Category Archives: missions

George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

Psalm 84.11

The Five Stages of His Life:

1. 1805–1825 Birth to conversion
2. 1825–1835 Conversion to entrance on his life work
3. 1835–1875 His chief life’s work
4. 1875–1892 Time of his “missionary tours”
5. 1892–1898 Close of his life

George Mueller was born in 1805 and lived most of the 19th Century. He died at the age of 92, in 1898.

He was, what we would say in modern terms, quite eccentric. I say that because he seemed to me to never simply conform to the traditions set by the church of his day. He would be convinced or convicted of something he would read in Scripture and basically say out loud: Hey, that ain’t the way we do it at church. One of us is wrong, and it ain’t Scripture. He would then study hard to discover whatever doctrine or practice or truth he had come across and clarified it’s meaning in his life and in the life of the church. Or, he would change the practice – often to the dismay of those around him.

George wasn’t raised in a Christian Home. His only experience with church was the once or twice a year his family went. His mother passed away when he was 14. It seems she didn’t have much of an influence on him because he doesn’t mention her, except to note her death. His father, I suppose because of the boys’ situation with their sick mother, never seemed to discipline his sons. And so it seems they ran wild in the streets. George’s personal testimony was that he was actually out and about the city, half-drunk the night his mother passed. And remember, he was only 14 years old. Pierson: The night when his mother lay dying, her boy of fourteen was reeling through the streets, drunk; and even her death failed to arrest his wicked course or to arouse his sleeping conscience. At the age of 16, Pierson records: This boy of sixteen was already a liar and thief, swindler and drunkard, accomplished only in crime, companion of convicted felons and himself, in a felon’s cell. That’s right. At the age of 16, he was on his way to prison. Had it not been for the intervention of his father, he might have ended up there.

George’s early life was filled with images of being a prodigal son. He wasn’t poor, but he wasn’t as rich as he made himself out to be. He was living the life of a prodigal son, pretending to be rich, but running off without paying his bills. He would eventually be caught and thrown in Jail. His dad came to the rescue, sending money and paying off his debts – which, of course, got him out of prison.

George wanted to win his father’s favor back – and did so by deceiving him. George would study hard enough to make his dad think he was a good kid, working hard at Math, German, French, and Latin. And he did excel in these areas. It was as if they came easy to him and he could spend more time in his wickedness. He was such a good liar that he fooled his dad, his teachers and other men in administrative duties at the school.

Those times would be short-lived. George would live his life in a very public way as to please his father and teachers. Then, his lies would pile up to the place where he would get caught. Or, he’d run out of money and be exposed as a liar and a thief. The only time George felt guilt or remorse was when twice a year he went to church and took the communion. He would feel so guilty, that he would promise to reform his behavior – but it never stuck.

There is one story about how he had wasted away his money and was not going to make his payments. Pierson again: It is hard to believe this young man of twenty could lie without a blush and with the air of perfect candor. When dissipation dragged him into the mire of debt, and his allowance would not help him out, he resorted again to the most ingenious devices of falsehood. He pretended that the money wasted in riotous living had been stolen by violence, and, to carry out the deception he studied the part of an actor. Forcing the locks of his trunk and guitar-case, he ran into the director’s room half-dressed and feigning fright, declaring that he was the victim of a robbery, and excited such pity that friends made up a purse to cover his supposed losses.

Suspicion by the director at his school caused George to walk a fine line, but he did lose the trust of the director. Indeed, his charade was uncovered and he was deeply humiliated.

Something may have been happening in George’s heart here because just before this time, he had been sick. Like, he was stuck in his room for three months – 13 weeks. He was in dire need during this illness, and the director’s wife had actually taken care of him when he couldn’t take care of himself. His embarrassment over being found out to be a liar and a cheat made it impossible to even look at her. It seems he did have a conscience after all.

George’s dad thought the best thing for George would be to go to seminary. If he were to study for the ministry, that might cause him to be a better man. The added

Isn’t it funny (odd) how people who don’t know Christ, see Christians as good people? Like as a comparison, we see or meet or hear about a Mormon family. They’re basically good people – that’s stereotypical of us. Lost people might send their kids to a Christian School or send them to church in hopes that their kid might learn something about morals and ethics? This was the case for Mr. Mueller, George’s dad. But he wasn’t the only one. George later wrote that in his Divinity School there were some 900 students and he figured only one in a hundred knew Christ. Pierson, in his autobiography of Mueller, writes: Formalism displaced pure and undefiled religion. George was wrapped up in this group, learning the ins and outs of legalism and piety, without the changed heart. Consider this: he was even allowed to preach, and he had never even met the Savior. He owned some 300 books, but not a one was Scripture.

His Conversion:

  • George was invited to a Bible Study and just felt compelled to go. It was a community group that met on Saturday nights at some guys home. Never before had he experienced anything like this. There were four main parts to the gathering: singing, praying, reading the Word of God and reading a printed sermon. Preaching without an ordination was basically outlawed. So, these guys would get someone’s printed sermon and read through it. George was caught off guard and knocked for a loop. These guys sang with such passion. And, then when it came time to pray – this one brother near him just fell on his knees and began this impassioned plea like nothing Mueller had ever heard of before.
  • George went home, but couldn’t stop thinking about this gathering. He himself fell to his knees to pray. Something happened to him that evening. He would never be the same. God’s peace fell on that young man and changed him. He doesn’t remember the prayer he prayed, but he knows that God heard him. He did not weep dramatically over his sins and come to Christ in a wave of despondency, but rather his conversion was simple, sweet and peaceful.
  • He could not wait until the next Saturday night to be gathered with these men again.

Here we see an event that would characterize his entire Christian life: prayer. Sure, written prayers are good, but for someone to fall on their knees and petition the throne of God with passion and fervor is moving. George loved the personal side of walking and talking with God. We will see that this is what drove his faith and how he desired to teach others to have faith in God, too.

Do you know that is why he built orphanages? He writes in his own Biography: The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.

#1 – he wanted his congregation and the orphans and the community to see that we’re supposed to trust God for everything in our lives. He knew of no better way than to live that out. #2 – he wanted the orphans to be saved and discipled. #3 – and lastly, that their physical needs would be met.

I’ve just got to stop and ask us about why we do what we do. Are we trusting God to provide for our missionaries? I’m sure you’ll say yes. But, are we daily approaching the Throne of Grace to seek God’s mercy and grace for the temporal needs of our missionaries? I have to admit that I don’t. I’m comfortable. I’m not hungry or thirsty or cold.

The Pastorate

George’s first pastorate came by way of filling a vacant pulpit. They liked him so much they asked him to stay. His first sermon was written and practiced, reviewed and rehearsed. The day came to preach and all went well. They asked him to stay and preach again the afternoon. But he was in deep trouble. He didn’t have another sermon. He began to pray and ask God for help. He could not rely on his wit and cunning to get out of this. He entered the pulpit without a script, but a hope that God would guide. It went better than the morning sermon! This prayer thing is pretty cool! He decided from then on, that he would prepare to preach as he should, but never would he preach again without being prayed up!

They asked George to stay on as their pastor and he agreed. But, he made it clear that evangelism would be the most important part of his ministry and that his congregation shouldn’t expect him to be a regular kind pastor. I don’t get the idea that he felt he would be there for a long time. His heart just wasn’t in it (pastor). He had a heart for missions.

He had applied to be a missionary with the famous London Missionary Society. But, after a couple of months, he didn’t like the way they ran things and withdrew his application. That sounds bad (he didn’t like the way they ran things)– but it really wasn’t. I’d say it was just a difference of philosophy in missions. For example, he didn’t like having to answer to someone who knew nothing of what was going on in that country. And, that sounds like he was rebellious. But he wasn’t. He felt the great need to He didn’t want to go only where they decided but rather wanted to follow the Spirit’s guiding.

It was about this time that he courted a sweet, young Christian. Their relationship grew and he was getting serious about her, but she wasn’t getting serious about missions. He found himself praying less and serving less and reading his Bible less. There was something about her that drew him away from the very calling he had surrendered to follow. After wrestling with this issue, he knew that he needed to give up the girl and keep the calling. And so he did. Evidently, it broke his heart, for he was madly in love with her. But, he knew it was what he needed to do.

Yes, the opportunity for missions was on his mind, but serving where God had planted him was his desire.

It was during this time that a few women came to him to discuss this newfangled idea of Believer’s Baptism. He answered honestly he didn’t understand the doctrine, but only knew that the church didn’t practice it. One of the women there, I guess a bit more forward than the others, chided him. They were looking to him for answers and he didn’t know what Scripture taught on the issue.

So, he dove in headfirst – and his heart followed. It seemed to him that the New Testament clearly taught this doctrine of Believer’s Baptism. And, even when there seemed to be contradictions or diversion, he believed the Bible was only clarifying this issue. And so, in October of 1830, at the church where he was the pastor, he was baptized by immersion.

In his studies, he came across a passage about the cost of two sparrows. He knew he’d read something about their cost before, but it was different. Let me show you:

Matthew 10.29 – 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12.6 – Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Ok, so the cost is doubled, but you get another sparrow thrown in. The value of the sparrow is so little – really, of no worth. It can simply be thrown in with the others because it isn’t worth anything. Basically, you get that one for free! But, you are of more value than that worthless bird. If it falls out of the nest and to the ground, God knows. But, you are of such value to the Father that he not only counts the birds, but he also counts every hair on your head.

George was so moved to think of God’s concern and care for him, that he desired to live no longer at the payment of the church, but to simply let God know of his needs and desires and to go from there. He had been receiving a stipend of $50 a year. But, those who tithed were given pews and places of prominence. He wanted the gospel to be free from that burden. So, a box was set up so that people could drop in their money without any notice to who was giving. He trusted God would provide. Yes, some folks didn’t like it and left. But, the church grew nonetheless.

Believe it or not, it was at this time that George took a wife: Ms. Mary Groves. They would spend the next 39 years together before she passed away. She would give him four children. However, two were stillborn. Lydia, their only child to live into adulthood was just shy of turning three when her little brother, Elijah, died at 15 months.

George and Mary shared a wonderful life together. It appears from his notes that they loved each other so very much. At her funeral, where he preached the message, he wrote:

Were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted so to do. I never met her even in the Orphan Houses, without my heart being delighted so to do. Day by day, as we met in our dressing room, at the Orphan Houses, to wash our hands before dinner and tea, I was delighted to meet her, and she was equally pleased to see me. Thousands of times I told her—“My darling, I never saw you at any time, since you became my wife, without my being delighted to see you.”

She was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and George suspected the worst. He recorded in his notes: My heart was nigh to be broken on account of the depth of my affection.”

At this stage of his life, he had seen God miraculously answer thousands upon thousands of prayers for his welfare and the welfare of his orphans. So he prayed to the God who had provided for him in all of those prayers before to spare his wife. This is what he wrote about the answer to that prayer: Twenty minutes after four, Lord’s Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.”

Often times we believers assume God’s answers are yes and no – or yes, no and wait. But, the answers of God are often much more profound, if we’ll just listen. I’m wondering if we, as believers, focus too much on ourselves in our prayers. We ‘make much of us’ in our prayers. The answers we receive from God might make more sense to us if we were praying to make much of him. Listen to Mueller’s own words of his attitude in prayer:

The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84.11). Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.

George Mueller was 64 years old when his wife Mary died. More than 40 years a believer and his theology was so very strong. All of what he has declared comes from taking God at his word. Taking God at his word. How could he do this?

Over his life, Mueller read the Bible from cover to cover over 200 times. It is said that in the last years of his life, he was reading through the Bible 4 times a year. He knew God’s Word. In this paragraph about losing his wife, we find fresh hanging fruit, ripe for us to pick.

  • I am in myself a poor worthless sinner.
  • I have been saved by the blood of Christ.
  • I do not live in sin, but walk uprightly before God.
  • God will do what is good for her and God will do what is good for me. If it is good for her and for me, to be restored, she will be restored again. If it is not good for her and it is not good for me, then she won’t be restored.
  • Conclusion: My heart is at rest. I am satisfied with God.

These are some strong principles to live by. We are sinners, but God has saved us from our sin through faith in his Son, Jesus, who died for our sin. We no longer walk in sin, but by faith in Him. We know God is good. We’re taught this from when we’re little. How many of you learned the following: God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.

If we truly believe God is good, then we should be at rest in Him and his conclusions. This means knowing that God is sovereign over all our affairs – over every breath we take.

George Mueller had seen God’s goodness in his life over and over again. It was a truth that guided him. I feel positive that you guys have heard of Mueller’s prayers for the orphans? Time and Time is recorded of needs and George would tell no one, but only God. And in every instance, God provided. Every instance.

George would be up and about his work as a pastor. Word would be sent that no food was available to feed the orphans. George would pray. Word would come back that food or money came. Someone would knock on the door and say: Pastor, God just laid it on my heart to give you this money this morning. So, I came over as quickly as I could. Or, the orphanage would send word: Pastor, the milkman stopped by this morning and said he had some extra milk that didn’t sale and gave it to the orphans. Added to that, the baker stopped by and said he had some leftover bread that no one purchased. It was going to go bad, but he remembered the orphans and brought it over.

One story goes that George got word of no food for the orphans. He had prayed, but no answer. He decided to walk over to the orphanage to be with his children and on the way he passed a member of his church. The man asked about the orphans, but George didn’t share about the need. He had made the commitment to only tell God and let God provide. They made small talk for a few minutes and then went there separate ways. But they didn’t get too far apart, before the member called out, ran back and handed his pastor some money. Pastor, use this for the orphans.

When Mueller started his Orphan Homes, there were just over 3,000 orphans living in orphanages in England. More than 10,000 orphans lived in prison. At his death, over 100,000 orphans were being cared for in orphanages. Mueller alone had established 5 Orphan Homes that cared for 2,050 orphans. Over his lifetime, he had cared for 10,024 orphans. And, never once did he ask any human to meet their needs. In all of his needs to run those orphanages for all of those little kids, he only laid his requests before God. And for 70 years, God provided all of it.

Do you remember me mentioning at the beginning of my message the purposes in establishing Orphan homes? The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are: 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.

His main purpose was God’s glory in teaching others to trust God in everything.

George’s later years:

At the age of 66, George married again to Susannah Sangar.

From the age of 70-87, George would serve as a missionary. He traveled to 42 different countries to take the gospel to the lost. Did you catch that? 70 years old; 42 different countries. Wikipedia has his mission trips listed in a table for easy reference. What a great example for us!

I wonder who among us sits here today planning to waste the golden years of their lives on frivolity? Who here plans to take the blessings of retirement and like a prodigal, lavishly waste it upon themselves? Might God be calling you to flourish in the latter part of your life? Might God be calling you into his service? I know many feel called to be right here. But can you see yourself living a few more years, maybe 10-15-20 more years? Then, do you see yourself standing before God and giving account for the tremendous blessings upon your life? And when asked what you did with those blessings – how would you respond? God, I took all you gave me and I… You fill in the blank.

George served on the mission field for 17 years and stepped aside from Travel at the age of 87. He continued pastoring his church until his death in 1895. He led his Wednesday evening prayer service on March 9, 1898. He went home and went to bed. That next morning, March 10, 1898, when he was brought his morning coffee, he found lying on the floor next to his bed. He had died some time earlier that morning or late that last night. Lydia (George’s daughter) died in 1890, at the age of 57. George was 85 years old. Susannah (his 2nd wife) died in 1895 when George was 90 years old. He preached her funeral, too. His brother and father had died back in 1838 and 1840 (respectively) when Mueller was in his 30’s. George had outlived all of his family. 1805-1898 – almost the entire 19th Century. In all of his ministry and mission endeavors (his pastorate, his orphanages, his mission trips), he never went into debt for any of it. God provided for everything through prayer alone.

Indeed, George fulfilled his goal in displaying the glory of God through prayer.

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Filed under missions, Psalms, Scripture, Sermon

The Anxiety of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Anxiety of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 4.9-22

Introduction: Winter is coming; Fall is here. How quickly it all comes upon us. I wish the colors of fall would linger, but alas, they don’t. The stormy weather hits in such a way as to cause the leaves to fall too quickly. Cold weather moves in and the oppressive heat of summer becomes a distant memory. Winters here aren’t too bad. They can be hard at times, but they usually aren’t too bad.

I saw some snow flurries this past Tuesday at Venture. Nothing stuck, of course, but snow flurries they were nonetheless. It was a reminder that soon the colors of fall will depart and the trees will be stripped bare. The grass will lose it green, as has already begun in parts of the yard. Yes, winter is still a little over a month away, but she is coming.

I like winter. I like snow. Yes, shoveling it can be burdensome, but that doesn’t happen much around here. I won’t say it has never happened, but I can say it hasn’t happened in the last 13 winters. After Christmas, our family will gather in Colorado for our family Christmas. There will be lots of snow and I plan to ski as much as I can. I also plan to hang out with some sweet little girls that I’ve been missing.

I like the spring. I love to see the buds on the trees and watch in anticipation as the buds spring forth and turn into leaves. The flowers in Tyler are incredibly beautiful and it is fun watching the different plants produce their blooms. Reds, pinks, purples, whites. My favorite: I love looking for the dogwoods to bloom. You can walk the bike trail at Faulkner and just be amazed by those trees.

Summer brings its own anticipation. I love camping – although Lisa’s organizational skill is what makes camping so much fun. I’ll trim off a few pounds to climb some more 14ers and get excited once again to spend alone time with Stephen. He really pushes me when it comes to climbing, but it is the time talking that means the most to me. I always look forward to summer.

But fall is my favorite time of the year. Lisa makes every season wonderful. But fall, she makes that the best season of all. Fall in Texas is Camping, Football, and new TV shows! It means pulling out the winter clothes and blankets. We start fires in the fireplace. Hot chocolate. Cheeseburger Soup, Chicken N’ Dumplings, Cornbread. Yes, I like Fall most of all. And the thought of winter coming means that fall will end all too soon.

 

Something I think most people miss is how God communicates to us through our everyday lives and the seasons are one way God does speak to us. The seasons are a reminder to us to ‘count our days’ and remember that our days here on earth are few and fleeting. That can be depressing, but it can also be a wonderful thing if we’ll listen.

This passage is beautifully poetic – it is beautiful in its imagery, but also in what it is communicating to you and me – that is, if we’ll listen.

We come to some deeply personal information about Paul at the end of his final letter, 2 Timothy. The timing of his letter appears to be in the fall of the year. And, if we look closer, we’ll see the parallel of his life – that Paul is also in the fall of his life. 4.21 tells us that winter is coming. It sounds like winter is bearing down upon them in such a way that Timothy must be expeditious in his travels. There is an ominous feeling about the closing of this letter – Paul is indeed in the fall of his life. He has told us that he expects to die soon. That’s where we pick up in the closing of this letter… rd 4.6-8; and now he begins his closing remarks…

Let’s stand and read these words together. Rd 4.9-22

Pray:

The title of my message is The Anxiety of Missions and in keeping with our theme on missions in the month of November. In the 1st week we looked at The Foundation of Missions: the Word of God (2 Tim 3.14-17) and then last week we looked at The Duty of Missions: Keeping our Focus (2 Tim 4.1-8). Next week we’ll close out the month with a look at George Mueller. 2 Timothy 4.9-22 brings to light some of the struggles Paul dealt with, and I’d like to simply highlight them for us this morning:

  1. The Certainty of Time Constraints
  2. The Struggle with Relationships
  3. The Importance of Supplies
  4. The Reality of Suffering

I.     The Certainty of Time Constraints (9)

exp.: consider v9; Do your best to come to me soon. This truth of time constraints was actually the final point of my sermon last week: Timothy, keep your eye on the moment. Time is fleeting; the opportunity for service is momentary. Winter is coming and winter means some work will have to stop; travel will be more difficult, if not impossible. Some materials are needed now. Encouragement is needed now. The lost people around you are not the same people who will be around you in the future. Carpe diem.

ill.:

app.: These time constraints bleed over into the other areas of focus for us this morning: Relationships, Materials and Supplies, and Suffering.

t.s.: So, with this thought of time constraints, and understanding that I spent so much time on it last week, let’s look at the other struggles facing Paul and Timothy – and also, contemplate them for our own lives.

II.    The Struggle with Relationships (9-12)

exp.: look through this list:

  • Those who are not there with Paul:
    • Timothy: v9, Phil 2.19-22: 19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
    • Demas: v 10a; has abandoned him, abandoned the mission. A negative term. We’ll see others leave Paul to go and work – those are not negative per se.
    • Crescens, Titus, Tychicus: v 10b, v 12
  • There is someone there with Paul:
    • Luke: 11a – Luke: with him; Luke joins Paul in Acts 16.10; There is a short time in there where Paul is separated from his men, Luke, Tychicus, Timothy, but they join back up with him in 20.5; and, is with Paul from through to the end at Acts 28 (v16); Luke appears to be the one constant companion in Paul’s life. Here’s my guess: all of the boys who are discipled by Paul appear to be called into ministry and mission, too. That is, all of the boys except Luke. I don’t get that his calling is like theirs.
    • Mark: technically, Mark isn’t with Paul. We see this story come alive in Acts 13. In Acts 15, at the very end, we see such a sharp disagreement between Barnabas and Paul that they part company. It is at about this time that Paul meets Timothy and Luke. And yet, here we see the Mark has been restored to Paul, so much so, that Paul longs to see him again and to work with him.

ill.: Let’s stop in the midst of the relationship. This particular story gives us a perspective on all of these relationships. Everything here really hinges on relationships. I mean here in the text and I mean here in life. Everything. Relationships are hard. Relationships are messy. But don’t you just love this story? Two brothers estranged and now, in ministry together, again. I hope Demas was restored – although there is not any evidence to support that. These brothers are all working in ministry and mission – fulfilling their call. And something that helps them all is their relationship with and to each other. Demas is mentioned two other times before he quit. Crescens isn’t mentioned anywhere else. Tychicus is mentioned quite a bit, too. Of course, you know Titus, Timothy, and Mark.

app.: We’ll meet more brothers and sisters later in the letter, but for now – just note the importance of relationships in Mission and Ministry. Relationships are vital to our Mission and Ministry.

t.s.: the next struggle deals with Materials and Supplies.

III.   The Need for Materials, Valuables, and Supplies (13)

exp.: rd v 13a; now, I don’t know who Carpus is. I don’t think he moves in the same circle as those men mentioned above. I take it that Carpus is a man of faith in Troas who has kept some of Paul’s things. For sure, Carpus kept his Cloak. This action doesn’t seem to take place inside the book of Acts – so, I’m going to assume that after Paul’s imprisonment in Acts 28, he was released, he didn’t make his way to Spain, but rather was in Troas, or at least was with Carpus when he was arrested. So, Carpus kept it for him. If Paul was in Troas and had his cloak, his books, his parchments with him when he was arrested, then that would make even more sense here. The Truth is we don’t know for sure. I’m pretty sure that his work of Timothy’s would have been on his way.

Map: Ephesus to Troas – a circuitous route.

Map #2: Where he was going.

We have the shipwreck of Acts 27, which occurred because the Captain wanted to make it to Rome before Winter, but of course, that didn’t happen. I’m sure it is this personal experience that pushes Paul to challenge Timothy to get to Rome before winter (cf.: v21).

Now, these items are personal items. This something we don’t get to see too much of in Scripture. This is a deep, personal moment.

  • Cloak: a blanket-type of material that had a hole in the center for someone to slip their head through and have this covering for warmth and protection from the elements. It could be used as a blanket to cover up with at night.
  • Books: this is probably not the whole bible, per se. We don’t even know that it would be any books fo the bible – but it is definitely possible. It would be too overwhelming for Timothy to bring all of Scripture. That would be too big and bulky. But it is possible that Paul owned some of his own books.
  • Parchments: these would be animal skins that Paul probably wrote on, or kept notes on. The truth is there is no way of knowing what was written on these parchments or what was contained in the books. Sentiment leans many preachers to push for these being the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments that we possess. But, there is no way of knowing. I guess, that some of it may be just that – but to have the whole of it would be practically impossible.

app.: Whatever they were, they were near and dear to Paul – and he desired to have them near him as the end of his life approached. I think we to easily forget the sacrifices made by those who surrender their lives to missions and ministry. Missionaries, by way of necessity, must leave some very personal and intimate belongings behind. Some things have to be left behind when missionaries travel overseas. Often times, missionaries will liquidate their materials and keep only the smallest, most personal items. Some of those things are left here with family and friends until they can return someday.

t.s.: Paul faces the struggle of relationships, he faces the struggle with items near and dear to his heart being elsewhere, and finally, Paul faces the struggle of suffering.

IV.    Suffering (14-22)

exp.: and this comes from people, as well as, circumstance and situation. Consider, the fact that he’s in prison;

  • People: rd v 14-15; Alexander; 1 Tim 1.20; Alexander and Hymenaeus; but more than that, many people flee at Paul’s persecution and leave him to go it alone! Rd v 16;
  • Persecution: 17; from the lion’s mouth! This has echoes of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Now, I don’t think this means he was thrown to the Lions and they left him alone. I don’t even think Paul means that he has had some preliminary trial and that he escaped being thrown to the lions. It could that, but I’m not thinking that here. But rather, that this is a reference to Satan; Satan would love to destroy Paul, but God has delivered him. Satan creeps around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. But God has rescued him. And, as it says in v 18, God will ultimately deliver him. rd v 18;

app.: Paul’s suffering is real. People have abandoned him. He is imprisoned. He lacks sufficient covering for the coming cold weather, not to mention other items that would be a source of encouragement to him. He has faced tremendous persecution: 2 Cor 11;

far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

That is the physical suffering by Paul. But this next verse is most near and dear to me. I’m not sure anyone of you here can begin to understand the anxiety of missions and ministry unless you have actually endured it.

28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

The Truth of the matter is that the internal anguish a minister or missionary feels is indescribable. Paul has faced many physical struggles, but he has also faced the internal anxiety of his concern for his churches.

t.s.: I understand why he put this here with all of the physical struggles. I hope you can see that, too.

Conclusion: The question begs to be asked by us: did Timothy actually go and make it before winter?

There is an old famous sermon by Clarence Mccartney, pastor of 1st Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, entitled Come Before Winter. Mccartney is famous for his leadership, along with J Grisham Machen, in the push toward conservativism in the early 1900’s. In his sermon on this text, the Mccartney imagines Timothy wanting to finish up some work around Ephesus before heading off to Rome. But he takes too much time and then can’t get a boat to Rome until after winter. When he does finally get there, he can’t find Paul. He goes to the houses of those people listed at the end of the chapter – Pudens, Linus or Claudia. They tell him that Paul passed away last December. Paul had hoped you’d come – he prayed for it. He told us that every time he heard the keys to the prison door, his heart would leap with anticipation that you had finally come. But, alas he wanted you to know he loved you dearly. He was beheaded last December.

Well, I’d like to think that Timothy made it. That he got this letter, packed up his and Paul’s belongings and brought them to Rome.

But, in all of this, it does make me think that there is this anxiousness about missions. There is suffering that is endured when one surrenders to work in Missions. This time of year, our missionaries are missing their families.

Make note of this first application: These will have Thanksgiving Dinner alone, or possibly with other missionaries. They’ll spend Christmas alone with their families back on the mainland. For those serving in Churches as pastors, worship or youth pastors – they will be with their church families for the Christmas Eve service. It might be too far for them to travel to be with family on that evening. Or, if they do travel, most families will already be in bed. Maybe you know of a pastor or a missionary who will not be able to be with family. Pray for them. Encourage them. Acknowledge their obedience to the call of God and their love for you.

Here’s a 2nd application: Once again we’re reminded that our time is brief and fleeting fast away. Winter is coming. Paul desires to pass the torch to Timothy now because his time is all but over. He longs to see his son in the faith, dear Timothy. He longs for the sentimental possessions he has been missing. His life is in the final stages. You and I will be there one day.

 

Invitation: here’s a possible 3rd application: I think about us – Christians in the United States who worry about family and possessions and our comfortable lives. I wonder if God just might be saying to us – maybe specifically to one of you here today – Come before Winter. Give yourself for my cause: missions. The sacrifice is great – but well worth it.

We’re going to be dismissed in a moment. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will come and pray. If you’d like to talk about this, we’ll be at the back of the worship center, experiencing fellowship over coffee and cookies. Let’s talk…

During this moment of silence, consider what God is doing in your life.

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The Duty of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Veteran’s Day: 11/11/18

Title: The Call of Duty

Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5

Introduction:

Without reviewing last week’s entire message, I’d like to just share that we’re in the climax of this letter (2 Timothy). Paul has circled around certain themes throughout his 2nd letter to Timothy. Themes like: Suffering, Service, Sound Doctrine, Faith, the Gospel, Preaching and Teaching, Life Experience and God’s Calling. Paul begins in 1.1 and climbs up through his life and Timothy’s life to finally issue the charge in 4.2 and the letter’s apex in 4.5. We’re just below the summit (so to speak) in 3.10. Paul starts his charge in 3.10 but then stops. In 3.10 we read But you… (Σὺ δὲ). He does so again in 3.14 (Σὺ δὲ). Now Paul is at the top.

Sometimes when you climb, you see what appears to be the summit. But, as you reach that area, you see another summit a little further up. This is what is called a false summit. I’ve had about 30 summits now, including 13ers. I’m thinking that every single mountain climbing experience with the exception of maybe one or two, had a false summit. Man, a false summit can be quite disheartening.

3.10 is like a false summit – Paul presses on and now, boom – in 3.14, we’re there. Paul reaches this summit when he says, “But as for you (Σὺ δὲ), continue…” Be remaining… continue on course with what you’ve learned and what you’ve come to believe. That is where Paul has been headed this whole letter.

Ill.: When you climb a mountain and when you reach the summit, you like to linger for as long as possible. You’ve worked hard to get there and you want to take it in. But the truth is, you can’t stay long. I’ve climbed for hours to reach a summit, only to stay for a minute or two. It’s dangerous up there. There is less air. The area is usually very small. The falls to each side can be steep and far. As the afternoon wears on, storms are likely to come – and they pop up quickly.

With that in mind, Paul is going to linger here for a moment, but not too long. He now issues his charge to Timothy and it is born out of his own experience. You see that charge in 4.1-2. He comes back to it again in 4.5, which I mentioned last week is the thesis statement for the letter (Σὺ δὲ). In 3.10 he said Σὺ δὲ. And in 3.14 he said, Σὺ δὲ. Now, he says it one more time. As for you, (Σὺ δὲ) always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. And then, in v 6-8, Paul will say something like: You, (Σὺ δὲ) fulfill your ministry just as I have fulfilled my ministry.

When I was a soldier, I learned so much about discipline and structure, order and strategy. I am grateful for my four years of service because the Army taught me more about being a man than probably any other single influence in my life. From the moment I got off the bus at basic training my life was changed. Now, I’m not a soldier anymore. I haven’t been a soldier for more than 30 years, but the lessons I learned have stuck with me.

Some folks asked me about climbing mountains alone: Was I ever afraid?

The answer: yes. A few times actually. Once, I was very afraid. But I learned some skills in the army that allowed me confidence in what I was doing. I know how to navigate a map – a skill I learned in the army. I have some survival skills – again, some basics I learned in the army. I don’t mean to sound overconfident. I am not that. But, with four years of ‘how to survive in the wilderness’ training, some of that teaching stayed with me.

I say that with the understanding that Paul is going to use some of this same philosophy with Timothy. He’s laid a great foundation in Timothy’s life through his teaching and his example. Sure, Timothy has been going-it-alone, so to speak, in that Paul hasn’t been there with this young man in Ephesus. But, Timothy is really getting ready to go-it-alone, because Paul senses his life is about to end. And he wants to make sure that Timothy will remember what he’s been taught as he navigates the ministry without Paul. Timothy is going to have to step up and take Paul’s place – entrusting other men with the faith, teaching them just as Paul taught him. He is going to have to endure suffering – just like Paul has; just like Jesus did.

Here is how I see this passage breaking down. Paul says for Timothy to keep his eye on:

  1. The Master: God, the Father.
  2. The Message: Make sure it is sound, coming from the Word of God.
  3. The Mission: It is so easy to chase after some things that seem beneficial, that seem profitable, but might not really be the mission. In fact, there are probably some really good ‘works’ or ministries out there you can be doing, but those ‘works’ or ministries might not be your mission.
  4. The Moment: remember this time is fleeting. This life is short, but the time you spend in this particular ministry and mission at this particular juncture in life is so brief…

So, let’s begin with the first part of Paul’s charge to Timothy; Paul says, Timothy, Keep your eye on:

I.     The Master (1)

exp.: rd 4.1; I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom… Man, that’s weighty. We say Jesus and we often don’t think of the word Judge. We think of words such as forgiving, kind, compassionate, loving, tender…but we don’t often think Judge! Paul is saying to Timothy: This is a mission in which you serve – don’t forget who you’re serving! I think of Hebrews 12.1-2, which reads in the NASB:

1            Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2            fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

fix your eyes upon Jesus… the Gk word here for fixing actually means to look away from everything else. It’s a negative with negative alpha used as a prefix. BTW: we do talk this way in English, but it isn’t proper.

ill.: let me give you an example: a teenage son is headed back to college. Mom says, “Call me when you get there.” Pretty clear, right? But what if Dad then says, “Do not not call us upon your arrival!” Is that not more emphatic?

exp.: that is the way it is worded here… Turn your eyes away from all and place them squarely upon Jesus!

ill.: Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

app.: Timothy, with all I’m going to say in the next moment – don’t forget the most important thing:

t.s.: Keep your eyes on Jesus. 2ndly, keep your eyes on:

II.    The Message (2)

exp.: He says, (v 2) preach the Word! This word for “preach,” κηρύσσω means to herald – to proclaim. You can picture someone walking to a corner of a busy street, putting down a crate for a makeshift stage, and then stepping upon it. Then, opening the Bible, begin to proclaim God’s Word to the people passing by. That’s the charge to Timothy.

Now, Paul has already been very clear with Timothy about the importance a healthy doctrine and the source of the doctrine is God’s Word. He’s called it the Word of God and the Word of Truth – and here, he just calls it the Word.

t.s.: So Paul tells Timothy to keep his eye on the Master and on the Message, then he tells him how and why: First, he tells Timothy how and 2nd, he tells him why and that’s the mission:

III.   The Mission (3-5)

exp.: Timothy, keep your eye on the Mission and here’s why and how you do it.

  • 1st, (How): “be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” And then he tells him why…
  • 2nd, (Why): (v 3-4) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” And we’ve seen that already happening in the previous chapters of this letter. I think we see that here in the US today.

ill.: I have to admit that it strikes me as odd that many pastors, preachers, missionaries, teachers today don’t use God’s Word in their preaching and teaching. They tell interesting, attention-grabbing stories that tug on the heart or provide a sense of patriotism, but for the most part, don’t Proclaim God’s Word of Truth. This morning, I wonder how many church services in America are patriotic? I mean, the music, the speaker – sharing stories that excite a sense of patriotism. And listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with patriotism. I’m proud to be an American and proud of my military service. But America is not my home. I’m a foreigner here. I’m just passing through. But the truth is, Worship isn’t about being American or a Veteran. Go back to point #1: Keep your eyes on The Master!

Here’s what it all comes down to, Timothy: rd v 5: always be sober-minded (keep your head in all matters), endure suffering (because suffering will come), do the work of an evangelist (you know those gifts given to you when the men laid their hands on you and prayed?), fulfill your ministry (diakonos).

app.: Up to this point, you’ve probably been thinking: man, I hope Duffey is listening. I hope Shawn and Ivana are listening. I hope our missionaries overseas are listening in. Nope, this should smack you right in the heart! Fulfill your diakonos… Acts 6 – The ministry of prayer and the Word. I’m to be deaconing the Word and prayer. Elders: Prayer and Preach the Word! Deacons – in your service to the body; caring for widows and widowers, waiting tables, working in the kitchen, changing light bulbs, working in the fields, filling the baptistery. Serving at teaching, Venture, Bridgemark, CUB, Bible Study, getting the cookies and coffee ready for fellowship, worship team – whatever it is you do – fulfill your ministry.

t.s.: Keep your eyes on the Master, the Message, the Mission – and finally, Keep your eyes on the Moment.

IV.    Moment (6-8)

exp.: rd 6-8; Paul says, Timothy, fulfill your ministry as I have already fulfilled mine! My time is coming to an end! And it will be the same for you!

app.: Our time together is so brief. Let’s make this personal: Momentary in two ways: chronos and kairos;

  1. 1st, you have only but a season with these folks.
  2. 2nd, your life is indeed, but a vapor – which appears for a moment and then is gone.
  • The people around you are not always going to be there.
    • Your class
    • Your work
    • Your friends
  • We live in such a mobile society! But consider what’s more: time races on and the time we have to do what we do is limited. Your time to serve right where you are will come to an end.
    • Ann, remember Pauline Faulkenberry? She isn’t greeting anymore. But she did for years.
    • Fanny Dusek: She’s not teaching children’s ministry anymore.
    • But neither is KK? Your time with the children is done. It’s all marked up and boxed away. You had your chance to fulfill that ministry and the time for that is gone.
      • And, even if you came back, it would be different. Different kids, Different families, Different ministries.
      • Same for Doris and Darlene –
    • Jason and Kenny – the youth you have at this moment is not the same group you had three years ago. And trust me – three more years are going to pass so quickly. The influence you have at this moment… and I mean moment, will soon pass out of sight.

t.s.: What a great reminder for us to consider that brevity of what we’ve been called to do.

Conclusion: Paul has reached the summit of his letter to a dear friend. And, he wants to linger here for a while before heading back down the mountain. This is important stuff. We don’t have much time – so keep your eye on the moment. What we do in this moment is so important – so keep your eye on the message and the mission. And the accountability is so great – it is practically incomprehensible. Foundational to all of this, we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus – the master, the author and perfecter of our faith.

In a moment, we’ll be dismissed. Those who serve in the area of fellowship will have the coffee and cookies and doughnuts out. It’s a wonderful time to fellowship. But, it is more than that. We want to hear from you. Maybe God’s been dealing with you in some area. Church membership, Missions or Ministry. Maybe you’d like to talk about where you feel God might be leading you to serve. Let’s talk about that. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. Come talk with me about that.

 

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Filed under 2 Timothy, Christian Living, missions, Scripture, Sermon

The Foundation of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Foundation of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 3.14-17

Introduction: We’re in 2 Timothy this morning.

While you’re turning to that passage, let me prepare you for our journey this morning. We’ll spend the first half of our time and maybe more time making our way through 2 Timothy to gain a better understanding of the context of this letter. I don’t want you to think that after 20 minutes of what feels like the introduction, that we’re finally getting started on the sermon and then somehow feel frustrated. This morning’s message is designed that way with the sole purpose of gaining perspective on the context of the entire body of the letter. So, in some respects, the body of the sermon is quite short. That should be encouraging. Here’s what I’m thinking: 2 Timothy 3.16 – one of the most popular and famous passages in all of Scripture has the ability to stand alone and still make sense. You can quote it (16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work), and pretty much anytime you do, it won’t be out of context. But, this passage within the context of mission and the missionary, within the context of the called and their service will do something wonderful in the mind and spirit of every believer.

With that in mind, let us establish the context by making our way through this letter with a cursory reading of many of the verses. I think I hope, we’ll feel better connected to the text when we get there. So, let’s begin in 1.1.

1.1: an apostle: sent, commission – God has commissioned him in some way.

1.3: whom I serve: here is his service; something that is in his blood, in his family history – except with him, he’s understood that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

1.3-7: Remembrance is repeated; rd v5-7: 5-7 is a possible thesis statement – a reminder of his faith and the need to ‘fan into flame’ this spiritual gift and use it. for this reason is different wording than we often find. Often the Gk is on account of this, sometimes translated therefore. But here there is this legal term – in a negative sense it would be an accusation – but here it is a positive thing.

1.8-11: this outline – this thesis continues in v8-9; He says the power of the Gospel saves us and calls us. He also says there is the downside to service – that is a downside to fulfilling our calling into service: suffering. Note: the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who suffered in our place.

Now already we’re seeing a theme: we’ve been saved by faith – then, called and equipped to serve. And that service brings suffering – no different really than our Master.

1.12-18: Paul then tells us of this suffering in v 12; I think there is a break here, though not noticeable in the text. The break should probably be at the end of that sentence there in v 12a. Which is why I suffer as I do. which, by the way, has that legal term again. Break. But, and he continues; rd 12b; But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Some clarification: we sing a hymn that has this verse in it.

But I know whom I have believed

and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I’ve committed

unto him against that day.

Well, the verse is most literally: and I am convinced that he is able to guard my deposit until that day. You might see that in a footnote or a reference note in your Bible. My deposit could be what I give to God, as the hymn implies or it could be the possession I now have that God has deposited into my life. And, that is what the ESV translates and I think is the correct meaning considering the context of what follows.

Then, Paul builds on that in v 13 and says here that he has set an example for Timothy to follow:

  • God has deposited this gospel in me and entrusted it to me.
    • Sound Words – namely – words that come from God. You could say – the Word of God.
    • Words you’ve heard from me:
    • Words that present the Gospel.
  • Guard the deposit entrusted to you
  • Summary: as I’ve been called, sent and entrusted with this service by these words – you do and be likewise.
  • Remember suffering comes with this: Phygelus and Hermogenes abandoned me. Onesiphorus blessed me.

2.1-7: Therefore, imitate me by entrusting faithful men to teach others. Share in the suffering. And then he gives illustrations of those who suffer in their labor: Soldier, Athlete, Farmer.

2.8-13: Suffering and the Gospel. Note: The Source of this Gospel is the Word of God (v 9).

2.14-19: Paul tells Timothy what he needs to be teaching these entrusted, faithful men: Sound Doctrine! Rd 14-15; here is another term for God’s Word: The Word of Truth.

  • Testimony about our Lord (1.8)
  • The Gospel (1.8, 10; 2.8)
  • Sound Words (1.13)
  • The Word of God (2.9)
  • And here, The Word of Truth (2.15)

And you’ll see when we get to our text today that Paul uses two more terms: Sacred writings (3.15) and Scripture (3.16)

But, avoid irreverent babble (16) that is, harmful words – like, and he mentions two more men who have swerved from the truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus. Look at v19, but God’s firm foundation stands. I believe that is God’s Word. Their words are babble, but God’s Word is foundational – it is the Truth.

2.20-26: Now Paul moves back to Timothy to encourage him in what he has already challenged him in: rightly handling the Word of Truth which leads people to a knowledge of the Truth. Paul wants Timmy to be ready for every good work (21). This good work leads people to repentance and salvation (22-26).

In 3.1-13: Paul wants Timothy to understand just how difficult this will be and that he should avoid such people; rd 3.1 & 5; His examples are Jannes and Jambres; these two are not mentioned in Scripture, but we know of them through Jewish writings and even pagan references. If you go to Exodus 7.11, you’ll see them there. They are the ones who did as Paul mentions here – opposed Moses.

In 3.10, Paul comes back to that command to be like him. 1.13; 2.2; and again now in 3.10; rd 3.10; Paul has been mentoring and discipling Timothy with his life. Paul has been an example of the Word, which he has been teaching. You might say that Paul is telling Timothy here, you know my talk matches my walk.

In 3.11-13, he goes back to his suffering and the opposition he often faced in his mission work; rd 3.11-13;

Now, we’ve reached the climax of this letter. I think it stays at its apex through 4.5 and then quickly recedes into the end of the letter. It would be so much fun to go through this letter verse by verse and spend some in-depth, quality time working through their relationship and the passion they both share for the work God has called them to do. Someday, I probably will.

For the next month, let’s just focus on the climactic part of this letter and it’s closing:

  1. The Foundation of Missions: God’s Word
  2. The Duty of Missions: The Work
  3. The Anxiety of Missions: Persecution and suffering
  4. An Example of Missions: George Müller

These four areas of focus will cover as we study the task of the missionary – which, by the way, you are. You are a missionary right here in Tyler. So, you can apply this to your own life. And just what does Paul say here to Timothy about this calling and commission?

  1. Continue…God’s been at work.

Rd v 14a; But as for you; standing in opposition to those who are (using the words in 11-13) ungodly, persecutors, and deceptive; rd 14b; continue. That word Continue is where we reach the climax. This is everything Paul has been working toward: Continue. The Gk is μένω; and it is most literally to remain. So, Paul is saying lit.: be remaining. We, of course, don’t talk that way in English. We say continue.

Continue in what? Rd 14c; continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. This first word is a derivative of disciple (a disciple is a learner)(μαθητής). We get our word math from these words. The 2nd word is the verb form of our word faith. Being in verb form expresses to us that Paul is saying to Timothy that his life demonstrates what his heart believes.

But there is more! Now Paul identifies what elements in Timothy’s life have influenced this lifestyle; rd 14d; knowing from whom you learn it; which by the way, whom is plural in the Greek. Translation: Paul is identifying the influences on Timothy’s life and there is more than one person. He expounds on that in v 15; rd 15a; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.

If you make your way back to 1.5, you’ll see two of those influences: Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Their faith is also Timothy’s faith. A third influence would be Paul, who mentions how Timothy has heard and seen Paul’s faith lived out.

App.: Man, there is so much application for us at this moment. Have you considered that every aspect of your life has been God working on you to bring you to this moment?

  • Every struggle and every success
  • Every victory and every failure
  • Every tear of happiness and every tear from pain
  • Your parents, your upbringing, your teachers, your work, your education, your music, your… everything.

Next, I want to look closer at this word acquainted. It means to know intimately. It isn’t just a basic rudimentary knowledge. It goes much deeper than that. And just what is this of which Timothy has such intimate knowledge? What is this that he’s been learning since he was a child? Rd 15; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings… Here is another term that Paul uses for Scripture – the sacred writings. So, to review:

  • Godly influences (family and friends)
  • Discipleship: learning about this faith
  • Faith: expressed, it is lived out…
  • Sacred Writings: Scripture, God’s Word; the standard held up and which we live our lives by…

The rest of the verses in this chapter outline for us just what this Scripture is: namely, it’s power, its purpose, it’s source and it’s many uses:

1st, it’s power – It is able (δύναμαι) the verb form of the word from which we get our word: dynamite. It’s powerful. How powerful? 2nd, It can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. That’s the purpose.

How can it be so powerful? Because of its source! Rd v 16; Because All Scripture is breathed out by God. This word θεόπνευστος – Theos: God; And pnewō: breath. That is, every word in these sacred writings contains the breath of God. Remove your breath and you can’t speak. Ask Marilyn!

The idea that God breathed his breath into the Holy Scriptures isn’t an isolated thought by Paul. Peter, in his 2 letter, gives his testimony of when he and the two Sons of Thunder, the brothers James and John, were up on the mountain and saw Christ transfigured. At the end of that testimonial, he writes: …that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Some folks think that this refers only to the Old Testament. But I don’t think that’s the case. We don’t have time here to defend this, but let me say, the OT canon wasn’t even established until 90 AD at the Council of Jamnia. That’s 25-30 years down the road from this letter’s origin. So, Paul wouldn’t use words like we do to describe the writings in different Testaments. Let me show you how he referred to them: 4.9, 13; cloak (4.21) biblios and membranos; books and parchments; He doesn’t say, bring my Bible because they didn’t have a Bible like you do. BTW: both Peter and Paul referred to their letters as writings as taught to them by the Holy Spirit and to be read in other churches by other believers and shared for the benefit of discipleship, polity, and instruction. Like in Colossians he says: Hey, I wrote a letter to Laodicea. Give them your letter and read theirs to your people. And, just like in this letter, he calls them to obedience, etc.

For this same reason, you and I understand God’s Word to be holy, infallible, inerrant, fully trustworthy and reliable. Paul continues to teach us, as he’s teaching Timothy here of just how reliable it is: and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

Lyle Skeels said one time in a Bible Study here that he learned it this way:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

I don’t know where he heard it, but he said he didn’t make it up. He got it from someone else.

  1. You teach What’s right
  2. You reprove What’s not right
  3. When you correct God’s people you show them How to get right, and finally,
  4. When you train them in righteousness, you show them How to stay right.

Ill.: when I was a college student I purchased a Korean/English Bible for my mom. If I recall, it has the Korean translation on one side and the English on the other side. Before giving it to her, I wrote in the front of her Bible of how the words contained in these Scriptures have the answers for life. I wish I’d have known this verse well enough to have referenced it.

Ill.: There is a popular preacher who every time he gets up to preach he asks his congregation to raise up their bibles. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. I love that. That ain’t bad. The problem I have with this preacher is that he never then opens it up and teaches from it. Basically, he appears to me to be a motivational speaker.

App.: I’m not trying to dog on him. I’ve made it my practice not to be critical of pastors – that’s why I didn’t mention his name. But if you believe that This is my Bible and that it truly is breathed out by God, and, that it teaches you what is right, what is not right, how to get right and how to stay right, then, why wouldn’t you spend some time in it.

  1. Competent… God’s equipping you

Paul tells us these things as he writes to Timothy because he wants us to know…That God has been working on him, molding him and shaping him into the man he wants him to be because he’s equipping him for service; rd v 17; that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. This wording here is truly beautiful the way it is composed in the original language. The first word, competent, means to be fitted for something.

I’ve got my ’72 Chevy up and running and I’m having some problems. After not being used for the last few years, some of the rubber gaskets and seals have become dry and brittle. The master cylinder for the brakes is going to need replacing now. Here’s the thing: I can’t just buy any master cylinder. This is a Chevy. I can’t buy just any part. Even more so, it is 1972 Chevy – 46 years old. It has to be the right part – fitted just for my truck. I was actually shopping on one of the parts websites and it warned me of a part I was looking at: This part doesn’t fit your truck.

When you consider missions, you must consider that God has fitted you for that position. Moreover, he has equipped you for every good work. The word equipped here is a compound word that uses our word competent as a part of it. God has been molding and shaping Timothy and Paul and every minister and missionary he is sending out. That’s pretty cool when you think of it. And how has he been doing that? – with his Word.

Conclusion: God’s Word is the foundation for missions. It makes the missionary and minister into the tool God wants to use. It contains the Good News of Jesus to evangelize the lost making them wise for salvation. It contains the polity and practice of the church and its officers for organization and clarity. It teaches us:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

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

  1. You can trust God’s Word for every area of your life.
    1. Parenting
    2. Your marriage
    3. Business and money practices
    4. Salvation (present the gospel and offer an invitation)
  2. You can trust that God is molding you and shaping you for the work he has called you to.
    1. Teacher
    2. Preacher
    3. Missionary
    4. Volunteer
    5. Fill in the blank

Really, this passage outlines the work of God in your life:

  • He saves you through faith (15)
  • He then molds you and shapes you through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness…
  • Then, he equips you for his service.
  1. Is it possible that God might be calling you today?
    1. Missions
    2. Ministry: pastor or teacher
    3. Service in the body: to step up and serve somewhere – where there is a need?

I don’t know what God has been up to in your life leading up to this moment, but I’d like to encourage you to be open to his leadership. Will you surrender your life to him completely? In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re going to have a moment of silence for us to reflect on the day’s activities – to reflect upon what God has been communicating to us as individuals – as families. After that time of silence, we’ll have a prayer and be dismissed. We’ll have some coffee and refreshments at the back of the worship center. Let’s spend some time talking. If you have questions, the elders and staff would love to try and answer those questions and offer some direction – maybe pray with you.

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Filed under 2 Timothy, Christian Living, Faith, missions, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 7:24-30

Title: The Gospel to the Gentiles: Part 1

Text: Mark 7.24-30

Introduction: We’re in the midst of a sermon series on Mark: Jesus, the Bread of Life. This section is in Mark 6.30-8.21; it is the extended ministry of Jesus, beyond the Sea of Galilee. Here in chapter 7, Jesus has rebuked the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their clinging to the traditions of men, above even the Word of God. In that passage, Jesus declared all food clean. And then, he does something amazing: he gets up from there and enters into Gentile territory. Now, the Jews wouldn’t eat or fellowship with Gentiles. If someone went into the home of a Gentile, that person would become unclean. Now, that is nowhere in the Law of God, but it had simply become one of their own traditions or standards.

Listen, setting standards can be a good thing. I think you should set standards for yourself. In order to help you live a holy and godly life, set some standards. But, don’t make those the requirements for getting into heaven! That standard has already been set!

  • Let’s say you decide you’re never going to go out on Saturday nights, but instead, you’ll be home by a certain time and get ready for Sunday. There is nothing wrong with that. However, when you begin to judge others who don’t live the same way – then, you’re wrong.
  • Let’s say you decide you’re always going to look your best on Sunday mornings. You want to present your very best to God. Great. Iron you clothes, polish your shoes, Get your hair cut or done on Saturday. Whatever it takes. But here is where you might mess up: when you judge the brother or sister who isn’t in their suit and tie, or in their nicest dress.

Yes, set standards to help yourself – just don’t make them the requirement for salvation!

Jesus is going to step outside the standards set by the traditions of the elders…again. He just did it in 7.1-23. He’s going to do it again by going into Gentile territory.

And here is where we pick up the storyline in v 24 – I’ve divided this passage into three main parts:

  1. Jesus withdraws from that region into the land of the Gentiles.
  2. A desperate mother discovers his whereabouts and petitions him to save her daughter.
  3. Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way.

Transition: Let’s begin with this 1st point…

I.      Jesus withdraws from that region (24)

exp.: rd v 24; the fact that he didn’t want anyone to know where he was demonstrates for me his desire to be hidden – to get away from people.

Ill.: I’m sure you remember Southwest Airlines commercials from a few years back – back before there was DVR? You want to get away? I love the one where the delivery man is headed back to his truck after dropping something off at this house. The couple who lives there is working in their garden by the driveway. He sees a basketball and decides to be cool and take a shot. The couple watches as he picks up the ball and ‘air balls it’, missing the rim but shooting the ball right through the glass windows on the garage door. The couple looks at him – he looks at the couple: you want to get away?

Well, Jesus wanted to get away and so he gets up and heads northwest toward the region of Tyre and Sidon.  Now, a great question to ask for discussion later would be: why? Why did Jesus need to be hidden or want to be hidden? Maybe he was tired and needed rest? Maybe he wanted to demonstrate further about what is truly clean and unclean?

Transition: It’s the last part of this verse that lets us in on the story – though he wanted to be, Jesus couldn’t be hidden! This desperate momma finds out about him and makes an appearance. So, point #1, there is this need to get away. Point #2 –

II.     A Desperate Mother Discovers His Whereabouts (25-26)

exp.: Now, we know very little about this woman, but look at what Mark does tell us:

  1. Her problem: rd v 25;
    1. A demon possessed daughter; That’s what this means; I think Mark uses this word, unclean because it fits with his theme. What is clean and unclean: what is unclean is the demon inside this little girl – not the girl. So, desperate is she that she comes and falls down at his feet. What humility! Surely she knows he Jewish. Surely she knows he’s a man. Middle eastern behavior would frown upon this. Mark down this character trait: humility. Rd v 26a;
    2. A Woman, not just a woman, but a Gentile woman! And, if this were not enough, she is Syrophoenician by birth! Talk about unclean in the eyes of the Pharisees. When you read this, a certain woman should pop into your minds. Can you name a king who married a Syrophoenician woman? Can you name that evil woman?

Ill.: I read somewhere that the Jewish men pray daily a prayer of thanks – that they weren’t born: Women, slaves, or Gentiles.

That’s just how poor of a view the Jews had toward Gentiles. Maybe they still do – I don’t know.

app.: for some reason, this doesn’t matter to her. She’s desperate. Her daughter needs help and she believes Jesus is the only one who can save her daughter. Now, this really comes out in the last sentence of v 26; here we see…

  1. Her persistence: rd 26b; this word translated begged is really more of an interpretation, I think. You see, the word actually means asked or requested. If you translate it straight out – word for word, you lose something. In the original language here, there are two ways of describing past tense: aorist, is simple past tense (she asked); imperfect tense shows action in the past (she kept on asking); That’s the picture here: she wouldn’t leave him alone.

app.: So there is a persistent request from a desperate mother in spite of the fact that Jesus desires to remain hidden. And, why not? What really does she have to lose? At this point, an odd thing happens…

III.    Jesus responds to this mother in a very uncharacteristic way (27-29)

exp.: Jesus answers her in a way that shocks even the most hard-hearted of people. Rd v 27; this is strange or odd because Jesus uses…

  • A Strange Illustration: Jesus uses what is called the ‘Family Table’ illustration to refuse her request. Now, we could go so many places from here, but I’ll just save that for your Bible Study time. For now, I want you to just note that there is a theme in Mark about eating and eating at the table. There is the idea of fellowship, and more importantly, fellowship with Jesus. In this illustration, Jesus speaks of Children and their eating of bread. It isn’t that the dogs aren’t to be fed, but that the children are to be fed first. It isn’t odd that Jesus uses a ‘Family Dinning Experience’ as an illustration – that’s not odd. The odd part is that…
  • Jesus compares or relates exorcism to the family dining table. Now, that’s just weird. Let that sink in: Jesus, I have a daughter who has a demon in her. Will you cast it out of her, please? How in the world does he get to the dinner table from there?

Remember this trick: when you aren’t sure of what Jesus is doing, try to figure out the easy, obvious answers.

  • Children – The Children of Israel. The OT uses this comparison repeated. I think it is safe to assume these children in his analogy are the Children of Israel; They are fed first; 1st means priority. It doesn’t mean that no one else within or outside of the family won’t eat! It’s just that the children in our illustration have priority. So, 1st answer we have is
  • Fed – lit.: to be satisfied, or to eat their fill; This word appears 2 other times in the Mark; both are when Jesus feeds the 5,000 and the 4,000; The beatitudes: Matt 5.“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. We see this also in the parable of Lazarus, who desired to be filled or satisfied by the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. At this stage, I think it is safe to say that the Gospel is what satisfies and it is to be presented to the Children of Israel first. It’s a matter of timing. This demonstrates the Priority in the Gospel; as Paul writes 3x’s to the Romans: to the Jew first, and then the Gentile. Still, pretty straight forward. Next,
  • Bread – v 27; the children’s bread; here is another example of Bread being used by Mark in these three chapters (6-8); now because of our previous work on this topic, we know that the Bread is Jesus. We will probably see it each week until we reach the halfway point of Mark; in each analogy, we see that Jesus is the Bread of Life (27); To be sure, it is a lot of work to get there, and I’ll refer you to last week’s sermon to study up on the Bread of Life But, there is no doubt that Jesus is the Bread in this illustration: he is the one who fills and satisfies the soul. His priority is 1st to the Children of Israel. Here is where it get’s ugly…rd 27b
  • Dogs – that’s a harsh word. There is no way to clean that up in translation. So, before we talk about this word, can I say a word about my Savior? Again – remember, when you don’t understand something, go with what you know – what are the obvious answers.
    • He is good and merciful. He isn’t mean and hateful. So, I know right away, that he doesn’t mean what I might think it means in the 21st century; this isn’t Jesus being mean and hateful. He is perfect and no sin dwells in him. He isn’t selfish or even rude. He isn’t being ugly to her because she found him when he was trying to remain hidden.
    • 2ndly, He knows everything. He knows what I need before I even do.

ill.: I’ve seen him have someone in another county or another state write a check to cover my needs before I even know I’m going to need it. The need appears and then, so does the check, which was written last week.

This is what I know about Jesus: He knows what this woman needs! And what he says to her is what she needs to hear. It may not be what I’d say. It might not be the thing to say in western culture. But, it is what she needs to hear.

  • The word ‘dog’ or ‘dogs’ appears 9x’s in the NT; Over 40x’s in the Bible; This particular word from the Gk only appears 4 times. That caught my attention. It turns out there is another word translated dog. These two words come from the same root; however, this word here, is slightly different. It means a small dog, a housedog or even a lap dog. This would be common for Gentiles, because Jews would not have dogs. The other word is for big, wild dogs that roam freely. It is a euphemism for the immoral and/or evil people. That word isn’t this word. Jesus uses a word that she is culturally familiar with. I don’t know this, but I’m guessing that Jesus uses a word that is close to her situation – a word that she will take to heart; a word that she will understand and connect with. That changes the meaning for me. I couldn’t find a translation that made this distinction. But it is there – and that changes so much for me. Jesus isn’t using a word to describe the immoral and perverted (cf. Ps 22.16: 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet—).

So, here we have this strange confrontation. Jesus answers her repeated request with just what she needs to hear. He’s taking her somewhere in this conversation. There is something he wants to see from her. And, it looks like he gets what he’s looking for in her; rd 28; I love this!

  • A Witty Response: Lord, even the little, house dogs under the table eat from the crumbs of the children.

Take a moment and check out her demeanor: We’ve already seen that she is showing humility in her posture and desperation. Now we see her wit and wisdom in her response. She could have gotten offended and walked away, leaving her daughter to continue suffering. But there is something more. And it is her faith. She wants this bread, and even if it’s just the crumbs from the bread – it is enough.

Wow! Oh, to have this kind of faith in Jesus. So great and mighty is he, that all she needs is just a crumb and it will suffice to save her daughter.

Now, you don’t see this here, but it is clearer in Matthew’s gospel: Jesus is impressed with her.

Ill.: I kind of had this experience once. Kind of… Stephen was 16 years old. He hadn’t had his license for very long and he came and asked if he could drive out into the Bad Lands with his friends and build a bonfire. I didn’t even give him a chance to explain what they were doing, who was going, etc. I just shut him down by saying NO! He didn’t even hesitate. He simply said yes, sir. No sadness, No disappointment, just, simple obedience. Yes, sir. Then he turned to leave.

I said, wait. Aren’t you going to debate this with me? Aren’t you going to argue with me until you get your way? He told me no. He asked and I gave my answer and that was enough. I was blown away. I asked him to tell me more about this bonfire out in the middle of nowhere. Then, I let him go.

Jesus is moved somewhat like that. He’s caught off guard by this woman’s wise and witty response. So impressed with this woman’s humility and faith, that he grants her request for her daughter. Rd v 29;

  • A Timely Grant: On account of the word, depart (imperative); The demon has come out (perfect) of your daughter. Now, you don’t see this in the English translation, but the Gk verb here uses the perfect tense. The perfect tense means a current state, based on a past action: meaning, as Jesus is saying the words, the demon has already gone. The girl is no longer possessed. Rd v 30

Application: So, what will we take home with us today?

  1. Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t! I can’t answer for your struggles. I can’t place blame or offer any defense for what Jesus is doing in your life. But this I know: Jesus knows just what you need – even if you don’t!
    1. Can I add to that? He knows what others need, too. You might think you know best for others – no matter what your intentions are – But he still knows what is best for them. It may seem harsh. It may seem unfair, But, he really does know what is best. And, he knows what he’s doing in their life.
  2. God rewards faith and humility demonstrated in him. This Gentile woman is a remarkable model of faith. Knowing God can do something and living your life in response to that knowledge are two different things altogether! It is one thing to say something, but another to live it out. Think of the woman from Zarephath in 1 Kings 17: You have a jar with a little flour left and a jar with a little oil left. But, to make a loaf of bread for your guest and feed him first means so much more than simply acknowledging with your mind and mouth who that person is.
  3. Salvation has now become accessible to all.
    1. Yes, there is a priority to the Gospel. That hasn’t changed. Israel still is God’s chosen people and I am opposed to how our government is now treating Israel. The blessings of Genesis 12 remain as true today as they did when God spoke them to Abraham. With that being said, we also know that the Gospel is universal in scope.
    2. The Gospel is for the entire world. We saw this when Jesus healed the Gadarene Demoniac. Jesus healed him and sent him as an evangelist, as a missionary to the Decapolis. Now, we see it again with this Canaanite Woman.
      1. We’re reminded in 1 Kings 17 that it has always been that way. Somehow, in their Jewish minds, they had thought of themselves as better than others.
      2. God reminded them through prophets like Isaiah who said (49.6): I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. Let us remember this: the poor, the needy, the desperate, the single mom, the foreigner, the sinner – Christ died for the ungodly, to bring the ungodly to God.
  • Listen to Galatians 3.6-9: just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

 

 

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Israel, Mark, missions, Scripture

SENT Conference: David & Goliath

Title: Becoming something greater than yourself!

Text: 1 Samuel 17

CIT: God’s faithfulness to David gave him the faith to stand, fight and defeat Goliath.

CIS: We can place our faith in Christ because he has conquered sin and death.

Introduction: Today’s story is a story you’re probably pretty familiar with. I’m guessing you’ve heard this story dozens and dozens of times. The story is about a kid and a giant. The kid’s name is David. The Giant – Goliath. The story is located in 1 Samuel 17; Turn there with me.

Most days I receive a NYTimes briefing. The idea is that I’ll find stories I wish to follow up on and read them. It works, by the way. At the conclusion of each briefing there is a Back Story. The following story was taken from the briefing.

Cracker Jack… The 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game was played this week in San Diego. It was nice to see the American League win. I’m hoping it pays dividends when the Texas Rangers make it to the World Series – that is if they can bounce back for their last 13 ugly games. The All-Star game is a fine summer tradition, but here’s one that goes back even further: Eating Cracker Jack at the ballpark. The gooey treat’s origins go back to 1872, when F. W. Rueckheim, a German immigrant, began selling candy and popcorn in Chicago. By the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, Rueckheim and his brother, Louis, created a confection of molasses, peanuts and popcorn that millions of fairgoers gobbled up.

They perfected their recipe by 1896 when — legend has it — a salesman tasted a sample and shouted, “That’s crackerjack!” If you google Cracker Jack online, you’ll find the definition: exceptionally good; an exceptionally good person or thing. Translation for this man: it was fantastic. A name and a brand (it’s singular, not plural) were born, and the brothers began packaging and advertising the concoction.

Just to add to the story, the company first issued coupons in the boxes that could be redeemed for household items at a store in Chicago. It switched to “A Prize in Every Box” in 1912. The prizes went digital this spring, after billions of trinkets were distributed.

But I think the coolest part of the story is that Cracker Jack’s timelessness is wrapped up in one of the best-known songs in history:

Take me out to the ball game,

Take me out with the crowd.

Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,

I don’t care if I never get back,

Let me root, root, root for the home team,

If they don’t win it’s a shame.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,

At the old ball game.

Now, that’s pretty cool for Frito-Lay, who owns Cracker Jack. There aren’t too many mlb games where that song isn’t heard. That’s free publicity for Cracker Jack. No wonder they’ve been around so long! Now, Cracker Jack is a small thing compared with major league baseball. A really small thing! How cool it must be for them to be a part of something so much larger.

As we look at 1 Samuel 17 and review the story of David and Goliath, I’m hoping you’ll desire to be a part of something so much larger than yourself.

Dr. Viktor Frankl is credited with saying: He who has a why can bear any how. I think what he meant by that statement is that purpose can give someone meaning. A purpose to life can empower someone to face the most difficult of circumstances.

Now, just how do these come together: purpose & meaning? Being a part of something so much greater than your self? We don’t have time read all of the verses in 1 Samuel 17, so with your permission, I’d like to present an outline of the story. It moves as follows:

  1. In v. 1-11, we meet the Philistines. They are Israel’s enemy.
  2. In v. 12-18 we meet David and his family and find out a little of what they do. They are some of the main players in this story.
  3. In v. 19-30, David is tasked by his father with the job of taking food to his brothers at the front where battle lines have been drawn up between the two armies. He is then to return and give a report to his father. So David takes supplies to them. It is here at the front David learns of Goliath, the fear the Israelite men have toward Goliath and the reward for the man who would face and defeat him. David said, “I’ll do it. I’ll take him on.”
  4. Here then, is where we pick up the story (31-50). I’ve entitled this section:

 

I.      David’s Faith: David Intercedes for the Fearful Israelites (31-50)

We note first His Confidence. Rd v 31-32

  • His Confidence: Now where does someone get such confidence? If you break this word down into two parts, you’ve got con – which means “with” and fide, which means “faith”; most literally then it means to have full faith and trust with… someone, something. For David, He tells us clearly where his faith is: rd v 37; 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” – Saul doesn’t say: Go and your faith be with you. Or go in this confidence you have. He says: Go, and the Lord (all caps) be with you. David’s confidence was in the LORD and only in him. Now, why? Why was this so? He tells us in this same verse: “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear; David says: Saul, come here, check this out. Let me show you my game room. Do you know what a game room is? For a hunter, it is the place he displays his trophies.

Ill.: Down south of Austin, my in-laws have a ranch. My father-in-law built a cabin on that ranch. In the cabin is a trophy wall mount of an elk I shot in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming. Hunters love to tell stories of their trophies. I love to tell the story of how I shot that elk. What it was like field dressing the huge animal. Getting it down the mountain. It was the experience of a lifetime. I love it when someone sees it hanging over the fireplace and asks, “who shot that?” They always want to know more.

App.: David is like: Saul, let me show you my game room. See that lion? That lion came and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And when he rose up against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him down and killed him.

Come over here. See that bear? That bear came into camp all hungry and grumpy. He tried to have his way by getting a free meal, but I struck him down. Now, he’s just that sweet throw rug.

Confidence comes in the Lord and in his work in and through you. How are you able to stand? Because I’ve been here before. This ain’t my first rodeo!

T.S.: So, note 1st his confidence in the Lord and what the Lord has done through David. 2ndly, we notice his …

  • His Strategy:

Rd v 38; Saul is thinking to himself that this kid is in deep trouble. Who has better armor than the King? So, let’s get him geared up! Rd v 39; Here is an application that I’m not sure we can teach. David senses that this isn’t going to work. This is called discernment. This armor has served the king well. It is probably the best armor in the kingdom. But, David knows this isn’t for him. Discernment is a gift from the Lord. But I think there is a great application for us here: Go with what you know! That’s what David does; rd v 40;

Transition: So, David gears up and makes his way toward Goliath. This is the third point:

  • His Actions:
  1. You might expect Goliath to laugh, but he doesn’t. Read 41-44; Goliath disdains David and defies God by putting his trust in his gods and in his weapons.; David recognizes his failure and points it out; rd v 45; what a sharp contrast; Goliath in his ‘things’ – even his gods are things;
  2. David, however, puts his faith in God alone for God’s glory alone; rd 46-47; Goliath makes his move toward David, and David doesn’t hesitate; rd v 48;
  3. David runs to the battle line. Rd 49a;

Ill.: I love to run; I carry a ‘fanny pack’; it’s not really that, but it is similar; It has a water carrier and bottle and it has a pouch for my phone and keys; I can carry money. Can I just say it aint easy to run and put your hand into your pouch. 2nd, From time to time, I take off my shirt and swing it around to get rid of some pesky flies that are trying to land on me. I sling it around and around, taking out any bees, wasps, or giant flies that are trying to land on my. I’m thinking that David had done this before. Only because I know this isn’t easy.

  1. But, David hits Goliath with the perfect shot. (49-50) Keep reading; rd v 51;
  2. David took his own sword and cut off the giant’s head. He said he was going to do that when he didn’t even have a sword (cf.: v 46). When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. I have a vivid imagination: I picture the people, especially the Philistines screaming at the top of the lungs: Kill that kid! Hah! Rip his head off! Teach him a lesson! Then, puff, just like that, it is over and their champion lies on the ground. I’ll bet it got quiet real quick like. David runs and stands over the giant – taking his sword and cutting off his head. The roar of the Israelites rises quickly as David picks up the Giant’s head by the hair and shows his people! The Philistines, though, their jaws drop – their eyes just about pop out with disbelief. And then they take off running! When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.

Transition: Well, you know the rest of the story. It’s the conclusion to the story: The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

Conclusion: V. The Collapse of the Philistine Army (51-53)

  1. Israel’s Pursuit of the Philistines (51-52)
  2. Israel Plunders the Philistines (53)
  3. Post Remarks: David’s Victory with the Giant’s head in his hands. (54-58)

Transition: So Fred, how does this apply to missions? I’ve come here to learn about missions!

Yesterday, I stopped in to see a friend. 8 years ago, he and his wife sold everything to return home to missionaries to his family for one year. That was a big deal because he from Austria. Their goal was to spend the year with family, live the Christian life and share Christ with the people they love.

While they were there they searched hard for a church. They found a house church and became a part of it. It wasn’t easy. They made friends, they found jobs – his wife learned the language. But after a year they returned to Tyler and started their lives back up. As far as they could tell, they had made some friends in a house church, but none in his family came to Christ.

Since returning they’ve had two beautiful little girls. The youngest has yet to return to the homeland to meet family. A few weeks ago, my friend got a phone call that his father came home from work and fell over dead. No warning. No sickness. No nothing.

What hurts so bad is that my friend has tickets to return to Austria next week. He had planned a 2 week vacation with the sole purpose that his daddy might see his little girl face to face. They called the airline and tried to get things changed, but the airline would only do it for fee – a fee too large for my friend and his family to pay.

So he bought a ticket home for himself. That’s why I stopped in to see him. Losing your dad at 62 is hard. Losing your dad at any age is hard. I wanted to know how he was doing. Well, it’s been hard. His parents were divorced years ago. There is a will from the 80’s. Other people are a part of the family now. It goes on and on and if you’ve ever dealt with that stuff you know the struggle.

But in this process, He was able to sit down with his mom for a long visit. As he talked she told him he sounded like this guy she met who works with her. Some months ago she started selling Tupperware and met a young man in their group who is a Christian. It just so happens that this man was a friend of my friend. They met in a house church 8 years ago. He told his mom why they sound so much alike – why they sound so positive, even in hard times – He told his mom about Christ. And after presenting the gospel to her – 8 years after living there and not seeing any fruit from his labor, she prayed with him to receive Christ.

Transition: Becoming a part of something so much larger than yourself isn’t quick and easy. It isn’t something you can script. It means surrendering yourself to God’s will, even when you don’t understand it. So let me offer a couple of take-a-ways…

Application:

  1. The author wants to demonstrate the Glory of God over Israel’s enemies by taking what seems like certain defeat and bringing about his victory through the young man, David. Listen up, Missions in your church and in your life is much the same: God wants to demonstrate his glory through you. If the task looks too big for you, it probably is, but it isn’t for God! Your mission endeavor isn’t so much about you and your church. No, not really – It’s about God’s Glory. I feel confident in saying that God’s more concerned about His glory than just about anything else.
  2. Let your faith develop by trusting God in the small matters. Begin your mission work around your house, around your city. David did what he did and he did it the way he knew how because of his success in the smaller things. Grow from where you are. As God builds and strengthens your faith, move out from there. Start with what you know. God will teach you more as he grows you.
  3. We’ve got to stop thinking of the Gospel as transforming lives only through perfect vessels. God uses the weak to confound the wise. Saul’s armor was probably the best in the land, but it wasn’t what David needed nor what God was going to use. Here’s another application that fits with this idea: The sins of our past can be testimonies to the grace and forgiveness of God. That was my friend’s message to his mother. Sinners need to know they can be forgiven. We may not be the best speaker, we may not be the prettiest or the sharpest. But, if we’re a tool in the hands of God, watch out! 2 Corinthians 12.10: 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
  4. We can trust God to bring about victory in our mission through Christ who has come to redeem us from our enemy. God accomplished this by sending his Son to die a criminal’s death on a cross – a symbol of weakness. If you’ve never experienced the grace and compassion of God, I offer that Grace and compassion to you right now. Today is the day of Salvation. Today is the day of forgiveness. We’re going to dismiss shortly, but if you want to accept Christ this morning – come find me. I’d like to tell you how.
  5. You can be a part of something larger than you. You can become Cracker Jack missionary. Once you realize that God is working through you to Glorify himself – it becomes so much easier. You’re not worried about you. You’re not worried about your church. Your concern for God’s glory gives you the why – and you can face any how!

 

Let’s pray

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Filed under 1 Samuel, Calling, Faith, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Uncategorized

Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

What does it mean to follow Christ? “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 37 For what can a man give in return for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Is the call of God different for everyone? Is the call different for anyone? What does Christ mean here: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Most of us read the passage and we identify these remarks as being for someone else: someone who is called to a special ministry. We don’t normally associate these words with becoming a Christian. Do you agree?

Oh wait! We do – like when we witness to someone. But once someone becomes a Christian, we don’t think it really applies anymore. Do we?

Do we? Really?

This morning we’ll take a look at some different ‘ministries’ in Mark. These stories are similar and yet, very different.

  1. We have Jesus – the ultimate authority on ministry – and the rejection of those who knew him as he tried to minister to them.
  2. We’ll look at his disciples who go and expand his ministry.
  3. And we’ll look at John. John demonstrates for us someone who was called and suffered for his ministry.
  4. Finally, we’ll look back at the report of the disciples and the attempt for rest after ministry.

Transition: let’s begin with a quick review of last week’s message.

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

exp.: We don’t need to repeat this message, but I wanted to include it here because it seems to clearly fit the emphasis of the cost of discipleship. Even Christ was rejected when he did ministry.

  • The Pharisees rejected him earlier (3.1-6).
  • His family rejected him, too (later in ch. 3).
  • His hometown rejected him, as well.

Isaiah said of him: He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

app.: The summary of his ministry there is found in v 5: And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And, in this we find a warning: no student is above his teacher, no servant above his master. We must remember this as we move into v7.

t.s.: with this experience of rejection fresh in the minds of his disciples, Jesus sends them out…

II.     The Ministry of the Apostles (7-13)

exp.: rd v 7;

  • He summons: called them to him (προσκαλέω; Summoned them, called them to himself)
  • He sends: began to send them out two by two; to send is the Gk word for which we get apostle: it means commissioned or sent with a mission. And this mission comes out in giving them authority.
  • He gave them authority over unclean spirits; You’ll see them exercise this authority when we get down to v 13.
  • He charged them to trust God for their provision: their orders; rd v 8-9;
    • Basic necessities – food, clothes, money.
    • Basic etiquette rd v 10;
    • Knowing when it’s time to go; rd 11

app.: They did what Jesus sent them to do; rd v 12-13; this was the purpose all along: Mk 3.14-15 – 14 And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons.

t.s: Now these twelve have gone out by the authority of Jesus. We come to this interlude and we hear of another ministry.

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

exp.: i.e.: John the Baptizer; This story of John is born out of a need for explanation. Herod is questioning who Jesus might be. Maybe this arises from the Apostle’s who’ve been commissioned by Jesus through his authority. Who is this Jesus? Maybe they are asked by what authority they do these things. Their answer of course would be: Jesus. Herod seems to be thinking something similar: Who is this Jesus? Herod thinks he could be John, the baptizer whom he had put to death earlier. This would not make sense to the reader because nothing has been said about John since chapter one. So, Mark educates us with his story:

Now listen carefully, I’m going to make this simple: Verse 16 says Herod had John beheaded. Herod didn’t really want to kill him. He did it at the request of Salome – But she probably didn’t want it either. You see, it was really her mother, Herodias, who was Philip’s wife. Well, she was his wife, but now she was Philip’s brother’s wife. Evidently there was some shady stuff going on there. So, The reason is because his step-daughter, Salome, the daughter of Herodias, his new wife, or she was his niece because she was the daughter of his half brother Philip who was at one time married to Herodias, or maybe we should say Salome was his grandniece because Herodias, his wife, was also his half brother Aristobolus’s daughter. Anyway, that lady, she’s the one who had asked for John’s head on a platter. Clear?

Listen, this is a tangled web of men named Herod. These guys all were all related to each other by their father. Their actions were sinful and John’s call was to call them to repentance. John does just what Jesus has called others to do…he calls Herod and Herodias to repent of their sinful behavior. People don’t like that. People don’t like to have their sin called out.

  • If you are meeting up with a woman who isn’t your wife – that’s adultery!
  • If this person you’re hooking up with is of the same gender – that’s Homosexuality and according to Scripture, it is sinful behavior!
  • If you were born with a certain genitalia, then you’re a man. If not, you’re a woman. If you have trouble with this, get some help. Pretending to be something you’re not is sinful and harmful.
  • If you feel like you are a cat or a dog – that’s not natural. You need help.

When you call people to repentance, it is offensive. People don’t want to repent. Ok, John is standing under their balcony calling them to repent. I’m assuming others can hear this preaching of repentance. If someone is in sin and doesn’t want to repent, he or she will get angry and defensive. That’s exactly what happens to Herodias. And we’re just like she is: We all want others to embrace us in our sin. Tell us it is ok, so we can keep doing it.

John will die because he refuses to back down from the calling of his ministry. He gives us a foretaste of what Jesus will endure because he will not back down from his ministry.

Before we leave John, I’d like to look at some parallels between Jesus and John. In these 1st three points we have the ministries of Jesus, the disciples, and John. John, however, isn’t to be compared with the disciples, but rather with Jesus.

ill.: There are many parallels between Jesus and John.

John is not just a model “follower” of Jesus. He’s different than the disciples who go in Christ’s authority. These are baby steps for the disciples. In a couple of years, the mantle will be laid upon them and they’ll go pro. But, for now, they still have training wheels on. John is in the Big Leagues. Listen to Craig Blomberg, how he parallels the ministry of John w/ Jesus’: John is the forerunner of the Messiah, and his death serves as a foreshadowing and preview of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion. Both Jesus and John are arrested for challenging the powers that be. Both are put to death by self-seeking rulers who know their victims are innocent but vacillate under pressure and choose expediency over justice. The bodies of both are taken and buried by sympathetic followers. After John’s death, rumors arise that he has risen from the dead. But Jesus actually does rise from the dead!

These implicit parallels between John and Jesus in Mark find similar expression in the other gospels. In Luke, for example, the births of Jesus and John are paralleled, heralded by angelic announcements and miraculous conceptions (Luke 1). Yet in this parallelism, Jesus is shown to be the superior. John’s birth to a barren woman is a miracle (like similar births in the OT), but Jesus’ birth to a virgin is unprecedented. While John is “prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76; cf. 1:17), Jesus is the “Son of the Most High” (1:32). John’s role is to prepare the way for the Lord (1:17, 76); Jesus is that Lord—the Savior, who is Messiah and Lord (2:11; cf. 1:43).

This theme is carried forward in John’s public ministry. John says that the one who will come after him is so much greater than he that John is not worthy to unlatch his sandals. While John baptizes with water, Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:7–8). Jesus must increase, while John must decrease (John 3:3). Here we find the true essence of discipleship. It is following Christ’s model, but always in service to him. It is a willingness to give up one’s life, not for our own glory, but for the glory of Christ.

app.: that’s what we se in v 27ff; rd 27-29; as we read v 27-29 we are saddened. Jesus was, too. In each of the Gospels Jesus seeks to get away after the story of John is told. It isn’t as clear in Mark as it is in Matthew and Luke and John.

t.s: But even then, as Jesus tries to get his disciples the rest and refreshing they need, even as he tries to get the rest and refreshing he needs…they keep coming.

IV.    The Call to Ministry Persists (30-34)

exp.: Read v 30-34; His compassion compels him to care for their needs.

app.: Sometimes as a servant, you’re pushed. Maybe I should say often times. You may want to get away, but you can’t. The calendar won’t cooperate. People have things for you to do. They need you. This doesn’t diminish the need for rest and refreshment, but it might need to wait. My guess is the Christ is teaching his disciples of this important part of ministry: retreat, refresh, and repair.

So, what are the applications for us? I have chosen four.

Application:

  1. Summons to Ministry: this is different for each one called. No one is called to sit on the sidelines. If you are a believer, then you’re called to be a witness for Christ. But, your call is different. You must seek out God’s will for your life and follow in obedience. You can’t live out someone else’s call. And, BTW: you can’t just go…you must be sent out in his You don’t just think to yourself: ah, I want to see the world. You must be summoned by Christ and sent out in his authority.
  2. Service in Ministry: Each of us is called to different types of service. No one is called to exactly the same thing. I think of even my wife, whose calling is very similar to mine; however, it differs greatly. As for you, I can’t tell you what that is. I think you discover your area of service by trial and error. You sense a desire to serve here or there and you follow that passion. God opens and closes doors. Consider your unique position. Retired individuals have more time – not being held down by a job. Young people have energy, stamina and health on their side. And, BTW: don’t consider your area of service based on money or supplies. You don’t just think: well, I don’t have the money so I guess I can’t go. The charge is the same: don’t worry about food, clothes or money. God will provide for you as he sees fit. I can’t say this is always the case, but I see God wants you to learn to trust him to provide for you in miraculous ways. That is how you learn to trust him in the ministry.
  3. Sacrifice in Ministry: You can’t surrender to ministry without offering a sacrifice at some level. Some, however, give more than others. John demonstrates for us a willingness to remain faithful to his calling. The spiritual gift of Martyrdom is a one-time gift. The call of God on your life might mean leaving the place you live and work. It might mean leaving your family and friends. The call of God on your life means you must sacrifice your desires and follow His. It might mean being educated. It might mean changing professions. I don’t know what God has in store for you. But, I know from experience: your life is no longer your own. You are bought at a price. You now belong to him – and what he says for your life – that is what you must now do.
  4. Success in Ministry: I hate that we (and I include myself in this) judge people in their ministry as successful or as a failure. We see larger churches, bigger youth ministries, larger and more dynamic worship programs and we measure all others by that standard. I wonder how many ministries we would label as success and try to emulate, when Christ would label that ministry a failure. Was John’s ministry a success? How so? His final place of ministry was a prison cell and from there, he was beheaded. How do you measure success? Is the pastor who works in a small church his whole life unsuccessful? What if he remains bi-vocational his whole ministry? Ultimately, success is measured through obedience.

What is your ministry? What has God called you to do? What does it mean to follow Christ?

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Filed under Church Membership, Mark, missions, Purpose, Scripture, Sermons, Uncategorized

Follow Me: A Commissioning Service

Title: Follow Me – A Commissioning Service

Text: Acts 13.1-12

Introduction: Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re at T-minus and counting! There is excitement in the air. I’m pumped. If you’re not, we need to pray for you. This small congregation has surrendered itself to the Lord in the area of missions and God is doing mighty things! What, you say? Some of you don’t know what I’m talking about? Let ‘splain!

In Early August of 2011, I saw that the Executive Director of the SBTC was planning on issuing a challenge to Texas Baptist. Here’s what the Article read: Grapevine, August 9, 2011.

GRAPEVINE: The Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention granted $1 million from reserve funds to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and encouraged churches in Texas to “embrace” 1,000 of the 3,800 unengaged people groups identified by Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board.

With over half of the world’s 7 billion people having little or no access to the gospel and the 3,800 unengaged, unreached people groups having no one telling them about Jesus, the IMB encourages local churches to begin with church-wide focused prayer.

This challenge would be for churches in Texas to embrace 1000 UUPG: Unreached, Unengaged People Groups. I had no idea what this was. So I had to do a little research. I called the convention headquarters in Dallas and ask them what this challenge was all about. I found it interesting that the folks there new very little of what the challenge was going to be. They could only tell me that we would hear more about this in the coming days.

Here’s what I eventually found out: A UUPG is an unreached, unengaged people group. There were at that time over 3800 UUPG’s in the world. The Classification of a PG or A people group: is a group of people bound together by a common Language and culture. What makes them common is that the gospel can move within this group unhindered. However, when the gospel encounters boundaries and barriers that hinder its transmission – then evangelism stops. The people within the boundaries would be called a people group. Now, when less than 2% of a population within a specific people group are Christians, then they are considered unreached. As of yesterday, according to the Joshua Project, there are 6564 unreached people groups. They may have churches, pastors, missionaries, Bible studies–but there is less than 2% of that population is considered Christian–then these people are unreached.

A population is considered unengaged when within that people group there is no pastor, there are no churches, there is no Bible study, they have no missionaries working among them. So A UUPG is a people group that has no missionaries – no Bible studies – no pastor and less than 2% of the population is considered Christian. The latest number I could find on Unreached, Unengaged People Groups is that the # has dropped over the last 4 years from 3800 UUPG’s to 1,568 people groups.

Well, a presentation was made to the church–and it appeared to me that the church embraced this challenge. We set our sights on keeping this before the Lord in prayer. Where would he have us go? Who would he have us Focus on? We began by looking at three areas of the world where our current missionaries were serving: Africa, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. One by one we were able too narrow the field down to a focus on East Asia. Then, we looked at three UUPG’s located near some missionaries we know. After nearly a year of prayer, we found our people.

In October 2013 we sent a vision team to look for this UUPG. It was a long journey, but very rewarding. After three days of travel as we pulled into a local village in the mountains, we saw with our own eyes the people you are looking at in pictures on the screen.

This vision team came back and reported to the church that it just isn’t practical to send teams each year. What we need is “boots on the ground” there, to coordinate our efforts – to be there to receive our people on short-term mission trips. Let me show you something cool.

What you are looking at is inside a brochure entitled The Top 31 UUPG’s ***** ***** *****. Go down a few pages to our UUPG. That picture and that information is accurate with what we found and saw.

Today that brochure becomes inaccurate! Because, listed in this group is our people. The people group we’ve chosen. Today we are going to commission two of our very own people to go as missionaries to this UUPG. Indeed, they are no longer called an un-reached, Unengaged people group. Today they’ve become a UPG – simply an unreached people group. And with the blessing and favor of our God, in the coming months and years, we will remove that final U. They’ll simply become another People Group of the world.

Transition: And this brings me to why we’re here today – to commission this couple that we’ve asked to serve on the mission field to help us engage and reach our UUPG. Let’s open our Bibles to Acts and take a look at what a commission service is all about.

In Acts 13, we see a church being successful – we see a church doing and being what a church is supposed to be doing and being. We see it from the inside and we see it from the outside. How do I know it was successful? How can that be measured?

We find these people were so Christ-like in their deportment that the community around them called them Christians, or Little Christs. I’m sure they heard: they’re just like their Lord.

Then, in our passage, we see them doing the work that a church has been called to do.

Observe the church at Antioch. You’ll find two areas of work:

  1. The Work of the Church in obedience to the Great Commission.
  2. The Work of the Holy Spirit in light of the Great Commission.

Transition: Let’s look first at the Work of the Church. Allow me to put it in the form of a question:

What precedes going on mission?

  1. The Work of the Church in obedience to the Great Commission.

Let’s look at their Spiritual Leadership: rd v. 1; note: names; Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, Saul (Paul); What are they doing? We find 4 actions on the part of the Leadership: Worshipping & Fasting, then, Laying on of hands and sending them out.

  • Worshipping – there are 4 words in the NT translated worship
    • προσκυνέω: to kiss the hand; meaning to bow;
    • σέβω: this deals more with attitude toward someone; As in to ‘revere’ someone or something; This is something that happens to me when I hear a testimony. I’m moved inside, at the greatness and kindness of God. He amazes me.
    • θρῆσκος: Thray-skos; It’s like three in spanish w/ kos on the end; Col 2.18; every other time this word is used, it is translated It has the connatation of ceremonies;
    • λατρεύω: Eng.: liturgy or liturgical; it mean service and is used to describe the work of the priest in the Temple. In other words, worship is an action – it’s not passive. I could lead you in a responsive reading time. Give thanks to the Lord our God and King. His love endures forever. For he is good he is above all things. His love endures forever. This is the word being used here. These men were leading their congregation to Worship the Lord.

app.: we often think of worship in the 1st two manners: bowing, reverence; but we don’t think of our worship in terms of our service. These leaders were worshipping the Lord in their service to him; Cont. reading v 2-3;

  • Fasting & Prayer: I have asked the elders to join with me in fasting and praying for you today. I think most people consider our work to be done in the office or in meetings and in planning things, etc. Acts 6.1-4: But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This should be our priority.
    • According to A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and Hebrew Bible, the word ‘prayer’ in Acts 6 can also be translated ‘worship’. It is a picture of someone bowing on their face before God and offering supplication. That same word is used in our passage in v 3;
    • Ministry of the Word is preaching and teaching. Paul warns Timothy time and again to keep a close eye on his doctrine, making sure his preaching and teaching is sound and healthy.

I have two reason for placing an emphasis on this today.

  1. It is a reminder to the church of what the elders are called to do.
  2. It is a lesson of what you’ll be doing.

exp.: your basic function is to serve as a church planter – the Bible calls this an Apostle. We’re commissioning you today to go to our UUPG and ultimately, plant a church. Our hopes and dreams are that you’ll share the gospel; people will be saved under the gospel; they will be discipled under the gospel and they’ll be obedient to the gospel and serve faithfully the gospel; leading many to Christ. Wah-Lah, that’s a church! You’re doing the work of Paul. You’re being sent out to plant churches in the midst of our UUPG. And on the Great Day as we’re gathered around the throne, we will see members of our UUPG there next to us worshipping God. Many of them your friends – people you’ve prayed with and taught.

Look back at v3; here’s a third action

  • Laying on of hands: BTW: this is a participle also. Lit.: fasting and praying and laying their hands on them. According to Hebrews 6.2, this was an elementary doctrine in the early church; it basically conveys the idea of blessing and commission. It was seen in Scripture when Jesus was healing people and when people were receiving the Holy Spirit. Paul experienced both when Ananias laid his hands on Paul – his sight returned and he was saved. Not only that, but he received his commission at the same moment. He was told he would be Christ’s witness to the Gentiles and kings and to the children of Israel.

Transition: Leadership is seen in their worship, or service, their fasting and prayer, their laying on of hands and then sending them off.

  • They sent them off. Breaking this down grammatically, this is the verb. The work this leadership group did was they sent them off on a mission. They way they did this is described in their worshipping and praying and laying on of hands. The word here in the Gk isn’t your typical word for sent them on their way. You see that in v 4. The Holy Spirit is actually doing the sending in this passage. The literal translation, the literal wording for what they did is they released them or they set them free.

App.: Mom and Dad, in your position as leaders, this is what you’re supposed to do: set them free. Like doves in your hands, throw them up to the Lord and let Him send them.

– Now, we’ve seen the work of the church, mainly through the leadership at Antioch. I’m sure others were there participating, worship, praying. But now, I want to focus in on the most important part of what is being done. And in doing so, I’m going to turn my attention to this young couple. I’ve asked the question: What precedes going? The answer is the work of the church through its leadership. 2nd, question…

What involves going? The Work of the Holy Spirit in light of your calling. You experienced this in His calling you to this service. In this section I’ve outline three actions on the part of the Holy Spirit. Rd v 2; #1…

  1. The Holy Spirit Calls – here’s a tip: Don’t go if you’re not called. Because if you do, you’ll go alone. (Those who went up to Ai in Joshua ) v. 2
    1. The Calling is the only thing that sustains you when:
      1. The Journey is long; v. 6; 1st they traveled by boat. Then they crossed the whole island (which is 100 miles long and some 60 miles wide).
      2. Facing opposition v. 8; you’re headed to a place you’re not wanted by some people; You’re sure to face opposition. Without the Holy Spirit’s call, you won’t make it.
  • Some will abandon you; v. 13; you know the story… this damaged the relationship John Mark had with Paul for many years.

Ill.: My prayer chair: I’ve have felt the struggle of those who hate me even from within the church. I’ve been asked to consider leaving: You sing well, you lead worship well and you’re a great preacher, so why don’t you grab your guitar and hit the road. The funny part of that story is that woman became one of my biggest supporters and loved me like a mom loves her son. At the end of my ministry there I would drive out to her house and drink coffee with her, while watching the sun come up.

App.: at those times, when people abandon you, when they insult you – even from within the church – you’ve got to go back to your call. I suggest you get a prayer chair – or something that takes you back to that calling. When you feel unsuccessful, that’s ok – you weren’t called to be ‘successful’ – go back to your calling. I could go on and on; however, let’s move on… #2

  1. The Holy Spirit Commissions – v. 4; the word here is accurate; whereas the church released them or set them free, here the Holy Spirit does the sending. A couple of notes:
    1. I think its interesting that they went to Cyprus because that is where Barnabas was from (Acts 4.36). I’m sure he had a desire to see his people saved. He was also familiar with the Island and the people.

I’m glad you served here first. Your ministries at Calvary and the ***** ***** has demonstrated your passion for ministry. Many people just want to go, but don’t serve where they are first.

  1. Sent w/ a mission; a task to do on behalf of the Holy Spirit. This is vitally important: you cannot go where the Holy Spirit doesn’t lead; you must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Acts 16.6-10

He will protect you. He will open doors for you. He will close doors for you. He will go before you. This is a 3rd time we see the Holy Spirit in this passage; look at verse 9

  1. The Holy Spirit Empowers – v. 9; understand that your work, what you do – must be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Look at a couple of different areas:
    1. For Preaching – v. 5; proclaiming the Word of God – taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to these lost people. You need the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. No matter how smart you are, no matter how eloquent you become in their language, no matter how gifted and talented – if the Holy Spirit doesn’t empower you then you’re just bring them your best dog and pony show. You might as well take your unicycle and bowling pins to juggle. But, if the Holy Spirit of God empowers you, then the powers of darkness will be defeated.
    2. For Teaching – v. 12; people will get saved as you teach in the power of the Holy Spirit. You must pray that God will take your limited human teaching and exalt it to a place that can be used by you. Don’t worry so much about being creative. Do worry so much about being witty and cute. Concern yourself with the written word of God.
      1. 1 Timothy 3.16 – 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
      2. Once you’ve led some people to Christ, they must be discipled. Dallas Willard, author of the Divine Conspiracy and Hearing God has said that success in ministry is having a vital relationship with God and the capacity to pass it on to others. That capacity comes from the Holy Spirit.

Church – give me your attention for a moment. Pay careful attention to what I’m about to declare, because I’m going to ask you to affirm it with your voices and with your bodies when I’m done.

Commissioning Service for Our missionaries

Minister:  Beloved, today we recognize the ministries of this couple and consecrate them to a special task in the service of Jesus Christ. Hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ:

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit shall abide; so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” (John 15:16)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20)

Missionaries, please stand.

Minister: In humble reliance upon divine grace, do you make it the supreme purpose of your lives to give of yourselves unreservedly over the course of the next two years to the work of Christ in your appointed field among this People Group?

Missionaries: We do.

Minister: Missionaries, in the name of this congregation, Calvary Baptist Church of Tyler, TX, I commend you to this work and pledge to you our prayers, our encouragement, and our support. May the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen you, that in this and in all things you may do God’s will in the service of Jesus Christ.

****Bring up two chairs: have the couple stand and face the congregation.****

Minister: Beloved, I commend to you this couple whom we this day have commissioned to be God’s servants as a part of the continual sharing of Christ’s great commission on Earth. If you agree with what I’ve said – if you promise to regularly pray for this couple, to encourage through letters, emails, gifts at times of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, to continue to support them through giving and even going to be with them when possible – will you signify your pledge by standing to your feet.

Missionaries,  Look at that support for you.

Church, you may be seated.

Minister:            Prayer of commissioning (Elders, other missionaries, the church)

**the names and the places and the people of our UUPG has been removed for security reasons.**

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2 Corinthians 8.15-9.5

Title: A Letter of Commendation: The Three Apostles

Text: 2 Corinthians 8.16-24

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

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

This is no joke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd v 19a;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application: I’m so glad you asked:

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

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

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

Fred Smith, Calvary, Tyler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is what I need from you:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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