Monthly Archives: November 2013

Genesis 15.1-6

Title: A Righteousness that Comes by Faith

Text: Gen 15.1-6

Introduction: We begin by reading the 1st three words of v 1: After these things… what things? He’s just been in battle! Review:

–       Abram is called to go and he goes solely on God’s Word (12.1-9)

–       Abram runs into problems with a famine and takes matters into his own hands (12.10-20)

–       Abram & Lot part ways in 13; they’re just too blessed; Lot chooses; God chooses for Abram

–       The fallout of Lot’s choices now impact Abram in 14;

  • We met the kings of the east and their dominant enemies
  • We saw their defense and defeat at the hands of these dominant kings
  • Further we read about these dominant kings who took Lot, his family and all of his possession as spoils of war.
  • Enter Abram, who trusts in God, to save his family from his foes.
  • Finally, Abram returns triumphant and is greated by two kings with two very different attitudes:
    • The King of Salem – Melchizedek
    • The King of Sodom – Bera

Transition: So, Abram has returned from battle, victorious! Those things is what this is referring to in v 1; Now, what we find in the next few verses is that Abram must have been struggling with all of this;

I’ve divided this study into 5 parts:

  1. Ø God Speaks
  2. Ø Abram Struggles
  3. Ø God Responds
  4. Ø Abram’s Righteousness
  5. Ø That NT Appropriation

Let’s begin with God Speaks.

1.     God Speaks (15.1)

exp.: After these things Abram receives a Word from the LORD in a Vision; I think this is fairly common in OT times: God speaks to his people in and through visions. It appears some 93x’s in the O.T. Although, I did not confirm every usage, I glanced through it and found it to be very common. I did not find any verses where vision was used differently. So what is this “word”?

  • God’s Proclamation: Fear not! – What does he have to be afraid of? I wonder if Abram has fallen into a depression? ill.: Elijah; Maybe David and Bathsheba; I think we’re all vulnerable to Satan’s attack, to depression and fear when we’ve been through something incredible with God. God says: Fear not…I am your shield.
  • God’s Protection: I am your shield; doubt, fear, depression settle in and God tells him that he doesn’t have anything to worry about, because God is his Shield – his protection. He probably already knew that and had experienced that, but oh, how quickly we forget! And, like Elijah, we feel sorry for ourselves: I alone am the only one left… But look at what God tells him; rd v 1c;
  • God’s Provision: Your reward shall be very great!

Transition: You would think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Do you ever find that God’s encouragement to you to not be afraid because He protects and provides for you just isn’t enough? Be honest! Look what happens to Abram; rd v 2;

2.     Abram Struggles (15.2-3)

exp.: in this passage he says, you say that, but…rd v 2;

  1. O, Lord God: lit.: Adonai Yahweh (lit.: Lord, LORD) as opposed to Yahweh Elohim; this shows his great respect, fear, toward God. He knows his place and he know His place. Look at his struggle; rd 2b
  2. b.     What will you give me for I continue childless. Great question! Ok…I understand I’ll be a nation someday, but so far it’s not working out like you said! He may at times picture himself seated at a family reunion with his children, grand-children and great-grand-children surrounding his rocking chair. That’s a fair assessment of God’s promise. Let me ask you: Will that be the case for him? Check it out: This is the real situation; rd v 2c;
  3. My heir is my servant; Eliezer of Damascus; furthermore, rd v 3a;
  4. You’ve given me no offspring. Isn’t that a good question? What does one usually have to have to have a lineage? Children!

App.: sometimes, we have God’s Word, but we don’t understand his timing. He promises us heaven, but not here. He promises us his presence, but not that we won’t have trouble. Jn 16.33; Abram has got troubles and it’s getting to him. So, God, in his goodness, responds. Rd v 4

3.     God Responds (15.4-5)

  • God’s Promise (4)
    • This man will not be your heir; That’s the way you work, but that’s not the way I work. ,
    • Your very own son shall be your heir; We’re going to see Abram and Sarai get ahead of themselves and try to make things work out. They try to answer God’s promise. And then, God gives him a picture to wrap his mind around.
  • God’s Picture (5)
    • Look at the stars! Who else can put the stars in the sky?!?
    • Count them! A picture of the promise; something he could see and return to repeatedly to remember and hope.

ill.: Sometimes by Step: Rich Mullins, Beaker

Transition: To close out, let’s look at 15.6 – Abram’s Righteousness

4.     Abram’s Righteousness (15.6)

exp.: Abram believed Yahweh and it was imputed, credited or counted to him as righteousness; Because of his belief in what God had said…again, God declared him righteous – he credited it to his account, so to speak. So, what does that mean for us?

Transition: that is the final part of our study. I’d like to focus on the three areas where this verse is quoted: once by James, the Lord’s brother and twice by Paul. I’m calling this section…

5.     The New Testament Appropriation

exp.: Commentary

  1. Romans 4
  2. Galatians 3
  3. James 2

Romans 4 – This verse (Gen. 15.6) is quoted 3x’s in Romans 4 (3, 9, 22); the word λογίζομαι appears 11x’s in chapter 4 (3-6, 8-11, 22-24).

app.: Righteous – we are justified or made righteous…

  • Not by works (Abram; David); v2, 5-8
  • Not by circumcision (Gentiles); v9-12
  • Not by the Law; v13-15
  • Only by faith in God’s Grace! v16
    • God says: I love you, I gave my son to die for you, your sin is placed upon him; if by faith you trust him in that, you’re saved! Wha-who!
    • You are still justified by faith!

Galatians 3.6-9 – justify – the word righteous in verb form! God was pointing to Christ in Genesis!

James 2.20-24 –

James, the Lord’s brother, here argues that faith is not faith ifn it ain’t exercised! He doesn’t confuse faith and works here, but rather clarifies that the one who has faith, exercises that faith, just like Abram did.

Ill.: Cain and Abel. Both offered sacrifice, but in Heb. 11.4, we read that Abel offered his sacrifice in faith. He worked out his faith by offering his sacrifice to God, which was accepted!

App.: Brothers and Sisters, we are not saved by our works, not by circumcision, not by the Law, but rather, we are saved when we begin to live our lives in reflection of our faith – when we do what we say we believe!

Observations & Implications:

  1. You have God’s proclamation (His Word); Do you believe it?
  2. You have God’s protection (Shield); Your soul is his! This doesn’t mean you won’t die, but it does mean you won’t die again!
  3. You have God’s provision (Great is your reward in heaven!); after making purification for sins…
  4. You have God’s promise (his very own son);
    1. To never leave us; Mt 28.20
    2. To glorify himself through us;
    3. That he’ll come again.
    4. That no one can snatch us from his hand.
  5. You have God’s picture (Eden restored; Revelation; lion laying down with the lamb)
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Genesis 14.1-24

Title: Abram, the Military Leader

Text: Gen 14.1-24

Introduction: Review

–       Abram is called to go and he goes solely on God’s Word (12.1-9)

–       Abram runs into problems with a famine and takes matters into his own hands (12.10-20)

–       Abram & Lot part ways in 13; they’re just too blessed; Lot chooses; God chooses for Abram

–       The fallout of Lot’s choices now impact Abram in 14;

Transition: I’ve set up this passage into three sections:

  • The Kings of the East
  • The Response of Abram
  • The Reception by the Two Kings
  1. The Kings of the East (14.1-12)

exp.:

  • Their Dominant Enemies (1-2)

i.     Amraphel – Babylon or modern day Iraq

ii.     Arioch – within Modern day Turkey

iii.     Chedorlaomer – modern day Iran

iv.     Tidal – within modern day Turkey

  • Their Distinctive Identities (3-4)

i.     Bera – Sodom (S. of D. S.)

ii.     Birsah – Gomorrah (S. of D. S.)

iii.     Shinab – Admah

iv.     Shember – Zeboiim

v.     X – Bela or Zoar

ill.: rd Hughes: pg 206;

  • Their Defense (5-10)

i.     The Defeat of powerful, large armies (5-7); rd Hughes; 206-207

  • Maybe they thought distance would be their ally
  • Maybe they thought all those other countries/rulers would wear them out before their enemies got to them.
  • Maybe they thought too much and didn’t work enough?
  • Whatever the reason, their defeat would soon come: rd v 8-10

ii.     Their Defeat at the hands of their enemies (8-10)

–  Bitumen pits or Asphalt pits – still exist today at the south end of the Dead Sea. The New Bible Dictionary states: During the intertestamental period the asphalt traffic from the Dead Sea was so important that this body of water was called the Asphalt Sea, and it entered into international politics. So common were these in Josephus’ Day, that he actually calls the Dead Sea, the Asphalt Sea or Lake Asphaltitus;
– Others fled to the hills or the hill country;

  •   Their Defeat (11-12); rd v 11

i.     Spoils; ; rd v12;

ii.     Lot; notice the verse reminds us of who he is (i.e.: the son of Abram’s brother); who was dwelling in Sodom; he’d left the countryside for the city; & his possessions; according to Ch 12, Lot was pretty wealthy

transition: Now we move to the 2nd part of this passage…

2.     Abram’s Response (14.13-16)

  1. Abram receives a Message: from an ally; Abram’s family has been taken captive (13); 1st time the word Hebrew appears;
  2. Abram Pursues the Kings with 318 of his men (14); trained, born to his clan; loyalty born out of love, not slavery; to Dan 120 miles north; Jor/Dan – out of Dan; chased even farther;
  3. Abram’s military strategy: Divided up the troops; an invasion by night; pursuit of the kings and troops who fled to Hobah – North of Damascus; obvious victory from v 16 (15)
  4. Abram is Victorious: Abram returns with all of the people and possessions (16)

3.     Two Kings Respond to Abram (14.17-24)

exp.: rd v 17; sounds like Chedorlaomer was the leader; the King’s Valley – a brief journey south of Jerusalem; Two Kings greet him; One of the previous 5 and another – a 10th King; King of Sodom (17) & King of Salem (18);

  1. The King of Salem (18-20); note those items with which we’re familiar

i.     Name: Melchi Zedek (King of righteousness)

ii.     Title: King of Salem (Shalom: Peace) – King of Peace

iii.     Bread & Wine (images of the Lord’s Supper)

iv.     King & Priest (David; Zerubabbel [Gov & priest]); Jesus)

v.     Blessings

  • Abram (Gen 12.1-3)
  • God, most High

vi.     Tithe to this priest/king Melchizedek

2. The King of Sodom (17; 21-24); this is really too embarrassing! Why even open your mouth at this time? This reveals his true colors!

i.     Give me people/you keep possessions (21)

ii.     Abram rejects his offer/proclaims his trust solely in God.

  1. Lifted my hand – i.e.: swore and oath;
  2. To …
    1. Yahweh
    2. God Most High
    3. Possessor of Heaven & Earth
    4. To not take
      1. Thread
      2. Sandal strap
      3. Anything that is yours!
      4. Reason:
        1. So you can’t take credit
        2. All credit belongs to God
        3. My friends can take their fair share…

 

exp.: I wonder if God is giving these people time to respond to his grace? The king sees the response of Melchizedek, why doesn’t he instinctively consider what might be going on?

Observations & Implications:

  1. It is important to remain under the umbrella of authority.
  2. Lot’s foolishness affects Abram and his people
  3. God is at work in the world – are we watching and aware of His activity.
  4. Do we rely on God for our provision?

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Acts 11.19-30

Title: A Mission-Minded Church

Text: Acts 11.19-30

Introduction: Jane Nelson writes of Winston Churchill:

Winston Churchill was not intimidated by errors. When he made one, he simply thought the problem through again. Someone asked him, “Sir Winston, what in your school experience best prepared you to lead Britian out of her darkest hour?”

Winston thought a miniute and then said, “It was the two years I spent at the same level in high school.”

“Did you fail?”

“No,” replied Winston. “I had two opportunities to get it right.”

app: Often times we see failure in our attempts or circumstances. But the reality is that these are just experiences God is giving us that will come in handy in the future. More opportunities to get it right, you might say. I’m sure the Jewish Christians were questioning what was going on as they faced severe persecution for becoming Christians. How was God in this? They’ve committed their lives to God and now they were being scattered to every corner of the world.

Ill..: two weeks ago in Genesis 12, we read about Abram, who had committed his life to God and had faithfully followed his word to this new land that his offspring would inherit. And what did he find when he got there? A famine!

App.: we find a similar situation in Acts, as the church is growing in numbers rapidly. Read w/ me in Acts 8.1ff: And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Devout men buried Stephen and made great lamentation over him. But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. This doesn’t seem very fair for those who’ve given their lives to Christ. But look what happens in v4; Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.

Indeed, that’s what we find in Chapter 11.19; rd 11.19; We find in the following verses a mission endeavor and the birth of a local church; So what does a mission-minded church look like? Well, I’ve divided this particular passage into three parts:

  • The Jewish Church is scattered
  • The Jewish Church sends out Barnabas
  • The Gentile Church becomes determined

Our Focus: on what a mission-minded church looks like. What does it endure? What characteristics pop out at you when you see it? How is it tested and tried?

My goal this morning is to present the text in outline form and then to move to some observations.

Transition: let’s look at this early church’s struggle to become mission-minded and learn from their story.

  1. The Jewish Church is Scattered (11.19-21)

exp.: in this passage,

  • The believers are scattered due to persecution (19); diaspora; through or on account of and spores or seed; it means to scatter seed, like a farmer; Matthew 13.3; There is this picture of God sowing his children throughout the land. Rd v 19b-20;
  • The believers preach Jesus to the lost (19b-20)

i.     Jews

ii.     Gentiles; the church is becoming indigenous; These are Jerusalem witnesses, they’re from Cyprus and Cyrene. Rd v 21;

  • God’s hand is upon their work (21); what a reminder to us that this work isn’t based upon our abilities or talents; I read a story this past week about Mother Theresa who was a guest in the midst of fame and royalty. Most folks were in their glamour and glitz, their fancy dresses and nicest suits, but MT was in her nun’s garb and it was being held together with a safety pin. When asked about her mission and if she felt she was successful. She said:  I wasn’t called to a ministry of success, but rather a ministry of obedience.

App.: God is at work, we simply trust that he’s moving before we get there. If folks reject the gospel, that’s not on us. What’s on us is to obey the call to share. A ministry of obedience. These folks from Cypress & Cyrene were being obedient. And look at the result; rd v 21;

  • Many Gentiles come to faith in Jesus (21); arithmos;  

Transition: Now, this is gonna be hard for the Jews to grasp! They’re not prone to be favorable to Gentiles. They’ve been taught for generations to be prejudiced toward Gentiles. Of Course, as we saw last week, that wasn’t God’s intention, but rather a result of the Jews misunderstanding what it means to be God’s people. So what do they do?…

     2.      The Jewish Church sends Barnabas (11.22-26)

exp.: to check this out; This is hard to believe, so,

  • Barnabas surveys the situation (22-24); rd v 22-24; What does he find? The Grace of God; favor or gift; this is going to create more problems in the future which will have to be dealt with; namely, do Gentiles have to become Jews before they can become Christians? For now, there is powerful evidence that God has indeed been saving Gentiles. What to do? What to do? rd 24b – the numbers are getting out of hand! Barnabas needs help and he knows just the man for the job; rd v25;
  • Barnabas seeks out Saul for help (25); Paul – author of some 13 books in the NT; former lawyer now looking for some work! Rd v 26a-b;
  • Barnabas and Saul Disciple the new believers (26); They meet together and teach these large number of new believers;

app.: I wonder if we’re missing this here at Calvary; in Tyler, Smith County? In TX; the US? It feels saturated here, so we’re not really preaching Christ, not really teaching large numbers. We’ve lost this somewhere along the way. This action was so foreign to the people in Antioch, that they began calling these folks…rd v26c; Christians – little Christs. I’m not so sure this is a derogatory term. I was taught when I was younger that this is a pejorative – a crude remark. But I don’t think so. Maybe if this term was used in Jerusalem by Jews, but this is a Greek term used by Greek speaking people.

Transition: No matter. They’re labeled because of their meeting together and studying together as Barnabas and Saul teach them. No look what happens to them – and quickly I might add…

     3.      The Gentile Church becomes Determined (11.27-30)

exp.: in this passage,

  • Antioch hears of the need (rd v 27-28); a great famine is coming – and, at the writing of this text, had happened. So, what do they do? they put their learning to work! Rd v 29;
  • Prepares the people to meet the need (29); each person gets involved, according to his ‘ability’ diakonian; Can I ask you today, are you living up to your ability? Are you serving up to your ‘ability’ within the church? That’s a question only you can answer… Well, look at what they do; rd v 30;
  • Sends out missionaries to serve the need (30); they did this, they pulled their resources and sent their gifts to the Jerusalem church. And that’s the last we hear of Antioch… No! rd 12.25-13.5
  • Doesn’t rest on it’s laurels, but sends them out again… (12.25-13.5)

They could have. They could have received a certificate from the church in Jerusalem for their fine work. They could have hung it proudly on their wall of fame at the home where they met. But they didn’t rest on what had been done. They listened to the Word of God and continued to serve.

Transition: So, nice story, but how does that apply to us? Well, let’s make some final…

Observations & Implications: A mission-minded church…

  1. Will face opposition
  2. Preaches Jesus
  3. Meets together
  4. Teaches others
  5. Reaches out in ministry & mission to meet needs
  6. Doesn’t rest on its laurels!

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Genesis 13.1-18

Title: Not by Sight

Text: Gen 13.1-18

Introduction: Here is a man who shows complete trust in His God, believing what he’s promised. And yet, the 2nd part of Chapter 12 shows us a man no exercising that faith. But then, in Ch. 13 – Bam! We’re back into this mode of trust and obedience. What is the difference? Why do we do this? Why do we trust God and yet not rely on him? why do we make man-made plans when things don’t seem to be going the way we would expect?

Let’s follow the story as Abram journey’s back toward the Negev and on up into Canaan.

Transition: On the day Abram journeyed from his home land, he left without any supernatural sign, no cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. He was simply told – God’s Word alone – and he acted on what he heard. He believed 12.7 and then went down to Egypt where his faith seemed to waiver. His actions didn’t match what he’d been living on this journey.

Problem: Abram was very much like we are! Have you ever taken God’s word at face value and just lived on his promise? (illustrations); Have you ever tried taking matters into your own hands because things were going so well? This story reflects a bit of us, doesn’t it? This study should cause us to reflect upon our own hearts.

A quick note of how these two stories go together; There is a word used in Gen 12.10 – the famine was ‘heavy’ in the land; kabad; it also appears in 13.2, (rich); indicating to us that these two stories should be read together.

Let’s pick up in v 1 of Ch. 13 where Abram heads back to Canaan: I’ve outlined this trip as:

  • On a Journey
  • In a Jam
  • At a Juncture

Rd v 1;

  1. On a Journey (1-5):
    1. The People: Abram & Lot

i.     Abram (2-4)

  • Went up v1;
  • Was Rich (livestock, silver, gold) v2; he has the premier form of transporting goods, female donkeys; he has the premier for of transportation for rich people, camels; he has silver & gold! Lyle noticed the imagery of the slaves coming up out of Egypt with the spoils of the Egyptians. After his pilgrmage for sometime, he arrives back at Bethel;
  • Journeyed back to Bethel/Ai; v3; this must have been a beloved place; look what he does; rd v 4;
  • Called upon the name of the LORD: Key! V4; he would offer whole burnt offerings and sacrifices and proclaim that his life was the Lords. We’ll see in v 18 that Abram is going to build another altar and worship;

app.: here we see a big difference from when he was here before – before, he didn’t ask God of what he should do before deciding for himself to journey toward Egypt.

Transition: now we see the other person in the story, Mr. lot.

                                             ii.     Lot (5)

exp.: v 1, rd v5;

  • also went w/ Abram v5
  • Also is Rich , like Abram; v5

Transition: now this leads us to our 2nd point, an situation that arises because of their great wealth and blessing;

2.     In a Jam:

     a.     The Problems (13.6-7)

exp.: rd v 5b-6; Blessed beyond being able to contain it all! Malachi

  • Land couldn’t support them
  • Couldn’t dwell together
  • Strife amidst their workers

ill.: Lisa and I raised our kids not too far from where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had their hideout; there were teens in our youth group, who went to another church on Sunday morn, whose family owns the land where the hole in the wall was … the famous escape route and name of their gang. Also there, not too far from that spot is a place where the Spring Creek Raid took place. It was a range war between shepherds and ranchers.

On April 2, 1909, seven ranchers attacked a sheep camp near Spring Creek in the western area of the Big Horn Basin. These raiders killed three men, kidnapped two others, killed sheep dogs and dozens of sheep and destroyed thousands of dollars of personal property. It was the deadliest sheep raid in Wy history. Unlike previous incidents after which raiders went unpunished, this incident ended up in court where five of the raiders were successfully tried and found guilty because the other two raiders turned states evidence and were granted immunity!

Transition: rd v 7c; more and more people vying for the same land and resources!

Irony: Blessings and materialism has created this problem! 2 Peter 2.7-8; he was righteous! Think about what this means for us. Have our blessings, our materialism and lack of want created problems within the church? How so?

Transition: Well, Abram has a solution. I wonder if this comes from his time of calling on God back in v 4;

  1. 3.     At the Juncture (8-9)

exp.: look at how Abram comes up with a solution:

1)    Acknowledging the Problem

(1)  Strife between Abraham & Lot (8a)

(2)  Strife between the workers (8b) Hughes says that the Hebrew twice says: I pray you or Please.

(3)  Key: Relationships are more important (8c); This, I think, is the greatest lesson I’ve learned concerning the church: We’re kinsman – we’re related; how often in church work, when we’re passionately pursuing a ministry that we feel God has called us to do, do we forget that God has put us in relationships? Proverbs 17.14;  

2)    Accessing with Perception: Vision with the promise in mind. (rd v 9a); Is not the entire land before you! Abram now exercises Christ like qualities by thinking not about himself, but Lot, first. Phil 2.3-4; Gal 3.16, 29; That is why we’re given the precious promises; that’s why we’re given these stories, so that we can live in faith, that what God has chosen to do, he will do.

3)    Making Choices

(1)  Lot chooses (10-13)

(a)   when he lifted up his eyes (10); Bethel is located some 3,000 ft above the Mediterranean; Less than a mile away, is a place called Burj-Beitin, which presents  a magnificient view of the Jordan Valley. Here are images of Eden and Egypt.

(b)  He saw beauty (10)

(c)   He ignored the immoral cities (10c; 13); this will be his downfall; he will eventually head out into the plains east of the Jordan when Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed and will fall further away.

Application: Lot lived by sight, where Abram lived by faith; Don’t you fear choosing for your family based on how things look and not on God’s leadership?

(2)  God chooses for Abram (rd v 14)

(a)   Abram lifted up his eyes; at God’s command; the same terminology, the same intensity with which Lot looked at paradise, Abram is commanded to look; North, South, East, West; (NEWS); he probably saw Mt. Hermon to the North; The Dead Sea to his East, The Hills of Hebron to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to his west. Wow! This land I will give to your offspring! Indeed, he uses this same word 3x’s; rd v 15-16; What analogy does he give? Dust! In 15.5 what analogy does he give? In 22.7 what analogy does he add? Rd v 17; In this verse we see taught the idea that Abram was to go ‘claim’ the land by placing his feet all over it; Matthews’ commentary notes the chiastic structure

–       I will give

  • Your offspring
    • The dust of the earth
    • The dust of the earth
    • Your offspring

–       I will give

(b)  Abram went (4 verbs); this man of faith, ends this section the same way he started it, worshipping at an altar; he traverses the promised land, as God commands:

(i)    Moved (pitched his tent)

(ii)  Came

(iii) Settled

(iv) Built another altar

exp.: Note the difference between the two:

one chased after what he saw, the other trusted God to show him where to go.

Note the difference in Abram’s conduct

He plotted his own course with Pharaoh and trusted God with Lot.

What are some take-away’s you have tonight?

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Missions in the Old Testament

Title: Missions in the Old Testament

Text: Isaiah 56.1-8

Introduction: Read Isaiah 56.1-8 as Scripture Reading;  Our church has set three priorities under my leadership and the leadership of the elders. Those of you who are members already know them:

Worship; Discipleship; Ministry & Mission and we’ve outlined these on the website as: show http://www.calvarytyler.org

  • One Passion: Worship
  • One Mission: Disciples – the Great Commission
  • One Body – serving in Ministry & Mission

What I want you to see is that all of these are inter-related and that you really can’t have one part without the other.

·      Remove Worship and you have a social group that meets and is man-centered. They’re set on having fun. Remove the fun part and folks head off to another social gathering. This was my experience in Kiwanis. I mean not to hurt your feelings if you are a Kiwanian, but this was my experience. Indeed, there was a Universalist in our church who told me simply that his church was the Kiwanis International.

·      Remove Discipleship and you’re left with the rugged individualist who charts his own course. He lacks accountability and responsibility. One log doesn’t burn on it’s own. It needs others to feed that fire. My favorite church sign of all time was the one that read: Warm fellowship inside. Some assembly required.

·      Remove Ministry and Mission and you have an organization that quickly rivals a museum. It becomes a lighthouse that is torn down and moved inland so that tourist can see it. Sure, the light may work and the workers may run around pulling levers and tooting their horns, but in the end, they’re of no value whatsoever.

·      Our Goal at Calvary is 1+2. Sure, there are lots of activities here. Come most days and you’ll find something going on. But, there is a process to our priorities. 1 – Worship. The only time we come together during the week is Sunday at 10am. Miss that, and you’ll be without that important priority for 2 weeks. Miss two in a row and you’ll not worship with this Body, the one you’ve committed to for 21 days. Every Sunday is important. 2ndly, we want you to be involved in Discipleship and Ministry. Choose any of those two somewhere during the week. Yes, it’s wonderful if you can do everything, but my guess is, added to the events of the world and work, you’ll get pretty run down. So we simply challenge you to 1+2.

Transition: Now, why am I telling you all this? Well, namely because we’ve been focusing on missions this Fall. The sermon series for this month is entitled: Missions is the Heart of God. It has always been his heart. Some folks think that Christians are mission minded because Jesus gave us the Great Commission. Well, that true! However, that isn’t the only reason. The Hebrew people were supposed to be God’s missionaries, too. They were supposed to communicate God’s love to the lost world around them. I can see how people can become arrogant and conceited when they see themselves as God’s chosen people without the proper perspective of missions. I can think of some Christian groups who’ve become that way.

Let’s turn to the OT and see God’s heart for the nations. Isaiah 56.1-8. I’ve divided this text into three parts:

1.     The Behavior of the Saved – v1-2

2.     The Mission of the Saved – v3-6

3.     The Hope of the Saved – v7-8

Let’s look at the 1st section, The Behavior of the saved 1st

1.     The Behavior of the Saved (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1; I love this – he tells us

·      What to do – imperative, and

·      Why to do it – soon and very soon!

·      What to do – keep justice, do righteousness; Micah 6.8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

·      Why to do it – It’s not often that God blesses us with an explanation for his commands, but here he does; my salvation will come, and my righteousness will be revealed! Have you ever seriously considered that your righteousness, your justice makes you a missionary? What you do and how you act are all part of the missionary strategy.

Now, beyond the explanation, he offers us a promise: rd v 2a; Blessing! What is this? What is it?

·      Keeps justice, does righteousness, but there is more… rd v 2b;

·      Keeps the Sabbath and his hand from evil (internal & external)

app.: Now that’s not the whole missionary strategy, but it is a great foundation. You are given the right to speak about Christ when your life communicates truth (i.e.: when you do justice and righteousness).

Transition: So this 1st section deals with the behavior of the Saved, now Isaiah moves to the actual mission…

2.     The Mission of the Saved (3-6)

exp.:  rd v 3-7a; I think this is what God is saying: Don’t exclude anyone;

·      Foreigner – forbidden in the Temple; Gentiles

·      Eunuch – forbidden due to deformaties

And what are the promises? Rd 7a;

a.     Heaven – My Holy Mountain

b.     His house of prayer – Here and Now

Transition: the Behavior of the Saved, lived out and giving a foundation for missions; The mission of the Saved – to exclude no one! You see, those who’ve been excluded are no longer excluded. And 3rd,

3.     The Hope of the Saved (7-8)

exp.: Blessing is promised; this is evident in v 5 – I will give & I will give; Could there be something better than Children?

Ps 127 tells us: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! Is there a better, great blessing? Yes!

In Revelation 2.17 he says: To the one who conquers… I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ in 3.12 he says: The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. These things spoken of here will be fulfilled! That, ladies and gentlemen is our hope! But there is more: look back at v 7!

Quickly, I need you to turn to Matthew 21.12-13; Here’s what he’s saying: Isaiah told you about this and what you were to be doing here! This isn’t a place for making money! This is to be a place of prayer for all people! More than that: I am the fulfillment of that passage! I’m the promised one, the one who brings you peace and forgiveness. Don’t believe him? Continue on to v14-16: Son of David – they get it, they see he’s the Messiah! He’s the promised one from the line of David. The Pharisees get it, that is why they’re so upset with him. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the hope we have today! Heaven doesn’t start when we die! Heaven starts right here, right now.

Oh, I implore you: If you’ve never committed your life to Christ by surrendering who you are and finding the forgiveness of your sins – please, give up your life now! Don’t waste another moment! Step out into the aisle and cry out for mercy before God. Today is the day of Salvation.

Anyone?

Rd v8; The idea of missions isn’t something new. It was God’s heart from the beginning.

That’s why:

·      We’re commanded to live our lives justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God

·      We’re commanded to go and entreat everyone to come – the foreigner and the eunuch alike – don’t forbid anyone to come.

·      We’re promised the hope of salvation – not just for heaven, where will live with Him eternally, but for this moment forward – to walk with him through all things.

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