Category Archives: Purpose

1 Timothy 5.3-16

Title: The Treatment of Members: Confronting & Caring

Text: 1 Timothy 5. 3-16

 

Introduction: Confronting and Caring. The two words really come together well. Consider this: if you don’t care about someone, you’re not going to confront them in their error. If you don’t care about them, then you don’t care about what will happen to them. Let them perish in their folly. But, if you care, then you’ll want to protect them and help them see the error in their way.

It is interesting to me that Paul moves from confronting people in the church to caring for people in the church. I think that is because they’re close to the same thing.

We pick up where we left off last week – in the discussion of older women, in particular, widows. You probably remember Paul’s commands concerning confronting members.

I.     Confronting Members (1-2)

    1. Confronting Older Men (v 1)
    2. Confronting Younger Men (v 1)
    3. Confronting Older Women (v 2)
    4. Confronting Younger Women (v 2)

exp.: as sisters, in all purity; probably just with this last phrase; a 2nd reminder of the moral responsibility as a man of God;

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

I don’t think this is just for a young pastor. We can be this way with each other. We should be, right?

Paul turns his attention to another situation in Ephesus, which is point #2:

II.    Caring for Widows (3-8)

exp.: rd v 3; I don’t know about you, but I’m like: Truly Widows? Isn’t the definition of a widow pretty clear?

     1.  Truly a Widow (really, indeed)

exp.: truly; Lk 23:47 – this really was an innocent man; Lk 24:34 – The Lord is really risen; Jn 8:36 – If the Son sets you free indeed; Mark 11.32 – John was truly a prophet. What Paul is saying here is that there are women who have lost their husbands, but they aren’t in desperate need that other women who’ve lost their husbands are! I don’t think he’s being mean or harsh. Paul is trying to not overload the work of the church. Think about this for a moment: a woman in that culture didn’t work like men did. We do find women working and we find them in leadership, but for the overwhelming majority of the women, when they lost their husbands, they lost their livelihood. So, Paul breaks down the need into categories. He identifies those who are truly needy and those living without necessities – a woman who needed care. To clarify, Paul list three categories or ‘types of widows’.

     2. Types of Widows

    • Widow w/ family (4)

exp.: rd v 4a; a widow who has family, both children and/or grandchildren; ‘themis a plural pronoun, which I believe points back to the children and grandchildren; ‘widow’ is singular here. Let the children and grandchildren care for her – and return to them the same care she gave them;

Consider what she has done for them over the years. It’s time to reciprocate. How many diapers has she changed? How many ‘bottoms’ has she wiped and cleaned? How many meals has she cooked for them? How many times has she cared for them when they were sick? Cleaned up vomit? Spit up? Held them, cried for them, prayed over them? She didn’t do it thinking someday they’ll return the favor. She did it out of love.

It’s time now for her children and grandchildren to show that same love to her; rd 4b; this is pleasing in the sight of God; godliness and obedience; it’s how you honor them.

    • Widow w/ no family (5)

exp.: rd v 5a; a widow who is truly a widow has no family (μονόω), we get our word ‘mono’ for the singular; monologue; monotonous; she’s alone.

– Alone: has no concern except for the Lord; her family is the church and the church should care for her;

– She is concerned for the affairs of God; So, God’s family should take her in and care for her;

    • Widow w/ finances (6)

exp.: rd v 6; a widow who is self-sufficient, wealthy, resources; lit.: living in luxury; contrast the widow whose concern is the church and the woman whose concern is her own selfishness; she may have no family, but she has her money and her things;

     3. Teach these Warnings (7-8)

exp.: rd v 7,  who is the ‘they’; v 8 (4, 16); The family; If she has relatives, they are responsible for her; if they don’t care for her, then that is a poor witness; they’ve done two things: denied the faith, worse than an unbeliever; opposite of v 4; ungodly; disobedient; no honor; isn’t better to be an unbeliever and be seen as an unbeliever than to be a believer and bring harm to the body as a poor witness?

t.s.: Paul moves quickly to “the list”

III.   Criteria for Widowhood (9-16)

exp.: rd v 9-10; So, it appears that there is a list of those widows who should be cared for. This is good. We need a group of folks in our church who take on this responsibility – to organize those who are truly widows and then to organize care and concern – to lead the church in this matter. There needs to be some organization – a list is made. That list can then begin to tackle or take on specific needs. Screens that need repair, vehicles that need to be made ready for summer, that these widows are being watched over in the COVID-19 era. What is this List? The List: There seems to have been an official ‘order of widows’. These women had certain requirements and if the church had been supported by these ladies, then, by all means, the church should care for them. Titus 2:3-5;

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

ill.: J. MacArthur: Their duties surely included helping with the baptism of women, visiting the sick, visiting prisoners, teaching and discipling younger women, helping younger women rear and nurture their children, and providing hospitality for visitors and strangers. They may have also assisted in placing orphans into proper Christian homes. That was a very important ministry in the Roman world since orphaned or abandoned children wound up as slaves, and often as prostitutes or gladiators. With their own husbands gone and their children grown, those widows had the time to pursue such essential ministries.

That such a group of widows existed in the early church is known from extra-biblical sources. In the late first and early second centuries, Ignatius and Polycarp wrote of such an order. Tertullian, who lived in the latter part of the second and early part of the third century, also mentioned it. The third-century document known as the Didascalia and the fourth century ‘Apostolic Constitutions’ also refer to an order of widows.

 – Three Criteria to make the List (9-10)

    • Age
    • Faithfulness
    • Service (good works)
      1. Brought up her children; this isn’t necessarily in the order of preference or prominence, but it definitely deserves some attention. Is there a greater task of importance than a mother to her children? Maybe to her husband?
      2. Hospitable
      3. Washed feet
      4. Cared for the afflicted (θλίβω (thlibō) under pressure to squeeze; it means to be between a rock and a hard place)
      5. Devoted herself to these ‘good works’; good works are a demonstration of godliness in a woman’s life – they demonstrate her beauty.

IV.    Caution/Urge Younger Widows to marry (11-15)

          1. Downward spiral
          2. Better to Marry

exp.: evidently, some of the widows have fallen for this false teaching in the church, they’ve chased after the things of this world and are causing trouble in the church.

There is something really interesting here that takes place throughout this chapter:

Aside: The order of people who care for widows: (16)

  • Children and Grandchildren (v 4)
  • Male Relatives (v 8)
  • Female Relatives (v 16)

I don’t think this means that the church should ignore widows who have relatives who can care for them. But it does help us in regard to identifying widows in need and our responsibility to care for them.

Conclusion:

So, what is Paul saying here:

1. Anyone can be led astray: Old, young; male, female. We’re all vulnerable to false teaching.

2. But, widows need particular attention, because they are preyed on by others.

–  Widows, in particular, were targeted with false teaching in Ephesus.

But some of you might be asking about this because it isn’t what you see. What I mean is this: the government has taken over the responsibility to care for widows and orphans. And you know what, I’m grateful for those who saw the need and led out in caring for those folks. I’m grateful that our Christian virtues and ethics impacted our government.

But does that mean we ignore the command as given by God to the church? No, it doesn’t. The church needs to step up and care for her widows.

So, with this in mind, let me ask a question: Are you feeling a tug on your heart to care for the widows/widowers? – to make sure they’re ok? – to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of? Maybe the Lord is moving in your heart to step up to this task.

Ill.: Joanne Walker of Corvalis, Montana: Our wedding reception, in my parents’ home, ended late. Mom didn’t try to clean up until the next morning. To her dismay, there were cake crumbs everywhere! “How careless the guests were,” she thought to herself.

Until she went to the kitchen. There, still neatly stacked and clean, were the plates and forks–forgotten by my mother in the busyness of the preparations. In other words, with all of her work, she forgot to set out the very utensils needed to prevent such a mess. In her busyness, she forgot her business.

3. Busyness vs. Business

It’s easy to forget in the busyness of the church what the true business is: imaging God (being the Body of Christ). Let’s not get so busy with things that we overlook a very important part of our church: Our widows – those women (and I might add men) who are truly widows indeed.

Difference between the Y and the I; Busyness leads to questions: Why are their crumbs all over the floor, Why were people so careless? Business, true business leads to the I…what can I do, how can I help?

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Filed under 1 Timothy, Christian Living, Family, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon

1 Tim 4.11-16

Title: The Servant’s Success Comes through Faithfulness

Text: 1 Timothy 4.11-16

CP: Serve in such a way that you are an example to the believers of how they should conduct themselves.

Intro: Did you see this week’s article from the NY Times by Elisabeth Dias: “The Apocalypse as an ‘unveiling’: What religion teaches us about end times.”

She writes: For people of many faiths, and even none at all, it can feel lately like the end of the world is near. Not only is there a plague, but hundreds of billions of locusts are swarming East Africa. Wildfires have ravaged Australia, killing an untold number of animals. A recent earthquake in Utah, even shook the Salt Lake Temple to the top of its iconic spire, causing the golden trumpet to fall from the angel Moroni’s right hand.

Well, to be sure, all of this is for us to gain a picture of what end times will be like and be reminded that they’re coming. Lk 21. 10 Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and pestilences. And there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.

So yes, we’re near the end times, but this pandemic isn’t the apocalypse. But according to the Lord, these events are warnings or signs of the end. These ‘episodes’ are opportunities for people to come to Christ. They are opportunities for people to see this as a forewarning of the apocalypse to come. That’s why we have the book of Revelation. Just as the Old Testament folks were told of the Christ and given opportunities for repentance – opportunities to trust and follow God, we likewise, are given information and opportunities. By the way, the word apocalypse is the Greek word we translate Revelation.

So how are we to live in this age of pandemics and wars? Do we live in fear? You and I as believers have an advantage over others who walk in darkness. We know who is in charge and that we don’t have to live in fear. Jesus says in the Matthew passage a couple of verses later that the Gospel must be proclaimed to all nations. So, what’s more, important for us to ask is if that is happening. Are we busy doing what we’re supposed to be doing? I would say we must be busy about our work – taking the gospel to the nations – no matter the circumstances surrounding us.

This has been the topic of our study over recent weeks: service, ministry. But, to serve people without sharing the Gospel or without the underlying goal of sharing the Gospel falls short of our goal of letting people know that we’re all sinners, we all need forgiveness and God has provided that forgiveness through His Son Jesus. It’s falling short of what we have been called to do.

So, with this in mind, I’d like to turn our focus onto the individual: You, me.

In our study in 1 Timothy, Paul is encouraging Timothy in his work. Let me cut to the chase – Paul tells Timothy that his success as a servant comes through faithfulness in what he does, in how he does it and in his consistency to that work.

I’ve outlined it this way – The Servant’s Success comes through faithfulness:

  • In what you do (11-12)
  • In how you do it, and (13-14)
  • In your consistency to it (15-16)

Our context is godliness, so keep that in mind as we make our way through this passage on the servant and the task; This theme of godliness really flows throughout the letter. In 3.14-16, Paul states his purpose in writing this letter, to encourage Timothy to teach the church about who she is, how she should behave and what it is she believes. And what she believes is that her godliness comes through the atoning work of Christ through His death, burial, and resurrection. That godliness then comes through the believer’s life in what he does and how he acts.

Don’t forget this: in all of your ‘doing’ it doesn’t make you godly. Let that sink in! This doesn’t mean you don’t do the work of the ministry, but rather that your ministry flows from your godliness – that was the focus last week.

In 4.1, Paul points to the false teachers and their false godliness, achieved by what they do and don’t do. And then in the passage we looked at last week, Paul encourages Timothy in his personal godliness: to nourish himself through the word of God and exercise his godliness daily as he lives out his life.

We’re still in the context of godliness, Paul now brings this section to a conclusion. It is a transitional paragraph to more teaching on how the church should behave; on how they should be godly in their behavior toward each other. So, Paul focuses now on Timothy’s work – his service. And just what is that work? We see it in v11, v13, and v16: teaching.

Timothy is encouraged to faithfully serve through his teaching – which combats the false teachers and directs the believers in a proper direction and understanding.

So, these are the three sections

The Servant’s Success comes through faithfulness:

  • In what you do (11-12)
  • In how you do it, and (13-14)
  • In your consistency to it (15-16)

Transition: let’s look 1st at The Servant’s Success come through faithfulness:

  1. In what you do

exp.: Timothy is commanded here: imperatives; there are actually 12 imperatives from v6-16; there are 10 in our text (11-16); I’ve lost some of you kids; you guys know what an imperative is: clean your room; take out the trash; It is a command; Paul is giving his orders to Timothy; command and teach these things; ‘these things’ is repeated (6, 11, 15, v 16 pronoun); this is the job you’ve been assigned – do your job!

But Paul anticipates problems for Timothy, more problems of what he’s probably been dealing with; rd v 12; We see in v 11-12 two areas of focus:

  1. A Focus on others: Command & Teach these things
  2. A Focus on Oneself: Let no one despise (think against) you, but set the example (‘be the type’); tupos; type, be the type of Christian you’re teaching them to be.
  3. In 5 ways: Speech, Conduct, Love, Faith, and Purity.

Our focus this morning is on the servant. The context is, of course, Timothy. He is the pastor there. But as a servant, the same principles apply to you. You want to do what you have been called to do, and you want to do it faithfully. And as you serve, you want to be the type of Christian that is an example for others to follow. Notice the 1st two characteristics (Speech & Conduct) are external and the last two (Faith & Purity) are internal. Love binds them all together.

What’s even more interesting to me is that these characteristics are the exact opposite of what the false teachers were presenting.

The False Teachers were just the opposite

  • In Speech: They were babblers, vain, foolish talkers (1.6)
  • In Conduct: these guys have brought disrepute upon the church and have caused many to stray (6.10)
  • In Love: These guys are lovers of money and themselves (3.3; 6.10)
  • In Faith: they’ve made shipwreck of their faith (1.19); departed from the faith (4.1)
  • In Purity: which these guys have stained; their false teaching spreads like gangrene (6.12; 2 Tim 2.17)

app.: But not so with Timothy, and not so with you and me, as we set the believers an example to be followed.

t.s.: The Servant’s Success comes through faithfulness: In what you do, and next, in how you do it.

  1. In how you do it (13-14)

exp.: rd v 13a; until I come, harkens back to his expectation of delay, as seen in 3.14; I can’t help but hear the Word of the Lord for us to devote ourselves to the work He has called us to do. Rd 6.6f; But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.

Mt. 28.18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Js 5 Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Repeated in God’s Word we’re encouraged, exhorted to our word from the text, to devote ourselves to the task at hand, to serve faithfully, because the Lord’s return is imminent.

Look at v 14; rd v 14; as before, so we see again how Paul calls charges Timothy to conduct his work with a focus on others but to not neglect a focus on himself in fulfilling this duty. Two areas of focus:

  1. A Focus on others through ministry: Command & Teach these things
  2. A Focus on Oneself in that ministry: Let no one despise (think against) you, but set the example
  1. A Focus on others through ministry: Public Reading of Scriptures, Exhortation, Teaching
  2. A Focus on Oneself in that ministry: Do not neglect the gift you have;

I love that teaching is focused on again (11&13); because teaching is his ministry, it is his service.

app.: Your gifting may be teaching, just like Timothy’s. But your gifting may be in other areas. I don’t know what you’ve been called to do but do it well. Success in your service comes through faithfulness to what you do and how you do it (utilizing your gifts).

t.s.: finally, The Servant’s Success comes through faithfulness:

  1. In your consistency

exp.: Look at the three words Paul uses to encourage Timothy’s consistency: practice, immerse, persist; I love the word practice – as in what lawyers and doctors do: they practice law or medicine. The idea of practicing something means to apply what you’ve been theorizing. It is the application of your contemplation. Cambridge Dictionary: action rather than thoughts or ideas. And that fits so well with servants who consider what they’re called to do and then practice it. Practice, immerse yourself, persist in this; actually, the pronoun is plural. I like most other translations: persist in these.

Transition: Now, before you think my message is teaching that the results depend solely upon the servant and his ability to keep to the task…

ill.: E. Stanley Jones, Methodist Missionary to India in the early 1900s, presents a wonderful illustration that fits our teaching this morning. He says there are three types of people. There is the rowboat Christian who knows what to do and does it. The work hard and things move. But, if they stop, so does the work. The work is dependent on their abilities, their strength, and – well, it just depends totally upon them. But progress is slow and hard.

There is the 2nd person – the sailboat. This person knows what to do, but success is so dependent upon other things: circumstances, situations, etc. Sailboat Christians can get so much done when life is good and everything is moving along with no interruptions, with nothing to sideline them. As the sailboat can move so much faster than a rowboat, at times, it just sits dead in the water because it is so dependent upon outside forces.

And finally, there is the Steamboat. Steamboat Christians move forward because of what’s inside. It’s circumstances of wind, or a lack of wind, don’t stop it. It progresses against the current, against the wind, and just keep chugging along because of what is inside. And for the believer, we understand this is the Spirit of the Living God taking up residence in our souls, empowering us.

app.: This is so important to remember because a life of service without the spirit is legalism. This is our first take-a-way for the day.

Take-aways:

1.  A life of service without the Spirit is legalism. There are a lot of people working really hard during this time. You can identify this problem in your own life because those who are doing this work in their own power usually grow resentful and bitter.

I’m reminded of a MASH scene where a sickness runs through the camp. For some reason, Father Mulcahy doesn’t get the sickness and he serves others with such excitement. I think because so often he feels useless. Now, while others are in need, he can serve – and he does. In this scene, he’s washing the soiled sheets in a big washbasin and just singing, “This is the way we wash our sheets, wash our sheets, wash our sheets…” Now Major Winchester comes in from some time away and he walks into this sickness running throughout the camp.” He’s needed, but he doesn’t want to serve. Major Houlihan says otherwise. The scene ends with Major Winchester washing the sheets with him singing the same song Father Mulcahy sings, only he’s obviously not as enthusiastic.

A life of service without the Spirit is no different than what the Pharisees did. And with that comes a vengeance to protect the position you’re in and not the people you’re serving.

So how do you keep from getting that way? Can I share from experience? I think Paul does a great job of reminding us through his letter to Timothy that we need to keep our focus on two spheres: our work to others and ourselves. For ourselves, he uses negatives:

2.  Remember the two spheres of focus:

    1. Service – serving others, but in our work don’t forget:
    2. Self – you have to take care of yourself.
      1. Be the example of what a servant is. (don’t let others despise you)
      2. Use your gifts, serve out of who you are. (don’t neglect your gift)

3.  Remember as you serve the Lord, he’s fully aware of what is going on.

Do you remember the story of the Lord’s Supper? Do you remember how it all came about? In Mark 14.12-16 it reads: 12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

Now, note that the Lord knows a man is going to be coming their way entering into the city – at the same time they’re there. 2nd, they follow this man to a house – where he goes in and they follow him. Notice also, the room is already prepared!

I’ve learned through the years that God sends us to places he already knows about and has already worked out the details. I promise you: God already knows about this virus and how it will play out in our lives. If he calls you into service, he’s worked out your details, too. God is going to do what he does to glorify himself.

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Luke 2.8-20

Title: The Shepherds’ Story

Text: Luke 2.8-20

 

Introduction: Ps 119.18… Lord, open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of your Law. Amen

Read the traditional story; Lk 2.8-20; though there are many characters in this story, and the most important character is Christ, this little section, this pericope is framed and hemmed in with the Shepherds (v 8, 20);

You see my Title: I’d like to look at their story, Last week we looked at the Wise Men (Magi) as shared by Matthew. Luke chooses to tell us of a different group of people. Whereas the Magi were prominent, probably wealthy foreigners – servants to the King; these shepherds represent the poor and socially outcast. So, first, I want to answer some questions about who they were and what they were doing. 2nd, I want to explain their experience concerning the sign they were given by the Angel. And 3rd, We’ll look at what they found when they followed their curiosity, believing what the Angel had proclaimed.

I.     The Shepherds (8-11)

exp.:

  • Who were they?
    • The lowest class of people – socio-economically – like I mentioned earlier, the polar opposite of the Magi; consider the Magi entering into Jerusalem. They get entrance to the king. The Shepherds? I don’t think they would have an audience with the King. The Magi – well dressed and having an entourage. The Shepherds? Probably dirty and surrounded by sheep! But here’s a similarity for you: the Magi were foreigners. And so probably, too, were the Shepherds. I honestly never thought that through – I always just assumed the Shepherds were from Israel. Let me show you in the text.
  • Where were they from? Rd v 8a; In the same region; does that mean that they weren’t normally from that region, they just happen to be there? Isaiah 60.1-7; Jeremiah 49.28; Genesis 25.13;
  • What are they doing? Rd v 8b; most literally: watching watches; ill.: isn’t that how it is when you work all night long? Working in the fields w/ their sheep,
  • What did they see? Rd v 9; An angel of the Lord; appeared; 21x’s in NT; All by Luke except Paul uses it three times; 1 Thess 5.3 – in the return of Christ; there is a sense of suddenness, catching one off guard; So, there, the shepherds are, minding their own business, and shoomp, there’s an angel standing there; but there’s something accompanying the angel which adds to the scene – what is it? Rd 9b: God’s Glory; No wonder they were sore afraid; lit.: they feared a great fear; Think Peter, John, Isaiah; read v 10-11; Wow! What a message! Rd v 12 a;

t.s.: this is our 2nd point this morning… the way the Shepherds would know what the Angel said was true is that there would be a sign for them.

II.    The Sign (12-15)

exp.: rd v 12; Isa 7.14 told us to look for this: 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. The context in Isaiah would lead someone to think that he’s talking about his own son (as mentioned in Isa. 8), but we come back to the promised son in 9; Why would the Shepherds need a sign? To help us understand this, let’s look at the sign.

1st, a baby: how many were in Bethlehem? When Cameron was born, he was the only baby born that day. There was another baby there who had been born the night before. And, when we left, there was another lady walking around ready to deliver… New Braunfels has more than 100,000 people in that vicinity – maybe more. I’m guessing in Bethlehem, a newborn baby would have been easy to find.

2nd, wrapped in swaddling clothes; this word, here in the Gk, is a word derived from the Gk word meaning strip, as in a strip of cloth; further, that word is a derivative of the word σπαράσσω [sparasso /spar·as·so/] v. Prolongation from spairo (meaning “to grasp”, apparently strengthened from 4685 through the idea of spasmodic contraction); the picture this word creates is a cloth contracted tightly around the baby. One of my elders in Tyler said their family calls this: a baby burrito! What a great description! The 1st part of this sign is you’ll find a burrito baby.

In Ken Bailey’s book, he said the angel anticipated their anxiety and told them not to be afraid: The angels anticipated this anxiety (remember, they feared a great fear) and told the shepherds they would find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes (which was what peasants, like shepherds, did with their newly born children). But there is a third part to this sign – rd 2.12 – lying in a manger;

            3rd, Lying in a manger

app.: this is their sign – a baby tightly wrapped in a strip of cloth, lying in a manger; And then, all of the sudden, there was with the angel… rd v 13-14;

t.s.: Now, rd v 15; and that brings us to this last part… the scene

III.   The Scene (16-20)

exp.: rd v 16; 1st we note how they went with haste; 2ndly, we note they find, found; rd v12; they found the baby, just as the angel had said; lying in a manger.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Excursus: I’d like to take a moment and revisit our Bible Study from Wednesday night – when we looked at the passage just before this one (2.1-7). The Scripture says in these first 7 verses that:

1st of all, this most likely wasn’t in a barn and it wasn’t in a cave. It was probably all taking place in a house in Bethlehem. These ideas of Mary’s abandonment and struggle come from tradition – not from Scripture. The most likely source is a story written around 200 AD (cf. Bailey). Luke 2.6 clarifies that they had been in Bethlehem when Mary went into labor.  Rd 2.6

2nd, there was no inn. Inn is a very poor translation and probably has just kept being used by new translations because it really messes up the traditional story. It isn’t wrong per se, just there is a better word in English that we could use here. The word used here is translated more closely as a “guest room”. Let me show you what I mean:

  • Most houses were one-room – those homes of common people were one room: consider Lk 13.5
  • 2nd, these homes would house their animals, too. Most people didn’t have barns. The Parable of the Wealthy Fool describes a man who built storehouses – not barns. A barn is really a western idea.
  • Kataluma κατάλυμα; Mk 14.14; Luke 22.11; wealthier folks had a 2nd room – a guest room. For the wealthiest, it would oftentimes be on top – like a 2nd floor – which is what we find at the Last Supper; Luke 22.12
  • The word ‘room’ in 2.7 means space; there is no room on the table.
  • Added to this: Luke has a story about an Inn and an Innkeeper; Luke 10.34 – The Parable of the Good Samaritan. If Luke meant an inn, why didn’t he use that word?

 

exp.: I’d like to demonstrate for you what a typical house might look like. When we understand, other passages become clearer. For example, Judges 11.29-40; Jephthah; It never crossed his mind that a person would come out of the door! He thought it would be a goat or a cow or some other animal that was housed up! In the story of the Magi, when they get to Bethlehem, where do they find the Messiah they’ve been seeking: And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.

Apologies: listen, I know this is kind of strange – after all of the years you’ve probably had visions of Mary all alone and crying in a dark alley, Joseph taking her to some barn to deliver her baby because she’s been rejected by the people of Bethlehem – that’s all great staging for storytelling, but it isn’t what the Bible communicates.

Mary and Joseph stay with their relatives in Bethlehem, but apparently so did some other relatives who are in the guest room. Because there is no room (space) and because Mary is pregnant, she’s in need of care… She’s in the house. When the baby comes, she wraps Baby Jesus in cloths and lays him in the perfect bassinet next to her – a manger, a feeding trough.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Here’s what I love about this story: they went with haste to see what the Angel had proclaimed to them – and they found things just as the Angel had said. I think of the story of the wise men, who sought the one born King of the Jews. And, now, we see these men doing the same thing! I reminded of Deu 4.29ff: But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.;

Can we pause right here and post our 1st observation?

Observations:

  • Seek: You will find Him if you search after Him with all of your heart and with all your soul! Did you know that promise still holds true for you today? The context for that passage was for the Jews who had abandoned their God. God promised them, that even after that failure, he would be found by them – if they searched for him with all their heart. That means in your state right now, if you seek him, you’ll find him, if you search w/ all your heart. You’ve got to do what these guys did – you’ve got to respond to the message you’ve heard. Notice they didn’t just say: Wow! That was cool! So, where were we? Oh, yeah… No, they went with haste! What a perfect time of the year to seek Christ. What a perfect time in your life – right now, to seek him!
  • Share: Rd v 17-18; I love this. They didn’t keep quiet about it. They shared! That’s what we should be doing! We should be sharing, too. This is observation #2: Share this wonderful, good news of the Savior you’ve found. Can I ask you…has God been good to you?

Maybe you’re thinking no. Maybe you tried trusting the Lord, but it just didn’t seem like he answered you. Can I be blunt – God will not bless you in your sin. I know some folks think that God hasn’t been good to them because he hasn’t blessed them in their sin. I wouldn’t say God does that. But, seek him – his kingdom and his righteousness (and all of these things shall be added unto you, as well). Tell others of his goodness toward you.

  • Give Glory: Rd v. 19-20; 3rd observation – I think this is what God wants in the Christmas story – the glory! He wants us to praise and glorify him!
  • The Reason we Hope. Russel Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Of the SBC: Article on Atheist’s advice to Lie to Your Children Jesus told us to have a child-like faith. Even the Atheists see it. For many without hope, the holidays can be a sad time. But it is the same for those who hope.

Often times our expectations of what once was and our experience, in reality, differ so greatly that it hurts and we get depressed. I watched a video of the Chapmans. For those of you who don’t know, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, lost their youngest girl in an accident. Their youngest son was driving back up to the house and in the excitement, little Maria ran out in front of the car. Will Franklin never saw his little sister. Their grief is inexpressible. As they pulled out ornaments to adorn their Christmas Tree, they have very special ornaments made by Maria. As they videoed the time of Christmas preparation, they talked about how hard Christmas is, but just what it means to them. I hope and pray I never have to experience what they went through, but what a message. The Reason for this season – God with us, is so that we can have the hope of one day being with him forever. And, added to this, we will be reunited with those who’ve gone before us. The pain is real and present. But the pain will not last forever. We celebrate what God has done because of the hope he has given us.

If you don’t have this hope, come talk with me.

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Filed under Christmas, Isaiah, Luke, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.31-39

Title: If God is for us, who can be against us?

Text: Romans 8.31-36

Introduction: This week I read a story about a woman named Karen, age 35, who found out two years ago that she had cancer. She opted out of chemo and radiation and lived her life to the fullest. So, she says.

To hear her story is encouraging in a way. It makes you think about yourself and what you’d do if you had a death sentence hanging over your head. For Karen, she decided to live her life to the fullest. From what she recorded in her obituary, which was written by her, she did just that.

Our text today is similar in a way. The truth is we all do have a death sentence hanging over us. Physically speaking, we’re all going to face death at one time or another. Thank you, Adam and Eve. Spiritually speaking, too, we’re all facing death, unless, of course, Jesus faced that death for you. That’s where Paul is headed in our text.

Now that we’re at the end of chapter 8, how did we get here?

  • 1-17: A Regenerate Spirit because the Holy Spirit has come to live in you.
    • A new mind; a new mindset: life and peace.
    • A new hope: that the spirit will raise your bodies, too, just as Christ from the dead.
    • You are now part of the family of God because God has given you the spirit of adoption.
      • For this life
      • For eternal life
    • 18-30: There is hope now and it is not dashed to pieces because of suffering.
      • Suffering is all a part of our sin-soaked world.
      • Suffering is temporary in comparison to the hope of glory.
      • And, this Holy Spirit in us (Spirit of God; Spirit of Jesus) intercedes for us when we don’t even know what or how to pray, praying for us according to God’s will. And, God’s will culminates all of our experiences for Good.
      • Because of Christ and through the Holy Spirit, God has established his new covenant with those who love him. He foreordained, He predestined, He called, He justified and He glorified them.
    • 31-39: A crescendo of hope swells and culminates in these final verses as Paul asks: What shall we say to these things? And he answers his question with a question: If God is for us, who can stand against us? The simple answer is: no one! That is the answer to the message. You don’t have to pay attention anymore! Just kidding! But look at his answers:
      1. v 33: No one can bring a charge against us.
      2. v 34: No one can condemn us because God has declared us not guilty.
      3. v 35: No one can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. No one and No thing! Even in the face of suffering.

Do you know what happens when someone goes to court and there is no charge to bring against that person? Case Dismissed!

Paul knows a thing or two about cases being dismissed. He lived it! He was accused, beaten, imprisoned and then the magistrates responsible said – ah, let them go. Paul said, uh-uh! You have falsely accused us, beaten us and imprisoned us without cause. We’re Roman Citizens with rights. You’ve neglected to give us our rights. We’ll leave, but you have to come and lead us out. Those magistrates were scared. They’d broken the law and could have faced serious problems themselves. They had no case against Paul and he knew it.

Do you know what happens when a person stands in a place where there is no condemnation? The verdict is read: Not Guilty! So, there really is nothing to fear. But, what about the suffering? Doesn’t it seem that our suffering indicates that maybe the jury is still out? Even in suffering – in trial, in tempest, in tribulation; in facing sickness, in facing sorrow, in facing the sword; even as sheep who face being slaughtered (so says v. 36_ – we cannot be separated from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

How? How is that even possible? For the very reason we’re here this morning: Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen indeed, hallelujah! That’s how it is possible. The very reason we’re here! It’s Easter!

If God is for us, who can be against us? And before he answers his own question, he states the reason for his answer. rd v 32; 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Really, is there any greater gift that God could have given us than redemption? And yet, there is so much more…

Opening Story: Can I just offer a side note here? I think we miss out on so much of what life has to offer. We get bogged down in the ways of the world and wrapped up in the ways of the world and we miss so much that God has graciously given.

I think we miss the simplicity of a butterfly sitting on a flower; we miss the miracle of a single raindrop that falls from thousands of feet above and lands just where it lands; we miss the rustle of the leaves as the wind moves it where it wants. We miss the miracle of each moment. We miss out on so much of what life is meant to be.

Ill.: This week a woman I was visiting with was telling me about her two year old. She said she couldn’t find her keys. She knew where they were, but someone had moved them. A single mom with only one child, that leaves one other person in the house. She was running late, searching high and low. Guess where she found them? Behind the couch!

Now, that can be frustrating. But I also know another young lady who would give everything she has for a little boy who would lose her keys behind the couch. She and her husband have been trying for years to have children and it appears that it isn’t going to happen. Really, that heartbreak of not being able to have kids is like worse than having a son who grabs your keys and loses them behind the couch.

How might one look at a moment like that (2-year-old tossing your keys behind the couch) and be able to cherish losing your keys? Anyone here who is older and looking back can most definitely identify and would have some words of wisdom and help you see that moment as a precious memory. Remember George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, how he wanted to throw that headpiece to the banister every single time he walked up the stairs, but when he was changed, he kissed it?

As you get older, you see that those deadlines you were late for, and many of the other rungs in the ladder were really tertiary matters behind your wife, your kids, and your family.

Wouldn’t you just love to live your life in such a way, that you could get to the end and look back to see that you truly enjoyed what matters most? Finding Christ early on is a huge help in this regard. But you might be asking: just what has Jesus dying and rising again have to do with, and make it where no one can stand against us? Well, the first answer is found in v 33; 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

  1. No one can bring a charge against you because Christ has justified you.

Exp.: to be fair, Paul’s context is totally eschatological. That means he talking about the end times. One day, we will all stand before God and be judged for this life. And if you are a Christian, if you’ve given your life to Christ and found your sins forgiven – that is, you’ve been justified – then, there will be no charge brought against you. Your case was taken care of by Christ – no charges means case dismissed.

In comparison, these people were standing before earthly judges and having their property confiscated. They were being beaten and mistreated. They were being thrown in jail. And they were suffering by being entertainment by being thrown to the Lions and other cruel forms of persecution. That’s the persecution Paul is referring to in the previous verses. But that suffering, that persecution for them, really pales in comparison to the end time when they stand before God and hear him remind them that He has already declared them Not Guilty!

Ill.: The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken has been a real reminder to me of the tremendous persecution going on in the World – greater than any time in history since Christ was here.

App.: Live life backward… with a view of the present as if you could take the advice of the older people. Don’t sweat the small stuff!

t.s.: His 2nd answer is found in v 34; Who is to condemn?

  1. No one can condemn you because Christ was condemned in your place.

Exp.: To be fair, once again, Paul’s context is totally eschatological. That means he talking about the end times. Again. As these believers were standing before their judges and being declared guilty for following Christ, Paul was reminding them of the temporal aspect of this life. It really does go so quickly. Here, Paul is reminding them of why No accusation will stand because:

  1. Christ Died
  2. Christ Arose
  3. Christ Ascended
  4. Christ Intercedes.

Ill.: Here’s what we see: Satan stands and accuses you. You’re a liar, you use foul language, you cheat, you steal, consider the 10 commandments:

  1. No other Gods
  2. No idols
  3. Do not take the Lord’s name in Vain – profane God’s name
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day – to keep it holy
  5. Honor your Parent
  6. Don’t Murder
  7. Don’t commit Adultery
  8. Don’t Steal
  9. Don’t Lie
  10. Don’t Covent

App.: So, just one of those commandments, broken just one time, makes you guilty. You see, God is perfectly holy and just one sin separates us from him as far as the east is from the west.

t.s.: So who brings a charge against you: No One! Say it together, out loud, nice and loud… who brings a charge against you? No One! Who is then to condemn you? No One! Well then if no one can bring a charge against you and no one can condemn you, then maybe someone or something can separate you from God’s Love – so let me ask you: Who can separate you from the Love of God in Christ Jesus?

  1. No one can separate us from the love of God in Christ.

Exp.: Look at v 35 w/ me; Paul’s pretty clear isn’t he? But sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way – maybe that is what the Romans were thinking. To read about the Roman suffering is pretty distressing. Those believers were experiencing all of the above, but so had Paul. If you locate 2 Corinthians 11, beginning in v 16 and making your way down through verse 28, you’ll read that Paul experienced these exact struggles. He wasn’t talking about something he didn’t understand. That really comes out in v 36; rd v 36; take a moment to look at your references in the middle column, or maybe to the side of the page in your Bible. You’ll see that this is a quote from Psalm 44.22; The Jews had experienced these struggles, too. They were unsure of God’s presence. But Paul is using this to say, yes, in this life, you will have struggles. You will suffer. You will have your property confiscated by the authorities who don’t want you to be a Christian. And for sure, they don’t want you to tell them about their sin and their need for forgiveness. So the best thing to do to shut you up is to make you suffer.

Ill.: Consider the Christian Cake Bakers in the US. Really, though, our persecution doesn’t begin to touch what most Christians around the world are suffering. And Paul’s message must mean so much to them. It doesn’t matter what the world throws at you – even to the point of killing you. No One and no thing can ever separate you from the love of Christ.

App.: rd v 37-39

Conclusion: Craig Wiseman – you don’t know him but, you know who he is, anyway – Craig has this friend who goes to the doctor and the doctor reads this X-ray and identifies a mass. Craig’s friend is devastated. He’s counting the days, he’s thinking of radiation, he’s thinking of chemo, he’s thinking of his hair falling out, he’s thinking that he’s too cotton-pickin’ young to die. More than that, he is a young father. There is still so much he wants to see and do with his family. He’s thinking that if this is bad and that he doesn’t have much time left, he has certain things he wants to do. He’s got a bucket list. He didn’t know he had a bucket list, but he has a list of things he’s never done, never tried – and now that his time is short, he wants to experience life.

It was 10 days before he could get in to see his oncologist. Ten days is a long time when you are staring at a ‘mass’ and you don’t know what it is. He has some tests run, some more X-rays done and then the doctor comes in. “Dude, you’re fine. This is a little birth mass. Everyone is born is one, but they usually dissipate over the span of your life. Yours just didn’t. Really, you’re ok.

But that experience really spoke to him. It spoke to his friend Craig Wiseman, too. Craig has another friend, Tim Nichols. You don’t know him either, but you know of him. Craig calls Tim and tells him about their mutual friend. Tim tells Craig about this lady he saw on the News who was told she was going to die. She said all she really wanted to do with her time left was to climb some mountains in the Rockies. For those of you who know me, you know I get that.

Tim’s uncle was diagnosed with Leukemia. He’s fine now, but what that diagnosis did was cause him to quit his job – that is, to retire and do some of the things he always wanted to do.

As Craig and Tim were visiting about this, Craig grabbed his guitar – and you know the rest of the story…

I went Sky Divin’ I went, Rocky Mountain climbin’

I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu

And loved deeper and I spoke sweeter and I

Gave forgiveness I’d been denying

And he said someday I hope you get the chance

To live like you were dying.

You know that song, right. Well, there’s a freedom there. There is a knowledge about something that changes the way you’ve been living. You get perspective!

That’s what Paul is trying to get them to see. This life is so short. And the things of this earth will all fade away. There is nothing you possess or will acquire that you will take with you. But look around. People are all that you’ll take with you. Your kids, your family, your friends.

A sideline to this story is that Tim McGraw never knew his father growing up. He didn’t actually meet his father until it was toward the end of his father’s life. It was about the time Tim got this song from Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols that he found out his father was dying. And his dad died shortly thereafter. That is why this song was so very personal for Tim McGraw, that’s why it hit so close to home.

I have no idea what your relationship is with your earthly father, but did you know that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you deeply. He loved you before you even knew him. He loved you so much, that when you were helpless to do anything about your sinful situation, he sent his Son Jesus to die in your place. That’s what Easter is all about: that Jesus died for your sins and then rose again from the dead, proving he is God. You can know your heavenly father. You can know the promise of Heaven and Eternal Life.

Will you respond?

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Filed under Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Scripture, Sermon

Romans 8.28

Title: Our Hope in Suffering

Text: Romans 8.28

Introduction: Joseph; all things seemed bad; actually, they didn’t just seem bad; they were bad; they were actually very bad; Consider:

  • His brothers hated him. Most of them wanted him dead.
  • They didn’t kill him, but they made his father think that he was dead.
  • They sold him into slavery. Human trafficking.
  • Purchased by Potiphar to serve in his household.
  • Falsely accused of rape – or attempted rape.
  • Thrown in prison and forgotten.

When Jacob had died, his brothers got scairt! They knew their deeds had been wrong. They feared for their lives. They said: rah-ro! Now that dad is gone, Joseph might want to repay us the evil we did to him. So they concocted a story – it might be true, but I’m not so sure it is. “Hey Joseph, Dad said that you should forgive us for the evil we did to you.”

But Joseph was very insightful and said: “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Here’s an interesting understanding of God’s activity and our activity. I don’t fully understand it all, but I see it here very clearly: God is at work accomplishing his will, his purpose, his plan. And somehow, he does that through our actions in life.

God took all of the bad things that happened to Joseph – which were the result of this brothers’ evil toward him – and worked it for the Good. God had intention in their actions.

That’s deep!

Joseph’s story is a great illustration of our text: And we know that, for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I love this verse (Romans 8.28). But I do worry that too many believers take a popular verse like this and apply it to their liking outside of its framed context. This is a real Danger for us. Not just for this verse, but for any verse, really… As we journey into this message and take a closer, deeper look at this verse, I want you to consider right now, that you’re seeing a caution sign. Caution: Don’t take this verse out of context. But maybe that isn’t strong enough. Maybe our sign should read Danger: Don’t take this verse of out of context.

Note: 2 parts – Sovereignty and the Free Will of Men & Context of Suffering

And speaking of context, the context for Romans 8 has not changed; the overall arching context of our passage is suffering. He hasn’t dwelt on suffering, but that is the context. The theme or the topic is the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit’s activity in the life of a believer. Paul is writing about certain people and that really comes out in the next couple of verses. Note how many times it says: for those who or those whom. 6x’s! And just who are these those? It is those who love God, those who have been called according to his purpose. If you go back a verse, to 27, you see the Holy Spirit intercedes for these same people in accordance with God’s Will, in accordance with His purpose.

This presupposes a relationship. I would like to stop right there and save this discussion for next week. For now, I want you to know that there is a special relationship between God and his people. Now, even though we won’t discuss them until next week, we need to remember that “those” people are who this verse applies to.

 

Our verse is 8.28: 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

This morning I simply want to look at this short phrase (all things work together for good) and talk to you about what we know because of whom we know. We are God’s and with that knowledge of him, we experience confidence. It comes back to the old adage: It’s not what you know, but whom you know!

It says in v.28 And we know (perceive; not experiential); in the original language of Gk there are these two different words for what we translate ‘know’. Other languages differentiate between these two understandings of this word. English, not so much. One word is γινώσκω and it is experiential knowledge. The other word is οἶδα and it means to perceive something.

Ill.: let’s say a boy is watching his dad hammer in a nail. The dad misses the nail and hits his thumb. The dad now knows by experience that when you hammer in a nail and miss the nail and hit your thumb, it hurts. That’s the word γινώσκω. The son, who is watching, he’s never hit his thumb with a nail. But, he’s watching closely and he sees his father’s reaction. He hears his father cry out. He sees his father recoil;  he grabs his thumb; he drops his hammer. The boy percieves his father’s pain. He knows (oida) that if you hit your thumb with a hammer it will hurt.

Paul writes: We know (we perceive) that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Because we know God, we can be confident that all things work together for good. But what if it doesn’t seem like it at the time? all things work together for good… Listen you can have confidence that just like Joseph, God is working his plan, just as he did for the people of Israel.

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

How do you think we would live if we truly believed that God was sovereign? Some of you are getting scared! You’ve heard these verses and predestination, foreknowledge, election, and calling, those terms scare you. But don’t be. This is just a simple question: How would we live if we truly believed that God was in control of this world, even down to the bottom of our lives?

Would financial distress scare you? Would sickness, illness or even death scare you?

I read a story this week about some folks, some Moravian Christians, who were traveling on a ship sometime in the 1740s. They had gathered for worship on deck when a storm swirled up out of nowhere. The story goes that the storm wreaked havoc and many aboard the ship thought they would die. That is to say, many on board with the exception this small group of Christians who had gathered for worship. They just kept singing and worshipping. As the storm raged, they worshipped. One observer was amazed as he watched what he thought would be his last moments on earth, this band of believers singing without a care in the world.

As the storm subsided, these worshippers finished their time together. The young man who was observing them couldn’t help but stop and ask some who passed by him: Weren’t you scared? Weren’t you terrified during the storm? They calmly answered him: No. He pressed them: What about the women and the children? Weren’t they afraid? One of them stepped forward and said: No, our women and children are not afraid to die.

That astonished the Englishman and it stayed with him for days. He would later identify that moment as one crucial step in his becoming a Christian. By the way, the Englishman? John Wesley.

I often wonder at how my theology has affected my witness and how my witness has affected other non-believers observing my life and my struggle.

You see, I ask this question about God’s Sovereignty, but not as a preacher. I ask this question out of my personal experience. Most of you know my brother’s wife passed away from her struggle with cancer. But did you know that my biological mother passed away on Thursday? As I reflect on my life, I’ve got a bunch of questions that flood my mind. But not about God! And I don’t doubt or worry about what God has done and is doing.

Now, how is it that Christians can behave in a manner that doesn’t fit with their suffering? How is it that believers respond to suffering, death and what appears to be chaos in this world with total confidence? Like the Moravian believers on the ship? It is because … look at v 28… it is because we know that for those who love God … he works all things together for good.

We know… contrast this with what we saw in v 26; 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. We may not know what to pray, but what we do know is that God is at work, working all things together for good.

Let’s take a moment and look at these word pairs:

  1. πάντα: all things
  2. συνεργεῖ: work together
  3. εἰς ἀγαθόν: for good

Even when we don’t know a lot about what is going on in this life, we still know that God is working all things together for good…

These two words in English, all and things, are really one word in the Gk. ‘Things’ is added to complete a thought expressed in the Greek, but not really communicated in English. The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ill.: The idea is that God is taking the totality of your life and doing something special with it. Have you ever thought about that? The good, the bad, the ugly… all things. Those mistakes you made? God is using them, too. Those poor choices you’ve made – let’s just call it what it is: sin. When you sinned against God and rebelled against his desires and commands – well, God is using those situations and circumstances for his glory and he’s working it out for the good.

Do you see those 2nd set of words: working together

These two words in English, working and together, are also one word in the Gk. This Gk word is the word from which we get our English word: synergy. Syn (συν): with; and εργός: work.

Ill.: As you guys know, this past week I was in Arizona to be with my brother who lost his wife. My job was to be there for him. So, I did my best to be available when I was needed. During this time, two people made theological statements. Their intentions were to encourage the family. These remarks were in passing and I don’t think they meant any harm. But these two people, really nice people made statements about God that just are not true.

I didn’t say anything. It wasn’t my place and I know these people had good intentions. But this is what crossed my mind: Sound, healthy doctrine is important. I can’t tell you why bad things happen to good people and what God’s purposes are in all matters. I don’t know why some people get cancer and die and other people get cancer and live. I don’t why a tornado hits a neighborhood and one house is demolished and the other house is untouched. I don’t know why two people make the same bad decision and experience two different outcomes. But I do know that God is at work in your life. And I know enough to tell you not to tally up your points halfway through the game of life. All things not just some things, all things work together for good.

This is what we know as Christians: God is working all things togetherfor good…

All things: the good and the bad, the expected and the unexpected, the suffering and the rejoicing, in laughter and in pain – those experiences; God is working all things together for good.

When I was on sabbatical, I read a few leadership biographies and autobiographies. One man I enjoyed reading about was Harry Truman. What I didn’t know about him was his sense of humor. He tells the story of a man who was hit on the head and the people took him for dead. This tells you how old the story is! He was picked up by the undertaker and taken to the funeral home. He woke up in the middle of the night and sat up in his coffin. He looked around and said, “Good night! What’s going on? If I’m alive then why am I in a coffin. And if I’m dead, why do I have to go to the bathroom so bad!”

Don’t judge what God is doing in your life in just one moment of your life. Because if you try, the totality of it all will not make sense.

Friday I got a call that my biological mother passed away. I knew this day would one day come. I mentioned it to Lisa when we talked through some decisions I had to make years ago. Let me explain.

I was abandoned by my mother at a young age. I don’t know the whole story because I was just a baby. There are six of us kids who share the same mom and I think they would all agree with me that her decisions and the decisions of our fathers really messed us up.

Now, I’m an external processor and I’m not trying to process this in front of you. The pulpit isn’t a place to do that. And, I don’t want to go into all of the gory details that have created this man of dysfunction that you’ve come to know and love. But I want you to know a little, so what I say will make sense.

As a young man, my biological mother blamed me for her messed up life – like it was my fault she did this and did that. As with all of her children, each of us was made to feel like we somehow were the cause of her failures. I abandoned that line of thinking and made the conscious decision to not put myself in harm’s way ever again. So, I’ve not spoken to my mom in decades. That was my decision. And she made it easy because she never called me. The last time we spoke, I called her. She wrote me two letters in my life. Once when I 18 years old and once when I was 50. I saw her at my grandmother’s funeral, which was about that same time (the 1990s).

So I get this phone call Friday morning that she has died and I look at this wake of destruction in the life of so many people. I’ve heard that she was going to church regularly these past few years. I’m glad. I can’t say this morning that she was or wasn’t a believer because I don’t know. I’ll probably hear some good stories in the days and weeks to come.

I’m reminded of a funeral I did for a woman in my church in Worland. It was probably my first funeral there. Rowena was in her 90’s. I’d know her for a very short period of time, but I what I knew of her was that she loved the Lord. She prayed for me regularly. She was reading her Bible and studying her Sunday School Lesson when she died. At the funeral, I told of my experience with her and stories other church members shared. I told people how much Rowena loved me, loved the church and how much I was going to miss her.

But after the service, her daughter approached me and told me that she didn’t know that woman. The woman she knew was not a believer and had left a wake of destruction in her life.

As I reflect on that, I remember now hearing stories about my Nana from her younger years. She, too, had made many poor decisions and hurt many people. I imagine some of my dysfunction can be traced back to her decisions. But that isn’t the woman I knew. The woman I knew read the Bible with me every night I was with her. She would rise early and make me a hot breakfast – always, a hot breakfast. Cold Cereal was for Saturday mornings and late night snacks. After she fixed breakfast, she would enjoy a cup of coffee and read her Bible. That’s the woman I remember.

So what I say to you today isn’t just some mantra I repeat that gets me through the tough times. It isn’t just some cliché I throw out with no feeling. This statement is a fact of my life. All things work together for good, for those who love God, who’ve been called according to his purpose.

Let me offer some take-a-ways:

  1. All things: Consider Joseph’s life, what a mess! Some might consider that he brought some of his struggles upon himself! He shouldn’t have been so arrogant toward his brothers or his parents. Bad things happened, and no matter who is responsible for those struggles, those experiences all work together for good.

Some of you might be thinking that I just don’t know all of the bad stuff in your life. I don’t have to! We hide that stuff well, don’t we? Our dysfunction? Our Sin? Our rebellion?

  • Some kid might say to you, ‘Dad, you got mom pregnant and then married her.’ Who are you to lecture me?
  • Or Mom, you were living with dad and you weren’t even married.’ You have no right to…
  • Or, ‘I remember when you stole that stuff.’
  • You used to smoke. Or cuss, or… .fill in the blank.
  • Your life hasn’t always been a model example of what a Christian is.

Listen, that’s what Grace is for. Tell those who know you best: Yes, Yes, and Yes. I did do that. I was that man. I was that woman. But it isn’t the gory stuff I want you to focus, but rather the grace of God that forgave this pitiful, wretched person.

You may not see it. You may not even be able to comprehend it. But God is working all things!

  1. Working together: Unless you’re dead this morning, your story is still being written. And if you’re dead, please let one of the ushers know. They might just think you’re sleeping through my sermon. Listen, your story is still being written. Don’t write it off! Let God do his work in and through you.

If you’ve messed up, own up to it. Confess it. Let it be an example of God’s incredible, amazing Grace! And then, trust that God is going to use, not just that experience, but the totality of your life to work all things for the good. This moment might be a struggle, but it will pass. Trust that this is one chapter of God’s book about you for his glory.

  1. For good: even when it seems it is so bad. There will be tears. There will be pain. There will be sorrow. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Whatever you’re going through, hang in there. And then we come to these last words…

  1. For those: Who are the ‘those’ in this passage? Well, it is a topic I’d like to visit next week. But in short, it is those who love the Lord. Those whose lives have been committed to him.
  • If you’ve never done that, I want to give you the chance.
  • Maybe you just need prayer.
  • Maybe you feel the Lord’s calling on your life.
  • Maybe you’re interested in joining the church. We have a new member’s class scheduled for the 17th of May.

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Filed under Discipleship, Evangelism, Funeral, Purpose, Romans, Romans 8, Salvation, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 7:31 – 8:26

Title: Busyness or Business

Text: Mark 7.31-8.26

Introduction: The Back Story of the NYTimes Daily Briefing on Friday reads:

Fifteen major league baseball games will be contested tonight, in 15 North American cities. With just over a month of the regular season remaining, about a dozen teams are jockeying for position in the standings. Fans can follow every move from anywhere there’s a cell phone signal, with stats, push notifications and high-definition broadcasts.

Things were different 77 years ago today, when M.L.B. televised its first game. Two games, actually, with the Brooklyn Dodgers hosting the Cincinnati Reds in a split doubleheader. (The Reds won, then the Dodgers.) The first broadcast of a collegiate baseball game had happened already, in May, as Columbia played Princeton. All the signals were sent from the tower at the Empire State Building. As the Times dispatch that day in 1939 reported — under the subhead “Major League Baseball Makes Its Radio Camera Debut”: “Over the video-sound channels of the station, television-set owners as far away as fifty miles viewed the action and heard the roar of the crowd, according to the National Broadcasting Company.”

HD this was not: “At times it was possible to catch a fleeting glimpse of the ball,” the article noted, “as it sped from the pitcher’s hand toward home plate.”

I can almost picture in my mind the static-like, black and white, picture. If the shot was from too far away, you’d not be able to make out the ball coming from the pitcher hand. Nor, would you be able to follow a hit ball with any real accuracy.

When watching a baseball game, you like the cameras to switch around. You like to be pulled out and back so you can see that the outfield is shifted in one direction or the other. Or maybe the team is floating the shortstop so far back he looks like the roaming position in a softball game. At other times you like to zoom in real close so you can see the signals of the catcher or see the intensity of the batter’s face. That’s the thing about being there that is so cool. You do all of that naturally with your own eyes. Some of you probably remember when TV was in black and white and you couldn’t get a good picture – you couldn’t make out the ball sometimes, especially when the picture was from far away. This story resonates with me because we got our first color TV when I was in the 4th grade. Then, in about a year’s time, we moved to Europe where AFRTS was still only available in B&W. I was in the 8th grade when Color Television became a regular thing in our home.

Well, sometimes you want a wide-angle look. Sometimes you want to see the entire field of play. So much of my preaching is done in digging deep into a text. I like zooming in close and placing my focus upon specific items. I like to take a few verses and zoom in. That’s more my style. I’ve explained in this series, that I’ve wanted to take the Gospel of Mark at a much faster pace. My desire is to cover more ground. Sure, I’ll slow down and take one small section at certain times. I did that last week. However, this morning I’d like to pull away once again – to fly over Mark at about 15,000 ft to gain a better understanding of what he’s been doing. I think when we’re done this morning, it’ll make more sense to you.

With that being said, here’s what I intend to do this morning:

  1. An Outline of the Texte., I’m going to hit all 5 stories here.
  2. A Comparison of the Texts, we’re going to see similarities in other passages.
  3. The Theology in Application sure, there are teaching points in each small story, but I’m looking for the melodic line of the overall passage. That is what we’ll find in the Theology in Application section.

Transition: let’s begin with this 1st task…

I.      An Outline of the Text

exp.:    This particular pericope is bookended by two miracles of healing (7.31-37; 8.22-26). These miracles are similar in their presentation. Take your Bible and put these passages side by side. Maybe your friend, your spouse, your sibling, whoever is sitting next to you will take one passage, say 7.31-37 and you take 8.22-26; Now that we’re set up, let’s compare the two passages. 6 Similarities:

  1. ‘They brought’ someone needing a miracle. (7.32; 8.22)
  2. ‘They begged’ Jesus to intercede. (7.32; 8.22)
  3. Jesus dealt with these needs privately. (7.33; 8.23)
  4. Both miracles were accomplished in 2 stages. (7.33-34; 8.23-25)
  5. Both miracles display the use of saliva (7.33; 8.23)
  6. Messianic Secret. Jesus encouraged them to remain silent. (7.36; 8.26)

The middle sections continue with the theme: Jesus, the Bread of Life.

  1. Jesus feeds 4,000 with bread and fish. (8.1-10) This miracle is set in two stages as well. rd v 5-6; but it doesn’t end there – look at v 7- 8a; So, we have the bread and then, the fish.

Now, before I leave this section, some people have asked if this is the same story as chapter 6 or is it a different story altogether. It’s different. This is something you could talk about in your Bible study groups. What differences are there between these two? I say there are so many differences, that they must be two separate accounts. Next,

  1. The Pharisees fail to see and understand that Jesus is who he says he is, the Bread of life. (8.11-13)

exp.: in 8.11-13 the Pharisees demand a sign;

  1. Don’t mistake this for a miracle. To the Jews, Signs are indeed miraculous, but miracles are necessarily signs. They’ve seen miracles. My guess is they’ve seen lots of ‘miracles’. The key for us is to see that the sign they demand of Jesus is from “Heaven” (11). They want him to do something with God stamped on it. You could read this to mean a sign up in the heavens – (you know, make it rain, make the sun stop shinning, or maybe something to do with the stars). But, I think it means a sign that demonstrates God’s approval.
  2. To be sure, the word sign never means miracle in Mark (w/ the exception of the last chapter).
  3. Test is the same word as Mark 1.13; tempted; They’re doing the same thing Satan did – and they’ll fail, like Satan did. Here, I think, is Mark’s teaching – the motive of these guys is no different than that of their father, the Devil.

When we consider what to do and what to be a part of, there are two questions we ask ourselves:

  1. What is the family business? Developing passionate followers of Christ.
  2. How’s business? Pretty good, for the most part. A struggle in others.

Each ministry can ask itself this Question and gauge its production by it. It is what we did Thursday night.

  1. What is the family business? Developing passionate followers of Christ. Some of you might be thinking: But we’re a church, not a business. Let me ask you, is this not our Father’s business? When Mary and Joseph sought their little son who had gone missing, they found him in the Temple. What did he tell them? “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” That purpose drove him. So, let me ask you again: What is the family business?
  2. How’s is this request going to help our business? 2 x’s in our elders mtg we moved quickly through the requests because the answer was obvious: it doesn’t help us reach our goal. It isn’t necessarily good for business. So, the answer was obvious. No.

app.: Jesus is dialed in on his work. Their request is busyness to keep him from his Father’s business. We must respond in like fashion: is this busyness or business? We’ve got to be about our Father’s business.

  1. The disciples fail to see and understand that Jesus is the Bread of Life. (8.14-21) This is important! Don’t miss this. We’ve actually seen this before? Rd v 16-21; Don’t you get this guys? Uh, no, sir.

t.s.: Now, I’d like to move from this section, and do a comparison. You know how I said, we’ve actually seen this before? It was just after Jesus had fed the 5,000 up in 6.50-52; rd 6.50-52; That got me to thinking, we’ve seen others similar stories and activities already in Mark.

 

II.     A Comparison of The Previous Text

exp.:

 

6:31–44

 

Feeding the multitude

 

8:1–9

 

6:45–56

 

Crossing the sea and landing

 

8:10

 

6.50-52 Their hearts are hardened and they do not understand. 8.18-21
7:1–23

 

Conflict with the Pharisees

 

8:11–13

 

7:24–30

 

A negative discussion about bread

 

8:14–21

 

7:31–36

 

Healing (Blind & Deaf)

 

8:22–26

 

app.: Through these two sections, there are similarities. Is this a coincidence? Well, Leroy Jethro Gibbs says there are no coincidences. And, that’s good advice for us as we look at these texts. Mark is up to something. I think he’s wanting to show us a bigger picture. I think he wants us to see the miracles in two stages. Jesus is doing those miracles in stages on purpose. I think he wants us also to identify that the disciples are dull both times Jesus talks about the bread. And, that there is a point he is making: Jesus is the Bread of Life.

Transition: So, we’ve looked at the Outline, We’ve noted the comparison of this big outline to the previous section. Now, let’s look at the Theology being taught.

III.    Theology in Application

exp.: So, we’ve answered the question that Mark is up to something – something larger than just story telling. But just what is he up to? 1st, Mark is wanting us to see:

  1. In Christ we are seeing the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Prophecy in 35.5-6; rd Isaiah 35.1-6; there is a dual fulfillment here – the physical and the spiritual. And we see that is exactly what Mark is doing for us in this passage. The blind do see (i.e.: physically) and the deaf do hear (i.e.: physically); however, there is the spiritual side to this as well. The Pharisees are blinded and they go on in their blindness, but the disciples, though they are not perceiving, they will! Though they are not hearing – they will! And, though it is just a little at first, it will grow, it will progress and they will see and hear.

Transition: Which brings me to the 2nd Theological Application…

  1. Seeing is Believing; Perceiving is believing; Rd 8.17-18; the answer here is, ‘no, we don’t.’ So, how do we know they will? I think this is given to us in the physical miracles. Note: the deaf, the blind, and the bread – these miracles appear to take place in two stages.

a.   Deaf: 1. He put his fingers in his ears, spit and touched his tongue. 2. He                                      looked up into heaven, sighed and spoke.

b.   Bread: 1. He distributed the bread. 2. And then, separately, he distributed the                            fish.

c.   Blind: 1. spit on his eyes, and laid his hands on him. But people looked like                                trees moving around. 2. So, He laid his hands on his eyes again.

Transition: Which is a great segue for our 3rd Theological Application…

  1. Faith is a progressive experience… think: process and progress. Do you see our miracles in the physical realm? Here is another question we must ask ourselves: Does the God of this Universe, the One who spoke our world into order and existence, Is He Insufficient in any way that he would need to conduct his miracles in stages? It isn’t like Jesus said: “Oh, you still can’t see? Well, let me do a little more… there!” In modern medicine, yes, you take your antibiotics for 10 days to three weeks. It’s a slow process.

Not so with God. We’ve seen him perform miracles without even lifting a hand. He just thinks it and it is done. Remember the Syrophoenician woman? Rd 7.29: 29 And he said to her, “For this statement you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.” Perfect tense – a state of being because of a past action! She’s already free from the Demon. The answer to this question is “no”. And yet, Jesus repeats this 2-stage process again. Listen to Mark Strauss, professor of NT at Bethel Seminary in San Diego. In his commentary on Mark he writes: The two stages of these miracles represent the disciples’ gradual progression toward spiritual understanding. Faith is a progressive experience. The gradual healing of the blind man illustrates the gradual progress of faith in the life of the disciples. Though they have begun their journey by choosing to follow Jesus, they have much to learn. There is a long and challenging road ahead, and it will be full of fits and starts.

  1. These sections of Scripture are in two different geographical locations and to two different groups of people. 1. The Jews. and 2. The Gentiles. I think Mark is reminding us that the Gospel is universal in nature. Yes, it is focused up on the Jews in the beginning, but shortly, the gospel will spread to the World.

Conclusion:

            So, where do we go from here. Well, 1st, if you’ve never surrendered your life to Christ – let today be that day. Is it possible your heart has been hardened to Christ? You’ve demanded signs or your way in some venture, but Christ was focused on his mission. Have you ever thought, my friend, that Christ is more concerned for your soul, than he is for your flesh. What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and yet loses his soul? Don’t let this moment pass you buy if you’ve never committed your life to Christ.

2ndly, Maybe today you’re just filled with questions and you want to talk with someone. I’m going to ask some men to come down to the front and just sit on the front row. You can come and pray at the altar, or you can ask one of them to pray with you. You can ask them questions.

3rdly, Maybe there is a decision you’ve made and you need to make it public. You’ve accepted Christ recently or maybe God has called you into the ministry. I’m not sure what your needs are, but I know that God does. So, you respond as He leads you this morning.

 

 

 

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Filed under Mark, Mission Statement, Purpose, Sermon, Sermons, Uncategorized

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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Mark 4.35-41

Title: Following Jesus

Text: Mark 4.35-41

Introduction: Thank you, Tony for reading Scripture for us this morning.

Our story begins with Jesus finishing his teaching through parables. As the evening moves in, Jesus encourages the disciples to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. We were told by Mark, up in 3.23, that Jesus began teaching them in parables. And, in Ch. 4 we learn that it is mainly because there are those who have rejected Christ. All of the signs were there, but these people hardened their hearts toward Christ and rejected what they had seen with their own eyes. On this particular day, as outlined in chapter four, Jesus teaches in parables from a boat.

I don’t suppose by any stretch of the imagination that these three parables in chapter four compose all of his parables and all of his teaching that day.

In his teaching, however, it is apparent that his teaching is about the Kingdom of God – who will receive and reject it; how it grows as God determines; and, how it will grow way beyond their wildest imaginations.

When we get to chapter 5, we’ll see Jesus performing miracles to demonstrate that he is Lord over everything. He has authority over everything. He is the promised Messiah. He alone has authority over nature, the physical and spiritual realms.

Here is my fear: I worry that something so familiar might cause us to miss something beautiful – that you might get drowsy and nod off while moving through familiar waters. You’ve heard this story before – maybe have taught it – maybe have preached it. Today’s message can sound a bit devotionalistic. That’s a word I made up – meaning: Instead of good, sound, biblical preaching, you might feel a bit like you got your devotional thought for the day. That isn’t my goal and I’ll do my best not to make it seem that way.

Story: This past Thursday night to Friday morning, I woke up in the middle of the night and began to contemplate God. I was praying and just trying to wrap my mind around how big God is. I tried defining or understanding the trinity. That alone took me to depths of humility that are hard to explain. I think this can be a good exercise, but mostly leads to futility and frustration. The truth is that no mind can conceive the height and depth and breadth and width of God’s existence. He cannot be explained, contained or imagined.

Rev 4.2 simply describes this scene: At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. V4 describes the 24 elders and v 5 comes back to the throne: From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

Even with this description, my mind cannot begin to imagine God. Thankfully, God in his infinite mercy has given us Jesus so that we can begin somewhere – a starting point to understanding who God is. This in itself is no easy task. But, it is for us a starting point.

Who is this man Jesus? Who is this man who summons us, and calls us and commissions us to go with his message? The disciples think they know. At this point, they’re considered insiders, as opposed to the outsiders – the Scribes, the crowds following just looking to be fed or clothed. The disciples feel special. They’re hand picked. But do they really know what it means to follow after Jesus?

In today’s passage we’ll find six principles to following Christ as demonstrated through their actions. The 1st is found in v 35-36; rd v 35-36;

Principle #1:

I.     Following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too (35-36).

exp.: His command is a subj; translated as a command; it softens the command (i.e.: why don’t you take the garbage out to the trash can as you’re going; Let’s pick up your toys before we put the movie on. Both you and the child know that there is a command in the form of an encouragement. Rd v 36; just as he was (ESV) Gk – Lit.: as he was in the boat. HCSB – since he was already in the boat.

app.: so following Jesus means you obey. He says go and you go.

t.s.: following Jesus means you can’t go with Jesus and stay with the crowd, too. 2nd Principle:

II.    Following Jesus doesn’t mean you will never have any problems (37)

exp.: there is a myth that we find way too many preachers pushing in their preaching which says give Jesus your life and your troubles will fly away. They say something like: God has a wonderful plan for your life; I don’t see that in the Scriptures. Think of Christ who died on the Cross, after being tortured. Think of Peter, James, Paul. Did God have a ‘wonderful plan’ for them? The truth is, when you choose to follow Jesus, that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems. Notice 1st: Jesus told them to go. Being God, do you think He knew there would come a storm? Yes! Now, Going, in obedience, they experienced this storm.

Catch this: it isn’t because they disobeyed Christ that storms arose. That is what some preachers preach: you’re in this mess because of sin. No, They were doing as they were told!

Trials and tribulation comes our way and people ask what sin caused this struggle. The answer: Adam’s sin! It has affected us all. And it affects the world!

  • Windstorm
  • Big waves crashing into the boat – those are big waves!
  • The boat is filling up with water! What happens when a boat fills with water?

These guys got problems. Here is what gets me: these guys are experts when it comes to handling boats. This ain’t their 1st rodeo. But they’re not responding like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump! They’re scared! And I think I know why they’re scared. Ready for this? They’re scared because they’re not in control. They were just fine when they were in control. But now, they’re not in control anymore. Things have gotten out of hand.

app.: Listen, Following Jesus doesn’t mean you won’t have any problems anymore.

t.s.: So what will they do? That leads us to our next principle, #3:

III.   Following Jesus means you’re following someone who understands your need (38)

exp.: I love how Peter has recalled this story so vividly. He remembers small details. He remembers the cushion. He remembers Jesus was sleeping while they were at death’s door. But I get this. And, here’s what I want you to take from this verse: Jesus was 100% fully human – minus the sin part! He was asleep! In the stern; He’s human. You probably don’t realize the physical stamina it takes to preach, but it does. Exhausted from the day’s activity of preaching and teaching, his body needed rest. So, he curls up on a cushion.

app.: When you’re life seems out of control – or at least you come to the conclusion that you’re really not in control of things – there is one who can intercede for you because he understands your need. He understands your need for rest. He understands hunger, thirst. Hebrews 4 teaches us…

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

t.s.: There is no one better equipped to handle your problems, than Jesus. Principle #4:

IV.    Following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God (38)

exp.: I changed this and made it more palatable from: Following Jesus doesn’t mean you’re immune to asking stupid questions. I liked that one better, but I know it isn’t politically correct anymore to say the word stupid. I don’t know why that word gets canned and so many other words of dubious distinction get a pass. But, stupid is a word – it means lacking intelligence or common sense. It is the common sense part I’d like to focus on. Seriously, I’ve asked this question of Jesus: Don’t you care! And I already know the answer. Have you ever asked a question you know the answer to?

Does Jesus care? Yes!

When you’re in a pickle, does Jesus care? When someone in your family gets sick or hurt, does Jesus care? Does Jesus care who wins the Stanley Cup or the NBA finals? No! But he does care about your life. You know that. The Disciples know that…

app.: But, following Jesus doesn’t make you immune to questioning God.

t.s.: Principle #5:

V.      Following Jesus means watching him work in amazing, inexplicable ways. (39)

exp.: rd v 39; rebuked the wind! Have you ever rebuked the wind? Possibly. What good did it do? He spoke to the sea! Peace; like shalom? No. This word is more like Be Quiet. Jesus wouldn’t say shut up, so I’m sure it was Be Quiet. Silence! Continue reading: And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

ill.: Paul White (Tall Paul) used to invite me down each year to be a teacher at his Disciple Now weekends. Paul always hosted the best DNows. One year, he brought us all down to Corpus Christi a day early. As a part of the training, he took us out on a sailboat in the Corpus Christi Bay. It was a big sailboat. The problem was – there was no wind. So we just sat there. We had a motor and so we cruised around for a little while, but it wasn’t really that fun.

app.: the disciple had no motor. With no wind now, Christ having answered their prayers, they’ve got some major rowing to do!

t.s.: Finally, principle #6:

VI.    Following Jesus through the storms of life will give us a proper perspective of who Christ really is (40-41).

exp.: I worry about this point. I think too often people use this story as a metaphor for life: Jesus will speak peace to the storms of your life. He can. He might. But he might not. But that isn’t the point. The point is that Christ can speak peace to your storm. The point is that He is Lord and he has authority. And even more, the point here, the emphasis of Mark’s story is to show you that Christ is Lord over Nature. Remember, Christ is Lord over

  • The natural
  • The spiritual
  • The physical
    • And even death (which seems to me to be a combo of all three.)

Now, these verses identify that the disciples fear the wrong things. In v 40-41 we find one word that appears twice. Fear. However, that is not the case in the Gk text. The first word translated afraid, appears three times in the NT and it means cowardly, timid. Read it this way: Why are you such cowards? Let me ask you: Does that change your understanding of what Christ is saying to these disciples? Why are you such cowards!

ill.: Do you ever feel that way? Problems arise, struggles occur and you find yourself acting like a sissy? God, don’t you care? I have to say that I’m amazed at how many of us respond to life’s struggles with fear and in trepidation. I watch people fall apart over some of the simplest of life’s problems.

I think this goes back to the problems the disciples are having: their problem is they’re no longer in control. Maybe that is the root of your problem: you’re no longer in control – and you want to be. And it causes you to act like a coward who has no faith.

What are we really saying to God as he works in our lives and we respond like this? We’re saying that we don’t really trust him. Not really…

app.: Here, in our text, we see the disciples learn what to fear and what not to fear… or maybe I should say who to fear – and what not to fear; rd v 41a; rd 41b;

t.s.: Who is this? This is the Lord. This is God.

Conclusion:

  1. This is the very One who created the wind and the sea!
  2. This is the One who sends us into storms and knows what he is doing.
  3. This is the One who has power to stop those storms with just a rebuke and a word.
  4. This is the One who knows our needs and cares.
  5. This is the One who is patient with us, in spite of our sinful condition and desire to be in control.
  6. This is God in the flesh.

Invitation: if you don’t know this God – Jesus, I offer you the chance to meet him today. Come and find forgiveness of sins and purpose for your life.

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Mark 2.1-3.6

Title: Q & A

Text: Mark 2.13-3.6

Introduction: For our guests, let me give a general overview of how we got to our text for today.             Chapter one begins with a declaration of who Christ is and then presents the beginning of his ministry. His popularity explodes as he preaches, teaches and heals those who come to see him and eventually forces him to the desolate places because he can no longer enter into the towns and villages. And yet, the people still come out to him.

In Chapter two we have five conspiracy/conflict stories. We’ll look at them all today. This section reaches its climax with the religious leaders plotting Christ’s death in 3.6.

Chapter three is a set of stories that contrast Jesus’ new family of believers against his biological family that has rejected his claims. Jesus will pick his 12 disciples and his band of followers grows. His brothers, sisters and mom will come to get him – thinking he’s mad. This section will show them in direct contrast to his new family.

So, let’s look at our passage today (2.1-3.6) In our text today, we find five conspiracy/conflict stories. Here’s how they’re broken up:

The 1st conflict is in v 1-12 where the religious leaders can’t believe their ears when Jesus declares a man’s sins are forgiven him. Who does this man think he is? God? We looked closely at that passage last week and will only refer to it in passing.

The 2nd conflict begins with the calling of Levi (Matthew), a Tax Collector. His calling inclines him to celebrate and invite all of his friends, both old and new (13-17). The religious leaders are a bit disturbed that this religious man, Jesus, eats and drinks with such sinners – outcasts. Their questioning is loud enough that Jesus hears.

In the next section (18-22) the religious leaders question Jesus as to why his disciples don’t fast, while their disciples and the disciples of John fast. He then gives them three analogies to identify his presence as the fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. What he’s communicating is that his coming isn’t just something that will reform Judaism, but will radically transform it into something new. In other words, Jesus did come to put a patch on Judaism, but to bring something new!

The last two sections (23-28; 1-6) deal with the Sabbath. I want to mention them, because they are a large part of this whole section, but I plan to cover them next week. In these two stories, Jesus teaches that the Sabbath was created for the man and not vise versa. The way Jesus confronts their hard hearts only hardens them more and more and then moves them to plot for his destruction. For me, what is most interesting to note is that their actions answer his question (3.4): Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” He chooses to save a life; however, the Religious leaders will choose to take a life – and it is here that they begin to plot and plan for his destruction.

Pause: I understand why preachers limit their texts to small groups of Scripture. There is way too much information to cover in such a large section. But, that is what I’ve felt led to do. The question is: What is Mark doing in this passage. Are these stories meant to stand alone, or is he telling a larger story in them. Well, obviously, I think there is a larger story within the groups. I’d love to just focus on 2.13-17 for 30 minutes. There are three great points:

  1. The Calling of Matthew (13-14)
  2. The Celebration of this Calling (15)
  3. The Confrontation with the Religious leaders (16-17)

Added to this, each of these stories stands alone with wonderful application. But let’s pull away from them and take a bird’s eye view. Each is a destination on a map, like a town or a city. Instead of searching each city out, I’d like to look at the longer journey. So, what is Mark doing? What is he trying to communicate?

To answer this question, I’d like to highlight a couple of actions on the part of Mark. I’ve divided each section into two main parts:

  1. Questions
  2. Answers

Let’s begin w/ the questions.

I.   The Questions (7, 16, 18, 24, 3.2,4)

exp.: In each smaller story, the religious leaders are found questioning Jesus and his practices:

  1. 7“Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
  2. 16 “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
  3. 18“Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
  4. 24“Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.
  5. 2they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.

Do you notice that the three internal stories all deal with eating? Mark Horne, in his book, The Victory According to Mark, makes note that eating socially was an important part of Israel’s history. The people practice it because it is a practice of God. Three times in the Law, Israel was commanded to celebrate with eating and drinking. We saw that a few weeks ago in Nehemiah when the people began to mourn sorrowfully for their actions. They saw their failure to keep God’s Law; however, the leadership noted the date according to the Jewish calendar and declared a celebration because God had commanded it. And celebrate they did!

Have you thought about this eating and drinking with sinners? For the most part, the church has pulled away from the world and we have isolated ourselves. We’ve created cliques and clubs to keep ourselves from having to ‘fellowship’ with tax collectors and sinners. We’ve really missed our calling in this.

Paul confronted Peter in front of all their friends because he was behaving like Jesus – eating and drinking with Gentiles. Then, when he around his Jewish friends, he stopped and withdrew from the Gentiles. Paul basically called him a hypocrite and rebuked him publically.

Later in Paul’s ministry, he sees that the church in Corinth was getting this all mixed up, too. Paul also encourages the church at Corinth to stop eating and drinking with Christians who were living in sin, but not to stop fellowshipping with those who were lost. In 1 Cor 5.9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

app.: Somehow, we’ve got it backward through the years. The church is supposed to keep itself pure. We have an identity to protect before the world. We’re to be distinct. But in doing so, we’ve pulled away from the world – the very place we’re supposed to be salt and light. Here’s what I mean:

  • We’ll have a women’s fellowship and invite a lost woman to come…
  • We’ll have a men’s fellowship – a beast feast – a wild game cook-off and invite lost men
  • We’ll have youth fellowships – bring in a big name, cool, youthful looking guest speaker; we’ll bring in a band that appeals to the younger generation and then ask the teens to invite a lost youth with the hopes that they’ll hear the gospel and get saved.

These have become the practice. And, they can be effective. Yes, people do get saved in such programs and activities. But, nowhere do we see Jesus pulling the disciples together and saying: Hey guys, we’re going to have a large fellowship. We’re going to go fishing and catch a bunch of fish and have a big fish fry. You invite a lost friend to come along and I’ll share the gospel with them after we’ve eaten.

That story isn’t in the Bible. And if you hear Paul, he says don’t fellowship with the hypocrite – the person who claims the name of Christ and lives like hell. But instead, hang out with lost people. Don’t judge them. Win them over by your lifestyle. You be salt and light in their worlds.

Christ and his followers are eating and drinking with the lost so much, it sparks another question from the religious leaders: Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast? And I love this question at the end of the chapter: why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath? That is by plucking heads of grain and eating them as they walk through the field.

Breaking the Sabbath is bad. No doubt. So, we have to look closer to see if the accusation is correct. Actually, it isn’t. Jesus is leading his men to do exactly what was commanded in Deut. 23.24-25: 24 “If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag. 25 If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

Where do these guys then get this ‘law’? Are you ready for this? They made it up. The Law states that no one is to reap a harvest on the Sabbath. The Pharisees are the ones who defined what reaping was. From what I can gather, the Mishnah has outlined 39 separate violations for reaping – and this is the infraction, to which they’re referring. They started with a desire to keep the Sabbath day holy, but somehow turned it into a long list of do’s and don’ts. And then, they become the judges for these violations.

Jesus responds to these guys by reminding them of a story. I’ll cover this story next week, but for now, let me just clarify that what Christ tells them in effect is that their laws have become…in the words of William Lane…unduly stringent and exceed the intention of the Law.

That sounds like us as Baptists. We have God’s Word, but we add so much to it that we become ineffective at reaching the lost. Instead of going out to them, we invite them here – to our purified gatherings so that they might get saved.

Here’s my fear: I wonder if as Baptists, we’re more like the Pharisees than we are Jesus and the disciples. Have we put up such strict guidelines and rules that we’re no longer effective in our witness? The only effective way is to invite people here with the hopes of them getting saved, when all along Jesus is screaming for us to go out into the fields. He is calling us to go eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. You know who these people are. They’re our neighbors and co-workers. They’re our family members who feel more judged than loved.

In our story this morning, these guys – the Pharisees, are asking questions because Jesus isn’t following their guidelines.

App.: Are the rules you’ve structured for your life from God’s Word or are they traditions that have simply been passed along?

It’s time we acted more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees.

t.s.: Note 1st the questions. Note 2nd, the answers Jesus gives.

II.    The Responses (10, 17, 20, 25, 28)

exp.: It is also interesting to note the different titles Jesus ascribes to himself throughout chapter two:

  1. Son of Man (10),
  2. Physician (17),
  3. Bridegroom (20),
  4. David (25), and
  5. Son of Man again (28).

exp.: it would be fun to isolate each of these and do in depth research as to where these terms come from – I’d like to look at this a little deeper on Wednesday night, during our WEBS. For now, let me give a summation: Jesus is saying to these leaders, in response to their questions, that he has the authority to do these things because he is the Promised One of God.

We spoke of references to the Son of Man from Daniel last week. Jesus is clearly communicating his understanding that he is the promised Messiah of God. And, as the Messiah, he has been given the authority to heal and forgive. I’m not sure they’re getting this, but according to 3.6, I think they just might be. And for the way his family will respond in chapter 3 – they think he is out of his mind – folks must be coming to an understanding that Jesus is making this outrageous claim.

And, added to this outrageousness, for Jesus to call the unrighteous and not the righteous is offensive to the religious leaders. They would have a big problem that he isn’t submitting to them and that the people, their people are chasing after him.

Kim Riddlebarger: Jesus is using the term “righteous” in a rhetorical sense–those who think themselves to be righteous and therefore unable to consider the fact that they needed to humble themselves before God, acknowledge that they are sinners, and then obey Jesus’ summons to repent and believe. In other words, Jesus is saying that he did not come to call the “self-righteous,” or those who think of themselves as better off than the sinners.

This is precisely the point Jesus makes in Luke 18:9-14. He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

The Pharisees and scribes were mad that Jesus didn’t submit to them and they were jealous of the crowds that followed Jesus.

We’ve already discussed how eating and drinking and celebrating with sinners was what God did. It was characteristic of him in the OT. The very fact that Israel’s Messiah would sit and eat with sinners points us back to the OT and ahead to the end of the age where the marriage supper of the lamb takes place (Revelation 19:9). In a very real sense, when we take communion, we do so at his table.

His reference to being the Bridegroom is even more blatant. The presence of the Messiah is to be celebrated. When Jesus talks about patches and wineskins, he is saying that he has not come to simply patch up Judaism, but has come to usher in the Kingdom of God – a new creation.

These last two stories deal with the Sabbath. Again, I want to focus on these two passages next week as I talk about the Sabbath and the Sabbath rest. For now, let me just clarify that Jesus is declaring his authority over the Sabbath and his great displeasure with the religious leaders for making the Sabbath something God never intended it to be.

Conclusion: This past week another mega-church pastor stepped aside to deal with his sin. And I’ve been reminded that we all are sinful and prone to chase after fruitless things. I’m reminded that leaders aren’t perfect. And our stories this morning remind us that failure isn’t just for those whose morals are loose, but for anyone who breathes and has a heartbeat – even the most legalistic. Failure attacks the liberal and the fundamentalist alike.

So we must ask ourselves:

  1. Are we living by man-made traditions or Biblical mandates?
    1. Holding on to traditions over mandates is sinful and makes one no different than the Pharisee.
    2. The scary thing about traditions, is that they are so valued, one confuses it w/ commands.
  2. Are we practicing our evangelism the way Christ did and commanded of us? Or, are we adopting the latest new way to evangelize?
    1. Are we unattractive to the world because they see us as a bunch of hypocrites? We expect them to come here to hear? There must be a way to love the people of the world and not condone sinful behavior. For me, in some instances – it is very clear what I am comfortable with and what bothers me. But, in others, I’m not sure.

If Jesus came to Tyler, would he hang out with us? Or, would we be critical of him because he’s hanging out with people – people we would never be seen with? Would we be mad at him because he didn’t come to our church?

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