Monthly Archives: January 2014

Genesis 19.1-29

Title: Fire Raining Down from the Sky!

Text: Genesis 19.1-29

CIT: God is righteous and just and merciful

CIS: Let us rise up and live godly lives that reflect through our deeds the repentance of our hearts.

Introduction: Where are we? Abraham has headed back down the heights to his camp. He’s probably concluded that:

  • Sodom is going to be destroyed.
  • His intercession for the righteous showed there were probably none…at least not 10.

Do you remember why Abraham is given this opportunity to see what God is about to do?

  • You will be a blessing to all nations
  • You will command your children and household. This is what unrighteousness produces: death and destruction.

I’ve divided this passage into 4 actions:

  1. The actions of a righteous man
  2. The actions of wicked men
  3. The actions of mighty angels
  4. The actions of a Righteous God

Transition: let’s begin with the 1st action…

I.          The Actions of a Righteous Man (1-3)

exp.: 2 Peter 2.7; Peter calls him righteous; rd v 1a; These angels travel fast! Where is Lot? In the city gate. This is a place of prominence and prestige. He’s come a long way; 13.12; 14.12; Being a city boy hasn’t taken the country out of him! Look at his action: rd v 1b;

  • He’s humble; rd 2a
  • He’s hospitable; rd 2b-c
  • He’s cares; he’s concerned for their safety and welfare, not just their weariness. Rd 3;
  • He’s persistent! He wrestled with them, as it were;
  • He’s a gracious host; lavishing on them a feast. Funny, they ate earlier with the LORD at Abraham’s place.

ill.: we learn a lot from this man’s actions. What we see, tells us about him: his character (some people who feel prominent wouldn’t bow themselves down before traveling strangers), his concern (some people would have just rather have gone home and worried about their own).

app.:  Here we see the actions of a righteous man persist in doing good deeds…

Transition: next, we see the

II.        The Actions of Wicked Men (4-9)

exp.: rd v 4; evidently, Lot wasn’t the only man at the city gate, others were there and saw; they then told others and behold, they appear at Lot’s house. But, they didn’t just show up at the front door, they surrounded it! rd v 5;

  1. They’ve been plotting – They saw them and lusted after them, so they plotted on how to get them; obviously, they decided force is the best way to go about this. Which tells another things about wicked me…
  2. They’re controlled by their feelings
  • That we may ‘know’ them; they’re going to rape these angels (they think they’re common men)
  • Adam knew Eve and she had a son; Genesis 4.1, 25; These men are lusting after the ‘men’ in Lot’s house.
  • Leviticus 18.22, 24; 20.13, 23 were written for the Israelites for when they inherited the land, that they wouldn’t adopt the practices of the people before. Their homosexuality was an abomination to God. Death was the penalty! Rd v 6-7; hence, their title wicked men; rd v 8;
  • What! Why?
    • The value of women? Hughes says: Even if he thought that his daughters would suffer no harm, because they were betrothed as virgins to their fellow Sodomites (and the Mesopotamian law code made betrothal as sacrosanct as a consummated marriage—the offender would incur the death penalty), the offer was a monstrous breach of fatherly duty.
    • Pashtunwali; a moral code to protect the visitors in your home: Lone Survivor; Marcus Luttrell; in the story (60 Minutes) an Afghan saves Marcus and institutes Pashtunwali to save him from the Taliban; battles ensure, men are shot, wounded and die, but they protect Marcus Luttrell;
    • I suppose there is some sort of code Lot is upholding; it’s a moral ground for him – like the Pashtunwali. So, how do these wicked men respond? Rd v 9;

    3.  Absence of approval is assumed judgmentalism.  Who are you to judge us! 1 Peter 4.3-5; Isn’t that the typical response when one confronts sin. Remember what he said: do not act so wickedly! Oh yeah? Who are you to judge us!

ill.: I read that Natalie Grant left the Grammy’s early. Not because she was protesting, it was just that there were things that were bothering her and she thought that it would be better if she left. She was harshly criticized. Well, do you know what happened at the Grammy’s? I watched a short video clip and it was gross! A night at the Grammy’s could have been called “At night at Sodom and Gomorrah.” The performances in the clip were disgusting. The gay marriage ceremony! I say: people get ready. Luke 17.24-30; rd Gen 19.9c;

    4. Take matters into their own hands. This is the ultimate reaction to a sinful heart. We see it, we want it, the desire grows, we then take action to acquire what the heart has been lusting after!

app.: Sin has a progressive pattern to our lives. Hebrews 3.12-13; evil, unbelieving, falling away, hardened heart. AH says, we need accountability to help us not move in that direction.

Transition: Lot’s actions are righteous (except maybe they way he offers his daughters!), The men of Sodom’s actions are wicked; now, look at…

III.    The Actions of Angels (10-16)

exp.: rd v 10;

  1. They grab Lot; rd v 11
  2. They blind the wicked; rd v 12-13
  3. They offer an escape to Lot and others; rd 14; rd v 15-16; maybe they were in a hurry because Lot wasn’t in a hurry?
  4. They hurry Lot along, even as he lingers, they take them by the hands. 2 Peter 2.9;

app.: I wonder as we approach the 2nd coming of man, do we have a lingering attitude like Lot, like Lot’s wife?

Transition: The Actions of the righteous, the wicked, the angels, and lastly,

IV.    The Actions of a Righteous God (17-29)

exp.: rd v 17-20; Can you believe this man? God has worked miraculously in all of this. Now, he seems to be pushing the envelope! Look at God’s actions:

     1.  Deliverance:

  • Mercy: v 21
  • Patience: v 22a; Then, the sun comes up; rd v 22b-24;

     2. Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

  • A rain of sulfur and fire on the city (24)
  • Total elimination of life. (25); Von RAD (p. 221) mentions in his commentary the natural possibilities of this happening since the area of the Dead Sea is on a tectonic plate and the area is filled with asphalt and petroleum and gases. A lit fire or torch would easily have ignited it all. However, remember – the LORD rained sulphur and fire from heaven.

     3. Disobedience by Lot’s Wife brings her destruction; rd v 26 Lot’s wife lingered longer and suffered the same fate for it. Listen to Kurt Strassner: Finally, walk back with me to Lot’s house and observe his wife, packing her belongings. She looks around longingly at her beautiful living room, a symbol of the status she has gained as a high-society woman in Sodom. She wishes she could take it all. Tears fill her eyes. She wonders whether or not she really wants to leave it all and follow God. And when it’s time to go, the angels literally have to drag her, aching over the loss of everything that she holds dear, out of her home (19:16). That is why she “looked back” in 19:26. Because she, like the rich young ruler after her, loved her material possessions and her societal position more than she loved the Lord. Evidently, there was a pillar of salt in the area that people believed was Lot’s wife and stood as a monument to her disobedience. Josephus says he actually saw it. Read Josephus; How is this possible? Evidently, the key is in the word ‘behind’ in v 26; she lingered and lagged behind. Jesus gives us some insight here: Luke 17.29-33

Conclusion: So, how can we conclude this? Moses tells us: Rd v 27-28; Abraham stood in the place where he had interceded with God and got his teaching lesson. Can you hear the silence of the moment and see in your minds eye the plumes of smoke rising from the scorched earth in the distance? He’s what Abraham learned: He was taught that a righteous judge is just and merciful. Just, because he destroyed the cities of wickedness (rd v 29a); Merciful, because he saved Lot and his daughters.

Transition: So, who then should we live our lives in view of God’s justice and mercy?

Observations & Implications:

  1. In what ways does this story affect your prayer life?
  2. Does the world around us not get anxious about The return of Jesus because we don’t get anxious about it either? Do we really act like He’s coming soon?
  3. Let us remember the Lord’s pronouncement of the Great Day of the Lord. Here is Strassner again: As it was “in the days of Lot,” so it will be “on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28–30). Hellfire and brimstone will come again. Only, on that day, there will be no mountains and no town “near enough to flee to” (Gen. 19:20). Our only refuge will be in the shadow of the Lord Jesus, who alone can forgive the sins that bring God’s judgment on the world.
  4. Our hearts should be broken over our nation and the deplorable, ungodly behavior we’re observing.
  5. It is important to live righteous and godly lives. Isaiah 1.9: If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom, and become like Gomorrah.

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Filed under Genesis, Scripture, W.E.B.S.

John 17.20-26

Title: The Real Lord’s Prayer: Christ Prays for His Church

Text: John 17.20-26

CIT: The Lord prays for his future church, that they will be unified in their calling, bringing glory to Him.

CIS: A call to unity in all that we do.

Introduction: I’d like to take a moment to tell you about my upcoming sermon series:

The upcoming series:

  • The Lord’s Prayer has been our focus
  • The Lord’s Passion: Characters on the Way to the Cross
  • The Lord’s Purpose: the Great Commission

Review: w/ that said, today’s message is a conclusion sermon to the series: The Lord’s Prayer: in this conclusion/Christ prays for his church;

  • A Proper Perspective – glory
  • A Solid Foundation: God’s Faithfulness
  • Petition: Protection/Distinction (holiness)/Sanctification – these all deal with who we are as a body and as individuals.

Today’s focus will deal with what we do as a body. Specifically, we’ll focus on Christ’s prayer for us – those who would believe on Christ because of the disciples’ message. I’ve divided this message into three parts: I call it: three markers of unity:

  • The Nature of this Unity
  • The Notion of this Unity
  • The Necessity of this Unit

Transition: Let’s begin with the first marker mentioned her by Christ:

I.          The Nature of this Unity:  (17.20-23)

exp.: rd 20-23; Jesus places an emphasis in three separate areas concerning this unity:

  1. Jesus is emphatic about how the nature of this unity is based on God’s Word.
  •         Rd v 20; their word; the apostle’s teaching; This was an attribute of the early church;
  •         Acts 2.42: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

ill.: John Stott says: It is first and foremost a prayer that there may be a historical continuity between the church of the first century and the church of subsequent centuries; that the church’s faith may not change but remain recognizably the same; that the church of every age may merit the title “apostolic” because it is loyal to the teaching of the apostles. Their word; written as moved by the Holy Spirit; Mt, Jn: Mk & Luke; Acts; epistles;

2.  Jesus is emphatic about the nature of this unity when he refers three times to their ‘one-ness’:

  • Rd 21a: that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you,
  • Rd 22b: that they may be one even as we are one,

Rd 23a: I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one,

    3.  Thirdly, notice the supernatural example set for us:

  • as you, Father, are in me, and I in you,
  • even as we are one
  • I in them and you in me

ill.: have you ever met someone and had an instant bond with them, just because they were a believer? We saw that in China.

ill.: Think of a triangle – I think of our relationships like that of a triangle. The closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other. Which brings me to answering the first marker: The Nature of this Unity is Fellowship.

Warning #1: Never assume conformity is unity. You can actually have one without the other. There are churches that advocate women not cutting their hair and only wearing skirts and dresses. And, the men cannot have beards or long hair and must wear a hat in public. You can gain conformity on certain matters without ever attaining the unity of the spirit Jesus is advocating here.

Warning #2: Never assume diversity is disunity. The body must be diverse. You’re quite familiar with Paul’s many examples of the body. Each person within the body plays a different part, fulfills a different role. Romans 12.3-8

Warning #3: Never assume relationships are easy. They take work.

ill.: look at the disciples: you have Simon, the Zealot and Matthew the Tax Collector. Can any two parts of life in 1st Century Judaism be further apart? And yet, they had a common bond in Christ.

app.: So, let’s answer the first marker again: The Nature of this Unity is Fellowship.

Transition: Let’s look at the 2nd marker found her in this passage and it is…

II.      The Notion of this Unity:  (21-23)

exp.: there are two particular verses here that inform our Unity, v 21 & v 23:

  • Rd v 21c: so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
  • Rd v 23c: so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

So what is the notion? The Notion of this Unity is Evangelism

ill.: I heard an interesting testimony on the radio this past week. The man’s name is Dick Couch; Their family was a mess and so he told his family they were going to church. But, it didn’t take. Church was a messed up place. So, they didn’t return. Some time later, a man whose son was on a team that Dick coached, invited him to lunch, at lunch, he invited him and his family to church. From there, he invited him to a conference. It was at the conference for men that the coach got saved.

app.: That’s our job! We’re supposed to be inviting people to church. May ask: Do we love people, I mean like Christ loves people? What will we sacrifice that they might know Christ? Did you know that over the past three years, we’ve not baptized a single person from outside our church? There is one exception you might make. However, for the most part – every baptism we’ve had has been from within the body. Maybe even going back further than the last three years! Look, I’m grateful for our baptisms. I’m grateful for families evangelizing our youth and children. However, with that said: Jesus said: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Challenge: I want to challenge you now to invite one family to join your family. That’s it. Add them to the prayer time your family is having together. I think if we invited families, we’d have some who come who have just been out of church and recommit themselves to fellowship. There would be others who would come to the conclusion that they’ve never made that commitment and we’d have some salvation experiences.

Transition: That’s what Evangelism is – sharing the love of Christ in your hearts with others. The Nature of this Unity is Fellowship; The Notion of this Unity is Evangelism. And, finally,

III.    The Necessity of this Unity: Discipleship (24-26)

exp.: rd v 24-26: I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known,; Here is the goal: to make God known; That’s what we do here at Calvary: developing passionate followers of Christ. We’re working here to make God known and that only happens through learning more and more about him.

Exodus 3.15: God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Isaiah 26.8: In the path of your judgments, O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul.

Question: is that the desire of your soul? Your name and remembrance?

Question: have you figured out what the Necessity of this Unity is? Discipleship.

Conclusion: Anne Ortland – Up with Worship; churches her husband has pastored and preached in: We’ve loved them all and wished they loved each other.

app.: let that wash over you for a moment: We’ve loved them all and wished they loved each other. I wonder how many churches never attain unity because they don’t love each other? I wonder how many churches never experience true fellowship because they didn’t love each other. I wonder how many never Evangelize or Disciple because they didn’t love each other.

Transition: And what about our church? May I be honest with you? Calvary is the healthiest church I’ve ever been associated with; however, it’s not perfect. Hebrews 12.2 says Jesus is the perfecter of our faith. And Paul prayed for the Ephesians in 4.11ff: 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Application: So, what have we learned about prayer?

  1. Gain a proper perspective of Christ in all of his glory, power and beauty. When Christ is where he belongs in our prayers, the rest will take their proper place below him.
  2. Base your prayers on the foundation of God’s faithfulness. He will always do what is perfect for Him!
  3. Based upon God’s faithfulness, Pray for the church:
    1. Pray for God’s glory through her existence in the world:

i.     For her protection

ii.     For her distinction

iii.     For her sanctification

Look at how these all work together!

  1. Pray for God to accomplish his work through her unity and love: Remember, this is what she does – love is a verb, love is an action verb.

i.     As she fellowship

ii.     As she evangelizes

iii.     As she disciples those He gives her

Look at how these all build upon one another.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.
  2. Is there someone within the church you are not in a good relationship with? Someone you’re angry with or bitter toward. Maybe it’s time to forgive. Maybe it’s time to ask for forgiveness. If you can’t settle your disagreement, consult the elders. Allow an elder to sit with you and help you be reconciled.
  3. Matthew 5.23-24: So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.


Filed under John, Scripture, Sermons

John 17.6-19

Title: The Real Lord’s Prayer: A Solid Foundation for Petition

Text: John 17.6-19

CIT: As Jesus begins praying for his disciples, he lays down a foundation of God’s faithfulness.

CIS: Our prayers can be strengthened with a foundation of God’s faithfulness.

Introduction: We’re in Jn 17.6; A couple of days ago I was at the hospital at the front desk. I wanted to confirm that Carol was still in the SICU before I headed back there. The lady before me said she was looking for someone whose last name is Killough. That caught my attention because of the Killough massacre. You know the monument just south of here near Mt. Selman. 18 people were killed. Well, there are many descendants of the Killough family still in this area. I heard the name and wanted to talk to the lady. I didn’t. That would be rude. But, here’s my point. There is a lot to be said about a name. You hear it and you think. I say Adolf and you say? If I said Tiger 5 years ago, you’d think one thing. I say Tiger today and you think another. But, nonetheless, I say a name and you think something.

Read the 1st sentence; Your Name; The Name of the LORD; manifested means lit.: to carry; DA Carson says: God’s name embodies his character; to reveal God’s name is to make God’s character known. The Name of the LORD takes on great significance in identifying the people of God. Time and time again we read about this solid foundation for God’s people in Scripture.

ill.: Gen 4.26: people begin to call upon the name of the LORD; Abraham called upon the name of the LORD many times (Gen 12.8; 13.4; 21.33; ) so did Hagar (16); Isaac did in Gen. 26.25; It’s in the 10 commandments: you shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…; Yahweh himself proclaims the name of the LORD in Ex 34.5; Lev 24.16 reiterates the commandment: Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death; Deut. 5: repeats the 10 commandments; in Deut. 18 God chose the Levites to minister in the name of the LORD. In Deut 28.10 Moses preaches to the people: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you. Etc. etc. etc.

In the NT: Acts 2:21: And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.Acts 9:28: So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. Acts 19:5: On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Acts 21:13: Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Rom 10:13: For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 1 Cor 5:4: When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus… 1 Cor 6:11: And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Col 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 2 Tim 2:19: But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” James 5:14: Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. The list goes on 106 times in Scripture.

app.: Names were so important to the Jewish people. That’s why they said: rd Ps 20.7: Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Because there is power in the name! There is safety in the name. Proverbs 18.10: The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. The Name of the LORD takes on great significance in identifying the people of God: they bear his name. Christian: We bear his name.

Focus: Our prayers can be strengthened with a solid foundation.

Transition: As we look at the prayer of Jesus this morning, I’ve outlined it in the following manner after the way Jesus prayed:

  1. His prayer comes from solid foundation.
  2. His prayer is for their protection.
  3. His prayer is for their distinction.
  4. His prayer is for their sanctification.

I.          His Prayer comes from a Solid Foundation (6-10)

exp.: Jesus builds a strong foundation for his prayer requests – that foundation is God’s faithfulness; rd v 6a; Look at all that the Father has ‘given’;

  1. He has given the task: I have manifested; Jesus was sent to accomplish this and Now it has been accomplished
  2. He has given the disciples: rd v 6a-b; you gave them to me; Now they know your Name – it’s been manifested to them.
  3. He has given the words: rd v 8a; not just ideas being taught, but Jesus actually says what the Father says.
  • Now they know all things are given from God
  • Now they know that Jesus was sent from the Father
  • They believe!

app.: Christ lays a foundation for the requests he about to present. Here’s the foundation – God’s faithfulness. Don’t miss this! God’s Name represents His Character and He is faithful. When you hear God, our Father, you should think: Faithfulness. Boom! There is your foundation. He has accomplished and fulfilled what He has set out to do. And because of that: He can be trusted! When you hear His name – you think of his faithfulness. He has never failed you. Look at v 9-10;

Transition: With that in mind, let’s look at the petitions presented by our Lord. First,

II.      His Prayer is for their Protection (11-13)

exp.: rd v 11; Note the two comments he’s making. 1st, he gives the reason.

  1. Reason: he’s leaving! This is nothing they haven’t already heard; John 14.1-6; He will no longer be with them, thus he’s promised to send the Holy Spirit; but this is why he’s praying for their protection; 2nd, he offers his petition to the Lord…
  2. Request: Holy Father, Keep them in your name, which you have given me; Exodus 23.21: “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21 Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. He’s leaving to return to his rightful throne. He will no longer be with them in the flesh to intercede in their affairs (think: let one of them sit on your right and one on your left.) So, how will they be kept? Rd 11c: that they may be one, even as we are one. He’s praying for their unity

i.     Unity: have you ever thought that God’s protection means your unity? That or in order that they may be one.

ill.: In Hughes’ commentary he quotes the Puritan Thomas Brookes who wrote: For wolves to worry the lambs is no wonder, but for one lamb to worry another, this is unnatural and monstrous. Phil 1.27: Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. Rd v 12-13;

ill.: R Kent Hughes says in commentary on John: Jesus built the disciples’ oneness and a sense of security and unity by showing both in his own life and in his teaching the personality and character of the Father. The more the disciples understood the attributes and character of God, the more they experienced unity. He then quotes A. W. Tozer who wrote:

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. His prayer is that God would keep them and that they would be in unity, which by the way, results in Joy.

ii.     Joy: my joy, Jesus says, not happiness, like you find temporarily in the world. But Joy – His Joy! Being Happy is a fleeting thing – joy abides in all things. You can be sick and have joy. You can be poor and have joy. When a body of believers is in Unity – there is real Joy.

Transition: Christ prayed for unity and joy for his disciples. He’ll pray the same prayer over you and me in v 21; Built on a strong foundation of God’s faithfulness, Christ prays for their protection. 2ndly, he prays for their distinction.

III.    His Prayer is for their Distinction (14-16)

exp.: rd v 14; given them your word; (6, 8, 14, 17); v 6 says they have kept it; v 8 says they believed it; v 14 says the world hated them because of it; v 17 says it is what sets them apart from the world. Verse 15 clarifies for us what this separation means: rd v 15; Hear me now: He’s not praying that we’ll be monks!

ill.: The point here isn’t withdrawal from the world. Here is where Christians fail. The Christians of the last couple of decades have created Christian marketing to take us away from the world. Christian megachurches have restaurants, diners and even McDonald’s so you can go there and not have to worry about anything secular. You can exercise in the gym, too.

We’ve taken our kids out of the world and homeschooled them so that they don’t have any secular influence. I read a fictional story in relation to this sometime this past week. I looked, but couldn’t find it again. Basically, the story begins with a Christian college student who wakes up and makes it through their day without having to encounter a single unbeliever. He eats with believers at all meals, he exercises at his church, he sits with believers in his classes and his intramural teams are made up of fellow believers. He hurries back that evening to his dorm room where his roommate is a believer, too. He crawls into bed, safe, never having to have encountered the world.

app.: we’ve failed because we’ve misunderstood what it means to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus continues; rd v 16;

We need Christian teachers in the public school system. We need Christians who’ll step up and be leaders in the world: Doctors, Lawyers, Professors and even, swallow hard now, in public service! Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who held to our Christian principles! Wouldn’t be even more wonderful if we had a legislative branch of Govt that was filled with believers! Maybe, just maybe, we’re in the mess we’re in because we’ve removed our influence.

It almost seems to negate Christ’s first request: protection. Why would we need protection if we’re never in harm’s way? Christ doesn’t say that we’re not supposed to be a part of this world. He says we’re supposed to be different and not just different – we’re supposed to be distinct! That’s always been the call of God’s people. Exodus 33.16: For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?” There is to be a distinction between the clean and the unclean, the holy and the common, the righteous and the wicked, God’s people and those who blatantly reject and rebel against him. Jesus clarifies this in the very next couple of verses.

Transition: So Christ lays a solid foundation of God’s faithfulness to pray for their distinction and their protection and finally,

IV.    His Prayer is for their Sanctification (17-19)

exp.: rd v 17-19; this word means to make them holy or set apart; that’s what makes them distinct – to be holy as He is holy; Holiness comes through the truth of God’s Word. Then, as holy, set apart, consecrated believers, we’re sent into the world with the Great Commission.

app.: Note: we’re made holy by God, not by what we do. But, we’ve been called to live in holiness. 1 Peter 3.14-16 says: As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” Consecrate yourselves appears 23x’s in the OT.

Transition: So as we view Christ’s prayer for his disciples, we learn more of how we should pray and what we should pray for:

Observations & Implications:

  1. Gain a proper perspective of Christ. – From last week.
  2. Our prayers should be based on God’s faithfulness. To say like David: I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread. It’s good to keep a journal of God’s faithfulness – then you can recall his wonderful deeds.
  3. We need God’s protection. What we fail to realize is that our enemy the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion. He wants to divide us and conquer us.
  4. Our lives should communicate our distinctiveness. We should live holy lives, as he is holy. We should live in unity. Relationships, Relationships, Relationships.
  5. Continue work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
  6. Do you bear the Name of Jesus?

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Genesis 18.16-33

Title: A Righteous and Just Judge

Text: Genesis 18.16-33

Introduction: The covenant meal is over. Abraham has dined with the God of this Universe. Abraham has been reassured and the covenant promise has been reaffirmed. Is anything too hard for God? This is some foreshadowing to the climax to this messianic story, when Mary will be told that, she too, will have a son. How will this be, for I am still a virgin?

It has been an incredible journey for Abraham over the past 25 years. Called by God to leave his County and Kindred, he packs up and travels some 800 miles to a new land. God then makes a covenant with Abraham. It’s been an incredible journey indeed. From what used to be home, to Egypt and back. There were the struggles with his nephew Lott. There were some times he failed. He needed God’s grace. Here, he finds himself, a man who hasn’t been perfect, walking with God (Enoch) up the hill to see him off. A man that doesn’t deserve God’s mercy and grace, but nonetheless, has been given just that. That’s where we pick up the story.

Transition: We’re in Genesis 18.16-33. Today we’ll look at this passage in two parts:

a.  Divine Disclosure of what he’s about to do

b.  Divine Distinction between the person of Abraham and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Let’s begin with part 1:

I.          Divine Disclosure: (18.16-21)

exp.: Here: Abraham is informed about Sodom and Gomorrah; rd v 16

  • Departure: Abraham follows; He’s been the consummate host and now he journeys a short distance up the hill to where they can look out over the Dead Sea. Listen to Kent Hughes poetic description:

The covenant feast had extended late into the afternoon, so that the sun hung low in the west, radiating off the golden, leathered faces of Abraham and his heavenly guests. Below them sparkled the turquoise of the Dead Sea. Just to the south of the sea, the western facades of Sodom and Gomorrah could be seen in the slanting rays. The next time Abraham is recorded to have looked down from this vantage is at the end of the episode, when “he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace” Look at v 17; I call this:

  • Discernment: Shall I hide from Abraham what I’m about to do? It’s apparent that God already knows what he’s going to do. This is a poetic way of stating: I’m going to tell Abraham what I’m about to do. Yahweh answers his own question by stating two reasons for why he should let Abraham in on what’s going to happen. Look at his declaration of Abraham; rd v 18;
  • Declaration: The 1st reason: He will become a great and mighty nation & he will be a Blessing to all nations! This is the promise, the covenant restated. But there is more: As the main source from which this blessing would flow to all nations, Abraham should be in on God’s decision. But note the 2nd reason: Rd v 19;
  • Discipleship: That He may command his children and his household to keep the way of the LORD. What is this way?

–  Righteousness – This is seen in two ways:

a.  Internal – Thoughts – the sum of who we are inside. This impacts and directly affects our outside behavior.

b.  External – Behavior – what you do. It is the external expression of your internal commitment to God. Isn’t it funny though, that we can be externally behaving correctly and have impure internal thoughts? You can be one without the other, but not visa-versa.

–  Justice – Discipline – the action you take against unrighteousness. When people hurt others.

ill.: the 10 commandments: really, if you start with #10, you’ll accomplish the other 5. Leviticus 19.18; Galatians 5.14;

app.: Abraham is to command and teach his household these things because: rd 19c: so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” Think about this: Abraham will instruct his household by teaching them God’s commands for righteousness and Justice. Do you want to know what happens to those who live ungodly, immoral lives? I stood on mountain top, overlooking Sodom and Gomorrah and watched the smoke rise in the east. God destroyed them. That’s how he feels about that. Peter used the same idea when he said in 2 Peter 2.4-10 (6); The 4th section of Part 1 is what I’m entitling:

  • Disclosure: rd v 20-21; so God lets him in on what’s happening. 1st he tells him about…

             –  The Condition of Sodom and Gomorrah: very grave; you have Abraham’s responsibility to be a blessing and teach his descendants to do the same through righteousness and justice. And, in juxtaposition, you have the very grave sinful condition of Sodom and Gomorrah; outcry; this word is used when there are people like widows and orphans who are being mistreated by us. Exodus 2.23; 22.22-23; Deut. 24.15; Gen. 4.10; John Hamilton quotes Nahum Sarna: The sin of Sodom, then, is heinous moral and social corruption, an arrogant disregard of basic human rights, a cynical insensitivity to the sufferings of others. Ezekiel expounds on this by telling us her sins: rd Ezekiel 16.49-50;

ill.: R. Kent Hughes: Sodom and Gomorrah were terrible little towns in which the inhabitants cared only for themselves while they brutalized and oppressed each other. Social violence was de jure. There were no human rights. The poor and needy and defenseless were especially brutalized. Tellingly, the great outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah came from the inhabitants of the cities themselves! 2nd he tells Abraham about

             –  The Investigation of Sodom and Gomorrah: rd v 21; this is crazy, right? I mean, God is omniscient. Right? So, why? Well, as we consider the genre and the way people thought and perceived 3,500 years ago, this is understandable to them. Moses is using anthropomorphic terms to describe God’s actions.

app.: Critical and Explanatory Commentary: language used [is] after the manner of men. These cities were to be made examples to all future ages of God’s severity; and therefore ample proof given that the judgment was neither rash nor excessive (Ez 18:23; Je 18:7).

Transition:  So, part 1 is the Divine Disclosure, where God let’s Abraham in on what he’s about to do and why; part 2 is:

II.      Divine Distinction: Abraham intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah (18.22-33)

exp.: rd v 22; two depart and head down to the cities about to be destroyed; rd v 23; It looks like Abraham has had a few extra minutes with God. The two depart and Abraham steps up to intercede for the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah; then, he poses a question: rd v 24; Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? This is a deep question. Jesus gives us some insight into this question. Matt 5.45; For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Abraham knows that God is perfect in his discernment of the righteous and unrighteous. He is perfect in his justice, for he is perfectly just. Rd v 25; Moses would learn this about His God. Just before he dies, he teaches the Hebrew children this song: rd Deut. 32.4: The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.

app.: I think Abraham is doing a beautiful thing here; however, with that said, I think he’s out of order. He kind of gets it; rd 25c: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? He sees and knows the character of God. God has been good to him.

Abraham intercedes and then, Abraham persists. It’s as if he wrestles with God. Look at the question he asks God 6x’s; 50, 45, 40, 30, 20, 10. Well, we get the idea from the rest of the story that there weren’t 10 people. Indeed, the only one who appears to have met that standard was Lot. And God, in his great mercy hears Abraham’s plea; rd 19.29; God saved him because he remembered Abraham. Rd 18.33; God descends from the heights toward the Dead Sea. Perhaps it was getting darker and God disappeared into the lengthening shadows cast by the descending sun. Abraham turned and made his way back down to his camp. Perhaps he saw the fires of his camp and used them as a guide back to where his family was.

Transition: So, what are some lessons we’ll take with us this evening?

Observations & Implications:

  1. God is righteous and just in all his ways. Hughes says: Righteousness is an attribute of God’s moral being, and because of that, all his actions are just. No matter what, we know that God will act righteously and justly in every matter. Period.
  2. God hears the cries of the mistreated. Think of the young girl who has been kidnapped and forced into the sex slave trade. Think of the lonely orphan and widow. Think of the believers who are persecuted, imprisoned and martyred for their faith. God hears their cries. Romans 8.26-39
  3. God’s character was perfectly displayed in his Son, making a way for Abraham to truly be a blessing to all nations.

What about you?

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My Philosophy of Ministry

Some time ago, I began teaching a Bible Study Class on Sunday morning. The topic for the summer was Membership Matters. After finishing the introduction, the members of my class asked me to post my lesson online. I thought that was a good idea and so here it goes.

Basically, the introduction to the class is an overall statement of my philosophy of ministry. I’ve never hidden the idea that I am no ‘typical’ pastor. I do not like the ‘Cruise Ship’ mentality of many churches today. Travel to any town and you’re likely to find churches that focus their growth upon one of two different things:

  • A Personality
  • A Program

Some folks go to a church because they like the pastor or the student pastor or any one of the great men serving in the church. Others go to a church were there is a dynamic program. They love the worship service or the Choir program. Maybe they like the youth ministry that a church has. The only problem with organizing your church around a personality or a program is that the dynamic of a church can change with the change of that position or program. If it doesn’t change, then you have churches like the former congregation at the Crystal Cathedral with all of one type of people. When it did finally change, the church went out of business.

Most churches try and follow a successful church, which isn’t always a bad idea (after all, they are successful). But doing that has left a lot of churches with broken down buses or puppets in the attic. The last couple of decades have left a lot churches pursuing the Saddleback or Willow Creek model. Now, I’m not trying to be critical of Rick Warren or Bill Hybels, these men have done an incredible job. However, our mandate comes from Scripture, not The Purpose Driven Church. Not only do we find our mandate there, but we find everything for establishing our purpose.

One more thing (not to rant), but not only is our mandate there, but we find that a local church body isn’t about programs or personalities (with the exception of the personality of Jesus). A local church is an organized group of believers. Read that again! They meet for corporate worship, gather in smaller groups to be discipled, serve the greater body with their gifts and take their message to the world. Simple. As a matter of fact, we find our purpose (as a body) is to ultimately do one thing: Image the glory of God. Let me ‘splain.

In Genesis 1, God created. And, it appears that he loved everything he created (And God saw that it was good (1.10). And everything he created, he created after it own kind. Every zebra was created each according to its kind (1.11; 21).  However, when God came to the time he was going to create man he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness (1.26).”  (emphasis mine) But it only takes two chapters for Adam and Eve to mess things up. Basically, the chose a distorted image of what they thought they wanted.

In Genesis 3, the serpent told them, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” And, they fell for the lie.

The next time we see this purpose of imaging God is in the people of Israel. Matt Schmucker writes:  God, in his mercy, had a plan to both save and use a group of people for accomplishing his original purposes for creation—the display of his glory. In Exodus 4 he even calls this nation his “son”(vv. 22-23). Why a son? Because sons look like their dads. And they follow in their father’s footsteps. Sons image their fathers.

This really becomes apparent when God takes his children to Sinai. He gives them his precious ten commandments. Does this one sound familiar: “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth (Ex 20.4).”  But they, too, didn’t listen. The exchanged the image of God for things made of gold (a golden calf).

Only when we see Christ come along do we see the perfect image of God. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power (Heb 1.3).  Paul writes in Colossians: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  And a little further down in that chapter he writes: For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1.15,19).  Now Jesus is our perfect example of imaging God. We’ve failed time and time again, but not Jesus. Hebrews reminds us that we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (4.15).

Now, enter the church. Listen to God’s plan: For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Rom 8.29).  Did you catch that? We are to be conformed to the image of Christ. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Cor 3.18).  And again, Paul says: Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Col 3.9).

And that is the purpose that I see for the church: Imaging His Glory. Our ultimate purpose is imaging his character, his likeness, his image, his glory.

This bit of information might lead you to understand why we have set our purpose and process in place.

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Genesis 18.1-15

Title: Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD?

Text: Genesis 18.1-15

Introduction: Hebrews 13.2 – Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. I think this is what Abraham just might be doing as we enter into Ch. 18 of Genesis – entertaining angels. No, to be clear, the Scripture says: rd v1, the 1st four words. And the LORD appeared.

That is the 1st point tonight. I’ve divided this chapter into Five (5) parts:

–       The LORD Appeared

–       The LORD Answers

–       The LORD Asks

–       The LORD Announces

–       The LORD Asks again

Transition: Let’s begin with the 1st action of God…

I.          The LORD Appears (1-5b)

exp.: Rd v 1; I don’t think Abraham totally grasped his experience until the end of the supper, but we’ll get to that. Let’s begin with the introduction, a sort of narrative to begin the story.

So the setting is that the morning work has been done and Abraham is sitting outside his tent in the heat of the day, probably resting.

ill.: This is what we might call a modern day siesta. Back in Cotulla, the men would work in the summer from just before you could see outside until lunch. After lunch, as the heat hit it’s highest mark for the day, the men would retreat to shaded areas to work or take a siesta to escape the sun’s brutal onslaught. Then, sometime later in the afternoon, men would return to work and work until they couldn’t see again.

I don’t know if that is what is happening here, but it sounds like it. Rd v 2a; So, he looks up and there are three men standing in front of him. Maybe he dozed off; probably not. This seems to me to be a clear statement of the Divine (cf.: John 20.19, 26). Look at

  1. Abraham’s Response: rd v 2b; he saw, he ran, he bowed; Then, look at…
  2. Abraham’s Request: rd v 3-5b; Stay and Refresh yourselves; v 3 is sg; v 4-5 is pl; the Trinity? Yahweh for sure. The word is Malachi in the plural, Malachim; water, to drink and get cleaned up; rest and get something to eat;

Transition: and the LORD answers

II.      The LORD Answers (5c-8)

exp.: Rd v 5c; they (pl); Now Abraham gets to work; look at Abraham’s Response:

  1. He went quickly to Sarah:

i.     Make Cakes: 3 Seahs – 2 Seahs would have filled the trough that took 12 Jars of Water at Mt. Carmel.

ii.     That is a lot of cake; 5 seahs fed the army of David by Abigail; 1 Samuel 25.18; 1 Kings 18.22; Next,

  1. He ran: got a calf from the herd, gave it to a young man to prepare. Tender And Good; That’s a lot of meat; have you ever had veal at a steak house? Oh, my…
  2. He prepared: a meal; a covenant meal; Hughes: The divine visitation and feast was nothing short of a covenantal meal. This is the only place in Scripture before the Incarnation that the Lord ate a meal with a human being. What an honor. It reminds me of The Last Supper. After supper he took the cup and introduced the New Covenant!
  3. He served: rd v 8; He stood by waiting to do serve them; This wasn’t just a meal, it was a banquet;

Transition: I don’t know if they finished eating before they ask him a question; that’s part three.

III.    The LORD Asks (9)

exp.: rd v 9a; Where is Sarah? I think this is important because it directs the topic of the conversation to her. What is going to be said by God will be said for her benefit. Abraham has to see these are not normal men passing through. These men use the new, covenant name, “Sarah”. Now, Abraham’s Response is: rd v 9b; I think it’s possible that she is right behind you. I think from the verses below that they have eaten outside, but it possible they were seated comfortably in Abraham’s tent. From the following verses, we figure she’s right there, just out of sight behind a tent curtain.

Transition: Now comes the re-affirmation of the covenant promise Abraham has already received and that’s part 4;

IV.      The LORD Announces (10)

exp.: rd v 10a; Note: who is speaking here? Yahweh. He will return next year. Here we have the covenant promise repeated. Nothing new here for Abraham; but look at how verse 10 ends; rd 10b; She’s probably as close as she can get, eavesdropping on her husband’s guests; Maybe, her attitude is one of humility like her husbands. Maybe she’s listening in so that she might spring into action (however a 90 year old woman springs into action) should something be needed. Now, in this moment of listening in – which I think is ok (it appears this is for her anyway) – she’s told she’s going to have a son. This is something else that I imagine caught Abraham’s attention to the fact that these are normal men. Not only did they use her covenant name, but also they repeat the covenant as promised in Chapter 17, almost word for word.

How fitting for this statement to go along with a covenantal meal (i.e.: the Lord’s Supper)! Here, an animal is sacrificed.

Question: How is it she hasn’t heard this?

  1. Maybe Abraham never told her what had happened previously.
  2. Maybe He was unable to convince her what God had said. (17.16, 19);

Now, the text takes a break from the story and gives us a narrative note – like the Narrator is taking over; rd v 11; Moses makes two points here: 1st, the couple is very old, and 2nd, just in case you didn’t get it: Sarah is too old to have children. She has endured menopause and is no longer menstruating. It’s physically impossible for her to have children. So, look how she responds.

  • Sarah’s Response: rd v 12; Sarah laughed to herself; this is important; next, she says to herself: “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” Now something interesting happens here; rd v 13-14

V.      The LORD Asks (13-15)


  • Sarah is Reproved: Why did Sarah respond this way?

–  Is anything too hard for the LORD? Then, he answers his own question.

– I’ll be back in a year and Sarah shall have a son.

Now there is an interesting conclusion. It is very abrupt. Rd v 15; Sarah lies and says she didn’t laugh. She can do that because no one heard her. Remember, rd v 12 again: So Sarah laughed to herself. She didn’t think anyone heard her, after all, it was internal; She says she lied out of fear; This is her 2nd sin, the 1st was disbelief.

Here is a valuable principle she learns, and we’d all do well to learn it, too. God sees inside. He hears our thoughts! Psalm 19.14; 94.11; 139.2, 23;

Transition: So, what will you take home with you tonight?

Observations & Implications:

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John 17.1-5

Title: The Lord’s Prayer: Gaining a Proper Perspective

Text: John 17.1-5

CIT: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.

CIS: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.

Introduction: F.F. Bruce: John Knox, on his death-bed in 1572, asked his wife to read to him John 17, ‘where’, he said, ‘I cast my first anchor.’ And almost his last words show how much his mind dwelt on this chapter, with its implications for ‘the troubled church of God, the spouse of Jesus Christ, despised of the world but precious in his sight’.

In the coming weeks, I hope to paint a picture of the Master’s love for you. How, in this prayer, Christ pours out his heart for you before the suffering he must endure. Think about that: He’s getting ready to be crucified – and more. He’s going to suffer tremendously on the way to the cross and then upon the cross. And in these final hours of his life – you are on his mind! It is you he will pray for. It is for you his petitions to the Father are presented. You! You, who are the spouse of Jesus Christ; you, who are despised of the world but precious in his sight. He begins in 17.1: When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you…

As we look deeply at the real Lord’s Prayer today, we begin to see some principles that might just help us in our prayers. Maybe, like John Knox, you’ll be able to set some anchors for your prayer life. Specifically today, we’re going to focus on His glory. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. I don’t think you’re grasping with your mind what I’m saying from my heart. His Glory! We want to see his glory. Like the glory John describes back in 1.14: we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

That’s what we want, and so we pray today like Moses in Ex. 33.17: Please, show me your glory.

Pray: Father I need your help today. My words fall so short of comparing to the glory of Christ – risen in splendor, seated at your right hand. Give us a glimpse, like with Stephen who saw and proclaimed: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” We pray today like Moses: Lord, Please, please show me your glory.

            Some here today are in need of that glimpse. Their hearts are ready, their souls famished and hungry. We want to see you. We want to see you, Jesus. If we can, then we know that this earthly fodder will dissipate in comparison. Like Paul we’ll proclaim that the sufferings of this present time cannot compare to the glory which shall be revealed in us.

            If we can see you – even just a glimpse, we’ll be like Isaiah and John and Peter and fall at your feet crying: Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.

            Bless the preaching of your Word today. You have told us that your word, which comes from your mouth, does not return to you empty, but rather accomplishes the purposes you have set forth. Let your word change us. Let your word fulfill its purpose in us, today.

            In Christ’s glorious, powerful name I ask this. Amen.

Premise: In our prayers, the very first step is gaining a proper perspective of who Christ is – in all of his glory. Everything else within our prayers will fall naturally into place if this one thing is accomplished.

Transition: This morning I would like to present to you three facets to Christ’s glory, which I think can aid us in our prayers. Jesus sees them clearly in this passage and he shares them with us. First, I want you to see:

I.          The Power He Holds (17.2-3)

exp.: picking up in v 1 when Jesus begins to pray: rd v 1b-2a; that’s the power he holds! Authority over all flesh! Jesus has ultimate authority, ladies and gentlemen. When you bow your hearts before him and you bring your request to him, you’re petitioning the one authority over all men. No one has more power than him. No One! He’s been…

     a.     Given Authority: you might ask me: but what about … huh-huh.

ill.: Most of you know I have a Korean mom. Most of you know I have a biological mom that I don’t really know. But how many of you know I have a black momma? Her name is Delzie Madkins. She took me in when I was kicked out as an older teenager. I’ll never forget trying to argue with her and she would stop me by saying: What I say? I’d repeat what she said – like I really heard her. And then she’d say: alright then, because it was settled.

app.: I hear her voice when I read this verse and say that Jesus has all authority over all flesh. But then someone, maybe me in my head says: but what about… and before I can finish, I hear her voice: What I say?

Matthew 28.18 Jesus says: All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me… In Ephesians 1: 16 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Transition: Do you see the power he holds? Authority over all flesh! Look what else he’s been given; rd v 2b; He’s been..

b. Given the right to grant eternal life; this is amazing! Only God’s has this right! You and I can’t do this. That is power!

ill.: Hey You (Name): I’m giving you eternal life. How valid is that? Only Christ can do this! So, what is this “Eternal Life”? Look at v 3; And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

exp.: Knowledge; not some intellectual apprehension of some religious philosophy; No! Intimate knowledge – like the Father has of the Son and the Son has of the Father; like Jesus prays over us – that unity that comes through intimate knowledge of each other – Our relationships. That intimate knowledge of the Father and of the son is eternal life.

ill.: we say things like: I came to know Christ when I was…; or, How did you come to know Christ as Lord and Savior?

Transition: It’s through this intimate knowledge of Christ and the Father that we come to have eternal life. And really, that’s the purpose for which he came. And that’s the 2nd aspect of Christ’s Glory that I want you to see this morning. I want you to see the power he has and 2ndly,

II.      The Purpose He Accomplished (4)

exp.: rd v 4; What was this work? It was the eternal plan of redemption; everything we read about in Old Testament history was pointing toward this moment. Everything: That Jesus would live a perfect and blameless life; die on the cross of Calvary; be buried; raised from the dead; and ascend to be with the Father. Jesus knew he was sent by his Father for this work. He said back in 4.24: My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. In 5.36f he says: the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. He says quite simply in Lk 19.10: 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

When searching for the work of the Son, I came across this passage in Titus 3, which explains the work: But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The work of God culminated in this moment. Jesus knew the hour had now come for this work to be accomplished – and that this work was now done. And he makes this declaration when he takes his last breath: It is finished. Peter articulates the Plan of God when he preaches his great sermon at Pentecost: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

God’s Plan was seen by Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah and the list goes on. Peter mentions this in the first chapter of his 1st epistle: Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Yes, this was God’s plan: The plan of salvation. Set in place through centuries of work:

  • God Chose a man: Abram
  • Building a nation: Israel
  • Leading those people.
  • Giving them the Law, so that they might know their sin and their deep need for forgiveness. That they might know the perfection of God and that they could never be that way without his help.
  • Setting up specific requirements to meet the demand: death as punishment, blood being shed for the forgiveness of sins.
  • Year after year, this very illustration demonstrated in sacrifices – rinse, repeat. Until now, when time had run it’s course: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Gal 4.4-5);
  • This very thought caused Paul to say to the Ephesians (1.4-14):

In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Transition: Today I want you to see The Power He Has, and The Purpose He Accomplised, but I also want you to the…

III.    The Position he Deserves (5)

exp.: rd v 5; It’s time to go home. Jesus asks the Father to glorify Him, together with the Father, with the glory he had shared with the Father before the world began. We see this glory in so many places:

  • Jn 1.1-3 : In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
  • Col 1.15f; He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
  • Heb 1.3: He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
  • Phil 2.5-11 – Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

app.: Jesus looked beyond the pain and suffering awaiting him in the coming hours to the hope of glory. The glory he would receive was rightfully his from the beginning. He faced the shame of the cross (i.e.: bearing all of our sin) and agony of his Father forsaking him (i.e.: turning his back to that sin) for the glory that was already his.

We’re blessed to stand on this side of history, looking back at the cross and seeing the work of Christ. Indeed, for all those who believe, we stand and sing together each Sunday and proclaim the glory of the risen Son of God. We Praise for His mighty Power and We Praise Him for His Wonderful Work which He Accomplished and We Sing Glory to His Holy Name as He take his rightful place next to the Father.

Transition: And everyday, we can begin our prayers in worship by gaining a proper perspective of who Christ is: in all of His Power, in what He has Accomplished, in who He is as God.

Calvary Cornerstone has set aside these next 120 Days of Intentionality for prayer. We want you to be intentional about prayer in everyway. So, we’re challenging you to the 7-5-2 Challenge:

  1. To pray 7 days a week by yourself. We want you to get alone for a few minutes and pray by yourself.
  2. To pray 5 days a week with your family. Yes, this can include meal times and bedtime. The goal would be involving your family in prayer.
  3. To pray 2 days a week with your spouse. Husbands and wives together. Cuddle at night and hold hands as you pray. Sneak into the pantry and lift up a couple of prayer requests. Men, this is on you.

We have notebooks for you to help in this process. There are calendars we’d like to give you to put on your refrigerator and starts you can put on the dates every time you pray as a family.

For the next few minutes, I’m going to ask the Kenny to play some music and give families a chance to respond. Elders will be here to pray with you. Come to the front and pick up a notebook and materials and accept the challenge. Spend some time at the altar praying as a family. Pray that God would use this in the life of your family.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Prayer begins with a proper perspective of the Master! Begin your prayer time with an intense, vigilant time of focus on Christ and who he is.
    1. Use Scripture if you need help. Psalm 90.1-2; Psalm 63.1-4;
    2. Use a Song of Praise or two to take you there.
  2. Don’t move forward from there until you get that perspective. Genesis 17; I am Almighty God (El-Shaddai)

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Genesis 17.1-27

Title: God’s Covenant is Confirmed

Text: Genesis 17.1-27

CIT: God appears to Abram and confirms his covenant with a sign: circumcision.

CIS: God appears to Abram and confirms his covenant with a sign: circumcision.

Introduction: We begin the passage in 17.1; 99 years old; rd 16.16; 13 years of waiting. I’ve been here almost 9 in comparison. 12.4 – 75 years;

A simple outline of the chapter, which I will not follow is:

  1. The Promise is Announced
  2. The Promise is Expressed in a Sign
  3. The Promise is Explained

Transition: So let’s begin w/…

I.          God’s Appearance to Abram (17.1-3)

exp.: rd v 1; says, I am El-Shaddai; His Name says it all: God Almighty (El-Shaddai); there is nothing He can’t do! This is me, now: this is you – walk before me and be blameless; many say we don’t have to obey the law, we live under grace, but what about the blameless part? Balance! Life like our righteousness will save us, Know that our righteousness is as filthy rags. Rd v 2; a covenant is already established, God’s promise will be fulfilled when Abram is multiplied; rd v 3; Abram’s response: fell on his face!

ill.: I sure wish we could be more like this when we entered worship. Maybe not the posture so much as the attitude.

app.: these first 3 verses speak volumes to me…

  • I want to see God for who he really is and what he can really do. I don’t want to doubt or limit him.
  • I want to walk blamelessly in his presence.
  • I want to always have the right attitude before him.

Transition: the stage is set, then God speaks 93b);

II.      God’s Announcement of His Covenant (17.4-14)

exp.: rd v 4; The Covenant is:

  1. Essence of the Covenant: Stated as with you – the father of many nations (4)
  2. Exemplified in a name change: Abraham (5); Abram means exalted father; Abraham means father of a multitude;
  3. Established as Eternal (7-8); Everlasting (rd 7, 8, 13, 19); two parts:

i.     People (rd: 15.13-14)

ii.     Land (rd:15.15-16)

4. Expressed as Essential (9-14); rd

i.     Obedience is required; rd v 9-10; you shall keep;

ii.     Blood & Pain is involved; rd v 11; in the flesh; 12-13; an external sign as an internal commitment; it’s permanent; illustration of the wedding ring; NO! it can be taken off and replaced; this is physically altering and cannot be changed! V 10 says who, v 11a says where, v 11b says why, and v 12 says when. Furthermore, there is no hierarchy involved. This is for the son, as well as the slave!

iii.     Obedience is once again commanded; rd v 14; disobedience is equated with braking the covenant.

iv.     Illustrations of blood and pain: Genesis 34.8, 14, 25,-29; Joshua 5 – this would take great faith to trust God!

Transition: God Appears and Announces his covenant again to Abram; 3rd

III.    God’s Answer to Abram’s Struggle of Faith (17.15-19)


  1. God’s Plan is Expressed in a name change: Sarah; princess; same as Sarai, but more dialectical to the area. Princesses give birth to kings; Princess Diana – much was made about William; and when William and Kate, then had Prince George, much was made about his birth. Now compare the wonderful news in the 80’s to William, and more recently, of George to Sarah’s expecting a child. No, more than that, a lineage! Rd v 16; Before, Abram was promised progeny, here, however, more details emerge. The gender of the child is given – a son!
  2. God’s Plan is Examined by Abram:

i.     The Physical aspect: rd v 17; I’m not sure if this is from v 3 or rather from laughter! Now, it’s only been 14 years since Abraham was able to impregnate Hagar. But 14 years is a long time. There is a big difference between 21 and 35; between 36 and 50; between 51 and 65; between 66 and 80!

ii.     The Practical aspect: read v 18; It makes sense. He’s already alive; He’s loved by his Father; Do you ever try to tell God what makes sense?

    3.   God’s Plan is Explained:

i.     Isaac: rd v 19; No, Sarah will have a son (gender) and furthermore, you’ll name him Isaac! He laughs; Who laughs? God? The name itself infers God. Jacob is a derivative of ya-qob-el (may El protect); Ishmael; Isaac is derivative of Isaacel; There is no reference in Scripture where God laughs in a positive manner. Every reference is to mock. Maybe it’s Abram? Maybe it will describe Isaac; Either way, we know Abraham’s laughter and we’ll se Sarah laugh in Ch 18 when she hears Abraham talking with God about

ii.     Ishmael: rd v 20; I have heard your prayers; Ishmael will be taken care of;

  1. Blessing
  2. Many descendants
  3. Twelve Princes
  4. A great nation, too.

iii.     Isaac: reiterated; rd v 21; rd v 22;

app.: I love God’s compassion toward Abraham. His reassurance concerning Ishmael;

Transition: God Appears and Announces his covenant again to Abram; and in loving tender compassion, God Answers Abraham’s laughter and practical solutions. So what does Abe do?

IV.    Abraham’s Obedience (17.23-27)


  1. Abraham
  2. Ishmael
  3. His whole household

Observations & Implications:

  1. What does the Name El-Shaddai mean to you? For me, it means he can do all things; And more, Phil 4.13
  2. Tell me about your walk with God. Do you see your life that way? Walking with God
  3. What is your attitude before him when you enter his presence in Worship
    1. Sunday morning
    2. Daily
    3. Hourly – walking with God

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John 17.1

Title: The Lord’s Prayer: An Introduction

Text: John 13.1-17.1

CIT: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.

CIS: Jesus offers his disciples final instructions before his prayer and his passion.


Let me spend a moment updating you on where we are and where we will be in the coming months. My current plan is to preach on Prayer this month: specifically, The Lord’s High Priestly Prayer. Here then, is a sneak peak at the next few months sermons series I have planned.

–       January – The Lord’s Prayer

–       February & March – The Lord’s Passion

–       April & May – The Lord’s Purpose

Now, with this being said, I want to talk to you today about prayer. Not just today, but for the next few weeks. This is a subject in which I’m not qualified to speak as an expert. I should be, no doubt. It is my job description – Ministry of the Word and Prayer. It is something I know about and have experienced. However, the more I learn about it, the more I realize what a novice I truly am. It seems unfair or unjust for me, a mere student of this topic, to wax eloquent upon Prayer. Let me give you two reasons for why I can and plan on doing this very thing this month:

  • 1st, my job will be to look at Christ and his high priestly prayer – not my poor example of prayer. My personal experience will be a limited illustration. My task will be to focus on Christ and his prayer.
  • 2nd, it’s in the text. I can’t skip it – no matter how hard the topic.
  • I began preaching through John some years ago. I believe it was in ’09. I left it, came back to it, left it again. The plan is now to finish it up this Spring. For January – our focus on prayer:

I’ve divided this passage up into 4 parts to be looked at over four weeks.

–       John 17.1 is the introduction and a chance to recapitulate what has happened in Chapters 13-16.

–       John 17.1-6 will be a look at Jesus praying for himself and a glimpse at the Eternal Purpose and Plan of God.

–       John 17.7-19 will focus on His prayer for his disciples.

–       Finally, 17.20-25 will focus on us, those believers who follow Christ today.

Our concern for prayer is pretty straight forward.

–       The Bible Commands Prayer and assumes it is a part of the believers life.

–       The Bible also records examples of prayer for us to learn by.

–       The Old Testament is filled with examples

  • Abram prayed
    • For Ishmael
    • For Abimelech
    • For God to spare Sodom
    • His servant prayed for guidance when he was sent by Abram to find a wife for Isaac.
    • Isaac prayed for Rebecca, that her womb would be opened.
    • Jacob prayed for protection against Esau
    • Moses prayed quite a bit
      • My favorite is when he interceded for Israel.
      • For Aaron
      • For Miriam
    • Joshua prayed
    • Gideon prayed
    • Samson prayed
    • Hannah prayed for a son and Eli prayed for Hannah
    • Samuel prayed
    • David prayed
    • Solomon prayed

And the list goes on and on of:

–       Kings prayed for themselves and for their people. Hezekiah comes to mind in his prayer for deliverance.

–       Prophets prayed and interceded for their people. Elijah at Mt. Carmel, Elisha over a dead child and for his servants eyes to be opened to the spiritual realm. Jonah, from the belly of a giant fish! Daniel prayed regularly.

–       Ezra and Nehemiah prayed as the people returned from captivity and established their homeland again.

–       Book after book we find pray-ers and prayers. None more popular than Psalms where we learn to pray the ACTS model – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.

Likewise, the NT is filled with prayers.

–       In the book of Acts we find the church devoted to prayer.

–       The Apostles establish their work through prayer.

–       Paul pleads for churches to remember him in their prayers and he promises to remember them, too. Indeed, his whole ministry was characterized by prayer from his conversion, on!

–       You remember when Peter was kept in prison, the church was kept in prayer!

Still, of all the examples we have, none is matched by the prayers of our Savior.

–       It was He who taught us to pray: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

–       His prayers are so perfect, the disciples ask him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

–       His life was marked with prayer: Early in the morning; in front of people or alone; Event after event; setting after setting; time and again; Jesus prayed.

–       It was because of his example that we pray like we do;

  • He taught us to call God “Father”
  • To pray in his name
  • To pray in numbers
  • To fast, humble ourselves

Listen to John MacArthur: But of all the prayers of Jesus, the one recorded here in the seventeenth chapter of John’s gospel is the most profound and magnificent. Its words are plane, yet majestic; simple, yet mysterious. They plunge the reader into the unfathomable depths of the inter-Trinitarian communication between the Father and the Son, and the scope encompasses the entire sweep of redemptive history from election to glorification, including the themes of regeneration, revelation, illumination, sanctification, and preservation. The veil is drawn back and the reader is escorted by Jesus Christ into the Holy of Holies, to the very throne of God.

What an invitation! What an opportunity! Today, we’ll look at this introduction to the Lord’s Prayer – The Real Lord’s Prayer, verse 1 of Ch. 17. I’ve divided this verse into three parts:

The Setting of the Prayer: When Jesus had spoken these things

His Posture in Prayer: He lifted up his eyes to heaven

His Request in Prayer: Glorify yourself through your son

Transition: Let’s begin with the Setting.

I.          The Setting (17.1a)

exp.: rd v 1.a; When Jesus had spoken these words; What words? DA Carson says: In some respects the prayer is a summary of the entire Fourth Gospel to this point. Its principal themes include Jesus’ obedience to his Father, the glorification of his Father through his death/exaltation, the revelation of God in Christ Jesus, the choosing of the disciples out of the world, their mission to the world, their unity modeled on the unity of the Father and the Son, and their final destiny in the presence of the Father and the Son.

The Setting: Well, the context goes back to 13.1 up to here in 17.1; For our purposes today, we’ll look at the immediate context of Chapters 13-17; 11.1ff – Lazarus is raised; in 12.1ff we have the triumphal entry; in 13.1ff, we have the Last Supper; as a reference of timeline

Jesus moves toward Jerusalem

Jesus enters Jerusalem (Triumphal entry)

The Last Supper (Judas is revealed, Peter is warned; other instructions are given, especially concerning the Holy Spirit; 14-16)

The High Priestly Prayer

Jesus & the disciples move out across the Kidron Valley to the Mt of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Chapter 18;

ill.: There is a lot of talk and a lot of instruction. Things are very serious, Jesus is telling his disciples that he’s leaving and he is sending another “parakletos” to help them, to guide them. But there comes a moment when he stops talking and starts praying.

app.: that’s an important moment to learn; that’s is something for the wise and discerning heart to determine – when to stop talking with each other and when to start praying.

Transition: That’s the setting: ministry ends; The Last Supper with great, important instruction; now prayer. …let’s look at His Posture in prayer. Rd v 1.b;

II.      His Posture (17.1b)

exp.: he lifted up his eyes to heaven; lit.: lifting up his eyes to heaven; I think this posture speaks of his confidence; compare w/ the tax collector who standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (Lk 18.13); we’re more like the tax collector, huh? Lacking confidence and acknowledging our sinfulness, unworthy to stand and gaze into heaven and make our plea, we beat our chest and lower our heads. That’s not how it should be! We should be confident.

ill.: I’m reminded of the Son who wanted to preach. He asks his dad and insists on preaching Sunday night. If you’d come up like you went down, then you’d have gone down like you came up.

app.: Humility comes before confidence. When living our lives in faithful, humble obedience, we’re taught that we, too, can enter the throne room with Confidence and ask anything according to God’s Will. That is what Christ is doing here. He is confident and with good reason. He’s been faithful and obedient to the task the Father has given him. He’s now going to lay his request before His Father, knowing that this is His Father’s Will.

Transition: We see his posture and the setting in which this all takes place. Now, let’s look at his purpose.

III.    His Request (17.1c)

exp.: rd 17c; and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you; So what is his purpose? The Glory of His Father through his own glorification. It’s time. It’s now here. We’ll look at this more deeply next week, but the moment of redemption has come. Christ knows it. Everything in all human history has been moving in a linear fashion to this moment. The hour has come! In Jn 2.4 Jesus said his hour has not yet come, in Ch. 4 he tells the Samaritan woman that the hour is coming. In 5.25, 28 Jesus says an hour is coming. In 7.30 it says they couldn’t arrest him because his hour had not yet come. It says the same thing in 8.20. Something happens in Ch 12. Some Greeks come seeking the Savior. Do you remember? 12.20ff; BOOM. Something has happened. We never hear if these guys get in to see Jesus or not. But this moment marks that something different has happened. BTW: that’s the end of his ministry. We move into Ch. 13 and Jesus enters the upper room where he’ll partake of the Last Supper with his disciples. There he instructs them as we’ve already talked about.

Transition: Isn’t it interesting, ironic, that this, the longest recorded prayer of Jesus, is not called the Lord’s Prayer? This really is the Lord’s Prayer, but that title has been used elsewhere. Here, we’re given a front row seat to the prayer of Jesus – praying for himself, his disciples and us – those who would believe their message.

Observations & Implications:

  1. We cannot over emphasis the importance of this prayer. It teaches us, it instructs us.
  2. We can never learn enough about prayer. And yet, experience is our greatest teacher.
  3. Salvation begins with a prayer!

Andrew Murray: The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer. It is in the personal relation to the living God, and the personal conscious fellowship of love with Himself, that prayer begins. It is in the knowledge of God’s Fatherliness, revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the power of prayer will be found to root and grow.

If you’ve never prayed that prayer, I want to give you the chance right now.

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The Little Drummer Boy

Title: The Little Drummer Boy

Text: John 10.10

Introduction: the Little Drummer Boy is a story about a boy named Aaron who is orphaned when he’s little. It was at the hand of bandits that his parents lost their lives. His hatred for men only grows as he meets those who would use him. The only physical item left from his life with his family is a drum his parents gave him. Aaron plays his drum and the animals join in on his play. Aaron then puts his friendship and trust in these animals. Along his journey he makes three friends: Joshua the camel, Samson the mule, and Allie Baba the lamb. One day a man named Ben Hamin recognizes Aaron’s gift and enslaves him to play in his traveling caravan. During the course of this part of his life, the three kings from the orient need a camel and so Ben Hamin sells Aaron’s friend, Joshua the Camel to them. In order to save Joshua, Aaron must follow the same star the three kings were following. The star leads them to Bethlehem to the place the Savior is Born. There in Bethlehem, Allie Baba is hit by a chariot and injured. One of the three kings from the orient says he can’t help him, but this babe can.

Your gift, given out of desperation of a pure heart is the one favored above all.

There is a gift that’s been given for you. Life. As a Christian, you have a wonderful gift. In this passage today, there are 4 aspects to this life that John points out:

  • Physical Life
  • Purposeful Life
  • Protected Life
  • Promised Eternal Life

Transition: Let’s look at this 1st aspect:

I.         Physical Life. 

exp.: rd v 10; “may have life”; this isn’t spiritual alone; physical because the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy; Oh, how often do people miss that? How often do we think only of heaven as the gift of life and forget that we can journey through this life with God.

app.: I think so many miss out on life and never live it as God designed because they let Satan creep in and steal, kill and destroy the beauty that God intended life to be.

Ill.: they live life like Aaron in the movie – filled with hatred and bitterness at all they didn’t get. They let a few mean, evil people destroy their life, steal away the joy they could have. Some people get so down about it, that they take their own life. That is when the thief gets his ultimate victory.

Transition: No, Christ came to give us life filled with joy and peace. But look at that 2nd aspect, it really builds on the 1st

II.       Purposeful Life. 

exp.: rd 10c; “Have it abundantly”; lit.: more; abundantly more, exceedingly more; Satan wants you to just exist, to live and die by eking out an existence! He wants your focus on things! Turn to Lk 16.10

  1. Physical Dimension.  Luke 16:11
  2. Spiritual Dimension. Look at 1 John 3:8-10 – Purpose statement;

app.: we see his purpose is to destroy the work of Satan and set us free from sin. Rd v 10 again;

ill.: using things and loving people, that’s the way it should be. Not using people and loving things. He who loves his brother.

Transition: Physical Life, Purposeful Life and 3rd,

III.     Protected Life.

exp.: rd v 11-13; “I Am the Good Shepherd.” Not like the hired hand; these sheep are mine! Rd v 14-18; this includes us – Gentiles; we are His sheep; Ps 95.6-7; John 10:27-29; we are His and no one is able to snatch us out of the Father’s hand; Here is the principle: He who is able to save you, is able to keep you!

Transition: Physical Life, Purposeful Life, Protected Life and finally,

IV.     Promised Eternal Life.

exp.: rd v 19-30; Did you see that in v 28? “I give them eternal life” and they will never perish! John 3:16

Conclusion: Jesus came to this earth to restore life to all who are spiritually dead.  The cross over-shadows the manger.  Jesus provides the ultimate Christmas gift.  Did you tell Him thank you?  Let the Lord’s Supper enable you to say thanks this morning.

Observance of the Lord’s Supper

–       A reminder of his purpose in coming

–       A reminder to not enter in lightly

Observations & Implications:

  1. Live life to the fullest possible extent. Enjoy a sunrise, a sunset. Visit a state this year you’ve never been to before. Live life to the full.
  2. If you’ve never accepted this free gift, I offer it to you today.

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