Category Archives: Faithfulness

The Promises of God

Title: The Promises of God

Text: Genesis 22

Introduction: It is usually best to not act when you don’t know the outcome. Usually!

Like while conducting maintenance in the international waters of the Caribbean Sea, the crew of the RCGS Resolute spotted a Venezuelan Coast Guard vessel on March 30. According to the crew of the Portuguese-flagged but German-owned cruise ship, the Venezuelan littoral patrol boat Naiguatá directed the cruise ship to follow it to a Venezuelan port. When the crew of the Resolute refused—citing their right to be in international waters—a crewman of the Venezuelan vessel used an automatic rifle to fire warning shots. When that didn’t turn the Resolute to port, the 262-foot Naiguatá attempted to ram the 409-foot Resolute. Designed for sailing through ice-covered waters, the Resolute took the blow well while the collision ruptured the hull of the Venezuelan patrol boat and sank it. Other coast guard boats rescued the crew of the Venezuelan vessel, while the Resolute sailed on to her next port. (World Mag, 5.9.20, Vol. 35, no. 9, pg 18)

Like I said, it usually is best not to act when you don’t know the outcome in whatever you’re attempting. But our story this morning teaches us to Trust God at his word – even when we’re not sure of the outcome, by faith, we know that God knows what He’s doing.

There are a group of us reading through the Bible together. We’re currently in Numbers, wandering around with the Israelites through the desert! With this in mind, I’ve decided to preach from somewhere within the last week’s readings – and so, today you’ll notice I’m in Genesis 22. Just one little story from the midst of the Big Story.

Which brings us back to acting on something when you have no idea about the outcome. Actually, that is exactly what Abraham does in Gen. 22. Here are our 4 points this morning:

  1. The Plan
  2. The Problem
  3. The Provision
  4. The Promise

In this story, there are two counter-actions at work: What one believes and what one experiences. Abraham obeys God because he knows that God will accomplish what he has said (He believes God). But, his actions will lead to that not being possible. How can these two opposites be true at the same time?

Let’s observe the action. 1st, we see the Plan

I. Following The Plan (1-6)

exp.: There are two parts to the Plan, first, explained, and 2nd, executed.

  1. Explained (1-2); note: the grouping of 3’s: take, go to land, go to the mountain; there is something special about the threes; Gen 12:1-3 – in threes; Go, Go from, Go to; Go, Go to, Go offer; we even see it in the smaller parts of the text –
    1. Take your son
    2. Your only son
    3. Whom you love

From our text, this is all we know. Abraham is commanded to go offer His son. This must really create a struggle in Abraham. We don’t see it but consider it. Ishmael has been rejected as the heir. Isaac is the promised heir.

  • Gen 12 – I’ll make you a nation.
  • Gen 15 – Again, look at the stars, so shall your descendants be. God strikes a covenant w/ Abraham, his new name.
  • Gen 17 – a 2nd covenant – circumcision and a promise of Isaac; Abraham asks that the heir might be Ishmael, but God says no – you’ll have a son, rd.; 15-19

There is something Henry Blackaby calls a crisis of belief that each of us goes through when we walk with God. Circumstances and situations appear impossible, but God doesn’t call us to walk by sight. He calls us to walk by faith. And this is just what Abraham is going through at this moment.

Hebrews 11.17-19 let’s us in on what Abraham must have thought: 17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

So, here’s the thing, God has promised and Abraham believes that God will do what he has promised. His circumstances don’t appear to be able to make that so. He could have said, “No, you promised!” But he doesn’t! He obeys with his life even when his mind is having trouble reconciling these two.

Transition: which is the 2nd subpoint:

  1. Executed (3-6); Abraham does what God told him to do: he goes, he takes, he offers. Rd v3-6;

t.s.: three days to think about it; three days to stop and turn around; three days to consider; added to this, he has an interesting conversation with his son… and this is our second section this morning:

II. The Problem (7-10)

exp.: rd v 7; We’ve got everything except; he must have helped his Dad before; I love the wisdom of Abraham; rd v 8; rd 9-10; Now, I wonder what all of this looks like; we don’t see Isaac fighting his dad; at least not in the text; I’ll be honest, I don’t think I could have trusted my dad like that. I feel Lisa would have trusted her dad.

ill.: Let’s make this personal. But what about you, when God calls you to offer yourself a living sacrifice to him, do you trust your Heavenly father? When he commands you to bind yourself and crawl upon the altar, do you loosely bind the cords, so that if things don’t go the way you want or expect, you can quickly remove them and jump off the altar?

app.: How long can you remain in the crisis of belief, before you give up? Abraham stays strong, trusting God;

t.s.: And God comes through;

III. The Provision (11-14)

exp.: to this point, Abraham has done as he was told; it is proper to assume this is God’s plan, since it is the last bit of instruction God gave; hint: keep doing what you were told to do, until God tells you to do something else;

app.: Abraham is stopped; Now this is why it is so good to be faithful to ‘all’ that God commands. I’ve wondered if Abraham would have gone to a different Mountain than God had shown, would he have sent the lamb over there? Listen, the point of the ram, caught in the thicket, is that God was providing for Abraham, even before he knew he would need it.

ill.: follow with me; in your mind’s eye, close your eyes and imagine Abraham walking along with his son as they’re headed toward the mountain; can you see it? Now pull up and away. Watch as Abraham and Isaac, the fire and the donkey carrying the wood get smaller and smaller. You’re far enough up that you can actually see the top of the mountain, and even to the other side of the mountain. Now, zoom in to the other side of the mountain. There is something making its way up the mountain there. What is that? Zoom in closer, as the brush moves, you know it’s there. Zoom in closer and then you see it. A Ram.

app.: at the same time, though unbeknownst to Abraham, there is a Ram making his way up the mountain to that same spot.

t.s.: in conclusion, I would add point # 4 – The Promise is remembered and recounted. You see that in 15-19;

IV. The Promise (15-19)

exp.: rd 15-19; listen, God is faithful; he will continue to use us, until he has no purpose for us; Our purpose is to Glorify Him; that’s why we exist here; We can be sure, that as long as we continue in our obedience and faithfulness, God will use us to bring glory to himself; Consider the promise to Abraham: he would never see it with his own eyes. Think about that – the promise was so much bigger than Abraham.

So, what do I want you to take home today?

Conclusion:

  1. God has a plan and he is working that plan and we get to be a part of it. We may not see how it all works out in our lifetimes, but God is working his plan nonetheless!

That is one of the reasons I’ve wanted to read through the Bible with you so quickly. I’m hoping to show you His Story, so that you can see how God is at work. You might ask, “How will we get to be a part of this plan?” Answer, “That, I don’t know!” But here is where faith abides.

  1. I want you to know that whatever problem, situation or circumstance you find yourself, you can trust that God is at work. Take a moment to pull away from it’s nearness. See if you can imagine what God might be doing on the other side of your mountain. At the very least, you know he’s up to something.
  2. I’m reminded of Abraham’s answer to Isaac: God, himself, will provide the sacrifice. As with Isaac, God provided a substitute. Isaac, though he didn’t know it, had been sentenced to death. The truth is that you and I are very much like Isaac, we’ve been sentenced to an eternal death because of our sin. But, God, in his mercy toward us, has provided a sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sin. Rom 6.23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free Gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God has provided for us!
  3. I’d like to have a time of commitment this morning. Let’s talk – I’ve got my mask, and I’ll use it.
    1. Come to Christ.
      1. Salvation
      1. Recommitment
  4. Church Membership
    1. Salvation experience
    1. Baptism
  5.  Call to ministry.

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Filed under Faith, Faithfulness, Genesis, Scripture, Sermon

1 Timothy 5.1-2

Title: The Treatment of Members: Confronting & Caring

Text: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Introduction: 1 Timothy 5.1-2; Titus 2.1-8; Question: type the answer if you remember – What is our purpose as outlined from our WEBS.

Sometimes I think the whole Christian world is made up of just two groups: those who speak their faith and accomplish significant things for God, and those who criticize and malign the first group.

Don Basham, “On the Tip of My Tongue,”

Today I might sound critical of you… that isn’t my intention. I wish to be a part of the first group here – those who are a part of the solution…

You’ll note from the title of today’s message that the issue today is all about relationships. I have to say that I love it when the topic is relationships. I’ll reiterate what I’ve said so many times: nothing is more important in the church than relationships. If you want to know more, see me after the service. I’m serious…

Relationships are hard. Period. Some are harder than others, but it is what it is: hard! That is why they are so important. They’re important in evangelism, in discipleship, in worship, in prayer, in fellowship and the list goes on. Relationships permeate every aspect of the church. So, we need to get this right.

Think about our Purpose as a body as outlined from Wednesday Night: Imaging God. Our purpose isn’t just to worship. Our purpose isn’t evangelism. Our purpose isn’t discipleship. Yes, we ‘do’ all of these; but our purpose is to Glorify God. There is no commandment greater than Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So, the question is, then, “what do we do when we haven’t been imaging God correctly?” We don’t like this part of relationships but confronting members who are not imaging God correctly is our task.

And, this is what I love about Paul’s letter. He’s saying to Timothy, Do the work of confronting, but do it in love! Let your first thought be love. Again, it comes back to relationships!

 

Opening Illustration: Joshua Harris

The Evangelical World has been rocked in the last few years with defectors from the faith. This past year saw Joshua Harris and Marty Sampson, two very high-profile evangelicals announce that they are no longer Christians. Harris announced that he was both divorcing his wife and renouncing his faith.

Joshua Harris: You probably remember Joshua Harris from his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Before those two very big announcements, he made some statements in an interview where he simply said he was having trouble reconciling his theology with his life experience.

I think that there’s a push by some people to say being sex-positive means — the kind of the historical sexual ethic related to sex outside of marriage, related to homosexuality, is basically laid aside, and embracing a healthy view of sex means just accepting all that as fine within the Christian tradition. … I do think though that, for me, in that change of interpretation of such a fundamental level when it comes to sexuality, it’s just hard for me to … In a way, it’s almost easier for me to contemplate throwing out all of Christianity than it is to keeping Christianity and adapting it in these different ways.

This is refreshing in the respect that he can’t reconcile what the world teaches and what the Bible teaches. The problem with liberal theology is that it can’t reconcile both either. Their stance is to just throw out those portions of Scripture. But Harris doesn’t do that. He fully acknowledges that the Bible teaches something contrary to what the world teaches. There is more, and it comes out on Social Media. Using either Instagram or his twitter account, He stated that he isn’t a Christian. He said that based on his definition of what a Christian is, he isn’t. Others have encouraged him to move to a more liberal movement in observing the faith, but he has declared that he isn’t there yet.

Here’s the problem with a false gospel being preached from the pulpits – it creates a bunch of false followers who are in the game for all the wrong reasons. When God doesn’t do what the preachers have promised, then there is frustration and anger (and, I suppose, a step-by-step process of all the stages Kübler-Ross outlined) and eventually, a falling away. This is called a ‘transactional view’ of God. If I do such and such, God will reward me with such and such.

To be honest, my heart hurts for these men and others like them who have left devastated followers in their wake. They preach a gospel of success and happiness that comes through legalism. They don’t call it that, but that is what they promise. Don’t date anymore. Instead of dating, court your future spouse and God will give you the blessings of a wonderful marriage. Joshua lived that out and it failed him. So, he gave up on God. God let him down as he sees it. God didn’t keep his end of the bargain.

Hear what I’m saying: court, date, get married through an arranged marriage. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. In any of those cases, relationships are still hard! Do any of the following and your marriage might end. Do any of the following and your kids might still get sick – they might still die. Any message from a preacher who declares that if you’ll do this then God will do that – is a false doctrine.

Michael and Lisa Gungor are two more folks who experienced the same thing. They did what they thought they were supposed to do. According to her YouTube video, they dated and waited. But when they had a child with down syndrome, doubt began to creep in. They had done what they thought God wanted them to do, but then God didn’t keep his end of the bargain – transactional theology. They both now claim to be atheists.

Marty Sampson: Hillsong United Worship Leader. Oh, praise the name of the Lord our God. Oh, praise his name forevermore.

And, this is precisely what Paul has been warning Timothy about in our letter: don’t let false teachers present a false gospel. The damage they bring is destructive. Hear what I’m saying: court, date, get married through an arranged marriage. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. In any of those cases, relationships are still hard! I reiterate: Do any of the following and your marriage might end. Do any of the following and your kids might still get sick – they might still die. Any message from a preacher who declares that if you’ll do this then God will do that – is a false doctrine.

Look at 4.11-16 with me: 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Now, Paul outlined for Timothy to ‘Command and Teach’ these things: Personal godliness, Preaching the Word, Putting into Practice his giftedness, Diligence over his life and doctrine and focused persistence in keeping a watchful eye over it all.

But how do you command and teach these things? When confronting members, it can be harsh. How do you confront an older man? How do you confront an older woman? Or, brothers and sisters your own age or younger? How do you talk to widows without seeming to be mean or hurtful?

It’s hard! Let’s look at what Paul says to Timothy in 5.1f; rd v 1;

So, the first thing Paul mentions here is how to be direct with members.

  1. Confronting Members (1-2)

exp.: This word in Gk for do not rebuke appears nowhere else in the NT or LXX; epi – at or before; plēsō – to strike; to strike at; do not sharply rebuke; it’s a word picture; slapping someone with your words: don’t do it! We use this kind of language when someone says something and we reply: Oh, that hurt! Or That’s hitting below the belt!

Without referring to the OT Law, Paul is using his words like pictures to point them back to the Law.

Exodus 21.15 – 15 “Whoever strikes his father or his mother shall be put to death.

Leviticus 19.32 – 32 “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

With a word, Paul points back to the Law and the requirement to honor and respect your parents. But there is more, disrespect brings condemnation.

Now, remember our context: False Teaching is infiltrating the church; for Timothy, being a teacher who brings strong, sound, healthy doctrine. Confront false teachers who bring false doctrine. Now, Timothy is charged with how to treat members – members of all ages. I think, because of the context, these are members who may very well be spreading the false teaching that they’re hearing.

*Boy, this has to be tough! You want to show honor and respect, but these older men need to be confronted!

Back in 4.12 – Don’t let them despise you because you’re young! Versus: Just because someone is older, doesn’t mean they’re biblical in their teaching! So, you Timothy, have to confront the destructive, false teaching. But how? Well, first, don’t strike at an older man with your words.

He continues, don’t strike with your words, but, instead exhort or encourage; He told Timothy how to do this back up in 4:13; Public Reading of Scripture…

Ill.: This is God’s Word – say that out loud where you are. Hold up your copy of God’s Word and acknowledge that this is God’s Manual for life. I think that is why some older folks don’t like it when people use their phones or their iPad’s, or Kindle. There is something beautiful in the representation of the leather and the paper and the ribbons.

Continuing on in 4.13: The public reading of Scripture, to exhortation (the same word here: encourage), to teaching.

So, Paul is saying, there is a way to confront without. Sure, there is some discomfort. But remember, the goal is to correct – and you can do that without being mean and hurtful. I wonder if sometimes we feel like its personal. I wonder if some of us respond as if someone’s false teaching is an affront to us.

Look back with me at 5.1: Do not rebuke (strike at) an older man but encourage him as you would a father. So, let’s delineate these:

  1. Confronting Older Men (v 1)

exp.: an older man; πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros); Elder; this is not the office, but referring to age; probably above 40; more like above 50; no doubt 60; ὡς; as or like, a father; Titus 2.1-2; But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. And what is sound doctrine? He continues in v.Older men are to be sober-minded (This means not under the influence), dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. What I find interesting here is that these are the same qualities of an Elder and a Deacon. We hold these men (elders and deacons) to a higher standard – and so we should. But, the standard is no lower for an older man in the church. It doesn’t mean that every man should be an elder or a deacon, but it does mean that every man should live up to the same standard.

Transition: look at the end of 5.1; but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers,

  1. Confronting Younger Men (v 1)

exp.: I’m supposing these are young men like Timothy; so, I consider these men his peers; as brothers; I think this comes out better and a bit clearer in Titus 2.6. In Titus, Paul follows a different order. You see there in 2.1-2 he speaks of older men; in 3-5 he speaks of older women and older women. Then in v6, he says: Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. That’s it, be self-controlled, but not really, because Titus is a young man, like Timothy, he says: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. So, I think these are attributes for the younger men, too: self-controlled (wise minded); committed to good works (btw: the same words given to the women back in 1 Timothy 2. “Don’t let your outward beauty define who you are,” he said, “but be seen as beautiful by your good works.” 3rd, men of integrity (lit.: incorruptible), dignity, and sound speech. Really, no different than the requirements of all believers.

I think you approach your brother differently than you do your father, for sure. But correction must be made, and it must be done in love.

Transition: back in our text 1 Timothy, look at 5.2;

  1. Confronting Older Women (v 2)

exp.: an older woman; same as above; ὡς; as or like, just as you would confront your mom; I get this.

Ill.: Mama Madkins

Now, to think of correcting your mom has to be a weird feeling, right? Now, I’m only talking about doctrinal issues. But the feeling is the same, right?

Transition: Well, Paul gives Timothy one last group…

  1. Confronting Younger Women (v 2)

exp.: as sisters; Consider how men feel about the women in their life. We’re very protective of our women and girls. I’m not talking about just fathers and daughters. I’m talking about brothers caring for their sisters. That’s the feeling we should have here: we should be protective of them. Notice the phrase here Paul uses; in all purity; probably just with this last phrase; a 2nd reminder of the moral responsibility as a man of God; But so it should be for all men in the church.

app.: The Context is that for a pastor, don’t lash out at people; There is an appropriate way to handle problems we have with members; Timothy isn’t to Lord it over them just because he’s the pastor. But instead, he is to confront these brothers and sisters in Christ with respect and dignity and honor (5th commandment);

I don’t think this is just for a young pastor. We can be this way with each other. We should be, right? And, again, remember the context – false teaching has infiltrated the body. There are those in the church who are practicing and repeating this false doctrine. They have to be confronted and corrected. Otherwise, it can be disastrous for the church.

Consider the 4 people I’ve mentioned in my opening. Be praying for them – I feel pretty sure they would encourage those prayers. But, why would they leave the faith? Consider their theology? Consider their transactional view of God.

Do you remember the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus about inheriting eternal life? Mark 10.17-22;

18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’ ” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.”

I wonder if this young man began to get excited. You see – at this stage of the conversation, it’s all very transactional. You do or don’t do these things and you can inherit eternal life. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Mark continues: 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

For some reason, this hits the young man hard. 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. When it comes to following rules – he was good. But when it came to surrendering his soul to Christ – that was a different call altogether.

Many people think that following Christ is about the do’s and the don’ts, but really, it is all about the surrender. Surrendering yourself completely. When you have a false doctrine of a ‘transactional view’ of God – that he owes you anything because you’ve performed some sort of duty or you’ve kept all these laws since you were young –  When you have that false doctrine as your view, you set yourself up for failure.

I came across this passage this week: Isaiah 46.8-11:

8     “Remember this and stand firm,

recall it to mind, you transgressors,

       remember the former things of old;

       for I am God, and there is no other;

I am God, and there is none like me,

10    declaring the end from the beginning

and from ancient times things not yet done,

       saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,

and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

11    calling a bird of prey from the east,

the man of my counsel from a far country.

       I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;

I have purposed, and I will do it.

 

God is God alone. He owes no one. And like with Israel, He is at work accomplishing his purpose. All things are for his glory – not ours. He doesn’t have transactions with us to bring Him glory – and he sure doesn’t do it to glorify us. I’m reminded of Romans 11.33-36:

 

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.

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Christian Living, Church Discipline, Faithfulness, Scripture, Sermon, Titus

1 Timothy 6.17-19

Title: A Word for the Rich

Text: 1 Tim 6:17-19

CIT: Paul has some instructions for the rich.

CIS: We’re all rich in the present world. We should use it wisely.

Introduction:

I was reading John Calvin’s commentary on this particular passage of the pastorals and noted his comments about the Catholic Church. 17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

And this is from Calvin’s commentary: The inference Roman Catholics draw from this passage, that through good deeds we merit eternal life, is exceedingly foolish. Catholics? Think about Calvin’s culture – the political climate. At the time of this writing, it has been but 39 years since Martin Luther pinned his 95 theses to the church at Wittenberg. It made me think. As I read this passage, “am I filtering what I was taking in through my 2019 filter?” The principle is the same: there are those who think they shall be saved by their good works through giving monetarily. And there is leadership in the evangelical church today who buy into that philosophy. Not because they give like that, but because they’re profiting from it.

I’m reminded of Luke’s account of the widow and her two mites. Oftentimes preachers use that passage to encourage sacrificial giving. But, the truth of the passage is that Jesus was condemning the practice of religious leaders who were selfishly taking advantage of widows and other disadvantaged people. Don’t forget, this is the very thing Paul has accused the false teachers of doing. Two weeks ago in my message Four Features of False Teachers, we talked about how these false teachers were in the ministry for financial gain. Last week, in my message of Paul’s encouraging words to Timothy, we saw Paul encourage Timothy not to be like them.

Now, Paul turns his attention to the wealthy who were being targeted by the false teachers. But, like Calvin did in the 1500’s we’ve got to ask ourselves,

  • What does the Scripture say?
  • What does that mean?
  • And what does that mean for us today? Or, what should we do in light of this information?

This is what Calvin did: He identified what the Scripture said and meant and was able to condemn the wicked practices of the Roman Catholic Church in his day. Jesus was setting an example for his men and for us by doing just that.

Grammatically, in the following three verses, we find 7 admonitions through a single imperative in these three verses: rd v 17-19

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them (1) not to be haughty, (2) nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but (3) on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are (4) to do good, (5) to be rich in good works, (6) to be generous and (7) ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Transition: I’ve outlined these 7 infinitives in the following manner:

  1. What the rich shouldn’t do
  2. What the rich should do
  3. What the rich should expect

Transition: So, let’s look at what Paul outlines for us first…

1.   What the rich shouldn’t do

exp.:

  • imperative: urge, command, charge; 1 Tim 1:3;
  • instruct (NASB) …not really, didactic flavor;
  • command (NIV) 4:11 (command and teach these things); 5:7 (command); here’s where I’m going with this: some scholars really back off on this, I think the translators do, too. Why? because some people get uncomfortable (upset) when you talk about money. Why would this word mean ‘command’ when Paul’s not talking about money and when it gets to money, why is it changed to charge or instruct or urge? I think we must consider that Paul is telling Timothy, it is an imperative of command, command these people, who, those who are rich in this present age. Command them to what? 7 admonitions here, the 1st two which are negative:
  • these admonitions are expressed through infinitives;

       1. To not be haughty; compound word used only here, ὑψηλός (hypsēlos) – high; and φρονέω (phroneō) – mindset or thinking; but is used as two separate words in Rom 11:20 (12:16); proud; pride, that is what Paul is teaching against here; financial success breeds pride;

ill.: The Notebook: Allie was from a rich family who fell in love with a poor, blue-collar worker. They were both young and she was naïve; Allie brings her boyfriend home to meet the family and a bunch of guests. He is treated as an inferior. They were condescending and rude to him. We saw the same thing in the movie Titanic when Rose’s family is so rude to Jack. No doubt you’ve seen it along the way, in your life. Maybe at school? You see the rich kids act arrogant and haughty just because Mom and Dad come from money.

app.: is every rich person haughty? No, most definitely not! Lisa and I know very wealthy people. I’ve got one friend who drives the same old pickup that doesn’t have any bells and whistles. You have to use a handle to roll the window down! He and his wife live in the same house they raised their kids in. The same small house they built when they didn’t have money. We have other wealthy friends who are kind and generous and humble.

But riches can produce a haughty spirit! It must have been that way in Ephesus; at least on some level, because Paul cautions them to not be haughty; 2nd, …

  1. To not hope in riches; which are uncertain; money, success, these things are fleeting;

ill.: Have you ever found yourself thinking “what if I just had this money, I’d be o.k.”; remember this: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem! It isn’t that being rich is bad, it’s the idea of putting your hope in being rich. For most of us though, I don’t think in our culture, in our day, in our age, in USA 2019, I don’t think the problem is the lack of money or wealth. For us, it is the abundance of debt.

app.: Don’t be proud and haughty, Don’t place your hope in riches

t.s.: but instead…and this is 2nd area of instruction:

2.     What the rich should do:

exp.: instead…

  1. To set your hope on God; why? He’s already given a good reason,
    1. Because riches are uncertain; but now he gives another…
    2. Because God richly provides everything for us to enjoy (pleasure). This casts light on the garden. God provides everything for us to enjoy. And, he gives us guidelines to enjoy them by. Paul is using his linguistic skills to communicate that God provides. Πάντα – all things;

Transition: now these next four actions are a natural flow from the life of one who realizes his riches are a gift of God. rd 18a;

  1. To do good; this word ‘good’ – ἀγαθοεργεῖν; only here and in Acts 14; a compound word – Agatha – perfect (when in relation to God) good or right (when in relation to people) and ergon – work; which is what Paul says in Ephesians, that we were created to do: And he grows on this statement…rd 18b;
  2. To be rich in good works; another play on the word rich; rd 18c; Ephesians 2:10 (ESV) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
  3. To be generous, which is another progressive step in this progression that someone experiences when s/he realizes the riches s/he has are a gift of God…no matter where one is financially speaking.
  4. To be ready to share; this word ‘share’ has the same root as the Gk word koinonia. κοινωνικός (koinōnikos); remember I began with Calvin’s comments on the Catholic church and mentioned how he filtered his reading through his culture? Well, listen to what he writes next: It is true that everything given to the poor is acceptable to God, but since the very best of us hardly manage to accomplish one-hundredth of our duty in this connection, our generosity hardly deserves to be taken into account of by God. In fact, he writes, should God call us to account, everyone would be found wanting, as we are so far from giving all we should.

ill.: Gary Waddington, a pastor in Billings, MT, tells the following story: Several years ago, when I was ministering in a small rural community, we had extra food leftover from our Christmas basket. I happened to think of a poor family who lived at the edge of town. I packed up the food and drove to their house.

I am never sure how one goes about “doing charity” while preserving the dignity of those who receive the charity. When the woman, surrounded by her several children, answered the door, I thought of a subtle way to offer the food to her.

I asked, “Do you know anyone who could use some extra food?”

“You bet,” she said and got her coat, headed toward her car saying, “Follow me.”

She took me to people who were poorer than her, people who desperately needed food. Even though she herself needed food, I remember clearly that there was absolutely no hesitation on her part.

Being rich is relative…so is being poor; I guess it all depends on who you compare what you have with; For some people though, giving is second nature.

t.s.: and when it is…look at what Paul says the rich should expect…

3.    What the rich should expect:

exp.:

  1. The Result of Faithfulness: the rich will lay a good foundation for the future; εἰς τὸ μέλλον; lit.: into the about (to be); Mello is translated ‘about’: it is used to describe an event that is yet to take place, but is ‘about’ to happen; ex.: Zacchaeus, climbed a sycamore tree because Jesus was ‘about’ to pass by; Jesus in describing the end times; the wrath to come; someone is ‘about’ to die; something is about to happen; This is used of the apocalypse; the return of Jesus; when Paul says, the rich will lay a good foundation for the future, he’s referring to heaven, the about to be event; Oh, I wish I could think eschatologically in all my ways, dealings, and efforts.
  2. The Reason for Faithfulness: in order to grasp the true or real (ontos) life, eschatological, eternal life. Paul isn’t saying that by being generous with their riches that they will earn their way into heaven. No, by living a generous, share-your-wealth lifestyle, the rich are grasping that this place is just something we’re passing through to something much more wonderful.

Conclusion: This week Debbi Raney’s mom, Marie Freeman passed away. It was so encouraging to hear her testimony of faith. The passage the pastor shared was from 2 Corinthians 5, where Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. It was an open casket, so we saw Mrs. Freeman. But, not really! She wasn’t there anymore. The tent she used as a body had been shed and she was now in the presence of her savior. To say she had died, was really misleading, for she is more alive now than she’s ever been. She’s in the ‘about to be’ place.

What filters do you view the world through? Do you see the world in your life, Tyler, Texas, 2019? Or do you view it through eternity…knowing that all you have is a gift? I hope you’ll see it through God’s eyes and…use it for His glory!

Take-a-way: In whatever you find your circumstance or situation in life, may you be found faithful.

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1 Timothy 6.11-16

Title: A Word of Encouragement
Text: 1 Timothy 6:11-16
CIT: Encouragement
CIS: Encouragement

Introduction: Which of the two would you rather hang around with: someone who is negative or someone who is positive?

Max Lucado: I discovered the importance of healthy counsel in a half-Ironman triathlon. After the 1.2 mile swim and the 56-mile bike ride, I didn’t have much energy left for the 13.1-mile run. Neither did the fellow jogging next to me. I asked him how he was doing and soon regretted posing the question.

“This stinks. This race is the dumbest decision I’ve ever made.” He had more complaints than a taxpayer at the IRS. My response to him? “Goodbye.” I know if I listened too long, I’d start agreeing with him.

I caught up with a 66-year-old grandmother. Her tone was just the opposite. “You’ll finish this,” she encouraged. “It’s hot, but at least it’s not raining. One step at a time…don’t forget to hydrate…stay in there.” I ran next to her until my heart was lifted and my legs were aching. I finally had to slow down. “No problem.” She waved and kept going.

t.s.: Encouragement. There’s really nothing else like it. And that is what Paul is doing in this passage. And by doing this, he is setting a great example for leaders. He ends his letter on a positive note. He has just delivered the four features of false teachers and now moves to a conclusion with a positive twist…rd v 11a…but as for you, O man of God; this passage of encouragement can be divided into three equal parts: his encouragement for Timothy to persist and (2) to persevere. And he closes with a beautiful doxology of praise to God; this 1st section is an encouragement to persist in the ministry…

1.      Persistence (11-12)

exp.:; Persistence: to continue firmly in a state or action in spite of obstacles or objections; rd v 11, but you, O man of God; Your different than those false teachers who pursue their own passions for personal gain; But has the flavor of Instead; “Man of God” this is a term used in the OT of Moses, and other prophets like Elijah, King David. Paul uses it here and in 2 Tim 3:17, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work; don’t do those things the false teacher does, but instead…Paul introduces 4 imperative verbs for Timothy; the first is…

  • Flee – ‘these things’; this word in the Gk (φεύγω (pheugō) is the word we get fugitive from; 2nd,
  • Followpursue; the lexicon defines this word as; follow in haste; the idea is to chase after these other things: I think you can group these ‘things’ (as Paul says) into two separate attributes you should be pursuing…
    • Christian Conduct: (What you do) righteousness, godliness, faith
    • Christian Virtues: (How you respond) love, patience (steadfastness, endurance, perseverance), gentleness (compound word: gentle and to suffer – might carry a nuance of “gentleness in the midst of suffering”; So Paul is saying: Timothy, Don’t chase after money, popularity, position (like the false teachers) but instead, chase after righteousness,… 3rd,
  • Fight – 12a; to compete; ἀγωνίζου; agonize; used to describe what athletes do; stay in the competition; the one of faith; … #4;
  • Faithfulness – rd v 12b; to your calling, to your confession, exp.: possible baptism, ordination; possible two separate events or maybe the same; remember to do what you said you would do in the presence (in the sight of) of many witnesses;

ill.: my prayer chair; in what a good friend calls the ‘holy of holies’; my office

app.: what a great motivator, what a great reminder, we’re not called to success as the world labels success, we’re called to flee, follow, fight, and be faithful to our calling…

t.s.: He’s encouraged first to persist, and 2nd, here to

2.     Persevere

exp.: you see the charge in v 13…The Charge:

  • The Seriousness of the Charge: in ‘presence of’ (same as 12) God, who is the life-giver; life sustainer, maker, keeper; (in some context, this would not be so encouraging, but that isn’t how this is presented; IVP’s Phillip Towner writes: In another context this truth might be a source of comfort (Lk 12:6; Acts 2:25), but the presence of God is typically invoked to ensure veracity (Lk 1:19) or, as here to strengthen the sense of obligation contained in an apostolic command. Jesus: Don’t fear those who can kill the body, but the one who can kill both the body and the soul; I wonder, as you consider entering into the very presence of God, are you at peace or terrified? Is there a certain trepidation or is there calm? I’ll be honest, I had to ponder that for a moment. I wonder if I’m too quick to say that I’d feel peace and be calm.
  • The Standard of the Charge: rd 13b Jesus, who is the example; he made his confession before Pontius Pilate and was found faithful, even to the point of death; a great standard; too often we compare ourselves to each other; we can usually find someone living below our standard and say that we’re doing pretty good! But here, Paul doesn’t even say that he, himself is the standard. No, Christ who is perfectly faithful…
  • The Substance of the Charge: rd v 14a; Keep the Commandment; τηρέω (tēreō); Hold it close, guard it; continue in it; sometimes ‘obey’; “I charge you, Keep the commandment… How?
  • The Scope of the Charge: rd 14b; to keep it unstained (unblemished) and free from reproach; Do you see the breadth of this command:
    • How it is? (unstained)
    • How it should remain (free from reproach)
    • How long it should be kept: ‘until’ Jesus returns

t.s.: The final section of the passage is the doxology or Praise…

3.     Praise

exp.: a doxology to God; this praise seems to be in protest of the earthly emperor (probably Nero); because he says here; rd v 15: God is the blessed and ‘the only sovereign”; King of Kings and Lord of Lords;

This is a combination of the Old Testament and Hellenistic languages;

  • Sovereign isn’t seen very often here, but many times in the LXX; Hellenistic
  • King of Kings and Lord of Lords is OT language (Hebrew/Jewish);
  • Here is the point: emperors die, But our God is the only immortal King; beautiful conclusion; who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. This reminds me of Daniel 7 and the Ancient of Days and, Revelation 4 which describes God in Colors… clothed in rainbows of living colors, flashes of lighting – rolls of thunder.

App.: Paul says much of the same thing of himself, as he is closing out his 2nd letter to Timothy; 2 Tim 4:7,8: For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.

So we persist, we persevere and we praise our God until he sends his Son, or he determines that we are finished and he calls us home; That might sound sad, but I don’t think it is!

Conclusion: (From Sermon Illustrations online)

Ten days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a group of citizens in North Platte, Nebraska, heard a rumor that soldiers from their town, part of the Nebraska National Guard Company D, would be coming through on a troop train on their way to the West Coast. Five hundred people showed up at the train depot with food, cigarettes, letters, and love to give their own sons and young men they knew.

When the train showed up, it was not the Nebraska National Guard Company D boys on board; it was the soldiers from the Kansas National Guard Company D.

After a few awkward moments, a woman handed a young man she’d never seen the gifts intended for her own son. Everyone else followed that lead, and there were hugs and prayers and love shared all around. It was a spontaneous act of genuine devotion that touched both the soldiers and the people who came to the depot that day. That alone would have been a beautiful illustration of the willingness to “sacrifice for one another.” But the story continues.

A few days later, a 26-year-old woman named Rae Wilson wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper recounting the profound experience they’d shared that night. She then suggested the town organize a canteen, so they could do something similar for every troop train that came through. She offered to lead the effort as a volunteer.

For the next four and a half years, the people of North Platte and the surrounding communities met every troop train that came through their town. Every day, they prepared sandwiches, cookies, cold drinks, and hot coffee. They had baskets of magazines and books to give away to the soldiers, and snacks for the train. There were even birthday cakes for anyone having a special day. And they did this, some days, for as many as 8,000 soldiers and sailors.

The statistics are staggering. By the time the last train arrived on April 1, 1946, six million soldiers had been blessed by the North Platte Canteen. Forty-five thousand volunteers had served faithfully until the war was over and most of the troops had been transported home.

Most of the troops had only ten minutes to sprint from the train, grab some food, maybe dance with a pretty girl, hear the appreciation of those present, and sprint back before the train left without them. But in those ten minutes, they got more than a meal. They received a dose of unconditional love that they remembered later—during the heat of battle as well as decades after the war was over.

Bob Greene, whose book Once Upon a Town made the North Platte Canteen story known to the world, wrote that, as he interviewed those few surviving soldiers who had experienced the canteen firsthand, there was a universal reaction from the men (who were by that time in their late seventies and eighties): they cried.

This isn’t a half-ironman, it’s much longer, keep going! This is a huge task we’ve been called to…. And it does touch so many lives – maybe even people we don’t know…

So, in your faith and calling: Persist in your calling, Persevere in your commitment, and Praise God.

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1 Timothy 1.3-7

Title: Timothy’s Appointment to the Church at Ephesus

Text: 1 Timothy 1.3-7

Introduction:

March 2, 1962. Hershey, PA. Wilt Chamberlain scored a record 100 points in one game. The record has been approached a couple of times but never broken. Kobe Bryant scored 81 points a few years back. My hero David Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs scored 71 in one game. And, the night he set the record, he made 28 free throws out of 32. Here’s the thing about that: Chamberlain was a pitiful free throw shooter, but not that night. Normally, he would shoot in the 40% area. That night he shot nearly 90%. The difference? He shot his free throws underhanded.

But here’s an interesting tidbit of information: shortly afterward, Wilt Chamberlain went back to shooting his free throws overhead and his percentage plummeted once again.

Why? He tells us in his biography: I felt silly, like a sissy, shooting underhanded. I know I was wrong. I know some of the best foul shooters in history shot that way. Even now, the best one in the NBA, Rick Barry, shoots underhanded. I just couldn’t do it.

Check that out…he says: I know I was wrong. He is saying the right thing to do – the best way for him to score on his free throws would be to shoot underhanded. But then he says he just couldn’t do it.

Here’s my question: I wonder how many men would have to shoot underhanded before he would have changed his style.

Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast on this topic (Revisionist History)– the idea that each of us has a threshold where we will surrender our beliefs about something. We have beliefs, but we don’t live by those beliefs all the time.

Gladwell gives the example of a teenager who drives a hundred miles an hour with three of his buddies in the car. He isn’t doing it because he believes it is the right thing to do. He probably believes it is wrong. His threshold for doing what he believes is so low, that he surrenders what he knows to be right to do something wrong. Consider if his grandma was driving that car. Do you think she would drive 100 miles per hour to impress his friends? Example: Do think Melodese would drive 100 miles per hour to impress her grandson’s friends? Or Debbie Raney doing the same thing to impress Regan’s friends? Their threshold for such activities is pretty high. Probably, untouchable.

Transition: Identifying this threshold in our lives is so very important.

Consider a leader in the church. The truth is that when a leader upsets people in the church something happens:

  • Upset one person and that person might leave – taking their family, sometimes their friends, their tithe, and their opinions that they share with others in the community.
  • Upset more than one person and you could have a potential church split.
  • Upset enough people and you’re out of here…terminated.

So, people-pleasing is a tough dilemma for leadership. Leaders face a threshold like what Gladwell talks about in his podcast.

I wonder what it was like for young Timothy… Here is a young man who has to stand up to the likes of false teachers in his church, the church at Ephesus. Turn with me to 1 Timothy 1.3. Pg 932.

I’ve identified three parts to the overall passage of 1.1-11: A Bird’s Eye View of our Journey through 1 Timothy

  1. The Purpose of the Leader: His Charge (Week 1) v1-3
  2. The Purpose of the Letter: His Concern (Week 2) v3-7
  3. The Purpose of the Law: His Caution (Week 3) v8-11

We’re in the 2nd section: Paul’s Concern. In this section we note:

  1. The Assignment Paul has for young Timothy (v3-4)
  2. The Aim in standing up to these leaders (v5)
  3. The Assessment of the situation there in Ephesus (v6-7)

Let’s begin with…

I.     The Assignment: to remain and charge (v3-4)

exp.: The assignment was to… rd v 3b; to remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…

  • The Charge: Authority from Paul, now on Timothy; Authority of Paul is established in 1-2; an Apostle; by the command; God our Savior; Christ our hope; Now, Timothy has an Assignment and it comes under the Authority of Paul. This comes straight from the top! There is a direct line here in the chain of command; Specifics:
    • Do not teach: a different doctrine; Gal 1:6-10; you see this in the churches in Galatia, but it is also evident in other letters of Paul. There is only one Gospel. Anything different is false. Note the threshold for Paul in v 10; You can’t make him preach something else to please men.
    • Do not devote
      • Myths and Endless genealogies: scholars don’t agree on what these endless genealogies were; probably something to do with Jewish ancestry; however, what is important is what chasing after these useless myths and endless genealogies did: it brought…
      • Speculation v. Stewardship; I have no idea where this quote comes from. I wrote it down years ago and came across it this past week in my notes on this passage: Speculation without knowledge detracts from responsible execution of the ministry; and here’s why…
        1. Speculative knowledge is a type of theoretical knowledge. It is a knowledge that is gained through reflection without experience.
        2. Stewardship involves our use of not only the financial resources but our gifts, talents, abilities and time.

ill.: I.H. Marshall: …the label applied here and elsewhere in the PE may target not just the fallacious interpretation of OT passages but also applications of this material to conduct that contradicted traditional patterns of godly behavior.

app.: this is the danger of moving away from God’s Word and teaching from the way one feels about something.

t.s.: And Paul has given this particular assignment to Timothy to ‘charge’ these men not to teach false doctrine; But Paul gives Timothy a warning on how this is to be done; Rd v 5;

II.    The Aim: love from… (v5)

exp.: the Gk word here is τέλος; the vb form of this word is τελέω (to bring to an end); this is the word from which we get “telescope” and others like it; it means to bring something which is far away much closer. This is how we get our word for goal or purpose. You plan your current situation so that you’ll arrive at the appropriate place. The purpose, The goal, The aim, The endgame is love.

  • this verse changes the thought from the negative result of erroneous teaching to the motives of proper instruction within the church; The motive, the goal the aim is…
    • Love (issues itself from Three Sources)
      • A pure heart; καθαρᾶς 1John 1:9; the καρδία; is the center of the person; who we are before God; our true personality; the seat of our emotions; the origin of desires; This is what we are to love God with…’all of our heart’; Q.: seriously, who wants to bring an impure, dirty heart before God? No one, right?
      • A good conscience; 2nd dimension of the inner person; this word isn’t found in the OT; the heart served in this capacity; in the NT it means a knowledge of good and bad; compound word, with (to gather) knowledge; This conscience isn’t the ultimate judge of right & wrong; it only serves us as a guide since it can be seared by sin; important: we think sin doesn’t affect us, but it does; what our eyes see, what our ears hear; what our senses experience, through time, slowly disconnect us from reality; we truly are in an age when evil is called good and good is called evil, where reality is called false and false is called reality. The media would have you believe you’re watching reality TV. John writes: Little Children, keep yourselves from sin. A pure heart brings a clear conscience. Note: the word good is sometimes translated clear, which would fit here well;
      • A sincere faith; it appears the false teachers taught with an objective other than love, their goal: 1 Tim 6:5 ff; was their pockets;

app.: their endgame is not love! Their endgame was what they could get from these people…

t.s.: and so Paul placed Timothy there to confront these men, v 6ff tell us why; rd v 6-7;

III.   The Assessment: Certain men have wandered off course (v6-7)

exp.: The problem: these men are ‘missing the mark’; they have wandered (turned); Certain people have lit.: “missed the mark”; they have deviated off course and wandered from these (a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith); These people are the “false teachers of the Law”; this word, νομοδιδάσκαλοι teachers of the Law is found only 2 other times in the NT and clearly refers to teachers of the Mosaic Law; This Wandering leads to:

  • Vain Discussion; ‘empty, fruitless discussions; kids are good at this; and that’s immaturity; “my uncle has some cows”; what’s bad is when adults do that; what’s worse is when teachers do that; what exactly were they doing? rd v 7
    • Teaching without understanding (they are wrong)
    • Application with error (they are sincerely wrong)

ill.: As a pastor, I have had people say to me: We don’t need more doctrine! What we need is more practical preaching! I think that means: don’t teach us, tell us stories.

app.: But can’t you see that doctrine is the basis for living? It is what you know from experiencing God’s Word as you live out his teaching for your life. My goal isn’t to motivate you to live a better life. This thing I do up here isn’t just about inspiration. My goal is to love you in such a way that it leads you to a closer relationship with God. And, I do not really love you if all I do is tell you what you want to hear!

Transition: The Church must keep great oversight on what is being taught and be willing to confront doctrine that is unhealthy. Our threshold must be high and not give in to what is popular or the current trend.

Conclusion: Wilt Chamberlain mentioned Rick Barry in his biography as the one person who would shoot his free throws underhanded. He also mentions that Rick Barry led the NBA in Free Throw percentage each year. Rick says that one year he missed only 9 shots. 9! And the next year, he only missed 10. To put that in perspective, Lebron James misses about 150 free throws a year. Rick Barry made 90% of his free throws throughout his career. Lebron James? 73%! Wilt Chamberlain? 50%!

What made Rick Barry not care about what others thought? Well, His goal wasn’t to please others. His goal was to make the shot. He really didn’t care what people thought about him. And, the fact that others made fun of him didn’t bother him. His threshold was incredibly high.

So let me ask you: how high of a threshold do you have toward others making fun of you for not following the world? Paul had an incredibly high threshold. He’s encouraging Timothy to have a high threshold. And I’m doing the same for you: and that brings us to the applications for this morning…

Application: So what do we learn from this section of Paul’s letter? To check our:

  1. Our motives in teaching (in ministry): Love? Do you love your students? Do you love God’s Word? Is your heart pure, your conscience clear and your faith totally sincere.
  2. Our doctrine in teaching: on course with God’s Word?
    1. Books; be careful;
    2. Study Bibles: notes are not inerrant
  3. Our practice in selecting teachers. We should be concerned with each teacher. Not just filling vacancies, but finding good, competent, teachers.
  4. Our goal: lead people to Christ, disciple them and send them out.

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The Servant of the Lord Waits Upon the Lord

Isaiah 49

Opening Remarks: We’re in Isaiah 49 this morning. Turn there. Isaiah 49;

I want to be of encouragement to you this morning. I see too many worried and wearied believers.

So, I’m leaving Romans for the morning and preaching a message that God has laid on my heart. I don’t expect it will be long. My goal is to be short and sweet and aimed straight at your heart.

Introduction: God affirmed my calling in September of 1987 through a little church in Copperas Cove, TX. That was 30 years ago last month. 30 years.

I served three churches in 10 years will in College, Seminary and after Seminary as an Associate. I’ve served for 20 years now as a Senior Pastor. In those 30 years, I’ve seen many men fall by the wayside. In those 30 years I’ve watch many a man start off with a bang and fizzle to a drip. I’ve watched many a man talk a big talk and at first begin a wonderful walk to match the talk, but when times got hard, they walked away. I, myself, have grown weary in well doing and have wanted to quit. And even though that number is high, once was too much. In all of my struggles and in all of the struggles of those I’ve journeyed with through the years, I have never once seen the Lord fail to keep his promises.

I have spoken to many a faithful senior adult who has weathered many more storms than this preacher, and they insist that ‘this ain’t nuthing!’ ‘We’ve been through worse!’

As I read through Scripture, I find men who started out with a bang and fizzled at the end. Adam, Noah, David, Solomon, Saul… and the list goes on! I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be a church like the Galatians… I learned this in the NIV and it has stuck with me… 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Or, consider the Corinthians, or so many of the churches that started with a bang and then fizzled.

My heart’s desire today is to remind you that God is faithful… He always has been. And, his ability to accomplish his mission has never been dependent upon the fickleness of men.

Let’s go back in time and see how Isaiah was encouraged…

I’ve got simple points this morning which serve as our application. Normally, I preach and offer a few points. At the end, I bring the application. This morning, though, my points are the application. This is what I want you to take home with you today:

So, here we go…Application #1: A servant of the Lord waits upon the Lord because he knows…

I. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. (1)

exp.: rd 49.1; If you think about it clearly, everything you’re enduring today was understood by God long ago. For Isaiah, he understands that it was while he was still in his mother’s womb that God called him and named him. This is not the time to make an argument against abortion, but it would fit. Scripture is clear that God knit each of us individually together in our mother’s womb. Our frames were not hidden from him. Psalm 139 says that everyday of our lives was planned and written down in his book before one of them came to be.

Ill.: yesterday Lisa and I were talking about Bart Millard and the incredible songs he has written. I saw him in an interview and he said that his most popular songs were written through the struggle and the trials he was enduring. His greatest growth and his best stuff came out of the adversity in his life.

app.: storms may come and trials may befall us, but God, who is sovereign is not caught off guard. He knows your day and your trial, as well as your name. There is nothing that will come upon you and me that surprises God. And in his sovereignty, he is working for his glory. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

t.s.: He has called you by name and you are his. A servant of the Lord knows that He is Sovereign. Application #2:

 

II. A servant of the Lord knows that God has equipped him. (2)

exp.: God gave Isaiah just what he needed to be the man he would call him to be. He equipped him for the service to which he would be called. Look at v2; He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. “He made”; God, who is sovereign fashioned Isaiah into the tool he desired to use. He began while Isaiah was still in his mother’s womb. He took Isaiah and began to fashion, mold and shape him. You may feel like you’re a product of your environment, but the truth is you are who you are because God made you that way. Every action and inaction of your life, God has been making you into the man or woman he has desired you to be. You are not a mistake. God doesn’t say, “oops!” when he is working. He is intentional about his glory and you are all a part of that intention.

Did you have a tough childhood? Did you grow up poor? Sick? In foster care? With Christian parents? Did you grow up with lost parents? Were you abused? Were you sheltered? Have you experienced homelessness? Have you experienced fear? Pain? Whether you see God allowed things in your life or whether you see God did things in your life… the outcome is the same: God has been equipping you to be a sharp tool, ready for use. To him, you are a sharp sword in its sheath or a polished arrow in its quiver.

t.s.: And why? The answer is in our 3rd application:

III. A servant of the Lord knows that God has called him. (3, 5a)

exp.: rd v 3:   And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” God has been doing all that he has been doing for the sole purpose of glorifying himself.

I’ve been asked periodically if I think Calvary has sinned and God is punishing her. The Truth is that I don’t know. Yes, we’re sinners. We have done things wrong because we are sinners. If you know where Calvary has sinned, then we should confess that sin. It would be good for us to come with repentant hearts, begging God to show us where we’ve failed. We want to be used for his glory.

ill.: Do you remember the story of the man born blind in John 9? The disciples asked the Lord who had sinned – this man or his parents that he was born blind. That has seemed like a simple answer to me: it had to be his parents because how could he have sinned before he was born in order that blindness would be his punishment? But Jesus said: neither. What?!? The effects of his life aren’t born out the actions of his life? You mean God did this so that the works of God could be done? Jesus said: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.

app.: If we’ve sinned in such a manner that this is punishment, then let’s pray that God declares that to us and calls us to repentance. But, it could be that God has made us who we are, and what we are, in order that His works might be displayed in us. Do you want to be used by God for His glory? Do you? I do! I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want this to be painful. But I do want to be used by God to bring him glory and honor.

t.s.: Let’s pray unto that end: God don’t let us wimp out. Make us strong for your glory. Accomplish your work in us. A servant of the Lord knows that God is sovereign and that he has called and equipped us for His work. Application #4

IV. A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. (4, 5b)

exp.: rd v 4a; Even when the soldier is down; even when it appears that the man of God has labored in vain; even when his strength has been zapped; even when it appears that he has come to an end! God will be our recompense. Keep reading; 4b-5; God will establish us! God will honor us! So, let us honor him with our faith. Let us stand before God ready to be used to bring people to him. Let’s make ourselves available. If you do nothing but come here and sing songs and listen to a man speak – if that is the totality of your Christianity, then you’re like a sword lying in a corner – you’re like an arrow in a quiver that is hanging on a wall.

ill.: Galatians 6.9-10: And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

app.: Oh, brother and sister in Christ. I know the road is long and the journey has been hard. You and I have seen many faces come and go. But there is a reward that is waiting for those of us who labor for the Lord. He is the one who cares for us. Are you wounded? He will bind up your wounds. Are you weary and heavy laden? Jesus says, “Come, and I will give you rest.”

t.s.: A servant of the Lord knows that God will care for him. Application #5:

V. A servant of the Lord knows that God will accomplish His mission in His time. (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6;

5a.: God’s mission is greater than you can imagine. Maybe some of your problem is that you’re thinking too small. Maybe you don’t think God is big enough to accomplish his goals and his purposes. God tells Isaiah that looking at Israel is too small of a mission. God is thinking bigger. God has grander plans!

Rd v 7;

5b.: for some strange reason, God has chosen to glorify himself through us. Rd v 21; If you’ll hold on, you’ll look around and say I was alone, but look at all the people around me now. Where have they come from? Let’s Continue reading22-23; those who wait on the Lord shall not be put to shame!

app.: My brother and sister in Christ, if you are serving God with your whole heart, if you have not chased after idols and the ways of the world, if you are totally committed to him, Then it is time to take your stand! Be reminded that:

  • You do not serve the Lord because there is money in the bank.
  • You do not serve the Lord because there are more than enough people to do the job.
  • You do not serve the Lord because of what you will get out of it!
  • You do not serve the Lord because you are the best one for the job!

t.s.: You serve because you were chosen, you were called and you have been equipped for such a time as this!

 

Conclusion: Listen clearly to me. I want to be very clear: Our actions don’t make God do what we want. I’m not preaching this sermon this morning to say God has to do anything. He is the boss…He is in charge!

I’m not saying that your obedience will bring money. That isn’t God’s promise. I’m not saying that your obedience will bring people. That isn’t God’s promise. God’s promise is His glory. And I’m pretty sure that is your goal, too: His glory.

So, what do we do now? I say: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14

Here in is our last application #6: Servants of the Lord waits upon the Lord because they know…This fight is not against each other. We don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. At least we’re not supposed to! Satan laughs his most hideous laugh of victory when brothers and sisters in Christ fight each other, when they abandon each other, when they gossip and slander each other. When they use their money against each other. When they use their committees against each other.

I think I can stand and say for each elder today that we love you dearly. We have never intentionally led you astray. If we have failed you in our leadership, we are truly sorry and ask for your forgiveness. I know that isn’t the way an apology is supposed to sound…if. But what I mean by that is: we as elders are humbled at this point. We’re just like you… trusting God to move. If you feel betrayed or led astray. If you feel that we have sinned against you… we want you to obey Matt 18 and come to us – show us the error of our way and we will repent before.

Let me offer you this final caveat. Just because I preach a message about faith, doesn’t mean that God has to do something that we want. Do you hear me? God is God. And, he will be glorified in whatever way he chooses. I’m hoping and praying for God’s blessing on Calvary and her ministries and missions. Will you pray with me, too?

  1. God, show us our sin, that we might be repentant of our rebellion and sinful ways.
  2. God, lead us in your favor to accomplish the ministry and mission of your heart. We are your servants – show us exactly what you would have us to do.
  3. Our lives are in your hands. We’ve always known that. Thank you for you gentle reminders.
  4. We trust now, as always, that you have brought us here to 6704 Old Jacksonville Hwy and that you have great plans to use us here.
  5. We are yours, have your way in us.
  6. For we know that those who wait upon you, will not be put to shame… they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint.

 

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Filed under Faithfulness, Isaiah, Sermons, Servant

Affirming the Call of God

Title: Affirming the Call of God

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 this morning. Turn there.

Answering the Call of God upon one’s life can be the most exhilarating and adrenalin pumping adventures for any man. It is scary and exciting all at the same time. The journey begins with humble commitment and unrealistic expectations. I suppose the same goes for missionaries and other types of call.

But it gets hard through the years because the church often times feels it must keep a tight budget. Pay raises are passed over and excused as budget cuts. Church members try to run a faith budget like their home or business. Added to this, no one keeps track of the minister’s days off (except for maybe his wife, who feels defenseless in speaking up about either the finances or the workload) and so he works too many days without taking the break he needs. Many men of God feel overworked and underpaid.

Church members feel that the call of God weighs heavily on the person’s life and that they’re called to serve – they’ve been called to ministry, not to money. The pastor and his family are made to feel out of place and awkward if they even talk about money.

Isn’t it odd how the church wants men who’ve been to school – who have a Master’s Degree or even a Doctorate, but they want to pay those men like they’re high school dropouts?

Anybody getting uncomfortable? Are the A/C’s working ok? Is it getting warm in here?

There are hard issues in calling someone to commit to this ministry. Aren’t there? You’re getting something very special here in calling this family. What will you give in return?

How Special, you might ask: The elders and the search team feel like we’ve found you the very best man for the job. That’s not hyperbole. That’s not exaggeration. We’re so excited to present this young man to you. WE believe we’ve done due diligence in ferreting out this man from the crowd of applicants. Furthermore, we believe Duffey to be an answer to the prayers we’ve offered. We believe this is God’s man for this position.

I’m not slamming any of the other applicants. There were some quality applicants. And I’m sure God has great plans for those people; however, we believe God’s plan for Calvary is this man. It began for us as elders a couple of years ago and has grown to this point. We done our best to follow God’s leading in this area. Nearly 2 years later, we’re standing here in front of you guys with a confident assurance that God has brought us to this place.

Transition: So, what do you do as a church with this information? How do you behave and act toward someone being called as Pastor of Worship and Students?

A Brief look at the Reformation:

Historically, the Pope and his Bishops did all that. The Pope basically issued orders ex cathedra and the people followed. Martin Luther and John Calvin rose up against that very thing in a little movement called the Reformation. Luther taught that Christians should gather, not at the call of a particular man (pope or priest), but that they should gather around their shared convictions. That was huge! Unheard of!

Ill.: Ignaz Semmelwiess had a revolutionary idea for doctors. As a physician himself, it was something he began to do in his practice – and his patients faired well because of it. He, however, was opposed and ostracized. His views were seen as unscientific. The mistreatment he experienced from his fellow physicians was so great and so overwhelming that he was forced from his practice. Decades later, as doctors began to see the wisdom in what he had done, they began to adopt this new practice of his. But he wouldn’t live to see it. He died in an insane asylum years before.

What was his crazy idea? Simply this: wash your hands before visiting each patient. That’s it. Wash your hands in between patients.

App.: many of you would be grossed out if your doctor didn’t wash his or her hands when they came into see you. But that’s because it is accepted today.

And it is that way as you vote today. It should feel natural. Christians in the 1500’s would be aghast!

Luther believed that Christians should organize themselves as their own final authority in religious matters. Next month will mark 500 years since this radical new teaching. You practice it today, but it was born out of the Reformation and established under much persecution. Luther believed firmly that the Bible teaches what we call ‘congregationalism’. We are governed as a Congregation. Luther and many of the Reformers believed that the sheep know the Shepherd and identify his voice. John 10.4-8

When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus warns the believers about false teachers and the fact that they have the ability to do something about it.

Cf.; Mt 7.15: A Tree and Its Fruit 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

We see this set out plainly for us in the pattern for selecting deacons. Acts 6.3-4: Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

I love this: YOU pick. We’ll put them to work. When Luther wrote about these new ideas and practices in 1523, he entitled his tract, A Christian Assembly or Congregation Has the Right and Power to Judge All Teaching and to Call, Appoint, and Dismiss Teachers, Established and Proven by Scripture.

You must understand how radical this was in 1523. The Reformation had been gaining ground over the past 100 or so years to be sure, but to pick and choose your leaders? That was a radical reformation. And just how did Luther accomplish such a feat? He translated the New Testament for the people to study these very doctrinal issues in their own language.

This doctrine of Congregationalism began gaining momentum through the 1600’s as John Cotton, John Owen, and Thomas Goodwin advocated for “the Congregational way.” By the time of the American Revolution, a full 40% of Christians in the American Colonies was in a congregational church.

So what do we do with this gift of self-governing? We choose. You chose your deacons. You chose your elders. Sure, it all begins with a sub-committee of sorts doing the hard labor of research and organization. But in the end, you listen to the voice of the Lord and affirm God’s will in this matter.

There was something going on in the life of the Church that we find is very similar to what we’re doing here today. 2 Corinthians 8.16-24 is about a collection taking place throughout Asia Minor and is being carried to the brothers in Jerusalem and Judea who are in need. That is the context. But here is the application:

God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

Transition: let me show you where this is in the passage…

I. Your Affirmation of Him with your vote (16-18)

exp.: rd v 16; God was at work in the life of Titus, placing deep within him, a care and a concern for the people. God has been at work in the life of the Henderson family. At sometime in the past, he put a deep desire for ministry in Duffey’s heart. God called him to this service. Furthermore, God is calling him to serve here. That is being demonstrated through a passion for leading in Worship and ministering to our Students. Your vote today affirms the Call of God to this place.

rd v 17-18; It is so hard to explain the passion in one’s heart when God calls. It moves men to service and surrender. The passion for ministry is something that burns deep within. It is a felted thing, but evident in one’s actions. By your vote, you affirm

  1. His Call to this ministry
  2. His Passion for this ministry

t.s.: 2ndly,

II. Your Appointment of Him to this Ministry (19-22)

exp.: rd v 19; As your leadership, we’ve done what we believe is God’s will for Calvary. We have not entered this lightly. We have bathed this in prayer over the past two years. We’ve cast vision and dreamed dreams. We made PowerPoint presentations of how to realign staff and reorganize our ministry to accommodate the needs of the church. We’ve evaluated our situation and found it lacking. Stability has been the answer we’ve come up with and Stability is what we’re trying to bring about. We believe God has brought us to this place. Not just over the past 2 years, as this began for us in October of 2015, but even over the past 10 years. We believe and understand that God has been at work in the life of our church all along, bringing us to this point.

And so we present Duffey to you. But, like the Church at Corinth who had to appoint men to do the work that they couldn’t do, you must appoint Duffey to this ministry in our congregation. We present him to you for this appointment because we’ve found him to be of sound character and high moral value.

Note what Paul says of Titus and Epaphras; rd v 20;

  • Blameless; rd v 21
  • Honorable; rd v 22a
  • Trustworthy: Tried and Tested; rd v 22b
  • Full of Faith – con: with; fidere – faith.

app.: His presence here today with his wife demonstrates his confidence in you. He loves the ministry and mission you’ve displayed and have been active in. He and his wife have spoken highly of what you’ve been doing. We as a team have heard them. They are so excited about the opportunities to serve with us – helping us accomplish the ministry God has called us to.

t.s.:  Which brings me to my last point this morning. God is at Work in Duffey’s life and in the life of our church. This is evident when you…

  1. You Affirm him through your vote.
  2. You Appoint him to his service.
  3. You Support him in accomplishing the ministry

III. You Support Him in Accomplishing the Ministry (23)

exp.:rd v 23-24;  It excites me to think of this young man coming alongside me in ministry… to be my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. Which makes me think of a few cautionary points.

Benefit here doesn’t mean that your work is done. He is not here to do your work – the ministry God has called you to accomplish. He is here to benefit you, not take your place. His presence and ministry should augment what we’re doing here at Calvary. I’ve experienced this first hand when I accepted a call some years ago. The team that brought me in just disappeared. They felt their work was done.

I know you have worked hard, but now is not the time to disappear. Now is the time to rise up!

2nd, We (the elders) don’t believe that because God has brought Duffey, Calvary will now grow to a thousand. Our baptistery will not overflow because Duffey Henderson is leading our Students. Our coffers will not overflow with money because Duffey Henderson is leading our Worship. That’d be nice, but your elders don’t have some “if you build it they will come” mentality. We don’t think Duffey is the Savior of the World. No, that position has already been filled and will never be vacated!

Conclusion: Howard Hendricks, Living By the Book (as quoted by Chuck Swindoll)

A scientist was using the inductive method to observe the characteristics of a flea. Plucking a leg off the flea, he ordered, “jump!”

The flea promptly jumped.

Taking another leg off, the scientist again commended, “jump!”

The flea jumped again.

The scientist continued this process until he came to the sixth and final leg. By now the fleet was having a little more difficulty jumping, but it was still trying.

The scientist pulled the final leg off and again order the flea to jump. But the flea didn’t respond. The scientist raised his voice and demanded, “jump!” Again, the flea failed to respond.

For third time the scientist shouted at the top of his lungs, “jump!” But the hapless flea lay motionless.

The scientist then made the following observation in his notebook: When you remove the legs from a flea, it loses its sense of hearing.

app.: Funny how the scientist didn’t connect the dots correctly… we’re worried that you might think like that scientist. Baptisms, Financial blessings may come and they may not, but don’t connect the one with the other. God’s blessings are God’s blessings.

Still, Your support of Duffey is vital to the accomplishment of this ministry. You call him, you appoint him, you support him. You support him with your words, your presence, and your money. You support him by loving his wife and their children. Pay him well and make sure he is keeping the Sabbath.

Duffey’s success is dependent upon you.

We’re going to move to a time of business now. We’ll take a few moments for folks to leave if they’d like. If you’re a guest, you’re welcomed to stay if you’d like, but please feel free to slip out if you’d like. As for our membership: we’ll take a couple of minutes to break (go to the bathroom or get a drink) and then we’ll regroup for our special called Business Meeting.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Calling, Commissioning Service, Faithfulness, Leadership, Sermon

Romans 1.16-17

Title: From Faith for Faith

Text: Romans 1.16-17

Introduction: (Read) 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who puts their faith in Him. Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him, that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God is revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is basically summed up in 1 Cor 15.3-4: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures – as had been foretold in the Old Testament.

Now, with that in mind, let us look at our passage for today a little closer – read it with me: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Transition: Within this passage we see The Gospel’s Power, The Gospel’s Provision and The Gospel’s Proof. Let’s begin with the first point…

I.     The Gospel’s Power (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s that can bring you salvation. None. You can’t buy it with your money; you can’t earn it with your good works; you can’t steal it; you can’t get lucky somehow on you own; you can’t get there through someone else’s work or charm. Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. But, the Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people – saving us from our sins. You see that in this rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

t.s.: that’s the Gospel’s power – saving you through faith. 2nd,

II.   The Gospel’s Provision: (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God. A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

t.s: That’s the Gospel’s Provision – making you righteous in God’s eyes – if you’ll trust and believe Him. Finally, we see the Gospel’s Proof through a life lived in faith.

III.    The Gospel’s Proof: (17)

exp.: the Gospel’s proof in a person’s life is simply this: The Righteous Shall Live by Faith. What I love about this quote is that it is from the Old Testament. When NT writers quote OT passages it gives us insight into what those passages mean and what that NT writer was trying to communicate. With Habakkuk’s help, which by the way, he’s quoting God there, we understand that Paul is communicating to us that our lives reflect the decision and commitment we’ve made. A righteous life demonstrates that someone has found the forgiveness of God and is now living according to God’s plan.

ill.: It’s like this – you say, God, I’m tired of living my life the way I want. I’ve made a mess of things. I want to live this life the way you’ve designed. I want to live life according to your plan. Please forgive me of my sins, come into my life and change me.

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment.

Conclusion: So, what do we do about this?

–  Peter said to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved. This is Wonderful news. The best response you can make is take advantage of this moment and give your life to Christ. I don’t care how old you, where you’re from, or what you’ve done. If you’ve never accepted Christ, let today be the day. The greatest gift you can give your kids is to give them the assurance that they’re momma or daddy is saved.

The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.

  • God can save you
  • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

– Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I was out jogging Friday with Elizabeth. We met a man who took a moment to engage us in conversation and ask me personally if I’ve come to know Christ as Lord and Savior. That was cool. No too many people beat me to the draw, but this man did. I’d like to challenge you to do the same: share this good news with others.

– Live by faith. That’s what the righteous do. The best testimony is the one where a person’s words match his life. Trust Christ – especially when life is hard. Trust that He knows what he’s doing.

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Filed under 1 Corinthians, Evangelism, Faith, Faithfulness, Hebrews, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Nehemiah 6-7

Title: The Call to Perseverance

Text: Nehemiah 6.1-7.73

CIT: The author wants the people to be encouraged in the promises of God, in spite of the strong opposition our enemy brings, and to remember that God is the one true promise keeper.

CIS: We are called to persevere through the attacks of the enemy because there is something grander beyond this moment.

Introduction: Fear doesn’t always cause Fight or Flight responses. Sometimes it just causes a breakdown. It can be crippling. Paralyzing, even. Fear isolates people and causes them to go into hiding. It can arrest a community, a people – stop them dead in their tracks. And, it can come from anywhere…at anytime…from anyone – even from those you would not expect.

Today we’re going to study a man who was attacked again and again. The tactic was to strike fear in this man and halt his work. The goal was to intimidate him to the point that he would stop the work of God and give in to their demands. The enemies of God and His people wanted to bring an end to this rebuilding of their wall and the strengthening of their community.

But, Nehemiah was prepared. He had set it in his heart to accomplish this work because God had called him to this work. Besides, he had faith that the One who had called him to this work, would see it through to completion. He would bring it to completion because Nehemiah knew the bigger picture. Nehemiah was called to persevere through the attacks of the enemy because he was certain that there was something much grander beyond this moment in which he was serving and living.

Let me ask you this morning to think about fear. What do you fear? Of what are you afraid? Do you ever get scared? What scares you? I ain’t scairt!

I’ve outlined the passage like this:

The Call is to Perseverance when the enemy attacks:

  1. Privately
  2. Publicly
  3. Persistently
  4. Because God is at work – there is a bigger picture.

Transition: let’s begin in the 1st section of chapter 6, The Call is to Perseverance when the enemy attacks:

I.     Privately (6.1-4)

exp.: for Nehemiah, it was with letters of invitation: come, let us meet together. Where? Hakkephirim; we don’t honestly know where this is, but he gives us a little more detail: in the plain of Ono.” I don’t know about you but I don’t think that sounds too encouraging: Oh, No! In Neh.11.35, it is called the valley of craftsmen – but that doesn’t help us much either. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter where this place was. What matters for us is what Nehemiah knew. He knew where it was and he knew it was only a ploy to make him stop working. Here’s a great place to make our first application of the morning.

app.: Don’t go there! Too often we’re invited into danger or trouble that will stop the work of God. Don’t go there. Lisa says: Don’t borrow trouble! Leave it where it is. You keep working on the task at hand. Do you need some help with this? Look at how Nehemiah handles it (Nehemiah’s response): Rd v 3: And I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?”

t.s.: the enemy attacks privately, but when that doesn’t work – he’ll up the ante and attack you

II.    Publicly (6.5-9)

exp.: in our passage, they do it with accusations of embarrassment; rd v 6-7 In it was written, “It is reported among the nations, and Geshem also says it, that you and the Jews intend to rebel; that is why you are building the wall. And according to these reports you wish to become their king. And you have also set up prophets to proclaim concerning you in Jerusalem, ‘There is a king in Judah.’ And now the king will hear of these reports. So now come and let us take counsel together.” “Look, we’re just trying to save you from yourselves.” The request to fix this looks simple enough. It is for all intents and purposes the same request as before. You see it there in v 7: let us take counsel together. There is a pattern here is found in v4:

  • The Request from the enemies
  • The Response from Nehemiah, and it is after this 2nd rotation, that Nehemiah tells us of his insight into this matter. You see the request in v 7; the response in v 8; and the purpose of the enemy revealed in v 9;
  • The Reason: They wanted to frighten us into quitting! The purpose is to instill fear.

ill.: why fear? Listen to this – Why do the enemies of God want you to be afraid? Why scare tactics? You ready for this? Because it is really all they’ve got. In our story: Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and the people who follow them have no physical power to stop the work. They’ve taunted them, laughed at them, said that if a fox climbed up on the wall it would simply topple over. They’ve made fun of them and threatened them. But when it all came down to it – they were just a bunch of noise.

app.: Consider your work now – your calling to complete the work God has called you to do. Is God limited in accomplishing his work through you? He is where you focus should be. Scare tactics are used to divert your attention away from your Master and His Work. Scare tactics are meant to get you to look away from God and see the enemy.

t.s.: We will see this pattern again in the next set of verses, 15-19 as the enemy ups the ante and doesn’t relent of its attacks – they are private, they are public and they are, 3rd, persistent.

III.   Persistently (6.10-19)

exp.: The enemy has been straight forward and that didn’t work. So, they change things up a little: they then attack through his passion for the things of God – the temple, and prophets. In v 10 it tells us he is invited to the house of Shemaiah. Let us meet together in the house of God. Sounds harmless. Rd v 10;

ill.: There are two possibilities here on what this means:

First, This ‘man of God’ is warning Nehemiah of a death threat and that he can run into the rebuilt Temple and find sanctuary. There, he’ll be safe. He can run to the altar and hold on to the horn of the altar and be safe.

2ndly, he could be telling him to go into the deepest part of the Temple, the holy of holies or the holiest place. The enemies of God can’t follow him in there.

Answer: Nehemiah’s response is appropriate in either case. He says: “Should such a man as I run away? And what man such as I could go into the temple and live?

Either one, Nehemiah knows that if he runs into the holy of holies he’ll die.

Or two, he is saying: I’m not that kind of man – I’m not the kind of man who would abandon his people. Sure, for anyone who is threatened with death, he can flee those seeking his life and find asylum in the Temple. But, that also means the work on the wall will stop. And, his people will be left out there without their leader.

app.: Nehemiah knows the full counsel of God. He knows this person is perverting the Word of God. Either way, Nehemiah is fully aware of the result that either of these two options would bring – the work on the wall would stop. And that – as far as he is concerned – is no option. He knows what they’re really trying to do is scare him.

So the enemies are persistent by attacking him in using the things of God. Next, the enemies will use the people of God.

  1. The Things of God.
  2. The People of God.

Look at v 14; We expect this from Sanballet and Tobiah. But from the prophets of God? Skip down to v 17: rd 17-19; Man, These guys are relentless. You’d think that Nehemiah would become paranoid! Now, he’ll use his own people against him;

App.: Well, in spite of all this we read in v 15; the wall is done – it is finished; in just over 7 weeks. Their goal was to intimidate and strike fear into the hearts of God’s people – so that they would abandon their work. But look at what really happens. Rd v 16; Look what God has done! Do you see the irony in this – they’ve been hoping to strike fear in Nehemiah and Israel; But it backfires!

t.s.: Why does Nehemiah keep up the fight? Why does he keep going? I propose to you that his persistence is born out of a knowledge of greater things. That is: he sees the bigger picture. And that’s our last section this morning: The Call is to Perseverance when the enemy attacks:

IV.    Because God is at work. There is a bigger picture. (7.1-73)

exp.: rd 1-4; he posts an even larger guard within the city. Rd v 5; God puts it in his heart to put the people of God in the City of God. This is genius at work. The goal was never just the wall. The goal was never just the Temple. There is a bigger picture that Nehemiah understood. He assembles the people of God through their genealogy. Rd v 66-67; rd v 73-8.1.

app.: At this point in Salvation History – God has been true to his people. He had promised to return a remnant – and here they are. The story of God has come full circle. But, you know there is more to come: there is a Messiah who has been promised – and all of this is just one small part of the Bigger picture.

t.s.: So, how does this apply to you?

Application:

  1. The author wants the people of God to be encouraged in the promises of God, in spite of the strong opposition our enemy brings, and to remember that God is the one true promise keeper.
  2. You can read this and see how attacks come and know how to recognize them. Basically, attacks come in the form of fear tactics and the purpose is to get you to stop the work of the ministry.
  3. The promises of God are still with us this morning.
    1. Lo, I am with you always – even to the end of the age.
    2. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
    3. I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
    4. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
    5. 27 For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
    6. Three times in Revelation 22 Jesus says: I am coming soon. That’s a promise.
  4. In v 17 of Revelation 22 it says: 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Why? Because the price has already been paid.

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Filed under Ezra-Nehemiah, Faithfulness, Leadership, Persecution, Purpose, Sermon

Ezra 9-10

Title: The Greatest Threat to the Church

Text: Ezra 9-10

Introduction: Ezra 9-10; We come to the conclusion of Ezra – but it isn’t really a conclusion. Originally, Ezra and Nehemiah was seen as one book. For us today, we’ll be closing this book and beginning another focus next week. Interestingly, this book stands alone in its teaching. And, this message is a message that can stand alone in its preaching.

Let me offer a quick review, since it was before the Holiday break we left off…

Ezra and Nehemiah are about the rebuilding of the Temple and the Rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem – respectively. Ezra, the book about the rebuilding of the Temple, is two divided into two parts – two accounts, if you will, of the rebuilding of the Temple: 1-6 and 7-10. In both sections, Israel faces opposition. The main difference between the two sections is that 1-6 is about external opposition from the people of the land. In Chapters 7-10, the opposition comes from within.

I propose to you this morning, taking from the Title of my message, that the Greatest Threat for the Church comes not from opposition outside this community of believers, but from inside the church itself.

Transition: As believers, we will face opposition. Jesus clearly warned us of this. However, as the body of Christ, we must be ever aware and always on heightened alert to the internal opposition – to the sin that destroys the body of Christ from within. Today’s passage does just that – it sets off a warning to our faithlessness and yet, encourages us to hold on to God’s Faithfulness. I’ve outlined these two chapters this way:

  1. The Acknowledgement of Rebellion – 9.1-15
  2. The Repentance of the People – 10.1-17
  3. A list of those who publicly repented – 10.18-45

Transition: Let’s begin with…

  1. The Acknowledgement of Rebellion (9.1-15)

exp.: rd v 1; the 1st step to healing and restitution is to admit you have a problem; The leadership does that here:

  1. Israel’s Sin is Recognized – note their words: they have not separated; God had made this clear ffrom their beginning and for centuries afterward. The slippery slope into rebellion begins when one doesn’t acknowledge that there is sin against God. Those commands aren’t really commands. That applied to them or that doesn’t apply in the 21st Century or etc. Is there any one reason to the weakening of the church greater than the church’s acceptance of sin? Note it is the Leadership: I recognize this begins with the pastor and the pastoral leadership (elders).

ill.: something I see from time to time is a picture of ‘pastors’ who are standing together in a display of solidarity for something the Bible clearly condemns. The most recent is of the Wheaton College Professor. But I’ve seen them surround others concerning their stance on Gay Marriage and other politically motivated agendas that conflict with Scripture. I started looking for some online, but started feeling queasy and uneasy.

app.: Their acknowledgement gets pretty specific here:

  • We have not separated ourselves from the peoples of the lands with their abominations; special note here: it isn’t so much the peoples of the land as it is with their abominations – it’s not their ethnicity! Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
  • Rd v 2; For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands; race is seed or offspring; reminds me of Gen 3.15; I think that plays a part here. Hey are the holy seed, descended from Eve – through whom the promise One would come.

app.: if you want to stop the fall down that slippery slope into rebellion, acknowledge your sin. And that’s just what Ezra does.

  1. The Response of Ezra to that Faithlessness – rd v 3; Torn garments, pulled hair/beard, sat appalled. But it’s not just him, rd v 4; There were others; Why did Ezra respond this way? Were the others moved by his response? No, not the very specific words in v 4; which brings me to sub-point #3;
  2. The Source that sets the Standard – God’s Word; rd v 4: Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, How do they know they’ve sinned? How do they know their actions are rebellion? How do they know they’ve been faithless? God’s Words. It is God’s Word that informs us.

ill.: Russell Moore wrote in his blog this past week What I’ve Learned in 20 years of Ministry. # 2 is: 2) At my ordination, an elderly deacon referenced the Bible and my wife, saying, “Son, don’t ever get in the pulpit with any other book than that one, and don’t ever get into bed with any other woman but her.” Wise counsel. Another way of putting it: “I keep a close watch on this heart of mine; I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I keep the ends out for the tie that binds; Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”

app.: that is wise counsel – Preach God’s word in the pulpit. Only God’s Word. This is the source that taught the Israelites that they were in violation of God’s Word. Back in 7.10 we read: 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. He must have done a good job for the people to speak up.

  1. Ezra’s Prayer of Repentance –rd v 6; we’re drowning in our sins; rd v 7-8; but you O’ God are merciful! We don’t deserve to be here but you have preserved us. Rd v 9: you’ve been merciful but we’ve been unfaithful in spite of your great mercy! Rd v 10-13; So great is your mercy, you’ve not punished us to the extent that we deserve! You’ve blessed us and allowed us to return and build this great temple. You’ve protected and preserved us! Rd v 14-15; We are utterly defenseless! We are guilty! We deserve the punishment you dole out.

ill.: Wow! This is powerful! Ezra totally understands what has happened. He comprehends his position and the position of the people before a holy and righteous God. Do you?

app.: Do you comprehend God’s perfection? He is blameless. No one can accuse Him…of anything. He has never done anything wrong and there is no wrong in him. He is right. As God, he not only sets the standard, He is the standard – In every way.

We are the antithesis of God. He is light; we are darkness. He is the standard of what is right, we are epitome of what is wrong. He is perfect in his actions. We are imperfection… in every way. With him there is no spot or wrinkle or blemish. We are, at our very best, filthy rags piled in a heap of trash. We need sacrifices of pleasing aroma to cover our stench. The wages of our sin is death. If we got what we truly deserved, not one of us would finish the breath in our lungs. On our own we are lost. We can’t find our way out of a wet paper bag without his grace. We haven’t the ability to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We are utterly destitute, lost, helpless and hopeless with out Him. And what’s worse? We don’t even deserve His Grace. He would be right and just to impose on us the penalty due our sins.

And that is what Ezra is saying. And that’s what repentance is – it’s acknowledging that God is right and we are wrong. And then, saying I don’t want to do it wrong anymore. I don’t want to do things my way anymore. Right here, Right now, I’m changing my ways to do things your way. That’s not my nature, but it’s my desire. God, come into my life and change me. Cleanse me. Make me new. Make me like you.

t.s.: Rebellion is a slippery slope. It starts when we fail to acknowledge the sin in our lives. It steepens as we walk in that rebellion. But look at what the people do…

  1. The Repentance of the People

exp.: rd 10.1; Have you ever been moved to tears over your sin? Not because you got caught, but because God’s Word told you that you were a sinner? Rd 10.2 – here we see a 1st step in returning to God.

  1. Confession your Sin – rd v 3; 2ndly,
  2. Turn from your sin – producing deeds in keeping with repentance. Your heart convicts you to rectify the situation as you can. Sometimes you can’t! Often times you can’t. But here they can – and they want to do right according to:
    1. The Counsel of Ezra
    2. The Counsel of others who understand God’s Word
  • God’s Word – His Law
  1. Take Action – rd 4; Be strong and do it! They told Ezra that they wanted to make things right. Lead us! We’re behind you. Sometimes you can’t make things right. But if you can, would you?
    1. Pornography – seal off your computer from that stuff. Get help. For yourself. For your family. Stop hurting your wife with that stuff. Don’t think she doesn’t know. You’re destroying her self image – her confidence.
    2. Tithes and offerings – God has commanded you to not love money more than him. I’m not asking for your money and I’m not telling you where or when to give. But God does. That’s something you can make right. You can begin to be obedient in this matter. You can stop using money to fill selfish longings and start using money as God designed.
  • What about your time? Do you find yourself wasting too much time in sloth and laziness and not being productive with the time God has given you? Do you make excuses for not getting things done and keeping your schedule because of this problem? Repent. Stop. Get organized. Get accountability – “open your books” to someone who can help.

We see some great steps right here in Ezra.

  1. Start with your words – rd v 5; I’d encourage you to do that today. Start with your words. In a moment I’m going to give you that opportunity. We have elders and staff members and their wives available to pray with you. You start with your words. Acknowledging you have a problem is the very 1st
  2. Own up to it. The trash in your backyard is your trash. Rd v 2…“We have broken faith with our God… we have married foreign women… You say: Dear God, I am a sinner. I have sinned against you! You said in your word not to… or to… and I have failed. This is my sin.
  3. Make the necessary changes – in v 6-17 the people take the steps to correct the rebellion and faithlessness.

Note: I’m supposing that the people did not put away wives who worshipped Yahweh. I’m supposing the people put away idols and idolatry and the evil and wickedness brought into their lives.

app.: The list of those who confessed and made corrections are listed in v 18-44: the priests in v 18, the Levites in v 23; and of Israel in v 25.

t.s.:

Conclusion: the Title of the message today is The Greatest Threat to the Church. The Greatest Threat to the Church isn’t the oppression that comes from outside the Church. No, it’s the threat of what is inside the church. The greatest threat to the church is allowing sin into the fold. That is what will destroy us.

We can be thrown in prison and some of us could even be put to death – but that won’t stop God from getting the glory in all of that! But if we allow sin to flourish within these walls and we allow the church to be destroyed from within.

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Do you look at what God calls sin and not let it bother you? Do you change words so as not to offend?
  2. Do you think you could ever be so repulsed by sin that you would pull out your hair and sit in shock and outrage? Not because you got your feelings hurt…but because it offends God!
  3. Do you ever feel entitled, like God owes you something? Do you comprehend the greatness of your sin and that God has been gracious by not punishing you as your sin deserves?
  4. Did you recognize that Ezra and Israel moved from Conviction to Confession and a commitment to take action because they saw…but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. (10.2) Or, is your tendency to break down and sully in your wretchedness and despair? Do you see the hope in Jesus?
  5. What steps can you outline to alienate yourself from the sin that is destroying you and maybe those around you? Can you see them as action points?

Invitation

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Filed under Ezra, Ezra-Nehemiah, Faithfulness, Scripture, Sermon, Uncategorized