Monthly Archives: May 2014

John 20.24-31

Title: Unbelievable!

Text: John 20.24-31

CIT: Mary and the disciples are commissioned to go and tell. This involves sharing with other disciples. Thomas, however, refuses to believe without seeing and touching Jesus. Jesus meets him at his need.

CIS: We’ve been commissioned and tasked with going and telling, too.

Introduction: Last week I ended the message and presented my conclusion. My son, Stephen, who was down here visiting for Mother’s Day, asked why I didn’t address the last verse. I thought I did, so I asked Lisa and she confirmed Stephen’s thinking. You see, the last verse is a tough verse to understand. To recap: last week we looked at verses 19-23; and in that passage, Jesus confirms who he is by displaying his wounds. Then, he commissions them to go. That really was the whole message. What I wanted to do, but apparently failed to do was to show that Jesus was now through. His job done, he would soon return to the father. He told them this from the beginning. He would return to the Father and he would send the Holy Spirit to continue the work. With Jesus now leaving, he commissions his disciples to take this message of hope to the lost world. They would do the communicating, but the Holy Spirit would do the convicting.

I think we sometimes forget that and try to do the convicting part ourselves. But that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Let me pull this all together. It’s the evening of resurrection day. Jesus does something that we see is a reference to what he’s been teaching them. Not just in John 7, but continually – they would one day receive the Holy Spirit. He’s saying that a transition is occurring – things are changing. All that Christ has been trying to teach them is now coming to pass. Shortly they’ll receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they will be his witnesses throughout the world. We see him issuing this commission: he says, this commissioning is based on His authority in the following statement; rd v 23;

This isn’t sacerdotalism (big word!). That’s the power of the priest. But we have a message of forgiveness. That’s it! Jesus is sending these disciples and he sends us, too with a message of forgiveness. People will accept this message and people will reject this message. You offer forgiveness to those who receive it and you withhold forgiveness from those who reject it. An unrepentant person doesn’t have the forgiveness extended to them. That’s what that means. Don’t read attitude into it. Oh, yeah! You reject Christ! Well, He rejects you! NO, NO, NO. Remember – you communicate the gospel. The Holy Spirit does the convicting.

Transition: Interestingly enough, we meet someone who does just that. His name is Thomas and he refuses to believe. Disbelief is what this next passage is all about. I’ve divided the passage into three parts:

  • The Reality of Disbelief
  • The Remedy for Disbelief
  • The Reaction against Disbelief

Let’s begin with the 1st section: The Reality of Disbelief. Look at v 24;

1.     The Reality of Disbelief (24-25)

exp.: rd v 24; He was out, he wasn’t even there; Lots of people have reasons for missing out. When I was a young man, I hated missing church. It seemed every Sunday, something wonderful happened. I hated hearing about it – I always wanted to be there to experience it first hand.

Who knows why Thomas was out? Some have reasoned that he was afraid, but I don’t think so. John is the only writter who records any of Thomas’ words. He speaks in John 11 and says: 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” That’s pretty bold – on the same level as Peter, who pulled his sword to defend the Lord. Whatever the reason for his absence doesn’t matter. The disciples who did see Jesus share with him; rd v 25; The Greek uses a double negative; οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω; But he doesn’t believe it – and with good reason; rd 26a; 8 days later; I wonder how many times the disciples tried to explain what happened to Thomas? Rd 26b; Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas (was) with them. Same situation, only this time Thomas is in the room. Rd 26c; Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” He’s just there and says: Hey! Then something really cool happens: he addresses Thomas; rd 27;

ill.: You know what? Sometimes, people who desire an intellectual leaning, struggle with the supernatural. As a matter of fact, you present the facts of the resurrection and they come up with another theory. As a young man I loved The Resurrection Factor, because the book takes you on a journey of intellectual discovery. Josh McDowell does a great job of presenting the various theories raised as alternatives to the resurrection and then ripping them apart.

But you know what? It’s ok that people struggle with the resurrection. That’s ok. Jesus knows and he’ll meet them where they are. He’ll give them just what they need.

app.: Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

  • You have no power or control over anyone else. Your job isn’t to make people believe.
  • You have the power and control over praying and presenting the truth. That’s it. You present the truth with your words and the actions to affirm your words. Your job is to simply tell them. The decision is theirs!
  • They’re not rejecting you, but rather the Gospel.

Transition: You just keep praying and presenting the truth. That’s what Jesus does here – he presents himself (The Truth) to Thomas; He’s the remedy for disbelief;

2.     The Remedy for Disbelief (27-29)

exp.: Look back at v 26c; He’s just there and says: Hey! Then something really cool happens: he addresses Thomas; rd 27-29; I think it’s interesting that Thomas doesn’t have to touch the wounds of Jesus. It seems he feels foolish, but makes an astounding claim: my Lord and my God. Thomas becomes part of a select group of people: Mary, Peter, the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, The disciples who had gathered in the room. Paul says to the Corinthians, and to over 500 people, many of whom were still alive when he wrote that letter. But I’m most impressed with John, who was the 1st to believe without having seen the risen Lord.

Today, we’re more like John. We’ve not been granted this privilege of seeing him face to face – at least not yet. Today, we journey by faith, not by sight or smell, not by hearing or touching. We’re presented the evidence and called to believe, to trust, to faith.

Many years have passed between Thomas’ moment of clarity and John’s spilling of ink. John first witnessed it as a young man – probably, somewhere in his late teens. Born sometime early in that 1st century, he’s living in the last part of that century. There have been other records of Christ’s life, but John feels the need to accurately journal his own, personal experience of Christ’s life. And, he tells us why in the next couple of verses…

Transition: I wonder what it is like for John in this moment. I imagine he puts down his quill and covers his ink. He has had a long life, filled with ministry to others. His nickname has changed with the passing of time: John, the beloved; John, the apostle; John, the elder. Soon after he passes, he will be called John, the revelator. All of his friends are now long gone. Each has suffered a martyr’s death, because they believed this very message. Indeed, John is exiled to Patmos for his crime related to this message. I guess he’s just too old to put to death. I wonder what thoughts cross his mind as he listens to the sounds of the sea and the wind. Going is no longer an option as a prisoner. So, like Paul, he picks up his quill to write again.

In this passage we have The Reality of Disbelief: an example in Thomas, The Remedy for Disbelief: an encounter with the risen Christ, and finally…

3.     The Reaction against Disbelief (17.1c)

exp.: rd v 30; If you recall, there were seven (7) signs John recorded over the past 20 chapters. He makes it clear that he only mentions these few. Down in the next chapter he’ll write: Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Now look at v 31; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. The purpose wasn’t to record everything Jesus ever said or did – the purpose is for you and me to believe Jesus is the Christ, and that by believing, you and I might have eternal life.

app.: Concerning the reaction against disbelief, there is an interesting connection between this great commission and this gospel message – the actual going and extending forgiveness. These are two components of your life. You have this Gospel message, but it means nothing if it’s not shared. It’s like love – love isn’t really love until it’s given away. On the one hand, you have been sent – commissioned, but going means nothing if you go and withhold this vital information. Sure, you can go and serve: feed the hungry, house the homeless, care for the sick and the dying. These are all noble and worthy causes for your time. But if you say nothing, what eternal good have you done?

On the other hand, the message alone can be invalidated when presented without love. I wonder if the world sometimes responds to our message as: Oh, and I can see it’s done so much for you! It’s amazing to me to think that most instances in my life, where people have surrendered their lives to Christ – those instances have been born out of turmoil, struggle and loss. It’s within these instances, circumstances and situations of need that people are drawn to Christ. How can we present a message of compassion without compassion? How can we present a message of love, without love? How can we present a message of hope, without any hope? How can we present a message of forgiveness, without forgiveness? We must be more than salesman, ladies and gentlemen – we must be satisfied customers, too.

Transition: Have you ever wondered why Jesus only appeared after his resurrection to the disciples? Wouldn’t it have been pretty effective to appear to Annas and Caiaphas? Or maybe Pilate and Herod? My guess is that they still would not have believed – as in keeping with their actions, they would have explained it all away – just like they did with the empty tomb. Abraham and Lazarus; No, Jesus chose instead to appear to those who loved him – to entrust to them this message of forgiveness and hope.

 

Take-a-ways:

  1. Think through your presentation of the gospel.
    1. With whom now are you sharing? Pray for that person or those people by name.
    2. Is your message coupled with your service to them?
    3. Is your service coupled with your message of hope and forgiveness?
  2. Thing now about success: how do you measure that?
    1. Remember: you cannot control others; you can only can control you! \
    2. Success is sharing. Are you doing that regularly?
  3. Invitation
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John 20.19-23

Title: Even so I am sending you

Text: John 20.19-23

CIT: As with Mary, Jesus commissions the disciples with a message of forgiveness.

CIS: We have that same mandate – a message of reconciliation.

 

Introduction: rd v 19a; On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, I wonder what that day was like. It started pretty early with Mary’s report. John and Peter ran to the tomb. Surely their report, coupled with Mary’s would have set off a firestorm. Every single disciple would have made his (or her) way to investigate. Every disciple! I can’t possibly imagine someone in their position not going. Sure, they were afraid; rd 19b (the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews). But, still, they’d do what Peter and John did. I just can’t imagine it being enough just to hear. For sure, each man there would have risked their fears to satisfy their curiosity. The day would have been filled with the story of Christ’s disappearance and Mary’s explanation. One by one or in groups of two or three, they would have ventured over to see what had happened as they heard about it. According to Luke version of the resurrection and appearances, and Paul’s declaration in 1 Corinthians 15.3, Peter had also seen the Lord. Remember it’s night now and the disciples on the road to Emmaus have run back and added their story to the drama being played out. Some have seen Christ, some have seen the empty tomb and others are just confused by it all.

Enter Jesus. He just appears. No open windows or doors to come through. He is just… there! I’m sure the room fell silent as he stands there. Voices dropping as the room falls silent. Rd v 19c; Shalom, he says. He must have known what they were thinking – that they were seeing a ghost. So to alleviate their fears, he shows them his hands and his side. So what does he do first: He confirms that it really is Him. I say this because v 20 says they rejoiced to see it. rd v 20; Kara – Joy in verb form. So, first he confirms.

What’s the message John records here? All these years later, as John, Christendom’s patriarch in the church reflecting back to his teen years – his early adult years, what’s the 1st thing he says to them? He says hello again and then, rd v 21: As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.; Most literally, this verse is translated: Just as (in the same manner, in the same way) the father has commissioned me (you see, the word for sent is the same word we get “apostle” from, which means sent with a commission)

Let that sink in for just a moment: Just as the father has commissioned me, I am also sending you.

  • The 1st words to this group – who’ve been walking with him for a few years now and who know him so well…
  • The 1st words to this group – those who’ve been hiding out of fear for the last couple of days because of his death…
  • The 1st words these people hear – those who experienced his faithfulness to his Father’s commissioning;
  • his 1st words are: Just as the father has commissioned me I also send you.

So the first action of Jesus is to confirm that it really is him, they’re not seeing a ghost. And the 2nd action he takes is to commission them.

So, what does it mean to be commissioned? I think for us, the commissioning is seen in our Savior’s next action; Rd v 22;

  1. He breathes on them. Gen 2.7: then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. So, he breathes on them, I suppose you would say in a symbolic gesture and says to them:
  2. Receive the Holy Spirit. Now, they won’t receive the Holy Spirit until Acts 2; however, Turn to John 7.37; 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Ill.: The Feast of Tabernacles/Booths – This morning would shape up like any of the other mornings. It was the seventh day of the festival. This morning the men rise early and get moving. There is a massive wave of men moving to three different places. The first is to the Temple were the sacrifices for the day will be lifted up.

This is a huge undertaking. There will be no less than 446 priests and an equal number of Levites to conduct this sacrificial ceremony. It is huge and these men are excited as they make their way to the appointed positions that they will take up. The only days that are different are the first two and the last. These days take on a restful, reflective Sabbath day.

These sacrifices began at the beginning of the Festival with 13 different sacrifices taking place. I believe they were all bulls being offered. It will conclude this day with the smallest number of bulls being sacrificed: seven.

What would it be like, if we could be one of their number? Women, and children, if you could stand on the rooftop and catch a bird’s eye view? What would we see? What would we hear?

This huge number of men and their teenage sons leaving their ‘booths’ at daybreak. The are all decked out in festive array. In the right hand of each man is a set of branches. This set of branches consists of one myrtle, one palm and one willow branch, with the palm-branch in betwixt the other two. This is the Lulabh. IN the right hand, another branch, some sort of citrus branch. It is called the Ethrog. Now, this second branch was a point of controversy with the Sadducees.

Thus armed, with the Lulabh in the right and the Ethrog in the left hand, this massive army of men would make their way to three different areas in Jerusalem. As they moved along they would divide into three different groups.

The first group moved to the Temple area where the fire sacrifices would be offered up. They would remain there for the Morning Sacrifices. Another band would make its way in procession below Jerusalem to a place called “Moza”. This road is referred to by scholars as the road they think lead to Emmaus, where Jesus met two disciples after his resurrection. Here, these men would cut down willow branches and adorn the altar while the priests blew on their “shafar”. This would create a leafy canopy over the altar.

A third company of men would move in a processional from the group left at the Morning Sacrifice. These men would follow a Priest who had a golden pitcher, holding about two pints. Onwards the processional would go, led by the Priest. He would make his way to the Pool of Siloam, fed by a living spring. This Pool of Siloam is the same pool mentioned in Nehemiah 2:14: The King’s Pool. King Hezekiah had it built it because he wanted to divert water and protect their water supply from those who were trying to conquer Jerusalem. Here at this same pool the Priest would dip his golden pitcher into the waters and fill it. Then the whole group would return with the priest, timing it so that they would arrive just as the parts of the animal were being laid out for the morning sacrifice. A trumpet sound (three times) would mark the arrival of the Priest and his entourage. He would enter through the “water gate,” so named for the ceremony. He would pass through the Court of Priests. Here, another Priest who carried the wine for the drink offering would join him. These two men would ascend the altar. There were two silver funnels which led down to the base of the altar: One for the wine, the other for the water. As the priest would pour the water, the men would yell louder and louder to raise his hands and not miss the funnel.

This rose to become a tradition by the time Jesus had come onto the scene. It seems that at some point in the past there was a Priest named Alexander Jannaus. He was in favor of the Sadducees who had a point of contention about the water-pouring ordinance as given by Moses. In protest, he poured it out on the ground before he got to the funnel. All the men saw it and began pelting him with whatever they could pick up. He survived, but a riot ensued and as many as 6,000 men were killed in the fights.

And so the men would join in the yelling and screaming to the priest to raise his arms to ensure he didn’t spill any of the water-offering. The Pharisees, who were the more conservative – legalistic group, won out and by the time of Jesus, the men would make this an exciting, loud part of the festivities.

After pouring the water into the funnels, the great ‘Hallel,’ consisting of Psalm 113 to 118 would be chanted by the hundreds, maybe thousands of men who filled that area. It was like responsive reading, only on a much larger scale. The Levites would sing or chant the first line of each Psalm and the people would repeat it. While to the other lines the people would respond with the “Hallelu Yah!”- Praise the Lord!

When they got to Ps 118, the people not only repeated the 1st line, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” They would also say vs 25: “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”

While they chanted, they would shake these branches, the Lulabh – as a reminder of God’s faithfulness in the past – a reality of their current praise and a reminder to God for his promises. Keep this in mind now. With these cries of praise and hope from the crowd, it was quickly followed by the sacrificial offering of the animal, the drink-offerings, and by the Psalm of the day, which, on the last day is Psalm 82:5; They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

The Psalm was, of course, chanted, as always, to instrumental accompaniment, and at the end of each of its three sections the Priests blew a threefold blast, while the people bowed down in worship. In further symbolism of this Feast, as pointing to the ingathering of the heathen nations, the public services closed with a procession round the Altar by the Priests, who chanted “Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success!”

But on ‘the last, the Great Day of the Feast,’ this procession of Priests made the circuit of the altar, not only once, but seven times, as if they were once again encompassing, but now with prayer, the Gentile Jericho which barred their possession of the promised land. Hence the seventh or last day of the Feast was also called that of ‘the Great Hosanna.’ As the people left the Temple, they saluted the altar with words of thanks, and on the last day of the Feast they shook off the leaves on the willow-branches round the altar, and beat their palm-branches to pieces. On the same afternoon the ‘booths’ were dismantled, and the Feast ended.

It is with all this activity going on that ‘On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! 38The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”’

Explanation: Notice in this passage the invitation: Come. All who are thirsty! The water being poured out. Note 2nd, the declaration: Believe! Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Psalm 118.19-27a; People are getting all worked up about this water being poured into these funnels and He let’s out this cry of hope for them. The one who can save them is standing right there in their midst! Now, back in John 7.39, John explains just what Jesus means – this living water is the Spirit given to us!

Transition: Let me pull this all together. It’s the evening of resurrection day. Jesus does something that we see is a reference to what he’s been teaching them. Not just in John 7, but continually – they would one day receive the Holy Spirit. He’s saying that A transition is occurring – things are changing. All that Christ has been trying to teach them is now coming to pass. Shortly they’ll receive the power of the Holy Spirit and they will be his witnesses throughout the world. We see him issuing this commission: he says, I’m giving them his authority in the following statement; rd v 23;

Transition: Oh how I wish we could see the importance of forgiveness. How many people suffer each day because they don’t know what forgiveness means. They don’t know how to forgive someone else; they don’t know how to forgive themselves. I think it is so interesting how often Jesus would say: your sins are forgiven. Really, all he needed to say was you are healed, Or your site is restored, or rise and walk. But notice he told them what they needed to hear, “your sins are forgiven.” How often does unforgiveness paralyze us? How often does unforgiveness make us ill as we bottle up the anger, resentment and bitterness?

Observations & Implications: Do you remember that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation: reconciling lost men to God? Us, being reconciled to fellow man? This means going and being restored in our relationships. But even more so, it means restoring the fractured relationship between God and man. Jesus has commissioned you to go. He has commissioned you to go and extend forgiveness to those who need it. And that can only come through the shed blood of Jesus. So my guess this morning is that there are three types of people here today:

  1. First, those who desire to be forgiven. Maybe today, someone here just wants to be forgiven. Have you ever thought to yourself:” I just wish that I could go back and change those things or that thing!” Well, you don’t have to! That’s already been taken care of and that sin has been washed away by the blood of Jesus. Reconciliation today might be with God and that comes through forgiveness. My guess is someone here today desires to be forgiven. Is that person you?
    1. For the first time
    2. For something you need to repent of…like not being faithful to the great commission.
  2. Second, those who need to extend forgiveness to someone else.Have you been hurt? Has someone done something to you that’s caused a root of bitterness to rise up or maybe anger? I wonder if the person who hurt you even knows? And if they do maybe they think it’s behind you guys. Don’t let that cancer eat away your soul. But instead forgive that person today.
  3. Third, those who need to ask someone for forgiveness. You know you’ve hurt someone or you sense the relationship has suffered recently because of your actions. This is so hard to do… but will you respond as the Lord has been dealing with your heart.

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A Charge to the Church (Ordination Service)

Title: A Charge to the Church

Text: Acts

CIT: The history of the church and its need for strong leadership.

CIS: A charge to the church at Tyler to support its leadership.

 

Let’s look at a quick history: at 1st, there were just the Apostles in leadership:

  1. The Apostles deal with the difficulties of the church themselves, that is, until Chapter 6. They needed help, so they ask for servants – διάκονος, deacons.
  2. I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the story: The widows of the Greek speaking Jews were being overlooked; The Hebrew speaking widows were getting cared for and there was some hostility rising up in the ranks. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering…

At this point there are two offices in the church:

  • Apostles – will devote themselves to prayer & the ministry of the Word.
  • Deacons – to caring for the widows.

 

1.     The Rise of Eldership: Now, somewhere between Acts 6.5 and Acts 11, a third office is created in the church – the elder. Acts 11.30 is the 1st place we see elders used in reference to the NT church. 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul. We have no idea how this happened, but it makes sense. Elders are nothing new. The Jewish community had elders for centuries.

  1. Paul and Barnabas use this model when planting churches; Acts 14.23; And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. So, they planted churches, discipled new believers and appointed elders before leaving them alone.
  2. Indeed, this is what Paul told Titus to do in his letter to Titus (1.5): This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. So elders have something to do with order in the church, But we still don’t know much about what they do. Until the next chapter…

 

2.     The Exercise of Leadership within the Christian Context: In the next chapter, as the church deals with the issue of Gentiles needing to be circumcised and practice the law, we see two offices together: Apostles and Elders (15.2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16.4). I want you to note also how the church is involved in the process. And the Church; Apostles and Elders lead, but the church isn’t left out of this. The church welcomes them and gives approval to their work.

  1. So now we begin to see a little bit of their purpose and work: along with the apostles, under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, they are to deal with theological issues along doctrinal lines. It appears that these decisions were laid before the church (cf. v 22) for their approval.
  2. Acts 16.4 is the last time we see Apostles in the book of Acts. Now, to be sure, there were still Apostles. Paul is one and his ministry is the focus in the expansion of the church throughout the rest of the book. But what we do notice is that elders now take the place of the Apostles. There were only so many Apostles and as the church exploded across the Middle East and up into Europe, leadership needed to be established.
  3. So, we begin to see some of what elders are doing – we see some of their purpose. They are dealing with issues arising in the church. They’re leading and guiding the church in spiritual matters. Apostles, those who walked with Christ and witnessed his resurrection, are fading from the scene.

 

3.     The Plurality of Leadership in the context of a single congregation.Now, the next time we see the elders in Acts is when Paul asks for them to come to Miletus. Acts 20.17: Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. We see a pattern in this text: plurality of leadership in elders serving a local church.

  • Elders – plural
  • Church – singular

We see this pattern each time the elders are mentioned with the church.

  • 15.4, 22
  • 14.23; And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

 

4.     The Exercise of Authority: This is still yet another appearance of the elders. It occurs in Acts 21.17ff; the interesting part of this story, is that it relates yet another situation where elders deal with problems in the church. It appears that many Jews had come to know Christ through the years that Paul had served among the Gentiles. There were some who stirred up the Jewish Christians about Paul, saying that Paul taught that the Jews were to forsake their heritage, their traditions, the Law of Moses. Which, of course, was not true! James (not an apostle, but rather the Lord’s brother), and the elders encouraged and instructed Paul on what he could do to quell their fears.

Transition: So, from this beginning, we see the purpose of the elders is to serve the church by leading her in doctrinal matters and protecting her from division. Their job is to protect her from unsound doctrine. Keeping her pure and unified.

Listen to John Piper: In seeking guidelines from this incident for today’s church we would have to keep in mind that the office of apostle, being linked to the witnessing of his resurrection, was an unrepeatable office. The irreplaceable function of the apostles remains for us now in the apostolic word, which we have in the New Testament. Thus the leadership of the church using only the Jerusalem model would be a group of elders under the Holy Spirit in humble conversation with the apostolic word, the New Testament.

In other words, the apostles have all died. Their function is carried on by elders, who use the apostle’s teaching as recorded in Scripture to oversee spiritual matters in the church.

Transition: So, church, what does this have to do with today’s ordination service? My task today is to present a charge to you.

 

Conclusion: The Charge

1.       In light of Scripture and calling placed upon Phil and Joshua and Jason and Lyle and me, I charge you, Calvary, to follow your leaders. Hebrews 13.17 says: Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

–       Obedience

–       Submission

 

Your 1st charge is to obey and submit. Really, there is nothing new here. Paul encourages us to already do that in our Christian relationships and in our marriages. Cf.: Ephesians 5.

 

2.       Furthermore, 1 Timothy 5.17-18 says: Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.”

 

Your 2nd charge is to honor your elders. Specifically, in this case, I’m charging you with the duty to honor Phil and his family. The text says he’s worthy of double honor. I’m asking you to hold him in high esteem. Don’t ever slander him or the elders. Hold him in the highest regard: in your speech, in your actions, in your service.

3.       The passage continues in v 19: Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Here is your 3rd Charge: Protect him from gossip, but also hold him accountable to the task he’s been given – as one who must give an account for his service. Elders are man and therefore subject to failure and sin. Elders are not perfect. They can be tempted to power and prestige. They can abuse their authority and responsibility to satisfy their own passions and pursuits. Protect them, but hold them accountable.

– Obedience

– Submission

– Honor

– Protection

– Accountability

 

The passage continues in v 22 and offers you the warning about laying hands on a man too soon. I don’t think that’s the case here. For us, it is simply a reminder of the practice to lay hands on and pray for God’s blessing for Phil’s ministry and service. Let us now have the ordained men, both deacons and elders, come and lay hands on Phil.

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Genesis 27.1-40

Title: Man’s Plans and the Sovereignty of God

Text: Genesis 27.1-40

CIT: Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau try to enact their own plans.

CIS: We must be careful not to force the plans of God by manipulating circumstances around us.

 

Introduction: Isaac’s life; Future, present, past; Here’s what he knows:

  • 25.23 – God’s prophecy and plan
  • 25.33 – Sold his birthright
  • 26.34 – Esau’s disqualification

Transition: And yet, with his knowledge of God’s plan, he sets it aside and pursues his own plan.

I.     Isaac’s Plan (1-4)

exp.: rd 1-4; that my soul may bless you before I die. Isaac knows God’s election of Jacob, but instead pursues his own plan. But Rebecca was on the other side of the tent wall – and tent walls are rather thin. Added to that, at his old age, He probably spoke at a higher volume!

Transition: So, upon hearing of Isaac’s plan, she springs into action…

II.    Rebecca’s Interception (5-17)

exp.: rd v 5-10; Her Plan: deceive Isaac

  1. The Meal (rd v 5-10, 14); Jacob’s Hesitation: not out of moral or ethical standards, but out of fear – a curse! (11-13)
  2. The Disguise: (15-17)

i.     His clothes

ii.     Animal skins;

iii.     Sent him in…

III.   Jacob’s Deception (18-25)

exp.: Lies:

  1. Lie #1: I am Esau Your firstborn…
  2. Lie #2: The LORD your God granted me success… I think it’s something to lie, I think it’s something all together worse, when we make God an accomplice to our lies.
  3. Lie #3: When questioned if he really was “Esau my son”, Isaac Lied and said, “I am”
  4. The dinner
  5. Betrayed with a kiss; a smell like Esau’s

Questions:

  • Is it ok to lie to bring about God’s plan?
  • Can you be dishonest in your financial gain in order to prosper your family or ministry?
  • Do pastor’s have the right to fabricate illustrations to make a point valid?
  • Is it ok to lie to foreign governments to do mission work where doors are closed to missionaries?

IV.    The Blessing (26-29)

exp.: Here is a 4-fold blessing of dominion:

  1. Prosperity: heaven & earth working together to bring him plenty. (28)
  2. Prominence: over the nations (29a)
  3. Position: over his brother and his brother’s posterity. (29b)
  4. Protection: blessings and curses (29c); we’re reminded of Gen. 12.1-3; God blesses Abraham and it continues through Isaac’s son.

Transition: Blessings: The messiah and the church.

V.    Esau’s Own Doing (30-40)

exp.: rd v 30-33; I wonder what this was like…; Isaac’s violent trembling and Esau’s anguish; rd 34-40;

  • Opposite of Jacob’s blessings

o   2 Kings 8.20-22

Transition: Next week, we’ll pick up with Esau’s hatred and Jacob’s flight.

Conclusion

Observations & Implications:

  1. The actions of everyone were detestable
    1. Isaac sought to circumvent the plan of God and institute his own.
    2. Rebecca chose to deceive her husband and bring about God’s plans by her own.
    3. Jacob was complicit in his actions toward his father. He feared getting caught, not doing wrong.
    4. Esau disregarded the Word of God and actually began to despise the promise of God.
  2. Everyone was affected by their decisions (Hughes: Everyone in the family sought the blessings of God without bending the knee to God. This little family was fraught with ambition, jealousy, envy, lying, deceit, coveting, malice, manipulation, stubbornness, and stupidity.)
    1. Rebecca lost her favorite son, and as far as we know, never saw him again.
    2. Jacob was sent away and spent 20 years in exile. He would suffer the deception of his Uncle Laban.
    3. Esau lost his birthright and his blessing. He was saddled with hatred, bitterness and resentment.
    4. Isaac, blind in more than one way, blew up his family.
  3. There is something truly amazing about the sovereignty of God in the midst of our rebellion and disbelief. Isaac opposed God’s plan and sought to rectify things his way. Rebecca and Jacob conspired to deceive Jacob to get their way. Esau was simply indifferent to the promises of God. And yet, God was victorious. This should be a reminder to us of how to act in the present – God is sovereign. And toward our future. God is sovereign and I want to be used as a positive example – not a negative one!

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Genesis 26.1-35

Title: When God Goes with You!

Text: Genesis 26.1-35

CIT: God promises his presence as Isaac sojourns.

CIS: God’s presence is a powerful reality in our lives.

 

Introduction: I think the last couple of chapters have been about trusting God.

Learning to Trust – Gen 25

Growing as you Trust – Gen 26

 

1.     The Promise of God’s Presence (1-5)

  1. God’s Presence in Problems

i.     Problems: A Famine; rd v 1;

  1. So, to stay meant a struggle to find food and water
  2. God gives Isaac some instructions for enduring this problem
    1. Do not…
    2. Dwell…
    3. Sojourn…

ii.     Promise: “I will” be with you; I will bless you; I will give; I will establish; I will multiply; I will give; I don’t know if this is a principle for life or not, but it seems to me that God always gives more than he asks;

  1. Gen 26.3 – to Isaac
  2. Gen 31.3 – to Jacob
  3. Ex 3.12 – to Moses
  4. Deut. 31.23; Josh 1.5; 3.7 – to Joshua
  5. Judges 6.16 – to Gideon
  6. 1 Kings 11.38 – to Jeroboam
  7. Isa. 43.2 – to Israel; to the Church

iii.     God’s Faithfulness in Abraham’s Faithfulness (5)

 

  1. The Practice of God’s Presence (6-25)
    1. God’s Presence in Sin; God’s doesn’t abandon Isaac the 1st moment he messes up!

i.     Isaac’s foolish decision made in fear (6-7)

ii.     Abimelech confronts Isaac (8-10)

iii.     Abimelech’s wise leadership (11)

B.  God’s Blesses Isaac

i.     He prospers and is sent away (12-16)

ii.     He prospers and experiences conflict (17-22)

iii.     Lesson: There is a famine in the land and Isaac:

–   Finds water in a time of famine

–   Experiences growth in his flocks, herds and workers

C.  God Reiterates His Promise

i.     I am with you – the promise reiterated from v 3;

ii.     Isaac’s Response – ‘called upon the Name of the LORD’; Isaac does as his father and his

  1. Gen. 4.26 – Seth, Enosh; Seth was Adam’s son
  2. Gen. 12.8; 13.4 – Abraham
  3. Deu. 4.7 – Israel
  4. Judg 15.18 – Samson
  5. 1 Sam. 12.17, 18 – Samuel
  6. The list goes on: I think it means to pray, to lay your requests on him.

 

  1. The Proof of God’s Presence (26-35)
    1. Proverbs 16.7: When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
    2. Rd 26-29: we see plainly that the LORD has been with you; you are blessed of the Lord.
    3. Isn’t this what God promised: Future – I will be with you (v4), Present – I am with you (v24), Past (v 28) – The Lord has been with you.

Conclusion: So, we see God’s blessing in material ways with Isaac. Is it still that way today? Yes and no. I don’t think you equate spiritual blessings and the presence of God in material things. 1st, non-believers are the recipients of financial windfalls. You could argue that they are reaping the benefits of a godly heritage. But that isn’t always the case. 2nd, I know godly people who’ve been blessed by God, but they’re not rich.

Listen to Hughes in his commentary on Genesis: Today God’s presence in the lives of believers cannot be determined materially as it was with the patriarchs in the old economy, but by more profound, searching means. God’s presence will be seen by unbelievers as we Christians navigate the ups and downs of life. I witnessed an entire nursing staff and several doctors seeing this as they observed the conduct of a godly couple throughout the illness and death of their infant son. I heard the attending physician voice the admiration of all, which was confirmed by their attendance at the memorial service. God was seen to be with the grieving couple.

3rd, we have the promise of God in Matt 28.20 – Lo, I am with you always! With this promise for us, it begs the question: Do people see God’s presence in my life when I endure the problems of life? 

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May 7, 2014 · 10:05 pm