Category Archives: Christian Living

Introduction to the Psalms of Ascent

Title: Psalms of Ascent

Text: Psalm 120-134

Introduction: Ezra (and Nehemiah)

When you read the books of Ezra and Nehemiah you get an understanding of the intense passion these two men had. Their desire was for their heritage. Their passion was for their God and the city he gave them – Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, the Temple. Ezra was responsible for leading the rebuilding of the Temple. Nehemiah was responsible for leading the rebuilding of the wall around the city.

The journey these men took began in Persia. It is believed by some that this is where the small collection of Psalms that we know as the Psalms of Ascent originated. We don’t know this for sure, but it is a very good theory. The idea behind this theory is that the Psalms of Ascent were compiled by Ezra (or priests working with him). The same word is used in Ezra 2.1 (7.9) as in this title telling of how the people “went up”. So, Ezra then compiled these Psalms and the priests then taught them to the people as they journeyed to Jerusalem. At least that’s one theory. I like it. It would have been inspirational and motivational. And so after the people returned from exile, they kept the tradition alive and would sing the Psalms of Ascent whenever they would journey from their homes in Israel to the Temple in Jerusalem for their seasons of feasts and festivals. This is how their children and their children’s children would learn.

There is a 2nd theory and this is the one I learned as a young man. The theory is that the priests would make their way to the Temple and as they ascended the 15 steps to the Temple, they would stop and recite one Psalm for each step. The 1st step would be Psalm 120. The 2nd step would be Psalm 121, and on up we go.

Let me show you some pictures.

I would propose to you that both of these happened: the priests reciting the Psalms as they climbed the stairs to the Temple and the People singing them as they journeyed to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple. Theory probably isn’t the right word. There is evidence both happened, it is just that neither one became a prominent tradition practiced through the years.

This leads to a question you might have: Why are we working through them? Why the Psalms of Ascent? Why did we leave Romans? Well, it is hard! Romans 8-11 are probably some of my favorite passages in Romans. Two Reasons: 1. I calendared it this way months ago. But really, the simple answer is Worship; I want to focus on worship for a season – that is the reason I put it on the calendar. Consider our three areas of focus as a church:

  • Worship: One Passion
  • Discipleship: One Mission – the Great Commission
  • Mission/Ministry: One Body serving in ministry and mission.

So, for this season, we’ll keep an eye on this task of worship.

Let’s approach it from the same standpoint as Ezra and Nehemiah. Consider their lives; where they were and what they were going through:

  1. Israel has been in exile for the past 70 years or so. So, these guys were born in exile. They’ve never known a Temple. All they know is what they’ve been told. There is much of their past they don’t know about or they don’t understand.
  2. They are in exile because of their sin and their rebellion; Daniel 9.3-19; Wow, what a prayer, an acknowledgment of why they were where they were. Consider this: God’s actions were so real, so evident and so very effective, that the Israelites never again had trouble with worshipping idols.

Let me ask you as you consider the prayer of Daniel: Do you want God’s blessing on Calvary? Do you desire for God to pour out his blessing on this Body of Believers? Do we deserve for God to bless us? No, and we must remember that we cannot appeal to God because of our righteousness, but only because of his mercy. Let us keep this in mind and ask God to draw us closer to him in the coming weeks as we focus on him, as we experience his mercy and forgiveness, and as we are moved to worship.

The plan is to sing the Psalms, study the Psalms and hopefully be moved in our worship.

A Word about the whole book: The Book of Psalms used to be understood as a random collection of Songs. But, today, more and more scholars are seeing the organization of these Songs.

  1. Outline of Psalms – 5 books
    1. Book 1: 1-41 tell of David’s reign
    2. Book 2: 42-72 is more of David’s reign and the transition to Solomon’s reign.
    3. Book 3: 73-89 is about the divided kingdom and the eventual conquering of the Northern Kingdom by Assyria and the Southern Kingdom by Babylon and being carried into exile.
    4. Book 4: 90-106 covers the years Israel was in exile.
    5. Book 5: 107-150 is post-exilic in nature.
  2. You could break that down even further with an Introduction (1-2) and a conclusion (146-150)
    1. Psalm 1 is about the torah and Psalm 2 is about the King of Israel. So the idea is of delighting oneself in the Law of God and following God as their King.

Speaking of organization, there are even smaller segments with different types of focus. Let me show you some famous segments.

  1. Segments
    1. Hallel (113-118)
    2. The Law (Psalm 119, Psalm 19)
    3. Psalms of Ascent (120-134)
    4. 103-107

Let’s talk about this particular segment, the Psalms of Ascent, for just a moment, as we prepare to study them in the coming weeks. I want you to see there is flow here, too. There are smaller segments that demonstrate cohesion.

  1. It appears that these songs were selected with their theme of the Temple:
    1. 7 of the 15 Psalms mention Zion. 125, 126, 128, 129, 132, 133, 134
    2. Psalm 122 mentions Jerusalem.
    3. Psalm 121, 123, 124 use formulations related to Zion.
    4. Psalm 127 mentions the ‘city’ and 130 and 131 mention the faith community of Israel gathered in the Temple complex.
    5. Only the 1st Psalm (120) doesn’t mention the Temple in any fashion. So, what does that mean?
  2. From the Jewish viewpoint, the Psalms of Ascent begin with the Jews at war and ends with the priest’s blessing them in the Temple. So, the flow appears to be a journey. The people are in a foreign land (120.5), Meshech and Kedar as the Psalms of ascent begin in 120 and they are in the Temple worshipping in Psalm 134. Read those passages.
  3. The high points: popularity and familiarity
    1. Psalm 121: 1-2
    2. Psalm 122:1
    3. Psalm 127:1, 3-5a
    4. Psalm 130: 1-4
    5. Psalm 133: 1

Conclusion: So, what am I hoping to accomplish here?

Well, I mentioned earlier the purpose of this study is worship. But where does worship come from? How does it well up within and boil over? I mentioned earlier that the introduction to the book of Psalms in Psalm 1 and Psalm 2 are about delighting in the Law of God and following God as their king. But, I think it is deeper than that. I think that both of these two themes are all about Jesus and He’s the one I want us to see as we make our way through the Psalms of Ascent.

Look at Psalm 1 with me. rd v 1; Blessed is the man who… rd 2. …Blessed are all who take refuge in him. So, you see these already go together with these bookends. Go back to Ps. 1: read v 1; Really, who is that? Anyone here do that perfectly? Anyone you know of? Only Jesus. Look at v 5-6; who is the only one who can stand on his own in the judgment? Only Jesus, the perfect man.

Look at Psalm 2 with me. rd Ps 2.1-9; This is about the King – The Lord’s King, who according to v 7 is – His Son. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in Jesus.

I propose to you that the Psalms of Ascent, as with all of the Psalms, point us to Jesus – God’s Anointed One. He is the theme, the purpose, the reason for those songs. It is Him we will see and it is Him we will be inspired to worship. In the Psalms of Ascent, you’ll see themes of:

  • Peace
  • Unity
  • Mercy
  • Protection
  • Rest and Restoration
  • Family and Community and how they impact each other
  • Discipline
  • Redemption
  • Faithfulness
  • Blessing

Application:

  1. Read through the POA
    1. You can read through them in one easy sitting.
    2. Read half on one day and the other half on the manãna.
  2. See how they go together. Is there a familiar theme in the previous Psalm or in the next Psalm? Is there a flow here? See if there are bookends to different Psalms, like I showed you in Psalm 1 and 2.
  3. Be praying about your worship.
    1. As an individual
    2. As a family
    3. As a community

Ask: Do I come in here Sunday after Sunday without having prepared my heart for worship? What is your Sunday morning routine like? Does it include yelling? Scrambling to get here in a fashionable time? Be praying about your worship and how you contribute to this time on Sunday. Also, pray about what God might be doing in your life concerning worship. Where does he want to take you? What does he want you to see? Is there anything about your worship he doesn’t like – that he wants to refine?

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Filed under Bible Reading, Christian Living, Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, Scripture, Sermon, Worship

Romans 6.23

Title: The Gospel: A Story of Comparing and Contrasting

Text: Romans 6.23

Introduction: Do you guys know who Michael Rotondo is? He is the 30-year-old man from NY who was evicted by his parents. They gave him 5 or 6 letters of eviction. They pleaded with him to get a job. They reasoned that there were plenty of jobs out there, even jobs for folks who have horrible work records. Just get some employment. They wrote in an eviction notice back in February: “There are jobs available even for those with a poor work history like you,” one letter they sent him reads. “Get one – you have to work!”

Finally, on May 22nd, they took him to court. Michael lost. He moved out this week.

What a nightmare. I feel for his parents. They felt used. They wanted their son to quit being a leech. Earn a wage!

That’s tough. I know our government gives lots of handouts. There are many who survive from weekly government checks. I’m not knocking those folks. Unless of course, their career is living on the government – kind of like Michael, here living off his parents.

His parents offered him $1,100 to move out on. The money was for Deposits, first month’s rent, etc. he turned them down.

I’m not them, so I have no idea what they went through. But, as a parent, I know the feeling of wanting your child to grow up and become self-sufficient – to earn a wage.

Our verse this morning uses that word – ‘wage’. We’re in Romans 6.23: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

6.23 is the summation verse of Chapter 6. It began back in v 1 with a question – a question a “Judaizer” would have asked. You can imagine a debate going on where Paul declares the teaching of Acts 15 and someone begins to question him. Saved by faith are we now? Where sin increased, grace increased all the more then? So, Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound all the more?

Well, Paul gives us the answer in verse 2-3 and 15-16 with a definitive: No! And then he spends the rest of the chapter explaining it all. Verses 20-23 are the closing statement to an argument that says we should not, we must not continue in sin… We’ve been set free from all of that

Now, Paul compares and contrasts three different elements to his summation.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  • Wages and free gift
  • Sin and God
  • Death and Eternal life

 

  1. We first find The Means by which we receive our reward. It is something we earn or we can’t earn it, but rather are freely given.
  2. Next, we see The Master we choose to serve who gives us this reward – whichever it might be…
  3. Finally, The Manifestation of our full reward is revealed.

Transition: Let’s begin with this first element… A comparing and contrasting of:

I.     The Means

exp.: One of my favorite sayings on God’s Sovereignty is: The One who determines the ends, also determines the means. I don’t know who said it or where it comes from. But what is being expressed is the idea that God is the one who makes all the rules. rd v 23: Wages vs. Free Gift; 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I assume that we all know what wages are. Wages are something we earn and are owed to us. We’ve ‘worked’ for wages. Usually, this involves time, energy, effort, etc. We’ve worked for someone and now that someone owes us.

When you look at the free gift, that doesn’t really fit. A gift isn’t earned. I’ve heard of parents saying stuff like: if you’ll lose weight, then I’ll give you this gift. That’s twisted. That’s not a gift. That’s something that is earned. You usually deserve your wages. You’ve worked for them. You don’t usually deserve a gift. It comes free of charge and with no strings attached. If there are strings attached, then it isn’t really a gift. It’s just that person trying to get something out of you – probably for selfish reasons.

ill.: Consider the parents of Michael Rotondo. They wanted to give him a gift $1,100 to pay for deposits, first months rent, etc. They wanted something from Michael – to move out. Their ‘gift’ wasn’t really a gift – was it? That’s different.

app.: Boy, this has me thinking about times I thought I was giving a gift, but really was selfishly trying to get something myself. Maybe I had good intentions or maybe I thought I was helping whomever for whatever reason. But, if I’m honest, I was probably giving that gift as a reward or a wage.

t.s.: I think to understand this better – this concept of wages – and to understand it correctly, we must look at this 2nd element: A comparing and contrasting of

II.    The Master

exp.: 6.23: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. I think it becomes clearer when you put them side-by-side and place it in the context of the slave owners found in v 20-22; Slaves of sin and Slaves of God. This terminology bothers folks today because it isn’t PC. Consider some of our translations even change up the word slave for servant. But, Slave is the correct word. When you’re a slave and you work, you usually aren’t working for pleasure – to earn a wage, you simply work because you’re told to do so. You’re doing the work of your master. So one master is Sin and the other master is God. And in both illustrations, you don’t work for your master to get something from them. You work for your master because you are his slave. The Master then gives you what he wants to give you. The master, Sin, pays out what he wants. The Master, God, wants to give free gifts.

ill.: Does it make you uncomfortable to consider yourself a slave? This is the term Jesus used to describe those who practice sin. He said in John 8.34 that everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. It really is like that isn’t it? Sinful behavior is like a chain that holds you captive and doesn’t let you go.

app.: But that isn’t the way it goes with God – when He is your Master. In that same passage, John 8, Jesus said that if the Son sets you free, you’re free indeed. Or as some younger folks would say: You’re really, really free. Not just free, you’re not just really free, you’re really, really free!

How is this possible? How is someone a slave to righteousness, a slave to God and free at the same time?

I think you have to understand the whole story. I’m talking about the story that begins with Creation. God created you – a human being – to exist a certain way. Satan has corrupted that through sin. Sin promises so much but delivers nothing. Sin promises to make you feel better, look better, be more popular, to remove your pain, to gain more friends and the list goes on. But the truth is – Sin doesn’t deliver on its promises. Sin gives you a temporary fix to a permanent problem.

But God created you for a different existence. You were not created to be in bondage to sin. You were created for a relationship with God.

Imagine coming home to the one who made you and setting you free from this bondage of sin which leads to death, – setting you free to live life as He designed. Imagine coming home to him and finding that he doesn’t exact a wage from you, but rather lavishes precious gifts upon you.

Jesus tells this story in Luke 15.11-32;

app.: the one son who broke his Father’s heart returned. I love the picture of the father waiting, watching. I love the picture of the father running. I love how the father lavished precious gifts upon the son.

t.s.: And that leads us to our last comparison…

III.   The Manifestation

exp.: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Death or Eternal Life. Sin’s ultimate wage is death. God’s ultimate gift is eternal life. Hmmm… I wonder why it is so hard to choose? Would you call it irony that in refusing to choose, you really are making a choice anyway?

ill.: Michael Rotondo’s parents really wanted something special for their son. They wanted him to be totally free and independent. I think that’s what all parents want for their kids. Some folks probably think a great illustration from them would have been if they bought Michael a home and gave it to him as a gift. No strings attached. But this is where the illustration breaks down. I’m assuming that these parents are doing what they’re doing because they’re trying to teach their son what it means to be truly free.

app.: Isn’t that odd. They’re doing something that seems really mean to do what they would consider in the best interest of their son. I’m sure there are many who see that as contradictory: how can hurting him, how can making him struggle and suffer now make him better and stronger later?

t.s.: Well, there seem to be a contradiction in coming to faith in Christ, too.

Conclusion: Here is what I mean: true freedom comes when you finally surrender your life to Christ. You’ve tried living life your way. You’ve been a slave to sin and maybe you didn’t even know it. You see what that life has done for you. Rd 6.21; that life brought you shame. Now, will you trust your life to Christ? Will you surrender your life to God and trust Him to do things his way?

The Bible teaches us that we’re all sinners. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. And what does it cost us to be sinners – each and every one of us? Death. Eternal death. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Note that last phrase: in Christ Jesus our Lord. Death is the payment due, but Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for you and me. When Christ died on the Cross, God took your sin and placed on him. He died for your sin. And he took the righteousness of Christ – all of his perfection – and put it on you.

So, when you put your faith in Christ, God takes away your sin and makes you righteous in His eyes. Then, you begin to live life the way he designed – in a relationship with Him.

Application: So, what would I like you to take home with you today?

  1. When you give gifts, are they really gifts or wages for something you desire? What a great reminder to us to think through what is given and what is expected. What a great reminder that Sin operates that way: it makes you think you’re getting something, but in reality, Sin is the one who does the ‘getting’.
  2. I hope that last question has you thinking about your heart. Is it selfish? Does your heart seek your own way? This is your life – Are you who you want to be? Are you who you thought you’d be?
  3. What is really stopping you right now from surrendering your life to Christ? Really?
  4. Is this not the most incredible story you’ve ever heard? A good and gracious God who desires a relationship with you will do whatever it takes to make you into the person he created you to be – even to the giving up of his own son. Would you tell someone?

**Post Sermon Remarks: Giving is a touchy subject. My purpose is to challenge each person reading this to search his or her heart concerning intention and motive.

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Filed under Christian Living, Luke, Romans, Sanctification, Scripture, Sermon

Service for Scotty Calhoun

Service for Scotty Calhoun

20 April 2018

 

Song: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands played over the speaker system

Prayer & Scripture Reading: Psalm 121

Psalm 121: I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.

Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Eulogy/Obituary: Mr. Scott Calhoun (Scotty), 58 of Tyler, passed away Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in Tyler. He was born October, 16, 1959 in Tyler to Sammy Joe Calhoun and Martha Gentry Calhoun.

Scott was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, Tyler, TX (I was told that Scotty and his family were the 1st folks to join Calvary when Calvary relocated to its currently location. That they actually drove downtown to the old facility just for the purpose of joining, knowing they were moving south to Old Jacksonville Hwy. The Obituary reads that Scotty lived at Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Scott was preceded in death by parents, uncle, Paul Gentry, grandparents, Joe and Gladys Gentry and Park and Jessie Calhoun. He is survived by his loving family including his uncle, Bill Gentry and wife Peggy of Lewisville; aunt, Alice Arnett and husband Don of Emmet, AR; cousins, Sherry DiPatri, Dick Gentry, Teresa Klembara, Lisa Ormsbee, Linda Aull, Kathie Cobb and Cindy Allen; and numerous friends from Breckenridge Village of Tyler.

Prayer by Pastor Fred

Song: Nearer, My God, to Thee

 Message: Psalm 139.13-18

This afternoon we’ve come together to celebrate. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is mourning at the loss of Scotty Calhoun. But there is celebration, too. Why? Why is there celebration?

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible love for us.

Psalm 139 is a Psalm of Praise, which highlights the wonderful works of God. They’re really too incredible to actually wrap our minds around.

        O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

                        You know when I sit down and when I rise up;

you discern my thoughts from afar.

                        You search out my path and my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways.

                        Even before a word is on my tongue,

behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

                        You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

                        Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

it is high; I cannot attain it.

Consider how God knows us. He knows the simple things and the complex things. He understands what we’re thinking before we even form the words to say.

ill.: When I would visit with Martha and Scotty, I have to say, there were times I didn’t understand what Scotty was saying or what he wanted. Not with Martha, she would know and she would ‘translate’ for me or explain to me what was going on. I have to say, her wisdom and experience were invaluable. She knew Scotty so well.

Do you ever wonder about your own life? Does God truly understand? Does he really know? Let me encourage you today and say yes! Even better than a mom knows her child, even deeper than a wife knows her husband, God’s knowledge of you and your life is mind blowing: v6 reads: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Transition: We gather here today to celebrate God’s incredible love us. We also gather to celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

  1. We celebrate God’s incredible grace toward us.

Read with me Psalm 139.7-12; Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your presence?

        If I ascend to heaven, you are there!

If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

        If I take the wings of the morning

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10         even there your hand shall lead me,

and your right hand shall hold me.

11         If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,

and the light about me be night,”

12         even the darkness is not dark to you;

the night is bright as the day,

for darkness is as light with you.

Consider then, according to the Psalmist, that wherever we go or wherever we are, God is with us. You’re never alone. Sam and Martha had an incredible plan. Sam worked while he was alive and Martha carried it over to completion. They were watching out for their boy. I feel positive they knew pretty much everything about his coming and going. And, they made sure that when they were gone, there would be someone watching over him, too. But, as believers, they knew that God was watching over him. There is no place on earth he could go that would ever take him out of God’s care.

As a preacher, my concern would be that you know this amazing principle, too. God’s Holy Spirit, once it enters us upon the invitation of the heart, never leaves us. There is no place you can go where God is not there with you also. I know, that is a double negative, but it just doesn’t sound the same worded differently. If you don’t know Christ, my plea would be that you would.

Transition: We’re here today to celebrate God’s incredible love for us, his incredible grace toward us and thirdly…

  1. We celebrate this wonderful life that God has given us.

13         For you formed my inward parts;

you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

14         I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works;

my soul knows it very well.

15         My frame was not hidden from you,

when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16         Your eyes saw my unformed substance;

in your book were written, every one of them,

the days that were formed for me,

when as yet there was none of them.

17         How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18         If I would count them, they are more than the sand.

                                       I awake, and I am still with you.

This part of the passage focuses on the word formed.

  • You formed my inward parts
  • Your eyes saw my unformed substance

Even before the sperm and the egg came together to create the first cell known as us, God knew us. God saw us before we came to be. That is mind blowing! He formed our inward parts together. Get that, now, intentionally forming every part of us to make us who we are. And we’re perfect the way God makes us.

There is more here, though, consider this third use of the word formed:

  • That all of my days (and your days) were formed for me (and for you), and written down in God’s book before even my (or your) first day came to be.

There is a scene in the Matrix where Neo goes to visit the oracle. The oracle says to Neo – don’t worry about the vase. He turns to look for the vase and bumps it. It falls and breaks. He apologizes for breaking the vase and she says: I told you not to worry about it. Then, she says: What’s really going to cook your noodle later is: would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.

Did you know nothing is going to happen to you today that God doesn’t already know about?

Ill.: I had plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo today. My wife and I were invited home for a family get together, that our family has every Easter. This was the closest weekend when the most of us could be there together. Think about this, now: I made plans to be at the San Antonio Zoo. But while I was making those plans, God knew where I’d be and what I’d be doing.

Have you ever heard the quip: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Are you someone who questions God’s plan for your life? I hope you won’t and I hope you don’t. Because we never know why things happen the way they do.

I’m often time confounded by the world’s smartest people who will spend millions of dollars to send a probe into space to look for life out there on Mars or some other remote part of the Universe. And yet, these same smart people will not choose life when it comes to people who aren’t like them. They miss the fact that we’re all made the way we’re made for God’s glory.

Did you know that in the last 30 years, the life expectancy of someone born with Down syndrome has increased from 25 years to 55 years. Medical advances have created the possibility where babies can be born without heart defects, colon and intestinal problems, cleft lips and cleft palates. Surgery can actually be done in the womb and there are no physical scars when the child is born! And still, with all of these technological and medical advances, the smart people out there are working to stop these children from ever being born. And worse, there is a movement to end their lives prematurely.

States are moving at an alarming rate to approve euthanasia for those whose lives are lived outside of the ‘normal’ boundaries.

Listen, God’s blessings come in all shapes and sizes. Most of the blessings we receive are from those gifts we would have never expected.

I want to take this moment before I close to give a shout out to Breckenridge Village and the wonderful people who work there. You folks are the best. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to our families! Do you let youth groups and volunteers come help? What a great mission project for your church. What an opportunity to pull out your check book and donate to a Christian Cause that truly blesses others.

Closing:

Once upon a time, there was a farmer in the central region of China. He didn’t have a lot of money and, instead of a tractor, he used an old horse to plow his field.

One afternoon, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everyone in the village said, “Oh, what a horrible thing to happen.” The farmer said simply, “We’ll see.”

He was so at peace and so calm, that everyone in the village got together and, admiring his attitude, gave him a new horse as a gift.

Everyone’s reaction now was, “What a lucky man.” And the farmer said, “We’ll see.”

A couple days later, the new horse jumped a fence and ran away. Everyone in the village shook their heads and said, “What a poor fellow!”

The farmer smiled and said, “We’ll see.”

Eventually, the horse found his way home, and brought with him another horse that had been out in the wilderness. Everyone again said, “What a blessed man.” He lost his horse and now he has two!

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer’s son went out to break and train the new horse when he was thrown and broke his leg. Everyone in the village said, “What a shame for the poor boy.”

The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Two days later, the army came into the village to draft new recruits. When they saw that the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they decided not to recruit him.

Everyone said, “What a fortunate young man.”

The farmer smiled again – and said, “We’ll see.”

Moral of the story: We have no idea what the circumstances we find ourselves in today will be for us tomorrow. There’s no use in overreacting to the events and circumstances of our everyday lives. We must trust that God has “formed our days” and written them down in his book – before even one of those days came to be. We must trust that God is going to glorify himself in and through our lives. And we have evidence of his goodness in the life of Scotty Calhoun. We are better people because we knew him. Both he and his family have profoundly influenced our lives for the good.

Prayer:

Song: How Great Thou Art

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Romans 5.12-14

Title: The Doctrine of Original Sin

Text: Romans 5.12-14

CIT: Sin entered the world through Adam’s rebellion and has infected every human being so that all have sin and none is without sin.

CIS: Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross.

Introduction: Is there any doubt that sin exists?

Story: I love the children’s message today because it really brings home the teaching of God’s Word and the author.

Ill.: Story of the elk who licked the hunter…

Some stories are hard to believe. But, everything changes when you consider the one who tells it.

That is the way it is with Scripture. When our story comes straight from the mouth of God, then it is easy to believe. We’ll look at just such a story this morning as Paul presents the Doctrine of Original Sin to the Romans.

I’d like to present a series of questions, which I believe this passage answers:

  1. How did sin enter into the world?
  2. What are the consequences of that action?
  3. Was it that way before the Law was given?
  4. This is all so very bleak! What hope is there, then?

Let’s begin with this first question:

  1. How did sin get here? (12a)

exp.: The answer is: Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion. Rd 12a; I think it is important that we not separate these two – sin and death, because they are really inseperabl. Let’s look at the actual text where Paul’s teaching comes from: Gen. 2.25-3.7; you’ll notice the bookends of 2.25-3.7 concerning their nakedness. In one, they were not ashamed in their nakedness. In the other, there is great shame in their nakedness.

ill.: In the Simeon Trust Preach Workshops, this passage is often used as an example of Deuteronomy 4.2: You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you. You see the idea in preaching is to present God’s Word – unadulterated, pure and simple. Read with me 3.1; I wonder if Satan spoke with a hiss: Did God really sssssay? Look how Eve responds:

  • She minimizes the freedom that God gave them. read v 2; God originally told them they could eat from every tree except one. Next,
  • She added a strictness to his command – not to even touch it. rd v 3; (2.17)
  • She softened his word in regard to their certain death. God said She said lest.

Let me ask you this morning: what importance do you place upon handling the Word of God. Is every word important? You bet, because when we don’t know God’s Word, it is so easy for someone to lead us astray. Rd v 4-7;

I say it is. Furthermore, what we’re seeing here is that a breakdown in properly handling God’s Word leads to sinful behavior. It leads to rebellion.

app.: I wish Eve would have said: you know what, let me get back to you on this. I need to consult God on this first!

Well, we see here how sin entered the world: through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Their rebellion brings about the curse at the end of the chapter and it ends with the assurance that God’s Word was true all along. He said: in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. And the curse concludes with: for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Furthermore, you can read to chapter 5, verse 5 and read: Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died.

Ill.: This past week a woman I encountered at the bank asked me a question about the temptation in the Garden: Pastor, was Adam even there. Well, I needed to do some research for that one. I had always assumed he was. I mention this because, at some point, we must address the issue of roles and responsibilities. Why wasn’t it Eve who suffered the brunt of the punishment? As you finish up chapter three, you read about the submissive role Eve was to take, the contrary nature she would have against her husband, and the authority and responsibility Adam was given.

I wish we had more time to spend here, but I’m sure many of you are probably asking: Why did Adam take the brunt and the sin was passed through him to all people? Simply put: Because, he had a responsibility and he remained passive in the event. Two items to note:

  1. The word you is plural throughout Genesis 3.1-5;
  2. Rd v 6; So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

app.: He failed in the responsibility and the role God had given to him.

t.s.: How did sin get here? Sin and Death Entered the World through Adam’s Rebellion: 12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, we continue… and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— which brings us to our second question:

  1. What are the consequences of that action? (12b)

exp.: And the answer is quite simple: Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. And since, or because) Adam was the 1st human, sin was passed on to all other humans. It is interesting the verbs you find in these verses: First, Sin came into; 2nd, Death came through; the picture is that Death spread throughout all of humanity like a sickness to all humans; So the scripture reads…and so death spread to all men. That word men, of course means, mankind. And then we read this little phrase: because all sinned.

ill.: I’m thinking of the movie, The Prince’s Bride, and the scene when indigo Montoya says: I don’t think that word means what you think it means. Well, because all sinned, doesn’t mean that everyone is a sinner because everyone has sinned – like, if they had never sinned, then they’d be sinless. To be sure, this is had to understand from the Gk to the English. Literally, it is a prepositional phrase. Often times, context will determine how you translate something into English. Certain words have different meaning in context. Husbands, you wife comes home with groceries. She gets to the door and you open it for her. She says: Carry this. You know to take the bag from her arm and carry it. If She then says: Can you carry me to the doctor tomorrow – you don’t think that she means to pick her up like a sack of potatoes and throw her over your shoulder, do you? No, you know she needs a ride.

The preposition is on or upon, when in reference to location or proximity you would translate it near or at. And, sometimes in reference to authority it can be translated over. When concerning legal terms, it would be translated before (before authority). But at times this word can be translated on the basis of… cf.: 1 Tim 5.19: 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. And that’s probably closer to the meaning here: you might translate this: and so death spread to all men based on the fact that all sinned. You know that sin has infected every human because we see that every human sins.

app.: Tom Shreiner brings out the understanding of this phrase in the simple explanation: we sin because we’re spiritually dead.

t.s.: What are the consequences of that action? Sin and Death have affected every human since that time. Well, that raises a really good question then:

 

  • What about before the Law was given? (13-14a)

exp.: I don’t know if you’ve ever even considered this, but it really is a good question. If the law brings a knowledge of sin (3.20), then how do people know what sin is if there is no law? And, at one time, before Moses, there was no law. We see the question raised in v 13 and answered in v 14; So, if there was no law, was there then no sin? Paul says: No. There has always been sin, ever since Adam sinned. Answer: Sin and Death have reigned over all humanity, even those who lived before the law was given.

t.s.: Wow… if this is the case, it appears that all is hopeless. That is our last question…

  1. So, what hope is there? (25-32)

exp.: It would have been, except for one small – or rather large detail: God had a plan… and we read about it in the rest of v. 14b: who was a type of the one who was to come.

ill.: Let’s say you and I are having a conversation – and we’re talking about Joshua Webb. Did you know the Webb’s have a dog? What’s her name? Let’s say I then describe her to you… she’s black, has black eyes, has four legs, a tail that is always wagging when you speak to her and just loves to be loved on. And that’s about it, right? But let’s say that you come over to my house and you meet Suzy, my dog. And I ask you to describe her. Well, she looks nothing like Joshua’s dog, but you’d say all the same things. But how is my dog different? Well, she’s a lot shorter. Appears a lot younger, can jump and move a lot faster, can accept commands in three different languages. You see the differences when you see them side-by-side. That’s what a ‘type’ is. It allows you to see something similar, but notice the difference.

app.: Adam was a ‘type’ of Christ. His action affected us all. Jesus, well, his action would affect us all, too – but in a different way. Where death came by the 1st Adam, life comes by the 2nd Adam.

Ill.: Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley wrote Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
Oh, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.

Conclusion: Well, that is what we’ll be looking at next week. For now, what should we do with what we’ve learned?

Application: So, what do we do in light of this information?

  1. Understand the Doctrine is so very important to our Christian Faith.
    1. If you remove the doctrine of original sin, you remove a vital component to the gospel. It is at this moment in Scripture we first learn of God’s plan for redemption.
    2. Consider religions where people attempt to balance their sin and their good deeds.
  2. Respond to this message! Where Adam brought both sin and death to all humans, Jesus has conquered both in his redeeming work on the Cross. If you find that you’re a sinner because sin was passed to you through Adam and you’ve never done anything about it – well, respond to Jesus.
    1. He came to die for your sin.
    2. Trust him as your Lord and Savior.
  3. Tell someone! Tell someone about the death that comes through Adam and the hope eternal life through Jesus. Don’t keep it to yourself!
    1. CWT: knocking on doors, introducing ourselves and seeking opportunities to share the story of Christ.
    2. Begin a prayer strategy:
      1. Target individuals
      2. Become intentional about sharing
        1. At work
        2. Invite them over for dinner or some activity

We’re going to have a moment of silence for you to consider these things. Then, after a moment of silence, we’ll be dismissed with a benedictory prayer. Then, we’ll gather in the back for a time of fellowship. I’d like to talk with you about these things. Come visit with me over some coffee and a snack.

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Romans 5.1-11

Title: The Demonstration of God’s Love

Text: Romans 5.5-11

Central Idea of the Text: We have peace with God because he has reconciled us to Himself through the death of his Son.

Central Idea of the Sermon: Christ took the punishment of our sin upon himself in order that we might be reconciled to God.

Opening: We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’ll be looking at verses 1-11.

Introduction: Make Your Bed, pg 85-88; end at I could see the instructor smiling. He knew once one man quit, others would follow.

Hopelessness is a tough place to be. I suppose that’s right where the disciples were on that last day of the week. Jesus had died the day before. I imagine Satan standing there in the darkness with the light of the fire around him exposing his smile, too.

But Sunday was coming! And things were about to change!

We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’re in the midst of a story of hope. In 5.1 Paul writes: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith… he’s talking about the faith we have that is just like Abraham’s. You see, Abraham heard God’s promises and he believed God. God then credited his faith as righteousness. And Paul is saying that we, too, are justified by faith when we believe God.

The incredible blessings that the justified experience are what follows in v 1-3 (rd v1ff):

  • We have Peace,
  • We have access into this Grace in which we now stand,
  • We have Joy, and this joy expresses itself in Hope…
  • We have Hope. And this hope that he writes about isn’t just for the future, but it exists even now – in the midst of suffering. Paul then tells us that God loves us. We know this because of two actions that God takes to express His love:

1st, he pours his love into our hearts via the Holy Spirit who he has given to us. This was our focus last week.

2nd, he then demonstrates or proves his love by sending his Son to die for our sins. This is where I’d like to focus our attention this Easter Sunday morning.

Now the first action is subjective and can only be expressed by the person experiencing that action. There isn’t an observable marker to verify it’s authenticity. I can’t say: Oh, you’ll cry! Some people do and some people don’t. I can’t say: you’ll get goose bumps. Some people do and some people don’t. It’s an internal experience. And in that moment… we only have your word.

This second action is objective and can be verified by the fact that God gave us an historical event. We see the cross and it is an object we can point toward. We have the historical evidence of an empty tomb. The disciples saw it. The Jewish leaders made excuses for it. The Roman soldiers reported it.

I’m so glad for both an internal and an external expression by God.

Transition: But let’s focus our attention now on this last part: the external, historical demonstration of God’s love as displayed on the cross. You know,

I.     It’s pretty amazing when you consider our condition.

exp.: rd 6a; we and us; who is he talking about? Gentiles and Jews who have come to faith in Christ. Now, look at the words Paul uses to describe how we were:

  • Weak (6); sometimes this means weakness from being sick; other times it means morally weak, incapable of acting on our behalf; Think sin sickness or spiritually sick; just one sin in your life is too great of a barrier for you to remove. Just one! And you and I are plagued with sin! And while we were in this condition… Christ died for us. And here is where we see our 2nd term:
  • Ungodly (6); this is simply a word that describes someone who lives without God. You might consider the word godless. Ungodly is a good translation because the idea being expressed is the action of the individual. People behave outwardly in a way that displays their inward disposition. When they’re being watched, they’ll often times act a certain way because they want you to think they’re good. But, if there is a hidden camera, you’ll catch their true disposition. Well, no hidden cameras with God. He sees all and knows all. He knows what is in mankind – and yet loved him enough to send his son to die for all of mankind.
  • Sinners (8); the noun form of άρμαρτια, missing the mark; falling short of the glory of God. This past week Duffey and I led Chapel for the students at the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville. Duffey led worship and I brought the message. In the message, there was this term In the Hebrew, it has the connotation of not being equal. God is perfect and we’re unequal to him. We’re subpar – way below his level. You’re probably very familiar with the verse: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That word sinned is the same word we have here. The defining of that word – falling short describes that unequalled state. Here is God’s glory and we’re not equal to the task of ever obtaining. That is what being called sinners means: we’ve sinned and fallen short of His perfection.
  • Enemies (10); Romans 11.28 gives us the idea that this word is the opposite of love – 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. In verse 10 of Romans 5, we see God loving us when we were just the opposite of toward him. And yet he loved us still!

This is truly amazing when you consider that it wasn’t like we deserved this. Who we were…where we were.

t.s.: It really is pretty amazing when you consider our condition. The second amazing fact concerning the demonstration of God’s love is:

II.    It’s pretty amazing when you consider the cost.

exp.: I’ve often wondered why God didn’t just say: Oh, don’t worry about it. I forgive you. The answer is really quite simple. God set the standard: Perfection. God set the punishment for failure: Death. To be perfectly just, God had to carry out the punishment for the failure to set the standard. We must die for our sins. So, God made a way… Note:

  • Christ died; 4x’s in v6-8; it is the last word in each sentence (in Gk) giving it prominence, importance in the sentence. Also in v 10; Paul is placing great emphasis upon the fact that Christ died.

ill.: John 3.16: the manner vs. the measure; Thus or So; meaning, God showed you his love through the death of his son.

  • The timing: while weak (6), right time (6), while sinners (8), while enemies (10); You might ask: how does the timing relate to the cost? Well, simply this:
    1. We didn’t have to get “cleaned up” to get saved. Most people act like they’ve got to get clean before they can come to Christ. I love that Jesus told the disciples that he’d make them fishers of men. You catch ‘em and the Holy Spirit will clean them!

Ill.: I think of those who say: I’ll diet and exercise when I lose some weight.

App.: We didn’t have to get clean first – God sent his son to die for us while we were still weak, ungodly sinners – while we were still enemies!

Transition: #2, when you consider the timing…

  1. God structured it all in his plan: – Revelation 13.8 declares for us that it was all planned before the foundation of the world. …all who dwell on earth will worship (the Beast), everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
    1. Your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world was laid. Or,
    2. The Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. I like option #1, but it really doesn’t matter, because either one you choose shows that God had a plan to redeem you before the world was formed – before Adam and Eve even sinned! Psalm 139.16: 16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

t.s.: It is truly amazing to try and consider the mind of God who planned all of this before the creation of the World. It is pretty amazing when you consider the cost – that Christ would die on the cross for our sins. And 3rd,

III.   It’s pretty amazing when you consider what it all accomplished.

exp.:

  • Justified by his blood. Rd v 9; And more than that: we’re saved from his wrath; The punishment due for our sin is death – the shedding of blood. Have you ever realized that the penalty has always been death? If you journey back to Genesis chapter 2, you’ll find that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the Garden, but ceptn’ one: the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them: in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. But now, we don’t have to die to pay the penalty for our sins, because Jesus paid that debt for us!
    • Paul calls Jesus our Passover Lamb in 1 Corinthians 5.7; If you follow the requirements in Exodus 12 for the Passover Lamb, you’ll see that Jesus was performing that function for the world at the same time…
    • In John 1.29, John the Baptist is quoted as seeing Jesus and telling everyone: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!
  • Reconciled by his death – and even more, saved by his life. This part is so important because Jesus didn’t just die and then was buried – No! There is more to the story! He rose again!

Conclusion: It’s pretty amazing when you consider the hope this one man, Jesus, brought to us. Read Make Your Bed, pg 85-89.

Application: We have this hope because God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who he has given us. And we have this hope because God sent his son to die on the cross of Calvary and then three days later, to rise from the dead. And that’s why we celebrate this morning. Because He is Risen!

In a moment we’re going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: a time that we as Christians remember the costly sacrifice of Christ. I’d like to invite the Deacons to come and prepare the Lord’s Supper Table.

Don’t participate if you’re not a Christian.

Don’t participate if you’re a Christian, but right now you’re in Rebellion. Use this time to repent.

Fellowship, following the hymn…

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SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

CIT: Paul’s Prayers for Rome Reveal Much About This Man

CIS: There are characteristics and traits to observe in an Apostle.

Introduction: It is quite typical to move from the Greetings and Salutations to a mentioning of Prayer and Thanksgiving in a 1st Century letter. That is exactly what Paul does in this next section.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome is outlined in verses 8-15. First of all, these prayers include thanksgiving for the fact that their faith is known and proclaimed by other believers throughout the Greco-Roman world (8).

Secondly, Paul offers the unceasing request to one day make his journey to Rome (9-10). His request is simply to preach the gospel among them and it is expressed in three separate statements:

1st, Paul’s desire is to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and to be encouraged by them, as well (11-12).

2nd, Paul has intended for some time to get to them but has been prevented from ministering there (13). Now, it appears that whatever was hindering is no longer in the way.

3rd, Paul has a calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He says he is under obligation to all and so desires to come and preach the gospel in Rome.

These prayers reveal more of the man we know as The Apostle Paul and his desires as a godly man. I think there is more than just information sharing here. Paul is opening up his soul and giving us a glimpse inside.

Transition: This week I shared with the Venture group in Chapel about the old man and his elder wife who were sitting at the Table sharing a meal. The woman looked over at her husband of many, many decades and felt this overwhelming sense of pride. Herbert, I’m proud of you, She gushed. Without missing a beat, the old man replied: Well, I’m tired of you, too!

Sometimes it is easy to communicate what is in your heart and at other times… not so much. Sometimes you want to communicate what lies deep within but it gets misunderstood.

Well Paul doesn’t confuse us here and there is no miscommunication as he reveals his heart to the church at Rome – and to us. Paul tells them plainly what he feels and what his desires are. He does so by laying his prayer requests before God and he lets us all in on those prayers.

For us, we’re able to glean some qualities from a godly man. These qualities are Paul’s, but I think they can be true for any man or woman who has been called of God to serve. And yes, that means even you. Your first temptation might be to take them and measure them up against me. To be honest, that is fine. It really is something you should do. I would encourage you to do so. Furthermore, you can use them to measure up your spiritual leaders (i.e.: elders and deacons).

But don’t be so quick to just move in that direction. I want to encourage you to use these marks for your own life – to see how you measure up to Paul. And, I would not say these marks are exhaustive and complete. But I would say they are useful for us today in their current form to help in our service and ministry. So here we go…

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

I. He has a thankful heart for all God has done in fulfilling His promises. (8)

exp.: rd v8; God is fulfilling his promises to the Romans. The proof is in the pudding! They’re being discussed wherever there are other Christians gathering. It is interesting what Paul doesn’t note here. He thanks God, but not for…

  • It isn’t their leadership – pastors or elders.
  • It isn’t their worship.
  • It isn’t their facilities.
  • It isn’t their ministries or ministers.
  • It isn’t their mission work.
  • It isn’t the money they’ve raised for disaster relief or the people they’re sending to help the folks in Jerusalem.

Paul is grateful for their faith. Faith is expressed and their expression has been something to talk about. The word all appears 2x’s in v 8; two different words: all is the word pan; the 2nd all is the word from which we get whole. A most literal translation would be the whole world. And I think to myself: Really? The whole world? I think what he is saying is that brothers and sister across the Christian world are talking about the faith of this church. That is amazing… people talking about their congregation.

ill.: this past week Spring Creek Baptist Church was in the News. The County Commissioner who attends there, JoAnn Hampton was indicted on aggravated assault charges this past week. Back on April 2nd, Ms. Hampton came to church to find someone had already prepared the Lord’s Supper Table. It seems a 72-year-old member of the congregation and Ms. Hampton had already had words about the timeliness of setting up the table. The 72-year-old woman came in early and set everything up. Ms. Hampton was furious. She went to the pastor’s office where the woman was talking with the pastor and assaulted her. Basically, she pushed her back onto the couch and the woman injured her hand.

app.: That isn’t the kind of notoriety Paul is talking about! These folks in Rome are in the news because of their faith. Do you remember I told you Claudius Caesar kicked the Jews out of Rome in 49AD? Well, it appears this young Gentile congregation had to start living by faith. And the result was the testimony of those who were scattered abroad.

Philippians 1.6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul was so thankful to God for fulfilling his promises to this congregation.

t.s.: The 1st Quality we see here of this godly leader is: he has a grateful heart. 2ndly,

II. He recognizes His first and main audience is with God (9a)

exp.: The context, of course, is that God is his witness  – that he is telling the truth concerning his prayers. Rd v 9a; Yes, God is his witness, but more than that. It is God that he serves. When he says with or literally, in, my spirit… I think that is his way of saying with my whole heart.

You’ve probably felt this way about yourself when you’re singing: Bless the Lord, O’ my soul, and all that is within me… bless his holy name. All that is within me… that is, with my spirit. And his service: the gospel. This may be hard to grasp, but a pastor’s first calling is to the gospel. It is the spread of the Gospel that saves souls and it is the repetition of the gospel that disciples the believers. It’s the telling and retelling of that old, old story – over and over again.

ill.: I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of Jesus and his glory… of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know tis true. It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story – tis pleasant to repeat. What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

I love to tell the story. T’will be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

app.: Sing them over again to me… Wonderful words of life. That’s what discipleship is. And that is what the godly man loves to do – is to tell the story that changed his life. And to tell the story that sustains this congregation. Well, a godly man recognizes his first and main audience is with God. It is God he serves. That’s why God is a witness to the work and prayer.

t.s.: He has a grateful heart. He recognizes that he serves God by serving others with the Gospel. 3rd,

III. He incessantly remembers the church in his prayers (9b-10)

exp.: Paul’s prayers don’t just end with thanksgiving. Paul’s prayers are unceasing for this congregation, moving from gratitude to a very special request. Rd v 9b-10; Paul’s desire is to travel to Rome. Who wouldn’t, right? Anyone here ever been to Rome? We’re looking for missionaries to serve in Tahiti and Hawaii! We need Home Missionaries in Florida and Colorado!

ill.: I remember reading about some missionaries who on Sunday morning would go skiing and stop at a chapel up on the slopes. There, they would lead a service. I thought: where do I sign up? Well, my guess is that some of the hardest ministry is in the midst of those who think they don’t need it. But, those people need Jesus, too.

app.: Paul’s message is clear, but let me be very literal here: so that without coming to an end, remembrance of you I make my request or I do my asking; “Without ceasing, unrelenting”; It’s very wordy, but desperately points out the prayers of Paul for these people.

Do you know that your leadership prays for you? I can’t say for me it is without ceasing. I wish I were better at it. But I do pray for you daily. Sometimes I pray for individuals. Sometimes I pray for groups. And my requests for you vary according to our needs.

I like knowing how to pray and what to pray for. If you want me to be specific in my prayers for you, email me or drop it in the offering plate. That will allow me to pray specifically for you.

t.s.: Godly leaders have grateful hearts. They recognize their service to others is service to God. And they pray for their churches and their members. They keep them before the Lord. 4th… And we see this of Paul…

IV. He desires to encourage them through his service (and to be mutually encouraged by them in theirs) (11-12)

exp.: look at v 11; do you see the 1st word there: γὰρ. A marker of reason. Because; At this stage he’s telling them why he wants to come. Truth is, he finally gets to it in v 15; …so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. His purpose in going there is singular in focus (i.e.: to preach the Gospel, v 9, 15) but this focus of preaching the Gospel is expressed in three different ways; the 1st is in v 11: I like to translate this: For I long to behold you. I want to see you, to behold you with my own eyes. Continue reading v 11…

  1. By preaching the Gospel in their midst, he would be imparting a spiritual gift that will encourage them and strengthen them. Added to this, that he might be encouraged at the same time. Rd v 12; He’s heard about their faith (8) – really all over the Christian world. I’m supposing because of Paul’s popularity that they’ve heard of his faith, too. If not, they will from Phoebe and anyone else carrying this letter.

app.: I don’t know if you’ve thought this through or not, from a personal standpoint, but living out your faith in front of others strengthens and encourages them…just as you are when you see others living out their faith.

Last month Jamie Dean of World Magazine shared the story of a North Korean defector who talked about the punishment and persecution of Christians. One family kept their Bible in magpie nest… a bird’s nest. Late at night, someone would crawl up into the tree, into the nest and get the Bible. They would read what they could under the cloak of darkness. Then, get the Bible back in place before sun up. One day, a neighbor who was cutting a branch down, somehow caused the nest to fall and reveal the Bible. The family was busted. Can you imagine? How many of you have your Bible with you now? If we were in North Korea, we’d all be thrown in prison.

We’re so blessed to live out our faith in the eyes of others. We’re so blessed that we don’t have to hide our Bible in a tree outside. You, meeting in your community group… that’s mutually encouraging to each other.

Transition: Paul hopes to strengthen them and to be strengthen and encouraged by them in return. Also, he says in v 13; Rd v 13a; this is the 2nd way of he hopes to preach the Gospel to them but it is also our 5th quality that we find in Paul.

V. He surrenders his will to the Lord’s will in spite of what he himself wants (13)

exp.: he’s been hindered from going there to Rome. He has wanted to for some time, but for some reason, God hasn’t opened that door to him.

  1. Because, whatever was hindering him before, is no longer in the way. I suppose it was his mission work in the east. He has been preaching the Gospel everywhere he can between Jerusalem and Greece. Now, he’s finding others who’ve gone before him… like Rome for example. Having completed that task, and seeing the area evangelized, Paul’s desire now is to expand the mission work to Spain. We’ll see that in 15.24. He’ll mention also in chapter 15 the gift from the Asian churches to Jerusalem and his need to travel there to deliver that gift. But after that, he wants to come see them on his way to Spain.

app.: Man, we’re learning something very valuable here, in this quality Paul displays. Sometimes, and this has been my experience as a believer and as a pastor, God says no. Sometimes God says, yes. And sometimes God gives us a third answer and says – not yet. It doesn’t mean no, forever, just for a while. It usually means that God has some work to do in our hearts and in our lives to prepare us for what we’re asking.

ill.: When Lisa and I were in Cotulla we felt a call to go to the Rocky Mtns and work. We knew the call was on our hearts, but God wasn’t opening up the door. Instead, we went south to Harlingen. God made it clear to us that we were to go south. The criticism was pretty sharp by some. I thought God was calling you to go north? Well, we moved to Harlingen, 8 miles north of the Mexican border. And God used our experience there in so many ways, preparing us for the ministry in Wyoming.

I could stand here and begin telling you stories of what I learned in deep South Texas that God used in Wyoming, but we don’t have time… so I’ll save those for then.

God may have called you and is preparing you, but thus far has hindered your progress. Let me encourage you: Trust him. Whatever you want for this church or this mission or this ministry or your community group or… whatever it is of God… Let me tell you: He wants even better things than you do. So let this quality be found in you: surrender your will to his, in spite of what you might want. Let him finish preparing you for the task ahead.

t.s.: His 3rd expression is found in the rest of 13(b) and 14.

  1. His obligation to the Gentiles encompasses the believers in Rome. Do you see the last word in v 13? It is the word from which we get ethnic… ethnic groups or as we say today, people groups.

t.s.: and that my friends, is the 6th quality we find in Paul…

VI. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it (14-15)

exp.: He is eager to preach the Gospel to this unreached people group. I didn’t say unreached and unengaged, because I’m assuming they are engaging their own people. But as a whole, they remain unreached. That is his mission field. He’s been gifted to be successful among the ethnos… the unreached people groups.

t.s.:

  1. He has a thankful heart.
  2. He recognizes his 1st audience and service is to God.
  3. He keeps his people and ministry before the Lord in prayer…
  4. He desires to strengthen and encourage his people through his service and to be encouraged by them, too.
  5. He surrenders his wants and wishes to the Lord, in spite of what he desires. That’s because he trusts in What God is doing…
  6. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it.

Conclusion: Let’s land this plane. So what will you take home with you today? How can you make it personal?

Application: 1st, let me ask you some questions…

  1. What moves you to prayer?
    1. Gratitude? Or, are you taking God’s blessings for Granted?
    2. Is it opportunities for the Gospel? Do you get excited about what God might be doing in your life and in the life of your church?
    3. Or do you find you only pray when things are bad and you’re in need?

Maybe that is a commitment you need to make this morning: to pray regularly.

  1. Do you recognize that your service to people and for people is really to and for God? He is your first audience. I think of the ministries we have:
    1. CUB: it is easy to get tired of people who just use you.
    2. Bridgemark and Venture: for bridgemark, sometimes it feels like people just take advantage, just using the building; but then there are times when I see the good we’re doing in a child’s life. Do you realize that there are children who will grow up to be adults and know how to read because of your ministry? Some little girl down there will hold her granddaughter someday and read the Bible with her. Some man may read Scripture from the pulpit. Or even more – God may call one of them to missions or to the pastorate. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You’re serving God by serving people when you do his bidding.
    3. Maybe its teaching Bible Study or a Community Group. Trust that your service to God is being rewarded and used by Him for his glory.
  2. Do you know your calling and are you passionate about it? I hope so. If not, you’re missing out on so much. I believe God has every person here for a reason and it isn’t to keep the seat you’re sitting in warm. God began a good work in you and I am confident that he will carry it through to completion.

If you don’t know your calling, will you come visit with me about that? Or, maybe you’d feel comfortable with an elder. Please come talk to us. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer him to you today.

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