what you want to eat. Drink what you want to drink. However, we have an example in Paul, but we also have the perfect example in Jesus, to show us how our freedom isn’t to be used selfishly. We act in love! And we have bad examples of the Hebrew Children who wandered in the desert because of their rebellion and selfishness.

If you’re interested, we’ll come back to this idea at WEBS of where our rebellion leads us (into depression) and how we can overcome the cloud of depression through surrendering to Christ.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Are you blessed? Would you say God has blessed you? If so, how do you respond to those blessings?
    1. Idolatry?
    2. Immorality?
    3. Instigators?
    4. Ingratitude?
    5. How do you express your attitude of gratitude? Through obedience? Is it evident in your behavior?
  2. As an example to others – do you line up under Paul or the Israelites? Do a self-exam; Can you say, ‘be like me’? or Do what I say, not what I do…
  3. As you look at your rights, which ones would you hold on to, even to the destruction of another brother or sister? Is your behavior toward others a contributing factor?

Preparation for the Lord’s Supper: Chapter 11:23

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Christian Living, Evangelism, Scripture, Sermon, Sin, The Gospel

1 Corinthians 7

Title: Relationships: To Be or Not to Be … married

Text: 1 Corinthians 7

Introduction: Ps 119.18

The focus of our study these recent weeks in 1 Corinthians is answering the question: What does a healthy church look like? What are the marks of a healthy church?

Many of you are gardeners. I assume you look at your plants and ask yourself – maybe not out loud, but surely in some fashion – what can I do to make my plants grow, thrive, and produce? If you’re not getting what you think you should, you ask yourself – and probably out loud to the plants – why do you look so bad? Are they not getting the water they need? Are you watering too much? Are you watering the wrong way or at the wrong time? Are there nutrients in the soil? Is some animal or creature hurting these plants, stealing the fruit? If you’re new at gardening, you ask yourself: what are the signs of a healthy plant.

And then, you make a course correction in the way you tend your garden until the plants are healthy and productive.

As we begin the journey through chapter 7, I’d like to answer a couple of questions before you even know to ask them.

  1. Let’s begin by looking at verse 1; rd v1; this phrase now concerning, is used a few times over the next couple of chapters to address some questions that were apparently asked of Paul in the letter he received from the Corinthians. v 25.
  2. In answering their questions, he will clarify for them the strength of his answers by where the answer comes; Rd v 10a, 12a; 25; 40; when we see this, one wonders does this mean that it isn’t inspired by God; Answer: It is! All Scripture is God-Breathed.
  3. Here is another question that might arise as you read his instructions: Was their situation particular to them alone? And, therefore, would that concern us? rd v 26; some have said that their situation (present distress) was particular to them and doesn’t apply to us. I disagree. The situation itself is unique for that moment, for that church; however, the principles of the relationship dynamic would still apply to the universal church. I’ll explain this in greater when we get there.
  4. Verse one is a colloquialism used in that day. We still use it today and many like it. Rd v 1; actually, a closer, word for word translation would be: good to a man a woman not to touch. But that isn’t even a literal word-for-word translation: good to a man a woman not to kindle. This word for ‘fire/kindle’ is found also in Acts 28.1-2; The specific teaching was a euphemism used to describe the intimacy between a man and a woman; it appears that there was a ‘false teaching’ going around the church at Corinth that intimacy was wrong, therefore, marriage shouldn’t take place.

Transition: So, Paul answers this question and says… Answer #1:

I. Get Married (2-9)

exp.: rd v 2-5; so, Paul gives a basic outline of what is right between a man and a woman (who are married BTW); in v 6-9 he gives a quick synopsis of v 25-40; There is better and there is best; it is best to remain single, but you don’t have to – and, you’re not in sin if you choose to marry; so, get married;

t.s.: and in v 10, he gives another answer…Answer #2;

II. Stay Married (10-11)

exp.: rd v 10-11; Get married and stay married; even if you separate, remain unmarried because there is always the hope of reconciliation; this word ‘separate’ means divorce; Mt 19.6; what God has joined together, let no man separate; and Rom 8.35ff; Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

app.: So, don’t divorce (and you know what God thinks about Divorce – Mal 2.16 – He hates it), but if it happens – don’t marry someone else (because technically you’re still married); Mt 5.31-32; why is it adultery? Because she or he is still married!

Ill.: Bro. Don used an example years ago: An epoxy is created when you combine two separate compounds to form one. There is the epoxy resin and a 2nd compound, a hardener. Typically, these two compounds are stored in separate containers. Two tubes, when I was a kid. Today, you might find them in two separate syringes that join together when you press the syringes.

The mixing of the compounds forms a chemical reaction between the two separate pieces – which bind them together. The epoxy is so strong after this chemical reaction, that to break it, you damage both two pieces. Parts of both pieces splinter and remain with the other.

You may say, Oh, I’ve separated these two pieces, but the reality is that they’ve still parts of each one joined together with the other!

Ill.: one more – just for fun. Consider the difference between relationship and fellowship. Many of us have relationships through birth and marriage. You say that person is in my family. So, that is the relationship you have with that family member. For me, it is my biological mother. I never really knew here. But she was still my ‘mother’. As for fellowship – there was none. Relationship vs. Fellowship.

There is a man I know and love, from a church I used to serve in. As a new pastor, we were driving down the road in our small town and there was a man who looked exactly like my friend. We looked at him and he looked at us. No response. No Hello, no wave of the hand, no smile. Nothing. Nothing more than if you were in your front yard and watched a bird fly from one limb to another. I was like, “Dude, that man looks just like you!” He said, “yeah, he’s my brother.” Turns out, that was his relationship. But come to find out and it was that way the whole time I lived there. They didn’t speak. Relationship vs. Fellowship.

You can get divorced. You can never speak to each other again, but you’re still married.

t.s.: So Get Married and Stay Married; The 3rd answer he gives is…

III. Work on your Marriage (12-16)

exp.: rd v 12-13; don’t simply leave a spouse because they are non-believers; stick with it and work on that marriage; rd v 14; your godly life will impact theirs; who knows but that they might get saved! Your children need that godly influence, too. Now, I wish to address what Paul is talking about culturally:

  1. Arranged marriages
  2. A spouse becomes a believer in the course of time
  3. He’s not talking about a believer marrying a non-believer. 2 Cor 6.14;

app.: in their society and culture, as in ours, divorce came easily; Paul was saying, stay and work on your marriage; w/ God, there is always hope.

t.s.: Now, I’d like to skip v 17-24 for a moment and move to Paul’s 4th answer:

IV. Some should not marry (25-40)

exp.: rd v 25; before we look at his specific answer, I think it is important to gain an understanding of the Gk culture; two separate philosophies:

  • The Ascetics – this guy is a monk; he denies himself all worldly pleasures; the 2nd group…
  • The Epicureans – taught that it was fine to feed your physical desires because the physical didn’t touch the spiritual. Paul wants to refute both ideas; rd v 26; so now Paul gives us the 4th answer: Some should not marry. But, why? He gives them 4 reasons:
  1. The Present Distress (26); Evidently, there was a present struggle in their society. Paul was saying It’s easier when you’re alone (Ecc 4.9-12); rd v 27; if you’re not married, don’t seek to be, but if you are, don’t try to get out of it; now he gives us the 2nd reason for some not to marry; rd v 28;
  2. Worldly Troubles (28); simply put, I want to spare you that; and quickly, he gives a 3rd reason; rd v 29;
  3. Time is Short (29-31); there are two words in the Gk for time:
    1. Chronos – Chronology; deals with a period or duration of time;
    2. Kairos – deals with a specific time, or as the ESV translates it – an appointed time; Life is short and the appointed time of Christ’s return is very soon. He continues; rd v 30-31. This present world is passing away, and in v 32-34a he gives the 4th reason;
  4. Because of the Preoccupation involved in Marriage and Family; rd v 23-34a;

Conclusion: I’d like to return to v 17-24; rd 17-24; I think this hits home for us!

  • Don’t always be trying to change your present circumstances; be content in where you are!
  • Don’t try to rid yourself of your Jewish marks or to gain them; Be content with who you are!
  • Don’t try to escape your responsibilities or even change them, but if God opens up the opportunity, by all means, avail yourselves of them. Be content with how you are doing!
  • Your 1st responsibility is to God (23) and His glory! And that is in your marriage, in your job, in your life. Be Content in God!

But you might ask: How can I bring glory to God now? I’ve messed up so many times in the past? Answer: Grace. If you’re sitting here this morning or watching via the stream, understand that we’re all sinners and we all need God’s grace. Your failures, my failures, your sin, my sin, your rebellion and my rebellion are real. It all needs the grace of God.

I worry that too many folks will just get down because of their past. That isn’t the point. The point is grace and forgiveness! So, you didn’t do things right in the past. Too many folks let that be their focal point. You don’t have to stay there in the past – repent and ask God for forgiveness.

  1. God will be glorified through our successes and failures. I prefer it be my successes, but my failures prove him right, too! Here is the concept of repentance: repentance is simply acknowledging that God is right, and I was wrong.
  2. Maybe there is some repentance that needs to take place. The beauty of a bad situation is mercy. In God’s infinite mercy, he has provided a way for us to experience forgiveness and mercy through our repentance – the turning away from our sin.

Father, I haven’t done things the way you’ve designed. I’ve made decisions that showed I was really lord of my life. Please forgive me.

If you have already done this… trust in what God says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Finally, I want to say a word about what happened in Uvalde this past week. 22 people dead at the hands of a sick individual. In Luke 13.1, Jesus was confronted about a tragedy that took place in his time. 13 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

First, this isn’t a ‘how-to’ on addressing people who are going through such a tragedy. Jesus isn’t speaking to the victims or those who suffered a loss in the tower falling. He’s addressing people who are critical of those victims. You see they assumed that those people suffered because they had sinned. The reality of sin is that it doesn’t just affect the sinner, but it affects all of us. I sin and you’re affected.

Do you remember in John 9, the disciples asked Jesus of the blind man: who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus said neither, but that God’s glory might be displayed in him.

The tower didn’t fall on these people because they were worse sinners than others. And those Galileans didn’t die horrible deaths because they were worse sinners than other Galileans.

But here is the lesson: 1. Everyone is a sinner, and none is any worse or any better than any other. 2. Everyone dies and no one really knows when or where or how it will be. Some people die young and some die old. But everyone dies. Therefore, Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day to call for repentance because we’re all sinners in need of forgiveness. And then we should live our lives for God – for His Glory!

In reference to Uvalde, some of you may be asking what can you do? Alto Frio needs folks to volunteer every day to help care for the ~150 Law Enforcement officers from around the state who are serving in the Uvalde Area. And the 25 or so members from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association working in Uvalde. Alto Frio needs workers, money, and items. Call Kim St. Clair at 830-834-9210 and see how you can volunteer.

There is also a place online at altofrio.com where you can donate. http://www.altofrio.com

I got word this weekend that some folks from Tarpley Baptist drove over Friday and volunteered to get the camp ready to receive those officers and workers from Billy Graham’s Center.

Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all for the glory of God in your life.

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1 Corinthians 5&6

Title: Relationships Inside the Church: Judge One Another

Text: 1 Corinthians 5&6

Introduction: Ps 119.18 –

In April 2017, Two women came to church – one was late (which seemed to be her modus operandi) the other was early (as too, was her MO). The late lady was a busy lady. She seemed to be successful in the eyes of the world – a County Commissioner and employed at the local state university. The other lady was punctual, hard-working, and of retired age.

There was a rift between the two women who both had responsibility within the church. One area they worked together was that they both prepared the Lord’s Supper. If I understand the situation, their church would have different folks prepare the Lord’s Supper – I suppose like a rotating service.

On this particular Sunday, the younger woman was late as usual. The older lady had grown tired of the younger woman’s inability to correct her tardiness. She felt the younger woman was arrogant and felt entitled – I suppose to her success. So the elderly woman put together the Lord’s supper and retreated to the pastor’s office. She wanted to let him know it was ready.

In comes the younger woman and skirmish breaks – the pastor steps in, but it is too late. The older lady is injured. The police are called. The younger woman is arrested.

I want to talk to you this morning about relationships within the church.

There are many verses in the Bible that are popular: John 3.16, Jeremiah 33.3; Romans 3.23; 6.23; Gal 2.20; etc. Mt 7.1 is quite popular, though many don’t know the reference. They quote it quite often but have no idea where it is in the bible. Turn there with me and read; 7.6; So, what does this mean? What are “holy” & “pearls” in the story? Paul clarifies for us in the following 2 chapters that we don’t judge lost people – God will do that. We judge each other! I’ll come back to that…let that stew for a moment.

The Focus of a Healthy Church: Blessings, Unity, and Leadership. Today we move to relationships, an important part of unity. Have you heard the slogan: Unity at any cost! It really is a bad idea. We see it in many mainline denominations today, compromising Biblical Truths for peace within their denominations. Here in Corinthians, Paul calls for unity, but that unity must be based on Scripture. There are core biblical beliefs that unify a church. And Paul’s call to them for unity was against the sin that was in the body. The Church must deal with Sin within the Body!

In the following 2 chapters, Paul outlines why brothers are to judge each other; In Corinth, there was a young man who began shacking up with his father’s wife…let’s read about it in v 1; this is so nasty, that even the world disapproves! Rd v 2; So here is the Call: pass Judgment on your brother and expel him from your midst! Beginning now, in v 3, Paul offers 6 reasons to pass judgment on church members.

  • For His Benefit
  • For Our Purity
  • For the Sake of Obedience
  • For Our Witness
  • For Our Benefit
  • For the Glory of God

The Passing of Judgment upon a brother is:

I. For His Benefit (5.1-5)

exp.: rd v 3-5; clearly, here is the reason – that his soul may be saved; When someone acts this way, they’re clearly saying I’m not a believer; it doesn’t mean he is a non-believer, but if he’s acting that way, he just might be. You see, lost people act lost. Saved people act saved. That’s the assumption. Now, sometimes, some saved people act lost, but they’re not. They need to be corrected so that they can act like saved people again.

app.: Someone must confront the wayward person and clarify: are they lost or saved? When the church confronts the brother (or sister), there should be conviction, confession, and repentance; if this brother or sister chooses not to repent, then the church has no choice but to treat the brother like he’s acting – expel him;

t.s.: for his own good – that his soul may be saved; and v6 tells us the 2nd reason, The Passing of Judgment upon a brother is:

II. For Our Purity (6-8)

exp.: rd v 6-8; Paul uses some imagery from the Jewish Religion; I think it is safe to assume these Gentiles would understand what he’s talking about; v 6 says that a little sin in the batch, permeates the whole batch; the bad part must be cut out! Why? He’s alluding to the Festival of Unleavened Bread; On the 1st day of Unleavened Bread, the Passover lamb is sacrificed. It was customary for the husband to walk through the whole house looking for some leaven. When he found it, he would scoop it out and do away with it, thus cleansing his house. In like manner, we too must cleanse our house, cutting out any sin that stains her. But, Paul clarifies a point for us in v 7, that sounds kind of confusing: rd v 7; he’s not advocating that our righteousness is gained through simple obedience, but rather our obedience is a sign of our righteousness imputed to us through Christ. So, sometimes saved people act lost, but sometimes there are lost people in the church who really aren’t saved; they’ve not committed their life to Christ. Their sinful behavior is a poor reflection upon the church within the community the church dwells. Rd v 8;

ill.: lemonade w/ the youth! And I spit in it!

app.: Hey, a little sin in the body of Christ is nasty to God!

t.s.: So we pass judgment on our brother for his own benefit, for our purity, and the third reason…

III. For the Sake of Obedience (9-13)

exp.: simply put, Christians live in obedience to God. He is who we serve. He is our master. rd v 9-10; this doesn’t mean ignoring lost people! No, we can and should associate with lost folks – that’s how they get saved! -rd 11-13;

Paul also clarifies for us what was mentioned in the introduction: we’re not to judge outsiders (non-members), but rather only members; We’re supposed to be active among the lost, how else will we ever influence them? We’re just not supposed to behave like them!

App.: Lost people need to see the difference. They need to know that there is a difference besides getting up a little earlier on Sunday!

And when one of us does move into the realm of disobedience when one of us is bringing shame to the cause of Christ – that’s when we are to heed v 13; rd v 13;

t.s.: Fourth, The Passing of Judgment upon a brother is:

IV. For Our Witness (6.1-6)

exp.: rd v 1-3; it is our destiny to judge; I don’t know how this will happen; I only know it will; Dan 7.22; It isn’t explained elsewhere in the NT, except for maybe Matthew 19.28 (which is the reference where Jesus says the disciples will sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. However, Paul speaks of it as if they know what he’s talking about; this is not contradictory to 5.12a; that (5.12) is in the now, this is in the future; rd v 4-6; and that before unbelievers! What a statement!

ill.: we err when we…

  1. We think everyone out there is Christian… there are lost people skeptically watching
  2. We don’t work for unity w/in the body… and take the fight out there.
  3. We air our dirty laundry…

app.: This is to our shame when we fail to take care of ourselves and leave these things to people who have no standard like we do! It is a poor witness and the lost say, why would I want to be a part of something like that!

t.s.: We should pass judgment within our own walls because it hurts our witness when we take these things outside the church… 5thly, the Passing of Judgment upon a brother is…

V. For Our Benefit (7-11)

exp.: rd v 7; When we don’t pass judgment like we should, we hurt ourselves and each other; it’s like we’re already defeated! Why not rather just be wronged rather than to take someone to court! This is so hard to do; Rd v 8; but instead, we hurt each other by treating each other in this manner.

app.: here is what benefits us:

  1. Just be wronged. Forgive the person and move on. Rd 9-11
  2. Ask for mediation between the two of you. If it is so bad that you can’t rectify this between the two of you, agree on a mediator.
  3. And if that doesn’t work – seek someone within the body to be an arbitrator – someone whose judgment will be final.

t.s.: But there is one final reason Paul gives in passing judgment upon a brother…

VI. For the Glory of God (12-20)

exp.: rd v 12-17; such behavior is harmful and destructive; to the person himself, to the body of believers, and to the glory of God; rd v18-20;

Conclusion: Bought w/ a price!

  1. You no longer sit on the throne of your heart. You surrendered that to Christ and his Holy Spirit took up residence in your soul. Rd v 19
  2. You are not your own… you don’t live life your way anymore – you surrendered your rights to Christ. Rd v 20
  3. The goal of our relationships is to bring glory to God.

Do you remember the story of the two women? Push came to shove… I mean that literally, and the older lady got hurt. Her arm was broken and damaged. Police were called, charges were filed, one lady got arrested, and the media had a hay day! I mean it was on every channel and in the newspaper! The younger woman refused to admit that she injured the old lady. The young lady felt that she had been wronged by the older lady trying to prove how arrogant she was. She wasn’t arrogant, she simply was right!

Maybe she was right in what happened with the Lord’s supper. Maybe the old woman was cantankerous. But the younger woman would not give in and ended up taking this thing to court.

The prosecutor brought in 2 witnesses on the first day. On the 2nd day, he presented three more witnesses. After lunch, things didn’t continue – and come to find out, the defense was frantically working to work out a plea deal. The younger lady faced 10 years in prison and up to $10,000.00 in fines. A plea deal was struck and they all returned to the courtroom.

It came out at the trial that the women had been having trouble in their relationship. The pastor met with the older woman, but the younger woman refused to counsel together to work out their problems. And because of her refusal – push came to shove, and someone got hurt.

My guess – is both women were wrong. Both women should have been corrected a long time ago. The end product – the church was publicly shamed. A lost world said, “That’s why I don’t go to church!”

What do I want you to take home with you?

  1. Relationships are important. They’re essential to unity and leadership.
  2. How we live out our relationships communicates the gospel to the world. I’m talking about forgiveness, compassion, and humility. Y’all, either this stuff is true, or it isn’t.
  3. Where there is sin, it must be confronted and taken care of in the body.
    1. For his benefit
    2. For our purity
    3. For the sake of obedience
    4. For our witness in the world
    5. For our benefit
    6. And for the Glory of God!

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Matthew, Scripture, Sermon

1 Corinthians 4.1-21

Title: A Christ-Centered Leader

Text: 1 Cor 4.1-21

Ps 119.18; Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous truths out of your law.

A quick word about my usage of the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘him’. I was raised to write using masculine pronouns. I mean no offense by simply saying ‘he’ when referring to an individual. I’m talking about leaders today and God calls both men and women to lead. The only position of authority I see where only men serve within the Church is in the role of Pastor/Elder.

I understand clearly from Scripture that women can serve anywhere else in the church. Hear me now, I even understand Scripture referring to women who serve in the official capacity as servants or deacons.

I was planning to focus my Wednesday night study on the area of being a ‘people pleaser’. But, if you would like, I can turn the focus for this WEBS to women in ministry.

So, when I say he or him, only in reference to the role of pastor/elder/bishop/overseer do I mean only men. Otherwise, ladies, if God calls you into a leadership role – this applies to you, too! 2nd, maybe this morning you’d say that you don’t serve in some sort of leadership position within the church. This message is for you, too. In that, you have a responsibility as a member to be careful in selecting people for positions of service. God has organized the body to be served by qualified individuals. You, as a regular member, must be careful before God when putting people in such positions. So, while I may seem to be pointing the finger at Christ-centered leaders, I’m also speaking to the church body as a whole.

We’re right in the middle of a sermon series on The Focus of a Healthy Church. The previous two weeks we focused on Our Blessings and Our Unity. Today, we turn our focus to Our Leaders.

Introduction: When I was a new pastor, I had never been a part of choosing adult leaders, namely deacons. We were in a Business mtg, and before I knew what had happened, the church voted for a man to become a deacon, without vetting him first. A Woman in the church wanted to get her son active in church, so on the spur of the moment, she nominated her son to be a deacon. There was a 2nd and a vote. I couldn’t believe what had just happened in a matter of seconds.

The guy was nice, but deacon material he wasn’t. He didn’t even go to church. His mom had hoped that he would begin attending if he knew he was a deacon. The selection of deacons and elders is an important function of a church. The church should be very careful who she chooses to lead her.

Paul had been concerned for the Corinthians who had divided their loyalties among men, some of whom were not godly men. These men had been leading them astray, they were unfaithful, and their teaching was heretical. Paul warns the Corinthians of the importance of their leaders being godly, Christ-centered men.

And in this section, Paul gives us Five Traits of a Christ-Centered Leader:

I. His Identity is Christ-Centered (1a)

exp.: rd v 1; regard us; servants & stewards

  • He is a servant – of Christ; servant – not διάκονος as in ch. 3; but rather ὑπηρέτης (hypēretēs); Fee: This word originated to describe the slaves who rowed in the lower tier of a trireme. Eventually, it came to be used of any who were in a subservient position, with emphasis on the relationship of one who served a superior. Also, he says of this word, that it is a more general term, but often refers to one who has the duties of administering the affairs of another.
  • He is a steward; οἰκονόμος (oikonomos); this word is more like the word for which we get deacon. This word represents someone with authority and responsibility – He’s not the boss, he just represents the boss; he’s been given the authority of the master’s things.

ill.: The picture we use here was Joseph, son of Jacob; He was still a slave but was given the keys to the house of Potiphar.

app.: A good leader knows who he is in Christ and that he works for Christ. He’s not the boss – he only represents the boss. He manages the affairs of the master’s Household.

t.s.: He takes care of the master’s things. His identity is centered on his Master.

II. His Message is Christ-Centered (1b-2)

exp.: rd v 2; Faithful means:

  1. Faithfulness to the Master. The one in whom he or she finds their identity.
  2. Faithfulness to the Message of the Master; Jn 8.28 Jesus tells his followers that he speaks only what the Father tells him to speak and in Mt 10.20, he teaches them about their witness and words – that those words will come from the Spirit of the Father.

exp.: it really is more complicated than just saying ‘that leaders are faithful to the message’. Mysteries describe so many facets of the Christian life: marriage (Eph), the last days, the church; gentiles joining Jews in the faith, that is being grafted into the body; here, I think Paul is referring to the mystery of the Gospel, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles; Hence, the message of the Gospel.

app.: A good leader is faithful to the message of the gospel; he doesn’t water it down and he doesn’t transform it into something it’s not.

t.s.: which is a great segue for our third trait: His fear

III. His Fear is Christ-Centered (3-5)

exp.: rd v 3-4; In Texas Lingo: I ain’t scairt of nothing.

  • 1st, he doesn’t acquiesce to the pressures of his people; He listens, but it isn’t his all in all; He’s not looking for rewards from his people; his reward comes from the Lord.
  • 2nd, He doesn’t even live by his own standards; why? Because his standards are too low! it’s too easy! We usually make our standards above what others are doing and how they are living, but look at his fear; rd v 5;
  • 3rd, he fears the Lord. This is eschatological; the heart’s intentions will be revealed;

app.: A good leader isn’t swayed by what people think about him or even what he thinks about himself. He knows that Christ is his judge and that one day he will stand before his Master and give an account; and conducts himself accordingly.

t.s.: His Identity, His Message, and His fear are all Christ-Centered. And so is his Life.

IV. His Life is Christ-Centered (6-14)

exp.: He’s applied these things to his life as an example; rd v 6; Phil 3.21; 2 Cor 11.13-15; μετασχηματίζω; Schematic; Apollos and I are patterns or diagrams of these things for you to follow; Rd v 16; μιμητής (mimētēs)

app.: A leader’s life is one to be emulated and imitated because he lives out the gospel w/ his life; and finally…

V. His Discipline is Christ-Centered (14-21)

exp.: rd v 14; The root form of Discipline is Disciple; a disciple is a learner; His Purpose isn’t to shame, but rather correction through teaching them; Rd v rd 15-17; He teaches these things, these ways in every church, everywhere. BTW: I don’t think ‘these things’ applies only to this chapter, but for everything from the beginning of the letter to this point (v6);

app.: a good leader isn’t out to embarrass anyone or shame them, but rather through admonition, to correct them; to guide them in the way of the Lord.  

t.s.:

Conclusion: In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer, a Quaker, tells the story of how God used Palmer’s friends to shape his vocational path in a significant way. Palmer had been offered the opportunity to become the president of a small educational institution. He was certain the job was for him, but he honored the tradition of the Quaker community, which is to call on a dozen trusted friends to engage in a “clearness committee,” a process in which “the group refrains from giving you advice but spends three hours asking you honest, open questions to help you discover your own inner truth.” Palmer writes that the initial questions were all very easy, until someone simply asked, “What would you like most about being a president?”

 He writes: The simplicity of that question loosed me from my head and lowered me into my heart. I remember pondering for at least a full minute before I could respond. Then, very softly and tentatively, I started to speak: “Well, I would not like having to give up my writing and my teaching…. I would not like the politics of the presidency, never knowing who your real friends are…. I would not like having to glad-hand people I do not respect simply because they have money…. I would not…”

Gently but firmly, the person who had posed the question interrupted me: “May I remind you that I asked what you would most like?”

I responded impatiently, “Yes, yes, I’m working my way toward an answer.” Then I resumed my sullen but honest litany. …

Once again, the questioner called me back to the original question. But this time I felt compelled to give the only honest answer I possessed, an answer that came from the very bottom of my barrel, an answer that appalled even me as I spoke it.

“Well,” I said, in the smallest voice I possess, “I guess what I’d like most is getting my picture in the paper with the word president under it.”

I was sitting with seasoned Quakers who knew that though my answer was laughable, my mortal soul was clearly at stake! They did not laugh at all but went into a long and serious silence—a silence in which I could only sweat and inwardly groan.

Finally, my questioner broke the silence with a question that cracked all of us up—and cracked me open: “Parker,” he said, “can you think of an easier way to get your picture in the paper?”

By then it was obvious, even to me, that my desire to be president had much more to do with my ego than with the ecology of my life—so obvious that when the clearness committee ended, I called the school and withdrew my name from consideration. Had I taken that job, it would have been very bad for me, and a disaster for the school.

This brings me to my takeaways: Too many men enter a leadership role in the church without a clear understanding of that leadership role. They were unqualified to serve in the capacity in which they were placed – or, they abused the authority entrusted to them. Because of its abuse, two disastrous results have ruined lives.

  1. Many have left the church, and some have even left the faith.
  2. others have shunned the office to which the church needs them to serve.

Men who will not serve as elders. Men & women who will not serve as deacons, teachers, or team members. This really is a shame. The damage is … well, spiritual carnage everywhere! But stop, it doesn’t have to remain that way! We can make changes today! You and I can choose to organize ourselves like God designed the church to be and make sure we put qualified people in places of service.

  1. Let us rise to the challenge to organize ourselves according to the Word of God.
  2. Let us choose leaders to serve in areas where they are gifted and called.
  3. How we should regard ourselves: Scum of the World. (verse 13)

Closing Remarks:

  1. I’m thankful for the men and women who serve us by serving Christ.
  2. I’m thankful for the godly men and women in my life who’ve remained faithful through years of service.
  3. I’m thankful for the men who’ve stood on the Word, even under pressure from the church to change and adapt to the culture or the world.
  4. I’m thankful for men who’ve spoken up and spoken out against clear violations of God’s Word – against ungodliness in the church.

As your pastor, I’d like to begin organizing our congregation for service. Will you pray with me about selecting Men & Women to serve our congregation in various roles? Many are already serving, but we need to organize ourselves.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Church Polity, Leadership, Scripture

1 Corinthians 1.10-3.23

Title: Five Characteristics of a United Church

Text: 1 Corinthians 1.10-3.23

CIT: Paul has warned the Corinthians about division in the church.

CIS: I want to encourage each member to strive for unity in the body.

Introduction: This morning, we’re in 1 Corinthians beginning in 1.10. But, we’ll also visit Acts 18. So, go ahead and mark those two spots.

Last Sunday I began my sermon series in 1 Corinthians. The Series will focus solely on this letter from the standpoint of what is a Healthy Church. Our first take was that a Healthy Church is focused upon her Lord. We looked at multiple blessings that Paul identifies for his readers. This morning we continue with that same line of thinking and delve into some of those thoughts Paul brought out in his introduction.

Namely, this morning, Paul teaches us that a Healthy Church is undivided. I want to take his teaching and show you 5 characteristics of a unified church.

In this modern era, there are many issues that threaten the unity of a local church. We will find some of these same issues at work in the church at Corinth. Paul warns them against these issues and clearly outlines for them the very issues which bring division.

My goal isn’t to just look at what Paul says is dividing that church, but rather to turn that around and see the positive side of what Paul is saying. I think Paul is saying here that there are at least five (5) unifying Characteristics of a healthy church in his letter. And so, I’ve entitled my message today: Five Characteristics of a United Church. We see right away that this is Paul’s main thought: read v 10.

Transition: united: to put to order, restore, organize. It is this idea of coming together and doing the same things. This is his thesis statement and over the next couple of chapters he’ll address the very things that are causing divisions in their church; we find the first of these five characteristics as we continue reading; rd v 11-13;  A Unified Church Displays:       

I. The Gospel (1.10-18)

exp.: rd v 13; This is a checkmark every church should make! A unified church lives, breathes, exudes The Gospel; it reeks the Gospel! rd v 14-16; evidently, they were bragging about who baptized them; rd v 17-18; Here is the key! The Gospel is where the power of the Church lies!

ill.: Mark Dever: My friends, let me be clear about what Christianity teaches. There is one God who has made us all. We have sinned against him – we have done what we wanted rather than what he has told us to do. We have rebelled against him, and so he is rightly committed to punishing us, as our sins deserve. But, in his great mercy, he came in Christ – fully God and fully man – and lived a perfect life with no punishment of his own to bear. Yet, Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all those who would never turn from their sins and trust in him. He rose to new life, and he offers us new life as well if we will turn from our sins and trust him. We lay hold of Christ savingly by believing in this message and having faith in him.

Components of the Gospel Message:

  1. God is Holy.
  2. We are not. We are sinful. (Demonstrate by using a phone in between the hands.)
  3. Nothing we could ever do could remove the sin that separates us. So, God acted on our behalf.
  4. Good sent Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sin.
  5. By trusting in what Christ has done, we can have our sins forgiven and the relationship we desire with God can be established.

app.: A display of the basic gospel message is so vital to unity. Listen to Ray Ortlund: rd The Gospel, pg 39-40

The exaltation of any one person (other than Christ) and/or their pet projects undermines the gospel and wreaks havoc in a church. But, The Gospel lived out by members, brings unity within the body.

t.s.: A unified church displays the gospel in every aspect of her existence. And #2, a unified church displays…

II. Humility (1.26-29)

exp.: Why? Because it crushes egos! Rd v 26a; ouch; rd 26b-29; Wow, when you look at it that way; look at that! – foolish, weak, low, and despised; Let me ask you: What were you before you came to Christ? Foolish? Weak? Despised? Maybe “D” for ‘all of the above’; We see this also paralleled in the Philippian’s church;

Here’s a helpful hint to practice: When we see Christ in his glory – we gain a greater perspective of who we are.

ill.: βῆμα; Judgment seat; well, we really have nothing to fear if we’re saved; really? Will you just stroll into the presence of the Lord – What’s sup Big Guy?  So how will you be? What will you offer? Here is my…

ill.: Do you know the difference between humility and humiliation?

app.: You know, even when your church is doing well, it isn’t a reflection on who is serving here. It’s only because God is blessing us. That’s humbling. The church is no place for any, one person to be exalted (other than Christ, which is the message of the Gospel). So, we come, humbling ourselves and exalting Christ alone!

t.s.: Christ will share His glory with no one. There is only room for him at the top. Humble yourselves, therefore, before the Lord. Moving on, there is a 3rd characteristic mentioned here…

III. Wisdom (2.1-10)

exp.: he began talking about wisdom back up in 1.18; pick up in 1.28 – 2.3; Paul is giving himself as an example; not of humility, but of understanding; rd v 6-8; Does Paul know what he’s talking about? You bet he does! In Paul’s day, many would meet in the town square, as it were, and speak. They would win people to their views and beliefs by their eloquence and wit. They would win debates, answer questions and gather followers; But Paul didn’t do things that way. His message wasn’t exactly like theirs – (1.23) a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles; Acts 18.1-10; and look at the inspiration he received; Acts 18.11;

app.: So, yes, he does know what he’s talking about because what the world calls foolish or considers a stumbling block is really the wisdom of God; and that’s where we and many churches like us are – at this moment!

I’ve been asked a couple of times what my vision is for the church. I outlined it a little this past Wednesday night. There is a fad in the churches today that seeks to be like other churches – ones that are growing in number. But I don’t see in Scripture anywhere, where the Word tells us to copy churches that are growing in number as a measure for health and stability. What I see here, is that we’re to be a church that is focused on her Lord and working toward unity in our relationships. My vision, My goal: A Healthy Church!

app.: there are churches doing it right and succeeding, some in a very short time and others over years; For us, the concern is: are we acquiescing to the world’s ways or are we sticking with what the Scriptures teach? Even when it is a struggle, it really is the way that displays our wisdom; our godly wisdom; it also displays unity…

t.s.: The Gospel, Humility, Wisdom. The 4th characteristic is…

IV. Maturity (3.1-3)

exp.: he begins to touch on it here in this passage (rd 2.6); skip down to ch. 3; rd v 1-3; what we see here is an immature congregation focuses on the flesh and the world; whereas a mature congregation focuses on spiritual matters; We see this cry from the writer of Hebrews and also from Peter in his 1st Epistle: strive for maturity!

ill.: When Christopher was a baby and a little boy, he was so big he always played with older kids, especially his brother – who is nearly three years older than him. Lisa tells the story about an incident he had in Harlingen (tell of run-in with 10-year-old). “Sometimes C acts like a 7-year-old!” “He is only 7 years old!”

app.: Paul was saying that the Corinthians had plenty of opportunity for growth and they were still acting like babies. Unlike Christopher, who was acting his age, these believers were still so immature..

t.s.: but a sign of a healthy church is its maturity, its wisdom, its humility, and the Gospel being lived and proclaimed. But there is one more…

V. Service (3.5-10)

exp.: rd v 5; we’re servants; 6-10; we’re all just workers here; we don’t own this place; we call it our church, but really, it belongs to God! It is his, – we are his, he bought it with his blood – that is why Paul said back in 1.13: Was Paul crucified for you?

And when people try to make it their own, that causes division, not unity; but Paul offers an ominous warning for those who would divide the church as if it were there’s; rd v 3.16-17;

app.: Listen, no one can destroy the Church of God, it is his and he will protect it; however, an unhealthy, local congregation that is divided because of a person’s passion to make it their own is in danger of destruction! Oh, my, that person is in danger; If this body, that meets right here in this place, is not his, then we are in danger!

But, if we are healthy, unified in every way, we are his and he will use us to glorify himself! 

t.s.: So, what are some takeaways? Let’s look at some Observations:

Conclusion:

  1. We need a clear, concise method of sharing the gospel. A Gospel is reflected in the lives of the membership and a Gospel is shared through their ministry and mission. Sometimes, you only have a minute or two at a convenience store, or while waiting for your car to finish being repaired.
    1. One Verse Evangelism; Romans 6.23
    2. The Gospel in one minute; Remember the components of a Gospel Message?

Components of the Gospel Message:

  • God is Holy.
  • We are not. We are sinful. (Demonstrate by using a phone in between the hands.)
  • Nothing we could ever do could remove the sin that separates us. So, God acted on our behalf.
  • Good sent Jesus to die and pay the penalty for our sin.
  • By trusting in what Christ has done, we can have our sins forgiven and the relationship we desire with God can be established.
  1. Can you see how these other four characteristics are foundational to sharing the gospel? Humility, maturity, wisdom, servanthood? Can you see how a lack in any single one of these foundational characteristics can hamper your witness? Which one of these is your weakness is hindering your presentation of the Gospel to others? Is it Pride? Immaturity? Foolishness? Selfishness?
  2. You need to take care of yourself. This last application is hard to share. It seems a bit rude and confrontational. I don’t mean to be rude – that isn’t my intention; however, confrontational? Yeah, I think I just need to speak the truth in love. Some of this stuff can be frustrating for a pastor. Why don’t we take care of ourselves? I’m serious! Studies have shown that people will not take care of themselves. They just don’t.

Ill.: An article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, published in 2014, presented a study on how Americans simply don’t take care of themselves. The Incidence and determinants of primary nonadherence with prescribed medication in primary care: a cohort study. I got this from Jordan Peterson – I don’t typically read medical journals! The article states that a full one-third of patients who are prescribed a medication won’t have the prescription filled. Of the remaining 67%, half of them will get the meds, but not take them correctly, at the prescribed time, or finish their proper course. Now, I’m not pointing fingers. I’m right in the midst of those who don’t have it filled or don’t take it correctly. If it wasn’t for my wife, I’m sure I’d be dead.

I think this statistic is probably pretty accurate for spiritual matters, too. God gives us prescriptions for life. You could call them commandments. But here is where I’m going with this: I look at these Characteristics (Humility, Wisdom, Maturity, Service) and I see so many lacking. Sometimes I identify a false humility, foolishness, and immaturity and I’m blown away that folks won’t listen. It’s like we think this is for everyone else, but not me. I’m better than that. I don’t need your prescriptions! Will you please, begin putting into practice the prescriptions for a healthy spiritual life?

Matt 7.24-27 – “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Which foundation are you building your life upon? Which foundation is the church being built upon? Let’s pray…

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Acts, Discipleship, Scripture

1 Corinthians 1.1-9

Title: The Focus of a Healthy Church: Our Blessings!

Text: 1 Cor 1.1-9

Introduction: Most days, I love serving as a Chaplain. I’m chaplain of our Volunteer Fire Department. I serve as a chaplain for the employees of Bandera Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Bandera. And I serve also at Covenant Services in San Antonio. Because of this position, I get to visit with hundreds of people. My calling has opened the door to ministry in so many ways – not to mention being your pastor.

Recently, I got to visit with an employee who grew up in the church, but alas, is no longer active in a local church. This employee spoke my language – a language you know, too. If you were raised in a local evangelical church, you speak the language, too. At first, I was so excited to meet this person; however, after a few minutes of conversation, I realized this person is no longer in a local church. Added to this concern of mine, was a statement made in reference to that employee’s children. They had chosen to not raise their kids in church, but rather for them to find their own religion and way in the world – whatever ‘faith’ that might be.

Now, you should know that as a Chaplain, my job is a little bit different than of a pastor. Being your pastor affords me rights and responsibilities to speak into your life in a manner that simply being a chaplain doesn’t. While operating in the world, I don’t have the same authority. So, I must be careful. I don’t want to ever alienate someone by having a debate over an issue. I think the conversation went well. Still, I have to say this millennial is very much like the generation of millennials who have abandoned the church. They say, “I love Jesus, but hate the church.”

Let that sink in because it is a misnomer. The reality is that they are very much one and the same. The Church is the Body of Christ. And our purpose is to image Him to the World. We are His hands, his feet. When it comes to the mass exodus of the generation that has followed us, that is a huge indictment on us as believers. We have failed to be the Church Christ has called us to be.

I feel confident that you feel as I do when I say, I don’t want to get this wrong anymore! Too much is at stake! Over the next 10-12 weeks, I’d like to study 1 Corinthians from the standpoint of how blessed they were and how in like manner, we have been blessed by God. This will not be easy, because Corinth was a dysfunctional church! Dysfunction in their relationships, Dysfunction in their polity and organization, Dysfunction in their theology, Dysfunction, Dysfunction, Dysfunction!

But Paul begins his letter by reminding them of how blessed they were! The 1st area of focus for the church is found in the very beginning of 1 Cor. Rdv 1-9; this introduction is packed with blessings that each believer has received. There is one truth that stands out in this passage – that permeates the entire teaching: God is at work here! Everything begins, is sustained, and ends with God. Note the references to Christ, Lord, Jesus, God, Father; 23x’s; Paul starts with his place – called to be an apostle – by God’s will; and 2ndly, their place: they are called, as well, the church of God; both called to their positions.

Let’s take a moment to review these blessings from God…cont rd v2;

I. They were made Holy

exp.: Sanctified and saints are the same word in the Gk; lit.: Holy; pft, pass, ptc, having been made holy – a current state based upon a past action; Saints is lit.: holy ones; Now these two statements identify who they are and where they are in Christ – 1st,

  • Position: these believers have had their sins washed away and they stand before God Holy!
  • Practice: called to be holy – lit.: called to be holy ones; this is what they’re supposed to do now as believers! They’re supposed to live out who they are! The outside reflects the inside!

exp.: and we know that this isn’t just for the Corinthians, but for us also, that is, for those of us who claim Christ today! 2c; rd v 3;

app.: What we have in this opening is a typical greeting, but – look deeper. What we also see is just what characterizes each believer – holiness; Don’t miss this: we’ve been called into relationships. God has made us holy, not because we’re really awesome, cool people and he wants to be with us. No, God has made us holy because He is … fill in the superlative… and we cannot have a relationship with him in our sin. He has called us into fellowship with Him and with each other. And take it one step further, rd v2; associations and conventions and missions; pray about going to a people somewhere in the world who don’t know Christ.

Paul was called to plant churches, not just be an evangelist. He entered into relationships with people in the communities he worked. He poured himself into people through his relationship with them. And, furthermore, he encouraged relationships within this community of grace, called the church.

t.s.: just as holiness appears in a repeated fashion, so does ‘grace’ and that is the next blessing he mentions in v 4-6;

II. They were given God’s Grace (4-6)

exp.: Look what Paul says about God’s Grace rd v4-5:

  1. It is Given: it’s a gift. It’s poured out on them. Interesting, the word ‘gift’ and the word ‘grace’ are from the same derivative; χαρίς and χáρισματα; 2nd, down in v 6 he says…
  2. It is Confirmed: evidenced in their lives; a testimony of Christ!

*Don’t miss these two important items concerning Grace: repeat

JM: Three Items that Cannot exist w/ Grace:

  1. Guilt
  2. Human Obligation – we can’t pay it back by earning it
  3. Human Merit – we won’t ever deserve it – never

Another great message out there is by Matt Chandler; He says that people don’t stumble into godliness; and he quotes Paul: “training ourselves in righteousness” (1 Tim. 4:7), “laboring in prayer,” “running to win,” “counting it all as loss” (Philippians 3) and “beating his body” (1 Corinthian 9:26-27).

Check out the balance here. This is a quote from Jared Wilson, a pastor: My disobedience is good grounds for doubt, but my obedience is terrible grounds for assurance.

ill.: I love that Paul starts out with his usual greeting, thanking God. But this is unusual when you consider whom he’s talking about. This is the one church that gave Paul the most grief: the Corinthian Church! And yet he says he is thankful to God for them.

exp.: look at what he was thankful for again; rd v 4; the grace;

app.: can we just apply that to us for a moment? Here is our history, but we do not stand today because of our history! We stand in the grace of God. Don’t forget that blessing, Church! We stand holy, sanctified, and grace-filled because of the effectual work of Christ on the Cross of Calvary.

t.s.: which is where Paul is going in the next verse and offers us our 3rd blessing…he says they were

III. They were Enriched

exp.: rd v 5; how? In every way; lit.: in every ‘thing’; and then he narrows down the focus: 1st, in speech and 2nd, in knowledge;

  • In speech; logos; 2 Cor 8.7 – But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.; 1 Tim 4.12; But Paul says that these folks have been enriched with this gift, too; rd v 5b;
  • In knowledge; 2 Cor 8.7, let me pause and say that this is great, but there are those who speak w/out knowledge! and look at the result; rd v 6-7a;
  • So that you’re not lacking in any spiritual gift

app.: here’s what Paul is saying “God has gifted you with everything spiritual (gifts) that you need as a body to function, which, by the way, you are, as has been confirmed in you! You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing! Wow! He says this despite their arguing, fighting, division, sinful disobedience, adultery, fornication, disorganization, etc., etc., etc.

t.s.: And then Paul moves to another blessing in v 7b; rd 7b;

IV. Their Future was secure

exp.: What a blessing, knowing one’s future is secure; Paul lists 4 attributes of those who know their future is secure; 

  • Waiting
  • Watching; the revealing; this is the Gk word from which we get our English word ‘apocalypse’; that sounds even more like us, doesn’t it? This is living in grace; then, rd v 8;
  • Enduring; because he sustains them; They’re not fulfilling their calling in their own strength and wisdom! (BTW: this is a major topic for Paul over the next few chapters) We don’t do this in our strength! He sustains us, and it’s easier to do when you know that this momentary set of problems is nothing compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us!
  • They are presented before him – blameless, guiltless; ‘sustained’ is the same word as v 6 ‘confirmed’;  “establish, verify, increase in inner strength”; Fee says this is their guarantee; we see this idea also in Eph 1.11-14;

t.s.: and this final blessing, just caps it all off beautifully!

V. God will Complete His Work in Them

exp.: rd v 9a; that’s really all you need! He says to them! Rd v 9b; called out “ecclesia”; and called into a relationship w/ Christ!

Conclusion: Do you see these 5 Blessings are ours, too?

We’ve been made holy if we’ve committed ourselves to Christ! We’re not holy because of our actions; we’re not gifted because of ourselves; we’re not enriched by our works and our future isn’t secure because we are able to keep up with all that is before us! No, we enjoy these blessings because of one reason! v 9a; God is faithful! And he who called you will carry you through and sustain you until his appearing!

Observations and Implications:

  1. A Church that is healthy has her focus Her Lord: Christ and God appear some 23x’s in these 9 verses.
  2. The top and the tail of this short passage remind us of our calling. Both Paul and the church are who they are and where they are and do what they do because of their calling.
    1. As you look for balance in your life, how does God’s grace compare with your obedience? As a believer, you’re holy! Does your life reflect that holiness?
    2. As a church, do we realize that God has given us everything we need? If we were lacking, he’d give us more.
  3. Do you understand your future is secure, and that is what matters the most? You can now live your life in Grace and Peace, fearing nothing, because of the beautiful future already secured for you!
  4. The Top and the Tail of 1 Corinthians calls us to Stand! It summons us to work! 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
    1. Too often, we get down because we don’t have what we used to have, or we don’t see what we used to see. We must realize that God is at work – and he isn’t finished with us yet! In this, if our focus is where it should be, then we’ll see that we are truly blessed!

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Calling, Christian Living, Church Membership, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 16.1-14

Title: The Resurrection: What did it do?

Text: Mark 16.1-14; 1 Corinthians 15

CIT: Paul presents 4 elemental truths of the Resurrection

CIS: To present these 4 truths and challenge the believers to a changed life.

Intro: I’m not much on Topical sermons. I preach them from time to time, but my preference is to preach through books. Oftentimes, it is hard to narrow down all of the information in a certain topic, so problem #1 is that you just have too much material. 2nd, I like knowing on Monday morning what I’m preaching next Sunday. Besides, preaching through books makes it where I must cover every doctrine at some point. You just can’t avoid it. But, the downside of not being prepared to preach a topical sermon on special days can create a situation where a preacher is presented with an awkward situation.

            CJ Mahaney is a preacher I always love to hear. Whenever he is on the schedule at a conference, I make sure to get a good seat! CJ tells the story of how he concluded a three-part sermon series about the afterlife. That last sermon in the series just happened to fall on Mother’s Day. He had not connected the special day with his topic nor with his sermon title. That Sunday morning, mothers came dressed in their pretty dresses, some with hats, some with gloves, some with a corsage. CJ was totally caught off guard, as were many of his moms when the time came for CJ to present his message, a sermon in the afterlife series which simply read: Hell!

Things have worked out well on my calendar, as I have done my best to be at this particular place in Scripture on this particular holiday. I decided to start there and move out from there to another passage on the resurrection. There is a question that I’d like to answer and, today is a great way to spend some time looking at that question: We all know what Christ’s death accomplished, but, what about His Resurrection? Was the resurrection even necessary? He died for our sins, and paid the penalty required in his death; so, why did he need to be resurrected?

            Our text is Mark chapter 16. We’ll also spend some time in 1 Cor 15; take a moment to mark those places with a bookmark. This morning I’d like to present four theological truths about the resurrection as presented by Mark and Paul. Here they are:

  • The Resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel Message
  • The Resurrection is validated by a tremendous body of evidence
  • The Resurrection offers us the hope of a resurrection
  • The Resurrection will impact how you live your life

Transition: let’s look at the 1st truth

I. The Resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel Message (16.1-6)

exp.: rd v 1-2; the word gospel, and the word evangelism are basically the same word; the difference is that one is a noun, and the other is a verb; it is the word Ευαγγέλιον; From which we get evangelism; So, what is this good news? Rd v 6; He is not here, He is Risen! Check it out… the place where he lay. And the 2nd part, evangelism…rd v 7; I love that the angel places an emphasis on Peter. I wonder if he was having a tougher time because he had denied his Lord.

Paul makes this point to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15; rd v3f;

app.: Paul and Mark are establishing a very important point: without the resurrection, there is no gospel! The Resurrection is an essential part of the Gospel message. Had Jesus simply died – then he would have been like every other man who has ever died. But, Jesus proved his divinity by being raised from the dead!

t.s.: The 2nd Theological Truth presented is found in this same sentence; 1st – he died; 2nd, he was buried; 3rd, he was raised (Pft. Pass. Ind.); 4thly, he was seen; this is the 2nd theological truth…

II. The Resurrection is validated by a tremendous body of evidence (4-34; Mark 16.7-14)

exp.: There, in 1 Cor 15, we just read “in accordance with the Scriptures: 

  1. The Scriptures; rd v 3-4; Jonah; Isaiah; Jeremiah; David; Psalms; Genesis; Exodus; Numbers; Deut.; etc., etc., etc. Read v.5-8;
  2. The Appearances of Christ to so many; Cephas; the ‘12’; Jn 20.19-29; 500+; James (prob, his brother); Paul; In Mark 15, we see the Mary listed first in v9; and v12. One of my favorite passages on this is in Luke where Luke gives us more information on this story. In that passage, Luke says, “27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
  3. There is a third group listed in 1 Corinthians: The Martyrs: Death of the Witnesses v 29-34; 1st, what do we know about Scripture and Salvation? Baptism cannot save you; ὑπέρ; NASB/NIV trans.: for; because of; So, who are the dead? They are the martyrs: those who preached in spite of persecution and even death; why? Because they knew death is not the end, no – there is the resurrection;

In fact, each of the disciples here will die for their faith. Why would they do that if these testimonies here were lies? Who is going to die for a lie? And, even if you could find one person foolish enough to die for a lie, how could this overwhelming group of witnesses all be willing to die for a lie. Someone, at some point, would have said, “hang on, it’s not true, I don’t want to die.” But that didn’t happen. One by one, each gave up their lives because they knew of a greater hope!

app.: the resurrection: that’s what they knew, that’s where their hope was placed! Acts 1.15-22; 2.32; 3.15; 5.32; 10.39-43; That’s more evidence for us to view…

t.s.: Truth #1: The Resurrection is one essential part of the Gospel Message. Truth #2: The Resurrection is validated by a tremendous body of evidence. Truth #3

III. The Resurrection offers us Hope that one day we, too, will be resurrected. (35-57)

exp.: The Resurrection is explained in a simple fashion. There are two prerequisites to being resurrected: Death and Faith. 1. Death: You must die in order to be resurrected.  2. Faith: You must have faith.

  1. Death: Two bodies; one must die for the other to live; (rd v 50); The perishable must perish, in order that what is imperishable may inherit eternal life.
  2. Faith: Paul says that it is a mystery; rd v 51-57;

t.s.: Truth #1: The Resurrection is an essential element of the Gospel Message. Truth #2: The Resurrection is validated by the tremendous evidence. Truth #3: The Resurrection offers us hope that we’ll one day be resurrected. Truth #4:

IV. The Resurrection will impact how you live your life (58)

exp.: In our text in Mark, he records miraculous signs that accompanied those believers in the Apostolic Age. We see in our text that many lives were changed and impacted such that, they were willing to die for what they knew to be true! Listen to what Paul says in 1 Cor 15.58:  “Therefore”; Marker of result; Because of this; For this reason; Because you have received the Gospel, Because of the tremendous body of evidence, Because of the hope you have of your resurrection, then you should – One imperative vb: to be; become; γίνομαι; two adjectives to describe; two participles (verbal adjectives) to describe;

  1. Become steadfast; this info, the gospel message, the overwhelming evidence, and the hope of your resurrection, as well as those you love who’ve gone before you, should plant you firmly where you are; and
  2. Become immovable – this info should not only plant you firmly but also make you immovable; there is a 3rd description of what this does to you;
  3. Abounding in your Work; always; every day of your life characterized by the Resurrection; your job, raising your kids, loving your neighbor, serving your brothers and sisters! Christians do their work, because of this last ptc mentioned: we know
  4. Knowing your work isn’t empty; κενός; Phil 2.5; I love this word knowing – this is faith in action! Heb 11.1

t.s.: When you gain an understanding of the resurrection, not just of Christ’s, but even your own: The Resurrection will affect your life and how you live. – and might I add, how you die.

Conclusion: Show the 7-minute video of Padina (https://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FE92J1NU)

            I began with the question: What did the resurrection accomplish? It completes the gospel story and is validated by a body of evidence. But even more, it gives us hope and impacts our lives to live for him. I hesitate to show videos like this because I don’t like it when they are used to manipulate people. That’s not my goal. I shared this video because.

  • I want to challenge you over this next year to consider adopting a UUPG somewhere in the world.
  • I want to challenge you to pray! Pray for God to lead us step by step. I honestly don’t know what that will mean… what will it cost us? Will some of you go and give your lives so that others may know? That burdens…
  • I want to challenge you to prepare, research, acquaint, and yield.
  • I pray Christ’s resurrection inspires you to live your life for others.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Easter, Mark, Scripture, Sermon, The Gospel

Mark 15.37-47

Title: The Son of God Part 2

Text: Mark 15.21-39

Introduction: We continue our message from last week in Mark 15.37. You can see from the PP that the message is entitled “The Son of God” Part 2

I’ve outlined the message this way:

  1. The Crucifixion of the Son of God
  2. The Rejection of the Son of God
  3. The Death of the Son of God
  4. The Burial of the Son of God

Transition: I think Mark’s story is simple, brief, and restrained. He doesn’t try to move us to sympathy for Christ as he is tortured and punished; Nor, does he try to make us angry at those who we consider Christ’s enemies. So, let’s pick up in Mark 15, v21 Where we see…

I. The Crucifixion of the Son of God (21-28)

exp.: The crucifixion is a process of execution. An agonizingly slow process of execution.

ill.: Dr. Mark Kubala, Outreach Magazine, April 13, 2017: To envision the pain and emotional stress Jesus endured, it may be helpful to share an analogy.

Imagine your family has allowed you to go by yourself to see some old friends you haven’t seen in many years. They live in a remote, desolate area of the Texas desert. You want to surprise your friends, so you don’t tell them you’re coming.

You turn off the main highway and travel for miles on a dusty dirt road, then fail to negotiate an unexpected sharp turn. Because of the heat, you neglect to buckle your seat belt. The car rolls over, and you are thrown out of the car. As you fall out of the car, your scalp is cut by the edge of the door.

You land on your back in a bed of prickly cacti. You suffer multiple cuts to your back. The back of your leg lands on a sharp rock which cuts the artery behind your knee. You cannot get up because the door of the overturned car has your legs pinned. You can’t find or reach your cell phone. Your suitcase has fallen on your chest, and you can’t move it. You have trouble breathing. Every time you try to move, the pain becomes excruciating. You are literally abandoned. You see your blood seep out of your body and over the next few hours you become faint, as you slowly go into shock. You know you are dying, and there’s nothing you can do.

exp.: Pilate commissions his Roman soldiers to carry out that execution. Mark is very matter-of-fact about his storytelling. He almost lists these moments and actions as bullets.

So physically taxing was this process for Christ, that he failed to carry his own cross to Golgotha. The Soldiers are tasked with the action to keep the process going. Jesus has been so mistreated that he can’t keep going. So, (rd v 21) they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.

Consider what Mark has done in our text:

  1. He’s dropped a name they would know, a witness to what had happened. This is probably someone they knew.
  2. He’s told them where it happened. A place that would have been familiar to them. They probably knew what he was talking about.
  3. He’s quoted to them or referenced to them Old Testament Scripture, demonstrating that this was foretold in times past.   

t.s.: First, The Son of God is Crucified, and 2nd, he is rejected.

II. The Rejection of the Son of God (29-36)

exp.: Jesus is rejected while hanging on the cross. There are people who pass by and mock him on the cross. The religious leaders also continue mocking him (29-32). This mocking continues until the end. Rd v35f; then in v 37, we read that Jesus died… That’s point #3, where we pick up this morning.

t.s.:

III. The Death of the Son of God (37-39)

exp.: Jesus cries out and breathes his last breath. Rd v 37; Two of his 7 Statements come to mind: Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. And, It is finished. He is dead. The penalty for sins has been satisfied. But something absolutely incredible happens at this moment. Rd v 38: the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Many have asked if this could be true. Well, for the believer, we have God’s word. But as for secular history, the answer is yes. Listen to Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

“And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the second, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks, and the opening of the graves… while the rending of the Veil is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil from the top to the bottom. Even the latter circumstance has its significance. That some great catastrophe, betokening the impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition. The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years before the destruction of the Temple; and both he and the Talmud refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded as a portent of the coming destruction of the Temple”

I think it is wonderful when we have external evidence of Biblical recorded history. But we shouldn’t need it, but it sure does feel nice when we do! Well, all of these miraculous, supernatural events take place as bulleted notes by Mark. Rd v 39; Then, the centurion, who has charge over the detail, stood facing Jesus. As he witnesses the death of Jesus he remarks, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”(37-39).

app.: this statement is in line with what we’ve been reading in Mark for a year now. In chapter 1 Mark tells us this in the first verse. Then, in v 13, God says, this is my son! The demons recognize him as the chapters roll by. In Chapter 9, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, God once again declares the identity of who this is: His Son! Not once does a human acknowledge this, until now. And Mark closes out his book with this revelation. Theologians call this a melodic line. There is a phrase that echoes through the book called a melodic line.

t.s.: And for Mark, it is this: Jesus Christ is the Son of God. So, we have the Crucifixion, the Rejection, the Death, and now, the burial of the Son of God.

IV. The Burial of the Son of God (40-47)

exp.: more witnesses; rd v 40;

  1. Women: the men have abandoned him. At this point, only the women who were a part of his ministry remain. John records that he himself was there and was given the responsibility to care for Mary from now on. It turns out that these women had been faithfully serving Christ for some time. Look at verse 41; I’d like to note that Mary of Magdala, is always mentioned first when listing the women. She takes some prominence. Salome is listed, as well. Matthew identifies her as the mother of James and John. Likewise in Matthew, we see that she is the source of the request that one of her sons sit on the right hand of Jesus and the other, on the left. Mark lists these three and uses them as representative of a group of women who serve the Master (rd v 41).

These women serve an important role, in that, not only are they witnesses to his death, but they’ll also serve as witnesses of his burial and the location of that burial plot. The role of women in the first century was considered insignificant. We really haven’t seen too much of them throughout this book. It is only now that we find out about their significant role in Christ’s ministry. In other gospels, we learn that some were wealthy or prominent women.

  • The evening hours are upon them and Jewish custom required that a dead body be buried before nightfall. Read v 42f; Added to this stress, Mark tells us it is the day of Preparation. The Sabbath is upon them. They wouldn’t be able to work on the Sabbath. All preparations for his burial must be completed before sundown (I have found conflicting information here).

Joseph of Arimathea steps forward and requests the body of Jesus – to bury him properly. I can’t stress to you how important Joseph turns out to be. Their customs, practices, mores, and understandings would have made this situation difficult for the family. If they were from Nazareth, what would they do with his body? It should have been dumped outside of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom or the City Dump. This action by Joseph would work so nicely, and it would serve the family well. It is really a remarkable gesture.

His body would then be hastily prepared because of the late hour. The women could return to this tomb first thing Sunday morning and finish the task of properly burying Jesus’ body. It could remain in the tomb for a year. And then after that year, the bones could be collected and placed in an ossuary. Then, they would be transported back to the family plot – wherever that might be. Joseph has a tomb nearby and volunteers it. Again, incredible.

A Couple of thoughts:

  1. Joseph’s actions are evidence that not all the Sanhedrin were allied against Christ. Added to this, John tells us in his Gospel that Nicodemus also participated in burying Jesus. So, more evidence that not all the Sanhedrin were against Jesus. Furthermore, the text says that Joseph had to gather up his courage to go to Pilate and ask for the body. It’s like he was counting the cost of making public his decision to follow Christ publicly. Other Gospels tell us that he was a secret follower and that he was wealthy. I’m guessing from this point forward, that it isn’t much of a secret! And it doesn’t look like Joseph wanted it to be a secret.
  2. Rd v 44f; Pilate is surprised by the death of Jesus – that is, that he died so quickly. He needs confirmation from the Centurion and gets it.
  3. Some have argued that this brevity and concern of Pilate offers evidence that Jesus wasn’t ‘really’ dead. There are a couple of stories in history that tell of crucified individuals who lived. One is a fictional satire written by Petronius. The story goes that the family brings their own member down off the cross while the Roman guard is away. But again, it is fiction. The second story is from Josephus, who finds out that three of his friends are being crucified. Josephus petitions Titus for their release and is granted his petition. Two of the men died, but one recovered from his injuries. But again, these stories aren’t anything like ours, where it was erroneously assumed by some that the Roman Centurion misdiagnosed the victim! BTW: there is no record of a Roman Guard ever misdiagnosing the death of an executed criminal.

Exp.: Mark then gets back to his story. Rd v46; Jewish custom would require him to wash the body and add ointments and spices. This was a temporary fix and would be remedied come Sunday morning when the women returned to the burial site.

Many such tombs have been discovered through the years and are available for tourists to visit. I visited one such site, the site not too far from the Golgatha, considered to be the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, the tomb Jesus will borrow for three days.

Well, we kind of have a Markan Sandwich again, as Mark circles back around to the women in v 47; you see them in v 40f and then again here; rd v 47’ – identifying them as witnesses to this event. We’ll pick up with this on Easter Sunday morning.

Conclusion: so, let me wrap this up.  Let me leave you with a couple of thoughts to take home with you.

Application:

  1. What are we to make of the foreigners in our story? Most of the Jews hated the Romans and their presence in Israel. The reality is most of them detested all foreigners. That was never their calling, though. They were supposed to be a light to the Gentiles. Interestingly, now, God uses foreigners in our story – and Mark reminds us. Simon from Cyrene – probably a Jew by birth, but from the African continent. More importantly, a 2nd foreigner, the Centurion was used to make the declaration Mark has been impressing on his readers since Chapter one. “Surely this was the Son of God.” This is a reminder to me that when I detest certain people – I’m not likely to share Christ with them. I want the foreigner out. He’s making things harder on me. Whether it is an illegal immigrant or a transgendered militant, Jesus died for their sins, too. Just as he did for me. Am I no different than the Jewish leadership who I rail on? Am I evangelistic, as I’ve been called to be to everyone? And, if I don’t share this incredible message of hope with those who are different than me, who will share with them? Or, should I say, if WE don’t share this incredible story, who will?
  2. What are we to make of the darkness in our story? And also, What about the torn Veil? In Genesis 15, there is a beautiful story about God’s faithfulness. He promises Abraham a heritage. And then, God cuts a covenant with Abraham. The animal is killed and cut into two pieces. God then passes between the two pieces of the sacrifice. This is huge. God invokes a curse upon himself should He ever fail in this regard, (which He won’t ever do because it isn’t in his nature,) then that death is what should happen to Him. So, in this story in Genesis, there is beauty and tragedy. Gen 15.12ff.

There is this darkness that is ‘dreadful and great’. I think about this moment when I consider our text, and how darkness covered the land for 3 hours. I think also of the plague of darkness in Exodus. I think there is a connection here for us. Darkness is a theme of judgment – Jesus refers to Hell as being ‘cast into outer darkness. There is beauty and hope and fear and tragedy all at the same time!

What hope is there for us? It is only through Christ and what he has accomplished on the Cross. That was all put on him at that moment. Without Christ – that is the judgment waiting for you. I would be remiss if I failed to tell you that.

Added to this, the veil being torn in two demonstrates that the separation between God and man has been removed. We now have access to God through Christ.

  • There is a planned baptism next Sunday. Wednesday night, I’m going to talk about baptism and why we do it. Why is our baptism different than that of say, Catholics or the Church of Christ? Why do we call new believers to baptism? Is it really that important? This Wednesday night.

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Filed under Evangelism, Genesis, Judgment, Mark, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 15.21-36

Title: The Son of God

Text: Mark 15.21-39

Introduction: We’ll be in two texts this morning: here (Mark 15) and Psalm 22.

Let’s review the events leading up to where we are and to the crucifixion –

  • Our series began in Chapter 14.1 where Jesus was anointed for burial. That event caused quite a stir among some, especially Judas who was so offended, he betrayed Jesus into the hands of those who wanted him dead.
  • Jesus celebrated the Passover Meal with his disciples – including Judas – on the night before his death. It is sometime during this meal that Judas slipped out and went to the religious leaders, having already agreed to betray Jesus into their hands. Just as the Passover had been instituted by God to be remembered and observed by the Jewish people, so also, at the end of the Passover meal, Jesus instituted for us the Lord’s Supper. These events that occurred at the crucifixion are what we remember every time we partake.
  • There is the prediction of the falling away of all the disciples and of course, Peter’s denial – which of course, he ended up doing. Jesus takes the disciples up to the Mount of Olives and then his three to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is here the three who were adamant about their faithfulness cannot watch and pray for one hour with him.
  • Judas comes to the camp bringing a mob. Jesus is then arrested and led away to the High Priest. Jesus will spend the night before an informal gathering of the Sanhedrin. They will accuse Jesus falsely, but in the end, get him to say what they need to condemn him. Peter will be just outside in the courtyard denying he knows or is a part of Jesus.
  • In the morning, the Council (Sanhedrin) will gather and officially charge Jesus, but then take him to Pilate to deal with this issue of Jesus being the ‘King of the Jews’. 
  • Pilate, of course, will find no fault in him.
  • Pilate appealed to the crowd to release to them Jesus, as was the tradition he had begun some years before at this time. But instead, the crowd chose Barabbas, a man who had committed murder and was a revolutionary. The crowd’s desire was to have Jesus be crucified.
  • So, Pilate had him scourged and turned over to the soldiers. That is where our story picks up this morning… we begin in v 21; however, the language dictates that this section actually starts in v 16

I’ve outlined the message this way:

  1. The Crucifixion of the Son of God (21-28)
  2. The Rejection of the Son of God (29-36)
  3. The Death of the Son of God (37-39)
  4. The Burial of the Son of God (37-47)

Transition: I think Mark’s story is very simple, incredibly brief, and wholly restrained. He doesn’t try to move us to sympathy for Christ as he is tortured and punished; Nor, does he try to make us angry at those who we consider Christ’s enemies. So, let’s pick up in Mark 15.21, Where we see…

I. The Crucifixion of the Son of God (21-28)

exp.: The crucifixion is a process of execution. Pilate commissions his Roman soldiers to carry out that execution. Mark is very matter-of-fact about his storytelling. He almost lists these moments and actions as bullets. For example, he begins each sentence with And they… did such and such. Notice, Mark begins this for us in v 16 and continues through v 24; “and they”;

Mark is making it clear to us that these soldiers are the ones acting here. In our section, their first action is to keep the process going. Jesus has been so mistreated that he can’t keep going. He is just too weak. It was customary for the victim to carry his own cross. It is most likely that he didn’t carry the whole thing himself, but rather just the traverse beam. He fell beneath its weight and needed someone else to carry his crossbeam. So, (rd v 21) they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. It is amazing that Mark includes some interesting information here for us.

  • Simon is a Jewish name – so we assume that this man was a Jew. Of Cyrene means he was from North Africa, making him a Jew of the Diaspora – i.e.: the Exile.

The question would be why? Why would Mark add this to his story?

  1. I believe he wants us to see there are witnesses to what is happening. Sure, the disciples wimped and ran, but not others. In a moment, Mark will add to these folks, some women who were present.
  2. It is highly possible that this Rufus, probably just a child here, is the same Rufus mentioned in Romans 16.13. Consider, Mark served in Rome under Peter. This Gospel is considered written to those people. This would be a natural tie. However, with that said – it doesn’t make it so. But, if that is the case, it would make sense that Mark would add witnesses who they would know.
  3. In 1941, an Israeli archeologist unearthed a burial cave used by a family from Cyrene. This burial cave was used just before the destruction of the Temple and was found on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. The valley that links the Temple and the Mt of Olives. What got the attention of these scholars was an inscription on one ossuary. It was written twice in Greek: Alexander, son of Simon. To be sure, these were common names by people of that day. I’m sure there were other Jews from Cyrene who had moved back to Israel. But it is interesting, nonetheless.

So what is Mark doing? I think he’s just dropping names. Here are the witnesses and you know them or can easily find them and ask them yourselves!  

ill.: If I were to tell a story about the past and I dropped the name Bob Padget, most folks in these parts would say “I know him.” I might get beat up, too, but most folks know the name. And I could mention his kids. All of the sudden, there is credibility to my story.  

exp.: Well, they (the soldiers) brought him to Golgatha – the place of the skull.

ill.: Show Pictures. The 1st one is from the early 20th Century… the 1900s. the 2nd is a pic from modern times – probably in the last 30 years. Now, look at this photo from 2014. Should Jesus tarry in his return, our grandchildren will only be able to see old pictures. The decay is occurring at an alarming rate – and because it is Arab-owned, there is nothing that can be done to preserve it. 

exp.: So, they offer him some wine mixed with myrrh. Rd v 23; I was taught growing up that this was probably used as a painkiller. There are stories of women who would mix frankincense with wine and offer it to the condemned. However, consider that those who offer the wine aren’t the women, but the soldiers. Because of this, it is possible that this is more of the mockery they have been pouring out on Jesus – offering him the finest of wines for a King.

Then, after this processional, v 24 tells us that Jesus is crucified. Rd v 24; I think this is much more important to Mark in the storytelling – Jesus is fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning him. Here, Mark quotes from Psalm 22 – Specifically, v 18. Turn there. Mark makes clear references to:

V1:        My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

V6-8:    But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

   All who see me mock me;

they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

   “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;

let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

V15-16, 18: 15            my strength is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16    For dogs encompass me;

a company of evildoers encircles me;

       they have pierced my hands and feet—

18    they divide my garments among them,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

app.: Truthfully, you can read so much more into Mark from Psalms, especially when you know this story through the eyes of the other Gospels. Mark’s intent is for us, the reader, to see that Jesus is fulfilling what was spoken of him through the Prophets and the Writings.

Consider what Mark has done:

  1. He’s dropped a name they would know, a witness to what had happened. This is probably someone they knew.
  2. He’s told them where it happened. A place that would have been familiar to them. They probably knew what he was talking about.
  3. He’s quoted to them or referenced to them Old Testament Scripture, demonstrating that this was foretold in times past.

exp.: Mark gives us a timeline in v 25 – 9 am when he was crucified. They place a placard – an inscription with this charge: King of the Jews. And they crucified him between two thieves. 

t.s.: First, The Son of God is Crucified, and 2nd, he is rejected.

II. The Rejection of the Son of God (29-36)

exp.: Jesus is rejected while hanging on the cross. There are people who pass by and mock him on the cross. The religious leaders also continue mocking him (29-32). But something very interesting happens about noon: Darkness. Man, I wish we had time to spend talking about darkness.

  • Not a solar eclipse: it lasted 3 hours – vs. 2min and 25 sec. 
  • I think of the 9th plague: darkness: a Darkness to be felt! I think of Isaiah 9: 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

For unto us a Child Is Born

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.

That famous passage on the promised coming Messiah…

What is going on here? Well, I believe it is a demonstration of the Father’s reaction to the sin of the world. This becomes clearer for us as Jesus cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You probably noted this earlier when we read Psalm 22. At this point I can’t help but think of the song:

How deep the Father’s love for us– How fast beyond all measure

That he should give his only son– to make a wretch his treasure

How great the pain of searing the loss– The Father turns His face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One– Bring many sons to glory

 Psalm 88.14 – 14 O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me? If you’re having a tough time with this – the actions of God – Can I let you in on a little secret? There in Psalm 22.24, we read, All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. God sacrificed his Son for our sins. But he did not abandon him. I think that is important.

exp.: I believe the mocking continues as someone grabs a sponge and offers Jesus a drink, but hesitates to see if Elijah will come to his rescue (33-36).

app.: I picture this ‘someone’ with the reed in his hand as Jesus dies…

t.s.: The Son of God is Crucified, is rejected and finally, he dies… This is our third point and we’ll pick up here, next week…

Conclusion: so, let me wrap this up.  Let me leave you with a couple of thoughts.

Application:

  1. The Christians of the early church who were suffering persecution would have been encouraged by this story. Persecution, suffering and death are not necessarily a sign of God’s absence, but rather his active work in our lives and in the lives of others.
  2. There is irony here:
    1.  In how Jesus is treated; what they call him and who he really is.
    1. They call him to save himself, but by staying on the cross he will make it possible for them to be saved.
    1. Although all rejected Christ, he will not reject anyone who comes by faith.
  3. God judges sin and the penalty for sin is death. Therefore, all sinners must die. However, Christ died for the unjust, giving us hope. Let Christ pay your death penalty and set you free today.
  4. Observance of the Lord’s supper.

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Mark 15.1-20

Title: Who Killed Jesus?

Text: Mark 15.1-20

Introduction: Who killed Jesus? Don’t answer too quickly and don’t give me a Sunday School answer! You probably have some ideas, but it isn’t as easy as just blurting out an answer. You blame one person or group and there are answers to clear them and shift the blame to another group. So, who killed Jesus?

This question has caused many throughout the last couple of millennia to cast accusations and stir up hate. Certain people rise to power and use that power to persecute and discriminate against others. People have gone to war over such things. Even before the holocaust in the ’30s and ’40s, which I’m sure you’re familiar with…

In our text this morning, there are four different groups who have power – at least to some degree in one way or another. Let’s look to see who these folks are and how they wield their power. Let’s observe if we can see how they play a part in killing Jesus:

  1. The Jews
  2. The Romans
  3. The People
  4. The Soldiers

Let’s begin with this first group.

I. The Jewish Authorities (1)

exp.: rd v1;

  1. As soon as it was morning; Their work was done in during the night hours; from this text, we actually get a timeline;
    1. 15.1: as soon as it was morning
    1. 15.25: it was now the 3rd hour
    1. 15.33: the 6th hour to the 9th hour
    1. 15.34: the 9th hour
    1. 15.42: and when evening had come;
  2. …the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole counsel (Gk: Sanhedrin);
    1. Many have argued that these are responsible for putting Jesus to death and that has caused anti-Semitism to spread down through the centuries. As early as 66 AD; massacres occurred in the Nile Delta in Egypt; in 113-115 AD another report of massacres. Repeated ad nauseam to the Holocaust of the early 1900s; This has led others to rise up in their defense of the Jews. Genesis 12.3
    1. Many other scholars have reported that the Council couldn’t put Jesus to death, so you can’t blame them. They say it would have been illegal for the Jews to put anyone to death. Carl Walls presented this argument to us last Wednesday night as we walked through each of the three mock trials (cf.: Jn 18.31). And he makes a great point, but if that is truly the case, explain why they could put Stephen to death in Acts 8; They put Stephen to death by stoning him and Saul was there holding the coats of those who cast their stones and giving approval. One guess is that they couldn’t put him to death for the charge they laid against him.
    1. No, I think they held their consultation with the whole counsel for the purpose of determining a specific charge of Jesus being “King of the Jews” (rd v2). If Jesus claims to be King, well, then that’s high treason, punishable by death. I think that is why they didn’t kill him themselves. They could get someone else to do that – and that’s just what they did. Besides, a Roman death would be so much more public and humiliating. With the holidays upon them, they wouldn’t have to break their own laws by executing someone during the festival. And, they wouldn’t risk upsetting the crowds who loved Christ. There were just too many good reasons against their putting him to death and getting someone else to do it.
  3. Two words stick out in our text and guide our study, and these words are repetitive as we continue reading v1. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him; (14.53, 15.1, 10, 15, 16, 20); these two words direct us through the timeline and the process;  

app.: these two words will help us identify that none of these folks wanted Jesus – so they led him away and delivered him over to someone else.

t.s.: So, Did the Jews kill Jesus? To be sure, these religious leaders started all this, but they didn’t actually execute the charge. Instead, they delivered Jesus over to Pilate; we see that in v2ff

II. The Roman Authorities (2-5)

exp.: rd v2a; King of the Jews; I think Mark is giving us some direction here; this term King of the Jews is another repetition we see; after not appearing in Mark at all, it now appears 6x’s in this chapter; here in v 2, 9, 12, 18, 26, and as King of Israel in v 32; So, this is probably the charge the religious authorities present to Pilate; rd v 2b; now in English, we cringe! Did he just condemn himself? Well, in the Greek it is so ambiguous that you’re just not sure what he said; The English translation try to convey that, but it just doesn’t work: you say

  • ESV: You have said so…
  • NASB: It is as you say… this is so far from a literal translation I don’t know where to begin. If you have a NASB, you’ll note the first three words are in italics, meaning those words have been supplied.
  • NIV: gets even further away… Yes, it is as you say.
  • CSB: You say so… closer than the others, but still not correct.
  • KJV: Even the King James Version adds words to make a sentence. Thou sayest it.

Why? Because Jesus is ambiguous in his reply: Subject: You; Verb: say, It’s like an incomplete sentence – an incomplete thought.

Now the Religious Leaders throw accusation after accusation, but Jesus doesn’t respond – to Pilate’s amazement; rd v 3-5.  

There is something else I’d like to note: the other Gospels tell us of how Jesus was sent to Herod, but Herod didn’t want him either; Mark doesn’t tell us this part. I guess for him, it wasn’t necessary to tell us this story. But something I think, that is important about that detail is that it shows Pilate really didn’t want to deal with this. Pilate didn’t want Jesus either.

app.: And, with the help of the other gospels, we know that Pilate found no guilt in this man. So he sought to pass this problem on to Herod; and then, he sought to release him;

t.s.: We find out something very interesting by the way that Mark presents this release and it’s found in this third section…

III. The Crowds (6-15)

exp.: I think the way this works actually begins in v 8, but Mark fills us in on the details in 6-7, so v 8 will make sense; they initiate a release, not Pilate; A question you might have is: who is the ‘crowd’? v 11 tells us the religious leaders have worked the crowds, but who made the request?

  • Was it followers and supporters of Barabbas? We often think of him as a criminal and a murderer, but there are those who love that he was zealous and rising up against the Romans.
  • Did Pilate offer Barabbas to the crowd, thinking to himself that they would never vote to release such a horrible criminal?
  • The ‘crowd’ could have been the high priest’s henchmen who started this up. It might have just been circumstantial or situational as the religious leaders see it – you know, an auspicious occasion in their eyes. So, in v 11, they begin working the crowds for Barabbas’ release.

Now, v 10 lets us in on Pilate’s thinking – that he perceived this whole circus was orchestrated by the religious leaders and they did all that they were doing because of envy or sometimes translated jealousy. I love the Gk word, its’ spelling beings phth – φθόνος; Isn’t it funny, I mean ‘odd’ or ‘peculiar’ what jealousy can lead us to do to others?

t.s.: There is one last group here… you could add them to the list of those we might accuse of killing Jesus.

IV. The Soldiers mock and persecute Him (16-20)

exp.: they’re the ones who would drive the nails; they’re the ones who weave a crown of thorns; at this stage of our story, Jesus is mocked, beaten, and ridiculed by those entrusted with his execution; they humiliate him repeatedly.

*We’ll pick up here next week… I just want to add them to this section to say, many actually blame the soldiers for killing Jesus.

t.s.: So, who killed Jesus and why did they kill Jesus ?

Review:

  1. The Jewish leadership pushed for Christ’s death at the hands of the Romans. It was their plan from as early as Mark 3.6 to destroy him. They may have instigated it all, but they didn’t pull the trigger.
  2. Pilate clearly found no fault in him and wanted to release him. When he found a way, the crowds rejected his proposal and asked for Barabbas’ release. You could add Herod here to the list of Roman Authorities. Although Mark doesn’t add that part of the story, the other Gospels let us in on it. Herod was interested as far as observing Jesus as a sideshow, but nothing more.
  3. The crowds may have been worked up into a frenzy; however, their call for his crucifixion wasn’t as if they pulled the trigger either.
  4. The Battalion cruelly mistreated Christ, but only a few will actually carry out the orders to crucify Christ. And I’m not so sure these guys are all on board, even though they’re obedient, for we will see next week the Centurion standing at the foot of the cross proclaiming, Truly this man was the son of God (v39).

So, which one of these killed Jesus?

  • I think they all did. Not one is more responsible than the others. No one is less guilty than any of the others. Furthermore, the Bible teaches us that it was God’s Will to accomplish this. Let that sink in – these people all acted within their own free will to exercise their jealousies, their hate, their power, but God was in charge the whole time. And, I guess added to this you and I killed him. It was because it was for your sin and my sin that Jesus died.

Transition: I think it is interesting how each one wielded what power they had to do their deeds. And that brings me to the application for this morning.

Application: Power is a scary force.

  1. The Religious Leaders use their power to bring Jesus before Pilate. They use their power as influence over the crowd.
    1. Pilate uses his power as authority to execute Jesus.
    1. The crowd uses its power as a vote to release Barabbas and vote to crucify Jesus.
    1. The soldiers use their power to humiliate and mistreat Jesus.

So, let me ask you:

  1. Where is your power and how do you use it?
  2. With your family? – over your wife or husband, over your kids, or your adult parents. Sometimes one of the spouses holds the purse strings and lords it over the other. Spouses us their power to withhold favor – sexual favor, getting their husband or wife to behave or do or act or… Sometimes, the oldest in the family use their power to get what they want. Maybe it is money they have and they use their money to get their grown up kids to do and act and (story of young woman whose grandparents told her that they would pay for her medical school if she lost weight… I’ve even seen little children run a family – using their power over their parents.
  3. In your work or business? – over other employees or coworkers? Do people have to come to you to get things done? Do they need your permission and you hold it over them until they perform or do or act or behave…
  4. What about at church? Elders, Deacons, Teachers, Pastor and staff…we all have power through position and influence. Where do you use your power and how do you use it?

Here is the point: you do have power. I think of little children at school, even, who use their power as influence over other children.

Ill.: years ago I was taken a group of children to Children’s Camp. There were a group of three boys in the group of children. One of these boys would play the other two against each other, wielding his power like a mob boss. On the trip, he pulled out a bag of candy. He then proceeded to give one of the boys some of his stash. The 3rd boy asked for some and was refused. This little boy who had been refused began to offer money for a piece of candy. Eventually, the little boy offered all the money he had brought for the week for just one piece of candy. That little mob boss refused to sell his candy to the other boy at that inflated rate.

Pause: This sinful nature never seems to leave us does it? It will rule over us, unless of course, there is a change.

You see, the one person in this story who doesn’t execute the power he has – and he has the ultimate power – is Jesus. I think of Phil 2: although Jesus had the right of heaven, he let go of his rights to the throne of heaven and became a man – a simple man, a humble man. Through his obedience to his father, he humble himself and became obedient to death. That’s what we see going on here.

In that passage in Philippians, Paul urges his readers to become more like Jesus – to take his attitude in all things. And his plea to take on the mind of Christ comes from his plea in v1-4; 2.So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Paul’s talking about relationships within the church. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Let’s pray…

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