Monthly Archives: February 2015

2 Corinthians 9.6-15

Title: Divine Principles of Generous Giving

Text: 2 Corinthians 9.6-15

CIT: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

CIS: The goal of this message is to challenge the congregation to give above and beyond their normal tithes to give sacrificially toward the Mission we’ve accepted to our UUPG.

Caveat: Because of the nature of this message, I’m going to ask you to record; however, toward the end, I’m going to ask you to stop the recording so that I can speak freely. Ok?

Introduction:

We concluded last week with a challenge to give sacrificially to our UUPG. Some of you may be caught off guard this morning. Maybe you didn’t make it last week and aren’t sure even of what I’m talking about. Let me catch you up.

I’m in the midst of a sermon series on giving. Don’t panic, this isn’t about tithing. Indeed, this passage is all about giving above and beyond the normal tithe. From what Robyn tells me, our church is a giving church. The only way we can really improve our giving – that is through the normal tithe – is to grow as a body. Few members of Calvary don’t give. So, if you’re sitting here today and know that you don’t tithe, you’re in the minority.

Now as a practice I have no idea who gives and who doesn’t. I’ve instructed Robyn and the girls in the office that I don’t want to know. It’s just easier that way. I’m not fond of certain people because they give a lot and I don’t hold grudges against those who don’t give. And that’s because I’m ignorant of both. Intentionally!

But again, that’s not what this message is about. The context in 2 Corinthians concerns the offering Paul had challenged the Corinthians to give toward in relief of the poor believers in Jerusalem. In our opening sermon to this series, I gave a detailed outline of Paul’s passion to bring relief to the poor. It was something that was always on his mind and always in his heart. The Corinthians had committed to this special offering; however, their passion had subsided over time. That’s the context.

Now Paul moves to a positive stance in encouraging the Corinthians to finish what they’ve started – to fulfill their commitment. He does this by telling them 4 principles to generous giving. And, not only does he give us 4 principles for Generous Giving, but he also gives us 6 benefits for generous giving. That’s 10 points! Let me tell you how I’ll present this, so you don’t get lost.

1st, I’ll go verse by verse. I won’t skip and I won’t go backward. That should help. I’ll start in 9.6;

2nd, I’ll present three of the four principles.

3rd, then, I’ll present all 6 benefits.

4th, Finally I’ll present the 4th and final principle. Ok? So, let’s get started. These principles are already written out in your text. Let me quote them:

1.     Principles for becoming a generous giver:

  1. Principle # 1: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (6)

exp.: According to Paul, that’s the point – he wants to clarify what he’s getting at. So, Paul uses A Farming Analogy; But what exactly does he mean? It sounds like – you reap what you sow: a little seed, a little harvest; A lot of seed, a bigger harvest. I think he’s saying that no farmer worries about putting out too much seed when he’s sowing. He doesn’t hold back because he’s wants to make sure that he has seed left in his barns. The seed is a necessity to his crop. He wants an abundant harvest, not a bunch of seeds. No farmer considers sowing a loss of seeds.

ill.: Paul is only teaching what was common to Jewish thought; Prov 11.24f: 24One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. 25Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. And most of you are aware of Malachi 3.10: 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

app.: The farmer willing sows every seed he can with what land he has available with the faith that God will bless and grant an abundant harvest. What sane farmer will hold back seed to cheat himself? An abundant harvest will result in more seed next year.

t.s.: Principle #1: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

  1. Principle # 2: God loves a cheerful giver. (7)

exp.: rd v 7; I don’t think Paul is being negative here by trying to make them feel guilty and spurred into giving for all the wrong reasons. Philip Hughes (NICNT): the true measure of the gift isn’t its external weight but the internal state of the giver’s heart. Which matches Jewish thought and teaching; Deu. 15.10: 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake.

ill.: The Gk word here is: ἱλαρός; Do you remember Zacchaeus? A wee-little man; he was a changed man; he said in Lk 19.8: Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold. I picture this happening at Zach’s house, actually giving away as he’s talking. It must have been authentic as Jesus said: Today salvation has come to this house.

app.: Listen to Philip Hughes again: Genuine, free, unremorseful giving is, however, as Paul reminds his readers here, distinguished by the mark of cheerfulness.

t.s.: Principle #3…

  1. Principle #3: God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (8)

exp.: David Garland, from the NAC says: Paul refers to God’s readiness to provide all that is necessary for generosity. Here’s his point: God is ready, willing and able, which is what he’s called them to be. And, added to this is granted all access to his power. That’s the way grace works! God is lavishly generous and abundantly supplies us with everything necessary to have enough for our needs and to be generous with others. V 9 clarifies for us that He freely distributes to us in order that we might have an abundance to distribute to others in need.

app.: So in review, here are our three principles:

  • Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
  • God loves a cheerful giver.
  • God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

t.s.: There is a 4th principle, but I’d like to wait until we get there in Scripture to share it you. Let’s look now at the benefits a generous giver experiences, as Paul outlines them in the text.

2.     Benefits of Being Generous Giver:

  1. Benefit #1: It will cause you to abound in what others need for the purpose of supplying their need. (9-10)

 

exp.: Paul first quotes Scripture in v 9; and then clarifies in v 10; look at v 9; As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He’s quoting from ps 112; Rd Psalm 112 – this is the habit, practice of the righteous and in so doing, God will cause you to abound, so that you can bless those in need. If you are blessed with financial blessing, it just might be so that you’ll be a blessing to others.

  1. Benefit #2: It will make you spiritually rich (11)

exp.: Don’t gloss by this like you’ve heard it before. Is that important to you? Really? Would you trade the riches of this world for spiritual riches? Do just glibly say yes. Think about this for a moment. Would you trade all of your earthly, material riches for the riches of God?

ill.: Balaam and Balak; Numbers 22.31f: 31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32 And the angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.

app.: You and I can stand here today and claim that we want and act like we want, but our hearts are known to the Lord. Picture this, you standing now to declare you desire – and an Angel of the Lord is standing before you with a sword in his hand to strike you down if you heart doesn’t match your words. Would you still stand?

t.s.: I know, I’m so dramatic! However, it causes you to do an internal search, doesn’t it? #3

  1. Benefit #3: It will result in an outpouring of Thanksgiving to God (rd 11b-12)

exp.: which is the goal, isn’t it? We’re grateful for your gifts; however, we understand we’re dependent on God and he’s the one who is ultimately supplying our need. I think of this often times from a recipient’s point of view. After all, I’m called of God and depend on his grace for my supplies. So, I can and do identify with the missionaries. But, let me change this for a moment, because my wife and I are considering committing to this. We have already, actually. So, and I say this now, not for your benefit, not so that you’ll be impressed with me, but rather to identify with you. I don’t want your thanks. It’s nice, but ultimately, my hearts desire is to bow with you and pour out my gratitude to God – as we pour into a bank account the amount needed to send these missionaries.

  1. Benefit #4: It will bring glory to God (rd v 13a)

Exp.: that’s really the ultimate goal here anyway, right? – to glorify God and enjoy him forever?

 

  1. Benefit #5: It will increase your witness to the World. (13b)

exp.: Your contributing to a missionary – above and beyond your tithe – is a witness to those who will be receiving our missionaries.

ill.: Our missionaries will be somewhere with someone or a group of someones represented by our UUPG. A question will be asked: How are you guys able to do this? You name will not be mentioned, but your witness will be. Your submission (here today – that) comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ (that’s the witness), and the generosity of your contribution for them (our missionaries) and for all others (in our UUPG) that’s a witness to them.

 

  1. Benefit #6: The recipients will respond with prayers for you (14); God’s surpassing Grace upon you. That’s why you’ve been blessed. That’s why that Grace abounds to you.

3 Principles and 6 Benefits; however, v 15 offers us one last Principle – Principle #4

3.     One Last Principle for becoming a generous giver:

  1. Principle # 4: God has given us an example to follow. (15)

exp.: rd v 15; God isn’t asking us to do something unlike him. As I was preparing for this message, I thought about how God has set this example. We’re like our Father when we give sacrificially. Just recording this thought made me think I’ve heard this before. Sure enough, John MacArthur said: We are never more like God then when we forgive; A little different but really, very much the same. God’s indescribable gift has brought us forgiveness.

  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
  • In Galatians Paul says of Jesus: 4who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…
  • And, later in that same letter: 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
  • And to the Ephesians he said: Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
  • To the Thessalonians he said: 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word. That applies to us here!
  • To Timothy he said: For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
  • And to Titus he said: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

app.: We are called to be like God – to be holy as he is holy – to give sacrificially, as he gave. For when we, for the Gospel’s sake, give – we are like our Father in heaven.

Conclusion:

Challenge for Giving to Missions

 

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Genesis 37.1-11

Title: Joseph: God is in Control

Text: Genesis 37.1-11

CIT: The author’s aim was to demonstrate that God already knew the outcome of Joseph’s life.

CIS: God is at work in Joseph’s life, showing him that He is working his plan in his life. It’s really no different for you and me!

Introduction: these are the generations of Jacob (1-2a); an interesting beginning;

Genesis 2.4; 5.1; 6.9; 10.1; 11.10; 11.27; 15.16; 25.12; 25.19; 36.1,9; 37.1-2a (the last one!) So this is important. It’s the last section of Genesis. Basically, it is the story of Israel and how he will become a nation. This is in answer to the promises of God – we’ll see that in a moment.

The next chapter is a section that doesn’t seem to fit in; however, I think it really does.

Transition: This new section will take us from pasturing sheep in the holy land to palaces of Egypt. It will clarify for us just how Gen 15.13-16; For now, we begin with meeting this kid, Joseph. In this passage we’ll get to know a little bit about:

  • Joseph’s Family
  • Joseph’s Father
  • Joseph’s Brothers
  • Joseph’s Dreams

Let’s begin w/…

1.     Joseph’s Family, (2)

  1. Joseph
    1. 17 years old (2b)
    2. Pasturing his father’s flock (2b)
  2. His mothers and brothers (#1 position): (2c) he was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah; He’s hanging with Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher – Oldest Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; rd 2d;
  3. His behavior (#2 practice): He brought a bad report of his brothers to his father; So, he’s isolated – he sticks out, not really fitting in with his siblings – I’m guessing Benjamin is way too young. Then, he adds to his troubles by spying on his siblings! But there’s more: rd 3a;

2.     Joseph’s Father: Jacob (3)

  • Loved him above the others (#3 parent) – he was the son of his old age;

Ill.: personal testimony…

  • Made him a ‘coat of many colors’; Dolly Parton

3.     Joseph’s Brothers

  1. Hated Joseph (4); rd v 4;
    1. Because he was favored; Favoritism would come easy; the older sons had embarrassed Jacob and behaved badly – remember? I wonder if Joseph had some features that he got from his mom; maybe he looked just like his dad; something about him, reminded him of the love of his life; Do you think he’s being like his dad – who favored Jacob? Generational sins;
    2. They could not speak peacefully to him; 4b; Nahum Sarna translates the phrase, “could not speak peacefully to him” lit.: “they could not abide his friendly speech” meaning that they rebuffed his every attempt to be friendly. Why not? He’s told on them, He acted arrogant, he’s worn that stupid coat showing off his father’s love for him. and there’s more; rd v 5
  2. Joseph told of his dream and they ‘hated him even more’;

Transition: I wonder if we are confused at times like this. I wonder if our alienation and isolation from others is a part of God’s plan. We feel like we’re being picked on; however, God is up to something. And he’s about to make matters worse! This is the 4th section: Joseph’s Dreams; Rd v 6-7;

4.     Joseph’s Dreams (#4) (5-11)

  1. The Sheaves: A Harvest Dream
    1. Binding sheaves in the field (7)
    2. My Sheaf arose
    3. Your Sheaves gathered around and bowed down to mine
    4. Q.: Are you to rule or reign over us? (8) I wonder about his mother, how she fits into this dream; Did Bilhah become a surrogate mother?
    5. They hated him all the more!

Application: I wonder how this applies to the Wheat and the famine that will bring these brothers to his doorstep in Egypt?

  1. The Sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. A Celestial Dream; rd v 9
    1. His Father’s rebuke (v 10);
    2. His brothers were Jealous of him (11a)
    3. His Father kept this in mind (11b)

Application: Likewise, I wonder how this applies to Royalty – that his brothers would be saved by Joseph and move their family to be with him?

Rd Gen 41.32; the pairing of these dreams means the certainty that God will bring this about; this would be important over the next 13 years;

Here is a valuable lesson: God is at work, even in our struggles. He’s working to glorify himself and accomplish his plans.

All of these situations worked against Joseph, from a worldly standpoint; however, they were the workings of God, to bring about his plan.

Note: Position #1 – His Position in the family (Rachel’s son).

Position #2 – His Practice of informing on his brothers; spying, nark, a little brother!

Position #3 – His Parent then dotes on him, adding to this struggle.

Position #4 – His Pattern of Arrogance as expressed through dreams.

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2 Corinthians 8.15-9.5

Title: A Letter of Commendation: The Three Apostles

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: Perhaps you’ve heard about the old miser who called his doctor, lawyer, and pastor to his deathbed. “They say that you can’t take it with you,” said the dying man, “but I will – I have a plan. I have three envelopes with $100,000 in cash in each one. I want each of you to take an envelope, and just before they close the casket, I want each of you to slip your envelope into my casket.” They all promised to do so. And at the end of the funeral they did it! On the way home, the conscience-stricken doctor confided in his friends, “I’m building a clinic, so I took $50,000 and put the rest in the coffin.” Then the lawyer fessed up, too, “I kept $75,000 for a legal defense fund and put $25,000 in.” At this, the preacher said, “Gentlemen, I’m ashamed of you. I’ll have you know I put in a check for the full amount!”

I guess it’s ok if I poke fun at ministers – I just happen to be one. And, I’m guessing you’ve heard your fair share of stories of pastors who have robbed the church. Even missionaries.

This is no joke:

Ex-IMB missionary sentenced to two years for stealing IMB missions Funds; AP January 26, 2015

Today’s passage is about the three men who were charged with the responsibility of collecting gifts from churches, specifically, the church in Corinth.

  • Three Apostles
  • Their Accountability
  • Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection

1.     Three Apostles: Three Brothers sent for the Collection (16-19a; 22)

exp.: Rd v 16-17; just as the Corinthians had accepted the challenge to give to the needy in Jerusalem, Titus had accepting the challenge to go and collect it, carry it to Jerusalem and see that it was deposited there to meet needs.

  1. Titus – he volunteered, because of his close affiliation to the Corinthians; rd v 18;
  2. The Evangelist – εὐαγγέλιον; it seems that most early Acts 20.4 –
    1. (1)Sopater the Berean, son of Pyrrhus, accompanied him; and of the Thessalonians,
    2. (2)Aristarchus and
    3. (3) Secundus; and
    4. (4)Gaius of Derbe, Derbe in Pamphilia? No. Acts 19.29 So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. Plus, the Western text has commentary notes that inform the read that Gaius was from the town of Doberus. I suppose a variant or some form of Derbe. Another location with the same town name. Example Antioch.
    5. (5)Timothy; and But Paul probably would have mentioned him by name.
    6. the Asians, (6)Tychicus and
    7. (7)Trophimus. These went on ahead and were waiting for
    8. (8)*us (Luke) at Troas;
    9. (9)Sosthenes; Acts 18.17: Riot at Corinth; also writer of 1 Corinthians – so these guys know him! But again, he’s a Macedonian.

So, who was it? Dunno! What we do know: 9.4 – They were not Macedonians. If any were to accompany Paul and these guys, then there is a possibility that they might be embarrassed at the poor showing. So, if you list all of these men and do away with the Macedonians you’re left with:

  • Tychicus, Trophimus and Luke. The interesting part of this is that the early church fathers said this was Luke. There are some great “proofs” presented by them. He wrote the 3rd Gospel – something he could be recognized for in v. 18; rd v 18; lit.: famous in the Gospel. So, answer we don’t know. Barnabas? Apollos; there is a 3rd person appointed to this task. I call him…
  1. Earnest – rd v 22;

app.: So we have three men – apostles, their called in v. 23 (messengers in the ESV)

t.s.: these three men are the ones who carry this letter to the Corinthians; Now let’s look at their task.

2.     Their Accountability: the three brothers accept responsibility for the collection (19b-22)

exp.: rd v 19a;

  1. Their Appointment by the Churches (19a)
  2. Their Administration as the Collectors (19b-20); ministered, same word as deacon; our deacons, whom you select and we, elders appoint to the task of counting the offering; rd v 21
  3. Their Aim in Finishing the Task (21) has two aspects to it:
    1. Their Honor before God and Man;
    2. God’s glory (v19b) for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will.

There is a 4th part to this accountability: they were appointed to it, their responsibility to administer it, and their honor before God and man – 4thly, their proven record has given the churches confidence to give them this great responsibility; rd v 22;

  1. Their Proven Record: They’ve been Tried, Tested and found True (22); rd v 23;

app.: So, there you have it: 3 Apostles, commissioned with this great responsibility – appointed to administer this gift, this offering, with the Aim of Honor before God and men. They have proven themselves worthy of finishing this task.

t.s.: So, Paul gives another appeal to the Corinthians;

3.     Paul’s Continued Appeal for the Collection (24-9.5)

exp.: rd v 24; prove your love with action! It seems the Corinthians talked a good game in the beginning, but somehow, over the course of time, they had taken their eyes off of the goal. Things had changed. They got lazy and stopped working on this. Other tasks entered into the picture. Maybe funds were needed elsewhere.

t.s.: You might be asking: This is all fine and good, Bro. Fred, but how does this affect us? That was good for them – and Paul needed to get on to them. How does this apply to me personally and to Calvary in general?

Application: I’m so glad you asked:

In August of 2011 – I heard about a challenge being issued by our State Convention’s president to embrace a UUPG – an Unreached, Unengaged people group. In September, I believe it was, Jason Moore and I went to an Embrace conference. Later in the Fall, I believe at the Convention, based on the reception I’d received from you guys, I signed a commitment card to lead my church to embrace a UUPG. We started praying – specifically for three different areas. Within 3 months, we felt a release to drop one. Then we prayed for two areas. It took a lot longer, but we eventually dropped one and began to focus on one area alone.

A little research revealed 3 UUPG’s in our area of focus. We researched and prayed about these three groups and pretty much unanimously felt God’s leading to one specific group. This group had been rejected. Former slaves, they were now the lowest people on the rung of the ladder of life. I can only remember only one person recommending another people group other than the one we chose. And that wasn’t even a recommendation, just a passing: did you consider these people?

On July 20th, 2013, almost two years after the journey began, I wrote the following letter to our president:
Dr. Richards, It has been nearly 2 years ago that I saw your picture in an article and the story related to that photo. You committed 1,000 SBTC churches to embrace a UUPG. I picked up the phone and called your office to ask about it. I spoke to a lady whose name I don’t remember, but she told me the jest of what that meant and that I’d be learning more and more about it in the months to come. Well, I visited with my leaders and challenged my church to become one of the 1st churches to embrace a UUPG. It scared them, but accepted the challenge. It was a few months later that I filled out a card and made that commitment public at a SBTC event. I wanted you to know that we’ve prayed long and hard about our UUPG. Through a long process, God narrowed our search down to a specific group. We purchased our tickets to go on our vision trip this past week. In October, we’ll journey to this place to walk amidst the people we’ve been praying for. I’m so excited and thrilled as a pastor to be leading our people to do this. Instead of sending my folks each year to different places, we’ll now be focused upon one people. It’s been a long two years, but a wonderful journey that is just beginning. Thank you for your leadership and for what you do to lead us on to God’s agenda. We’ve been blessed by your faithfulness.

Fred Smith, Calvary, Tyler

It’s been 16 months since we’ve gone on that vision trip. We came back and challenged the church with the following Recommendations:

  1. Return to our UUPG with Smaller groups… 3 x 3 or 2 x 3 – 6 people was too much. (we’ve not done that.)
  2. Return in March 1-18, 2014 during their festival time. There will be some indigenous peoples there who can be our translators. (We didn’t do that)
  3. Put Boots on the Ground. We need a couple or a family on the ground coordinating efforts for us. An FOB – Forward Operating Base, Base Camp if you will. These people can do reconnaissance missions and enhance the effort for us. (we haven’t done this)
  4. Form a CBC Mission Team to specifically focus on this mission. (we kind of did this, we formed a team to do this and focus on missions, ministry and evangelism here) We only have so many workers in our small church.
  5. Begin Praying about filling a need – a reason to be there. 4 aspects of this need
    1. Simple: When traveling so far and costing so much, we need the task to be simplified
    2. Sustainable: by the boots on the ground and through short term trips
    3. Low Tech: These people live at 11,000 feet. We have to carry everything up single file trails to get to their villages. Whatever we do must be low tech. In other words, you’re not getting the Carter Blood Mobile up there!
    4. Inexpensive to implement/maintain: with costs already extreme, we must choose something that is low cost and easy to implement and maintain. Like, it must be able to be hiked in. If we ask Dr. Latta to go and do dentistry work, we’re not going to have electricity or dental chairs. And we’re sure not hiking them in!

Review each one: We’ve really not been able to accomplish these. We’ve missed some opportunities and have just had difficulty in others.

Well, Calvary, It’s time! The Mission Team has given a set of recommendations to the elders. The elder’s have made some small adjustments and are just about ready to present it all to you. Are you ready? ?

I feel a bit like Paul. I’m concerned. I wonder if your heart isn’t fully engaged in this. I have this picture on my computer to remind me of a particular moment on our trip. Show pic. This woman, we didn’t even get to meet her. She stayed away from us until we had gone by. Look at that smile.

Without Christ this young lady and her family are doomed to a life of ancestor worship, idol worship. Buddhism, Hinduism and the like. She faces a Christless life and to die a Christless death. No hope.

Now that we’ve finally arrived at this place to give and go, I wonder if you’ve become like the Corinthians. A lot of time has passed. Have you forgotten?

Here is what I need from you:

  1. More intentional focused prayer. Committing daily to pray for this effort. Some have. I have, but I wonder about us all. We all need to be praying. Satan wants to stop us – to make us fail. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful in it’s working. Pray.
  2. Set money aside.
    1. For our missionaries. We will present someone to you soon. It will take $30,000-$40,000 more dollars. Instead of a one year trip, we’d like to make it a two year commitment. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
      1. Cancel Cable for a year? Dish? Lower your subscription.
      2. Tell your parents to cancel you cell phone, your internet?
    2. Not eat out after church on Sunday? Or at all?
    3. Instead of that ski trip or Disney trip, or hunting trip – do something closer to home? Instead of flying, take a bus? Or drive? Instead of a hotel, camp out.
    4. Maybe someone is feeling a call to sell something personal – a toy, a plaything and donate that money. I don’t know – you follow God on that.
    5. Will you sacrifice to make this happen?
  3. To go.
    1. Seriously pray about going. There are so many ways to encourage our missionaries, to see the work 1st hand. I’m telling you, it will change your perspective on missions.
    2. It’ll cost you money, time, energy, you’ll have to get into shape, lose a few pounds. Learn some of the basic words of their language.
    3. If you go, you won’t be able to engage these people for three days, because that’s how long it’ll take you to get there. You might get sick, diarrhea, sleepless nights, fire crackers going off in the night, you could be arrested and spend some time in jail before being deported. Will you consider going?
    4. If you go, remember these people are unreached and unengaged for a reason? The government doesn’t want you there. The trip to get there is three days. I’ve thought through this and don’t see how you can start ministry before the 3rd day. Even if you went straight there, you’ll have to get some sleep.
  4. Make a Public Commitment

I think some folks have decided in their hearts that this is just too hard. Let’s look for mission trips closer, let’s look for mission trips that are cheaper. You have some decisions to make.

  • Annie Armstrong
  • Lottie Moon
  • Faith comes by Hearing
  • The Cook’s are going to Montenegro
  • There will be Youth Missions; Family Missions; Pleas to purchase Bibles, etc.

With all of these missions to emphasize, which will you choose? Your resources are limited. And if you divide your recourses amongst them all, which ones will suffer and get less? It’s tough. What will you do? Here’s my fear: rd 9.1-5; I bragged about your readiness, I’ve told the state leadership about your readiness. We’ve been written up in magazine articles, we’ve been focused on at conventions and conferences, The state has asked to have next years mission Conference at Calvary because you have displayed your great passion for Mission and Ministry. And now, I do have complete confidence you, but I have a little fear. I, what did he say, Otherwise, if some Baptists come with me and find that you are not ready… we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident.

You have accepted the challenge; the time is upon us.

I need you to sit down with your family and your finances and make a decision about how to support the missionaries we’re going to send. We’ll need a monthly commitment, above and beyond the tithe. Next week, you will be given a challenge and I want you to be ready. I’m going to ask you to make a public commitment.

KR grew up in a pastor’s home. She said that they didn’t really have a lot of money. It came time to give an offering – above and beyond the tithe – for missions. The kids voted to give up Ketchup. For an entire year. Every time they ate and Ketchup was usually used – they didn’t have any. They remembered to pray for their missionaries. Ketchup for a poor family. What would that equal today – for a little kid? What would the equivalent be for you?

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2 Corinthians 8.1-15

Title: Grace Illustrated: A Genuinely Generous Church

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.1-15

CIT: Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to complete their gift of giving to the churches in Jerusalem.

CIS: The grace of God is being displayed through your faithfulness in finishing the task.

Introduction: An Outline of Paul’s Concern for the Poor Believers in Jerusalem…

From infancy, the apostolic fathers have had concern for the poor in Jerusalem. Why? Who knows for sure? I suppose it could be that there was a form of persecution that arose against the Jews who converted to Christianity. It just might have been that many of the Jewish leaders pushed the Jews to reject the new Christians by forcing them out of business. It seems feasible, seeing that many thousands were converted in those first couple of years after Christ had been resurrected. Maybe they had become victims of social and economic ostracism, excommunication, and other forms of economic sanctions.

You might recall in Acts chapter 6, the first major disturbance in the church arose from the concern that many Gentile windows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of the food. The apostles then organized the church with deacons to oversee this matter. My guess is that this took place within the first couple of years of Christendom.

It was some time within that same time frame that Paul would be converted. He would have been an eye witness and maybe even party to the impoverished plight of the Christians; however, three years after his conversion he would witness it 1st hand and up close when he traveled to visit the brothers in Jerusalem. You might remember, so fresh was his conversion that the apostles weren’t sure if he was safe or not!

Harold Hoehner suggests the date of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection in 33AD. Assuming that to be the case, the Deacons would have been appointed in 35 AD, which would be about the same time Paul got saved. Give or take. That would mean by 38 AD, he was seeing their suffering 1st hand. And it would always be in the back of his mind.

Paul left and returned to his home in Tarsus, where Barnabas found him and brought him to Antioch to disciple the new believers there. From there, Paul traveled on his 1st MJ (Acts 11.27-30), from Antioch for the sole purpose of helping those suffering in Jerusalem. 27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 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. So, Paul is involved in mission work from the beginning. This experience would be foundational to his philosophy of ministry and mission. And, would therefore teach his new converts about this mission.

At the end of Acts 12, Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch and are quickly commissioned by the church to begin this mission work as a Church Planter. It was after this MJ that Paul returned to Jerusalem for his 3rd visit. According to Galatians, it had been 14 years since his 1st visit to Jerusalem as a Christian. His purpose was to attend the 1st Church Council meeting to address the issue of the Gentiles getting saved. Did they have to become Jews 1st? Paul and Barnabas would be expert witnesses to give testimony to all that had been going on.

Look with me at Galatians 2. You see in v1 that Paul mentions that “14 years” I referred to a moment ago. He speaks of the leaders, in v9, let’s pick up there: and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2.10;

This would be a theme that would permeate Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. We see it again in 1 Corinthians 16. Turn there:

16 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. (I don’t know of a reference in Galatians to this. It must have been something he was doing while with them.) On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. (We’ll look more closely at these fellows next week)

Now, roughly a year after he writes 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the Romans that he has collected this offering and is carrying it to Jerusalem: Romans 15.22-29;

Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. 28 When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. 29 I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.

So, what we’re studying today, and what we’ll look at over the next couple of weeks, does see fruit. Paul is making his appeal here and from Romans and Acts 24.17, we see he was successful. He testifies before Felix there: 17 Now after several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to present offerings. 18 While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult…

Transition: I hope you see through this particular story of gifts and offerings that Paul was always concerned for the poor in Jerusalem and what should be done to help them. I think it would be helpful to understand the context of the poor as being poor Christians suffering for their faith.

Context:

  • Jerusalem
  • Saints – Jewish Christians (both Hebrew speaking and Greek speaking Jews); converted Jews who were targeted.
  • Poor – very poor and in need

Now, let’s look closely at what he says to the Corinthians about this special offering. Rd 2 Corinthians 8.1 – We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 1st, a note here before we truly dig in: note the word grace. It appears 5 times in these 1st 9 verses. And 10 times in these two chapters. Paul calls this offering the grace of God. Hence, the title of today’s message: Grace Illustrated.

Now in the next 14 verses, we’re going to identify 11 characteristics of a genuinely, generous church. That’s right: 11 characteristics of a genuinely, generous church. I’ve divided this passage into three parts – the typical Greek/Hebrew triad, identifying 11 characteristics within these three main illustrations made by Paul. These 3 examples will be identified as:

  1. An Example of the Generous Church: Macedonia (1-7) where we’ll see the 1st 6 characteristics
  2. An Example of the Genuine Giver: Jesus (8-9); where we’ll see 2 more characteristics
  3. An Example of the Gospel: Fairness (10-15); the last three characteristics.

t.s.: let’s begin with the 1st section: An Example of the Generous Church

1.     An Example of the Generous Church: Macedonia (1-7)

exp.: look at v 1-2a; 1st, characteristic:

  1. A Generous Church doesn’t let affliction stop them from giving

exp.: v2; a severe test of affliction; πολλή: many or much or great; persecution; for this to apply to us, we might need to substitute the word persecution with affliction or struggle. For sure, we’re not suffering as they did, be we do struggle and we do have barriers in our struggle that make us think we can’t give. 2ndly,

  1. A Generous Church doesn’t let accounting stop them from giving

exp.: v2b; Sure, it may look like you can’t on paper; however, God doesn’t limit his work of grace to paper and ink! Extreme poverty; Gk is βάθος or depths; bathysphere – a deep sea vessel which finds it’s success in the depths by creating an equal and opposite amount of pressure. The deeper it goes, the greater the pressure. These people weren’t just poor – they’d been cast into the ocean and were drowning. Have you ever heard the words drowning in debt. Luke 5 – “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Romans 8 – 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 11 – 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

                34        “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

                35        “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

You get the idea. These people were in deep, extreme poverty. #3…

  1. A Generous Church doesn’t let ability stop them from giving

exp.: v3; for they gave according to their ability; or means; this is more from the stance of the individual – because individuals are bringing their gifts together. However, how many times have churches chosen not to do ministry and mission because they didn’t have it in the bank. I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me that they don’t run their houses finances that way. Well of course you don’t – you’re not a church, you’re a family. I’ve also heard I don’t run my business that way. Can I say it again: Of course you don’t! You’re a business and not a church. AND, A Church isn’t a business. God doesn’t call us to do things we can do because we have the money! God doesn’t usually call us to do things that we can do on our own. He calls us to bring him glory – and he glorifies himself when he does through us what we can never do alone. #4…

  1. A Generous Church begs for the opportunity to give

exp.: v4; There is a passion here, a deep desire to participate in what God is doing. Do you have a passion for ministry and mission? Or is your life consumed with just you? #5…

  1. A Generous Church gives themselves first to God

exp.: v5; – and then of themselves from there; the service of the church to the world is an overflow of the service we give to God. #6…

  1. A Generous Church displays giving as a part of their personality

exp.: v6-7; a church’s personality should display: faith, speech (logos), knowledge, earnestness, love and grace. Think about this for a moment: What words are used to describe the personality of a church? Of our church? Giving pours out of a church that displays these characteristics in it’s personality – through in faith, in word (logos), in knowledge, in earnestness, in love and in grace. Act of grace. All of these characteristics within a church’s personality are seen through Acts. Faith is what you do, in word (logos) is what you live, in knowledge isn’t just head and earnestness isn’t just the heart. Love isn’t just words and in grace – all actions.

t.s.: yes, the Macedonian churches were a great example of generosity. Now, Paul transitions from the generous to what is genuine.

2.     An Example of the Genuine Giver: Jesus (8-9)

exp.: rd v 8; if you have to command it, it’s not genuine!

  1. A Genuine gift is not commanded, but proven

exp.: v8; have you ever had to tell your child to apologize to another one of your children; I’m sorry; if has to be commanded…then it’s probably not genuine. 2nd,

  1. A Genuine gift is sacrificial – Christ

exp.: v9;

ill.: one of my favorite passages on sacrificial giving comes from 2 Samuel 24.24; 18 And Gad came that day to David and said to him, “Go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, as the Lord commanded. 20 And when Araunah looked down, he saw the king and his servants coming on toward him. And Araunah went out and paid homage to the king with his face to the ground. 21 And Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” David said, “To buy the threshing floor from you, in order to build an altar to the Lord, that the plague may be averted from the people.” 22 Then Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good to him. Here are the oxen for the burnt offering and the threshing sledges and the yokes of the oxen for the wood. 23 All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the Lord your God accept you.” 24 But the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

app.: If we want to be a generous church – and BTW: I think we are, and you want to be genuine about it all – you’ve got to give sacrificially.

t.s.: An Example of the Generous Church: Macedonia (1-7) where we’ll see the 1st 6 characteristics; An Example of the Genuine Giver: Jesus (8-9); where we’ll see 2 more characteristics; And finally, An Example of the Gospel: Fairness (10-15); the last three characteristics.

3.     An Example of the Gospel: Fairness (10-15)

exp.: Paul presents these last few verses in the form of Directives; rd v 10; I give my judgment or my opinion: here’s what he’s saying…

  1. Finish what you Started; and more than that;
  2. Finish Strong; rd v 11-12; finish what you started and finish strong; finally,
  3. Finish so that there might be Fairness in Sharing, which is a picture of the Gospel (rd 13-15)

ill.: he quotes an OT passage to make it clear; in the western world, we think of fair and unfair, but I don’t think that’s what this means; it only appears here in these two verses; when it appears with other words, like compound words, it has the idea of equality and justice. Our society doesn’t put you to death for speeding! Neither do murders simply pay a small fine. The punishment fits the crime – justice or equality.

app.: What a beautiful picture of the gospel! God takes our sin, which has a stiff penalty by the way, and places on Jesus. He takes the righteousness of Jesus and places it on us. To me, that doesn’t seem very fair, but it really is a great deal.

t.s.: God has blessed us tremendously, that we might be a blessing to those in need. That’s why we give…

Conclusion: the truth is: You and I are in deep need ourselves. Desperate need. Because of our deep spiritual poverty, you and I can come to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. Let me offer you Christ today…

2ndly, let me encourage you to give your life away. They gave themselves, 1st to the Lord and then to us. Once you’ve given your life to Christ, let him use you to bless others.

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Genesis 35.1-29

Title: A Time of Renewal

Text: Genesis 35.1-29

Introduction:

There are 4 units marked by moved, set out and came to, entered:

1.     Preparation for Bethel: (1-5)

  1. The Call of God; rd v 1:
  2. The Call of Jacob; rd v 2:
    1. Orders:
      1. Preparation: Put Away; Purify; Change your clothes! V 2 – Theme; Thesis
      2. Preparation: Let’s Go Worship; rd v 3; bld an altar; Acknowledge God’s guidance and protection
    2. Obedience:
      1. Destruction of gods; rd v 4;
      2. Destination Bethel; rd v 5; why would he need to protect them? Maybe, Shechem?

Transition:

2.     Worship at Bethel: (6-15)

  1. Building an Altar of Remembrance; rd v 6-7; I love that he does this to remember;

Q.: What are some major milestones in your life where God ‘revealed’ himself to you?

  1. Death of Deborah; Oak of weeping; Gen 24.59; this lady met Abraham! Close of the past? Her 180 years bridged Abraham to Isaac to Jacob;
  2. God Appears, again; rd v 9; 4 Parallels:
    1. Name change: Abram to Abraham; Deceiver to Fights with God;
    2. El Shaddai – 17.1; God Almighty
    3. The Blessings and Promises: fruitfulness; Nations & Kings, Land; in 1,000 years David would be King; in 2000, Jesus;
    4. God went up from him;rd v 13
  3. A Pillar is placed: rd v 13-15; Bethel: the house of God.

Ill.: Jacob’s experience of expanded understanding is common to all of us. As new, inexperienced Christians we learned some new truth, and it did us much good. Then years later, after the ups and downs of spiritual life, we reflect on the same truth—but with a far deeper level of application and understanding.

3.     Transition: Life and Death (16-20)

  1. Rachel Delivers Benjamin in sorrow (pain); rd v 16; For all that Jacob possessed, Rachel had been the unchallenged love of his life. From the very beginning, when he single-handedly moved the stone away to water her sheep, he had been wild about her. Volunteering to work seven years for her hand—and then laboring seven more years, he demonstrated how much he loved her! He had shared the pain of watching the others conceive and her remain barren, year after year.

Now, he she was pregnant again! This child would be the only child actually born in the Promised Land!

Ill.: Listen to Hughes: Though she was well along in her pregnancy, neither she nor Jacob expected any trouble when they pulled up stakes to travel south to Hebron where Jacob’s father Isaac lived. But somewhere, just a few miles north of Jerusalem, tragedy fell. Rd v 16-18; She’s dying and her midwife attempts to console her, comfort her with the news that the baby is indeed a boy! Rd 30.1; irony?

  1. Rachel Dies and is Buried; Rd v 19-21; She dies and is buried. Being the Romantic and Sentimental person I am, I wondered if Jacob lived with this pain. Rd 48.1-7;

4.     A Closing to this section: The Ripple Affects of Sin (21-29)

Exp.: Rd 21-22;

  1. The Sin of Rueben; inexplicable; the practice of taking your father’s place; you’re now the authority! David and Absalom;
  2. The Sons of Jacob: Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; Joseph & Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher
  3. The Death of Isaac; rd v 27-29;

Observations: Per Shawn: Repentance is valued over a good life. Jacob wasn’t necessarily a good man and he doesn’t come off as even being better than Esau. And yet, his repentant attitude goes so much further. We see this with so many men who were not necessarily good, and yet they were repentant (i.e.: David)

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2 Corinthians 6.14-7.16

Title: Paul’s Confidence in the Church

Text: 2 Corinthians 6.14-7.16

Introduction: Pray – God’s anointing on this time, this message, this speaker.

A quick review of how we got here…

  1. Contentment: Chapters 1& 2 deal with Paul’s Contentment

This next section is the current section we’re on and we’ll finish up today.

  1. Confidence
    • Confidence in his Ministry; rd 3.4-5
    • Confidence in the Message; rd 4.1; v5 is the reason; rd v 16
    • Confidence in the future; rd 5.1; 5.6
    • Confidence in the Gospel – the Ministry of Reconciliation; in 5.11-6.2 Paul expresses his confidence in the ministry of reconciliation, i.e.: the Gospel to transform lives; rd 5.18-21;
    • Confidence in affliction 6.1-13; that God is using it to demonstrate his power and communicate the gospel through weak vessels.
    • Confidence in grief and sorrow; i.e.: it leads to repentance – which is his goal for them. And I think the culmination of this is wrapped up in the last verse – rd 7.16

Just so you know, as we conclude this series today and look forward to the next, We’ll look at the Collection Paul is planning to take to the people in Judea who are suffering in Ch. 8-9. That will be a three sermon series on giving. However, I am most excited to share with you the series after that. It will be during the month of March and conclude on April 5th, Easter Sunday.

Then, beginning April 12th, We’ll finish up 2 Corinthians – which should lead us to the Summer. If you think about it, please be in prayer for me as I consider where to go next. I’ve a couple of ideas, but really would love some direction for the Holy Spirit. Will you pray?

Transition: So let’s pick up with this final sermon on Paul’s confidence – His confidence in grief and sorrow. These two, grief and sorrow, in the individual should lead us to repentance. And that repentance should be evident in an external way – that it to say, perceived by those who see us, who are watching us. Paul outlines this by giving us:

  • Five Characteristics of Christians
  • Six Scriptures to Validate his teaching
  • His Comfort and Joy

Transition: Let’s begin in 6.14 with these 5 characteristics

1.     5 Characteristics of Christians (6.14-15)

exp.: rd v 14-16a; look at the questions; Paul uses 5 different words to bring emphasis to this ‘inequality’ of Christ and his followers to the world; 5 Questions:

  1. What partnership: μετοχὴ – Eric Metaxas;
  2. What fellowship: I know you know this Gk word! Κοινωνία; The NT word that describes the Church
  3. What accord: συμφώνησις – symphony; Lit.: A sounding together; Believers in partnership with non-believers creates a disonence.
  4. What portion: μερὶς – Col 1.12, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints; sharing
  5. What agreement: συγκατάθεσις – depositing together, as in votes;

Which brings us to the 5 Characteristics of believers:

  1. Righteousness: internal & external; cf.: v. 7 last week; incompatible
  2. Light: talk about incompatible! You cannot have both at the same time;
  3. Christ: KK: a tuba and a flute; banjo & Tuba; what symphony has the body of Christ and with believers in Belial? None!
  4. Faith: What portion, what share. You can’t! They’re Incongruent!
  5. A Temple of the Holy Spirit: One is filled with life and the other…no life at all; just wood, stone, marble, etc.

ill.: there is an interesting article Mindy Belz shares with World Magazine readers comparing Islam and Christianity. It comes from The Federalist (.com), who posted an article by the atheist, Robert Tracinski, entitled: Why Islam is more violent than Christianity: An Atheist’s Guide.

In the article he writes: But in today’s context, it’s absurd to equate Islam and Christianity. Pointing to the Spanish Inquisition tends to undermine the point rather than confirm it: if you have to look back three hundred years to find atrocities, it’s because there are so few of them today. The mass crimes committed under the name of Islam, by contrast, are fresh and openly boasted about. 

He has this deep insight about the difference between the two when he writes: The life of the founder of a religion is held up to his followers as a model for how they should live their own lives. The life of Mohammed tells the Muslim that he should expect to rule, whereas the life of Christ tells the Christian he should expect to sacrifice and serve.

app.: Pretty impressive for an atheist to acknowledge and better yet, that Christianity has made that clear to him! So should it be, that we are different. We are distinct.

t.s.: now, Paul quotes from 6 different passages to validate this claim: rd v 16bff

2.     Scripture Validation: 6 agreed upon OT passages (6.18-7.1)

exp.: these 6 different passage basically are quoted to demonstrate this teaching about our uniqueness, our distinctness. Note 1st,

  1. He is God – specifically, 16b, He is the Living God – as opposed to idols, which have no life. 2nd,
  2. He is Holy, and he has made his dwelling in our midst; rd v 16c;

Ill.: picture of the camp – God in the midst; that is why the unclean was taken outside the camp;

  1. Genesis – The patriarchs
  2. Exodus – The people become a nation
  3. Leviticus – the people are given laws to demonstrate God’s Holiness
  4. Numbers – The people are organized and set out toward the Promised Land to demonstrate God’s Holiness; They grumble and complain! The Spies turn the people away from God’s plan and the people rebel; they wonder in the wilderness for 40 years;
  5. Deuteronomy is the 2nd giving of the Law; once again to say, you are to be holy as I am holy; and that demonstration is clarified in the next verse: therefore we should be separate from the world and be holy as he is holy; that call was for Israel who was to be distinct from the rest of the World; Paul is emphasizing here that the church, Christians have that same call – to be distinct, to be separated from them for they are not holy. People, everything we do here should be done to demonstrate God’s Holiness; that’s another reason why what we do isn’t to mimic the world! Then, in this relationship that we have with him, established by God, he says:
  1. He is our Father, and we are his Children: this is the 3rd point Paul is driving home. In other places we’re called sheep; a building, a harvest, a bride; here we are called sons and daughters – A father to his children.

app.: So Paul applies this in 7.1; rd 7.1 – bring holiness to completion simply means we’ve been made holy internally by the washing away of our sins, let us complete that process by separating ourselves from the world and living out that holiness in an external way.

t.s.: Paul shares 5 characteristics of believers and backs it up with Scripture. Now, he will bring everything in this section on confidence to a conclusion. He simply states that his confidence has brought him great satisfaction – comfort and joy, as he calls it.

3.     Paul’s Comfort & Joy (7.2-16)

exp.: rd 7.2 – Paul is using a word play he used when he began this section: 6.11-13; open wide your heats to us; rd v 3-4; and here is his emphasis through the rest of this chapter – his comfort and joy; rd 5-9; let me keep reading because he explains their grief; rd 10-16; Paul’s comfort and joy is brought

  1. Through Titus
    1. His Coming and
    2. His Report
  2. Through the Corinthians
    1. Their Grief (which led to)
    2. Their Repentance

ill.: I was sharing with our Bible Study group on Wednesday night a story from 1 Kings 13; Jeroboam, the 1st wicked king of the Northern Kingdom Israel. In actuality, all of the kings of the Northern Kingdoms were wicked! Jeroboam, was offering sacrifices at the altar he had built when an unnamed prophet confronted him. The King didn’t like it at all. He pointed at the prophet and yell, “Seize Him!” The ironic part of the story is that this king’s arm was seized up! Man, that really got his attention. He had the altar torn down and the ashes poured out. Then, he asked the prophet to entreat the Lord’s favor and heal him. So, the prophet prayed and the king was healed.

However, Jeroboam didn’t learn a thing. He wasn’t truly repentant – he was only sad that he had lost the use of his arm. Listen to the last two verses in that same chapter: 33 After this thing Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way, but made priests for the high places again from among all the people. Any who would, he ordained to be priests of the high places. 34 And this thing became sin to the house of Jeroboam, so as to cut it off and to destroy it from the face of the earth.

app.: A pastor’s heart is truly overjoyed, is truly comforted, when his people repent with sorrow in their hearts for rebelling against God. He loves to see that repentance characterized through a separation from the world and what it offers and is then expressed externally.

He loves to see them looking and living like their Father – who is holy. His response is very much like the Elder, John who said: For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

t.s.: So, what are our take-a-ways this morning?

Conclusion:

  1. When, as individuals, we are living our lives in righteousness, light and faith; when the Messiah is cherished, revered and obeyed (in each individual believers life); when there is external evidence that these tents are the true Temples of the living God – then we will experience corporately what Paul lists as questions in v 14-15: We will experience
    1. Partnership
    2. Harmony
    3. Κοινωνίa
    4. Portion
    5. Agreement
  1. Point #1 is founded upon point # 2. He is God and He is Holy and it is His work of adoption that brings us into this relationship. On this foundation, three (3) promises of restoration are fulfilled in our lives here:
    1. We are Restored to IntimacyI will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. John 1.14 – 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. and in 14.15f Jesus said: 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
    2. We are Restored through AdoptionI will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. So many aspects of adoption we could point out here!
    3. We are Restored to Purity – cleansed by the blood of Jesus to walk in the newness of life. Meaning: we are pure by the completed work of Christ on the Cross and, through the daily struggle to consciously live pure lives.
  1. All of this lived out and experienced brings Confidence.
    1. Confidence in God – who works all things for the good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
    2. Confidence in His Church – who is his body – his hands and his feet – in this world. Confidence that she will fulfill the mission He gave to her.

In all of this, we must remain humble. A church that mirrors what we’ve just described is always in danger of falling into the pit of self-satisfaction and self-aggrandizement. Yes, she is beautiful and grand – but she is so only because of what God has done and is doing. It is not anything or anyone of these many elements – these members who make up the Body of Christ. We must remain humble.

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