Category Archives: Isaiah

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)


  • 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?


  • 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


Title: Joseph

Text: Matthew 1.18-25


Every year I get the same questions about sermon preparation for Christmas: What are you going to say different? About Mary, About Joseph, About the Magi, About his birth? That’s a good question! What’s new about the birth of Jesus? Many of you have heard the Christmas Story preach or talked about more times than you can count! When preaching on Joseph, we come to an especially difficult place. We don’t have any quotes from him. There is so much more about Mary. Let me encourage you to look for something different – maybe, for something you’ve never noticed before – or something you’ve never thought of before.

For me, I’d like to personalize it – make it more of my own. So, let’s review the story of Joseph. Then later, you can tell me if you learned something new. Truth is, if we look, every time we read the Scriptures, God reveals something special that we’ve not seen before. He teaches us something new or brings things into perspective from a different vantage point.

Have you ever noticed it for yourself? You read something you’ve read it before, but this time, you learn something new?

Let’s not assume we know the story, but rather, let’s go to the Bible. I say that because much of what we know of the Christmas story is from songs and plays and movies. Some of the stuff is fluff!

Transition: This morning I’m simply going to share with you of how Joseph submitted to the will of God – once he knew it. I’m going to share with you of the struggle he endured – and try to help you see just how great that struggle was. But first, I’d like to just begin with his situation. Rd v 18; the 1st tidbit of information we’re given is Joseph’s situation:

I.     His Situation (18)

exp.: he is betrothed to a young lady named Mary; if this is a typical betrothal, she’s a young girl…a teenager say 15 years old or even younger; we all know women who were married by that age or even younger; to be betrothed means that one has pledged their ‘troth’ to another; their truth or fidelity; You know of the arranged marriages in that culture; these exist today;

ill.: back at Calvary, we adopted some IMB missionaries who serve in a country where there are arranged marriages. There were multiple instances where these young ladies were given to none believers. You and I have to take ourselves out of our current mindset to try and understand just how arranged marriages work. I think this is a very real problem for young women in middle eastern and eastern countries where young believers are given in arranged marriages to non-believers.

For Joseph, His situation is fine, except for one small detail we find in verse 18; before they came together she was found to be with child…; When you and I read about his betrothal, we understand him to be engaged to Mary. But for Joseph, it’s more that!

Jewish Weddings in that day were quite different than the weddings you’ve probably experienced. The Jewish Wedding contained two main parts:

  • The Kiddushin – betrothal (pledge); this is the period of time in which v18 is referring. It might be something similar to an engagement period, but much more intense. We would see this couple as married. They have a relationship in which they are married in every way except, in the evening, she goes home to mom and dad. They’ve not consummated the relations – and won’t until after the next part…
  • The Huppa (Wedding ceremony – one year later); during the Kiddushin, the bride would prove her fidelity. You’ve probably seen a Jewish wedding on TV or in a movie. Maybe you’ve even been invited to one and experienced it. It is a huge event.

Ill.: remember the wedding at Cana (John 2), when Jesus turned the water into wine? A big event… So big, they ran out of wine…

app.: So, it is during this one-year period (The Kiddushin) that it is discovered Mary is pregnant. And Joseph doesn’t know the last part of that verse yet…from the Holy Spirit.

Listen, there are some secrets you can hide, but being pregnant is practically impossible to hide.

t.s.: So, 1st we see his Situation: He has pledged his love and fidelity to Mary (and her to him), but it appears she has broken faith, but Matthew then shows us Joseph’s struggle

II.    His Struggle (19-23)

exp.: rd v 19; Man, you really begin to see this man’s character when his struggle reveals his character. I think Character has come to describe a person, either good or bad. But I think the original meaning was only good and virtuous. Someone either had Character or he/she didn’t. Noah Webster wrote in 1828: The peculiar qualities, impressed by nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which he is supposed to possess, constitute his estimated character, or reputation. Hence we say, a character is not formed, when the person has not acquired stable and distinctive qualities. So, you either have character or you don’t. Let’s look at Scripture says about his character:

  • He is righteous or just; I love this word δίκαιος; this word describes a person’s actions; to say that someone is righteous or just doesn’t mean they’re good in their heart, but that they’re good in their actions. This is a word that describes God. He is righteous.

Ps. 36.6:        Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep;

Ps. 65.5:        By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, man and beast you save, O Lord.

Ps. 74.19: 19     Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you?

Being righteous means acting rightly. Joseph wants to do the ‘right’ thing. He is going to act in a godly manner about this horrible, embarrassing situation he’s found himself in.

Now, I’m pretty sure you know by now his options, but let’s just review them;

  1. The Law said such a crime deserved death; Deu. 22.21 said any woman who played the prostitute should be put to death by stoning; But did you know that the penalty was higher for the daughter of a priest? Remember last week we learned that Mary is of the priestly lineage of Jesus. Lev 21.9; any daughter of a priest getting pregnant out of wedlock should be burned to death; Now to be fair, the laws in that day had been changed and altered and explained away that it wasn’t really that common to happen. You remember John 8…the woman caught in adultery?
  2. So, another option available to him would have been to charge her publicly and put her on trial for her actions. Though death might not have been the judgment, she definitely would have been publicly disgraced. She probably would have been beaten in the public square. Her family would have been humiliated. But Joseph doesn’t appear to even consider these options; death and a trial are really out of the question for him; If he wanted to though, he could have really broken her spirit. Here’s his answer: rd 1.19b – and unwilling to put her to shame.

ill.: Pause for a moment and think about your young self: how would you have handled such an embarrassment? You feel the pain of betrayal. You feel the embarrassment of her infidelity. How would you have responded? How have you treated others in the past for the way they mistreated you? Or, the way you felt you were mistreated?

This little comment in v 19 says so much about his character, his kindness – even toward this one who has hurt him! Rd 19c – resolved to divorce her quietly… He didn’t want to publicly humiliate her, so, he has still another option: (the verse continues)

3.  He resolved to divorce her quietly; yes, divorce…Now, you might be thinking, “Hey, wait a minute, they weren’t married! They were only engaged. Remember, you can’t think of this in 21st Century, Western World terms. In a Jewish marriage, they enjoyed all the rights of a married couple, except consummation and living together; There’s something else to consider as well: The father had received a dowry for her; (they lose a worker, the other family gains one); So, if the marriage was to be dissolved, there needed to be a returning of the dowry; But that aside, consider this word ‘quietly’. Whatever the arrangements were before, Joseph has decided to do this all quietly. Gk.: λάθρᾳ (lathra); lathroscopic; privately or quietly; Acts 16.37; But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? Can I just tell you that this communicates to us so much about this man? Why would Joseph now resolve to treat her so kindly? Answer: Because of the 1st statement…he is just, righteous; just like Jesus (as we say in John 8);

I’d like to take a moment and go to Isaiah, who gives a repeated picture of Christ in the Suffering Servant; one such picture (ch. 42.1ff), reads…;

The Lord’s Chosen Servant

42 Behold my servant, whom I uphold,

my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

I have put my Spirit upon him;

he will bring forth justice to the nations. (we meet the servant in v 1,4)

      He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,

or make it heard in the street;

      a bruised reed he will not break,

and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;

he will faithfully bring forth justice. (we see his service – just, right – in v 2,3)

      He will not grow faint or be discouraged

till he has established justice in the earth;

and the coastlands wait for his law.

t.s.: Joseph (acting very Christ-like) looked beyond the punitive measures of the law to meet the needs of a young teen whose life had been radically changed. She was bruised and burnt out, but he didn’t break or quench her.

4. But there is one more thing here that Matthew wants us to see in the next verse (20a); When considering his options and his actions, we come to a clearer perspective of his character. Rd v20; In v 20a, this word ‘considered’, is only used one other time in the NT and that’s in Matthew (9.4); rd 20a; think evil; Gen 6.6 (sorry; regret); Joshua 7.21 (translated coveted);

ill.: This past Thursday was filled with emotion. I’m so proud – in a good way. But, I experienced an emotion that I just don’t know how to describe. In those precious moments after our grandson was born, I was filled with great emotion – an emotion I don’t know quite how to describe. After I had spoken with my mom, I thought of my dad, who passed away 20 years ago. Regret; anger; sadness; hurt; disappointment – and yet, none of the above, but some of all of the above. It was all through my thinking. No decision had to be made – no action to take. Just emotion – an indescribable emotion.

App.: that’s what we’re getting here – regret, anger, sadness, hurt, disappointment, sorrow. And in all of this – what an incredible balance between his pain, his anger, and the way he chooses not to respond in like manner – to hurt her, to cause her pain. But, instead, he responds… well, like Jesus – in a godly fashion.

  • He is hurt (troubled, disturbed, angry, most lit.: stirred); ‘as he considered these things; he’s in turmoil; What is important to note is the timing – translation: while he is in turmoil…behold, an angel of the Lord…rd v 20b-23;

t.s.: So, Matthew shows us 1st, His Situation, and (2nd) how he Struggled with it all. Now, Matthew lets us in on one last bit of information about Joseph – his obedience to God’s instructions through the angel…

3.   His Submission

exp.: We see his submission in v24-25; four specific details to show his submission to God’s will:

  • He did
  • He took
  • He knew her not (Gen 4.1)
  • He named

Conclusion: From what I read in Bailey’s book and MacArthur’s Commentary, Women didn’t have to go along on these journeys to handle the legal matter of registering for the census. (Read from a commentary) So, why did Joseph bring Mary along? I think it was because he was just and righteous, demonstrating a deep kindness and just how much he cares for Mary. Maybe he was concerned for her back home with what the people knew (or assumed they knew). Maybe she wasn’t safe back home without his protection. Maybe he didn’t want to leave her to have the baby alone; Maybe, he wanted to bring her along because he knew the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem; Whatever his reason, even in her state, he brought her along… He was a just man, a righteous man… and that was evident in what he did.


  1. Character is revealed through struggle. How are you responding to your struggle? Do you want to get back at, or hurt those who’ve injured you? If you were to ‘self-evaluate’ your situation, what kind of grade would you give yourself?
  2. Do you have a forgiving spirit toward those who’ve hurt you? It is a characteristic of our Lord – forgive them, Father, they know not what they do. It doesn’t mean you have to keep going back to that person and serve as their punching bag. It doesn’t mean you have to go back to that person and be their doormat for them to mistreat you. But there is something truly powerful in forgiving someone. Bitterness, Anger, resentment, hatred… those are just toxic emotions that destroy your spirit. Susan Cheever wrote: Bitterness is like drinking a poison and waiting for the other person to die.
  3. Emotion is a wonderful blessing and yet a horrid curse – all depending on what it does to you. Something I’ve learned from my wife is never to make decisions when I’m hurried or emotional. Sometimes you have to make decisions when you’re emotional, but you’ve got to get the better of your emotions and make a well thought out decision. I learned this much the hard way. I’m the kind of dad who would charge into the bedroom and spank all three of my kids – only to later find out only one of them had been at fault. I wish I would have counted to 10 first: counted by minutes… or even hours.
  4. Do you realize that what you believe is what you do? Much like Joseph who did as the Lord commanded; who took Mary to be his wife; who knew her not until she had given birth; who gave him the name Jesus, as was commanded. We oftentimes speak of faith as something we possess – my faith got me through it. But, faith is really a verb…

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Filed under Christmas, Isaiah, Matthew, Sermon

The Genealogy of Christ

Title: The Genealogy of Christ

Text: Matthew 1:1-17

CIT: God’s Work throughout Time

CIS: God has been at work pulling all things together in presenting Christ. God is still at work today.


Princess Diana, Winston Churchill, and George W. Bush are distant relatives whose ancestry can be traced back to a fifteenth-century English squire, genealogists say. Researchers for the U.S.-based company found that the trio’s roots can be traced to Henry Spencer of Badby, Northamptonshire. Badby lived between 1420-1478 and was married to Isabella Lincoln.

According to Gary Boyd Roberts, a genealogist at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Bush is descended from British royalty going as far back as 12th century King Henry I, the son of William the Conqueror.

So, I was wondering: How important is a genealogy? Did each of these people you see here get their lofty positions because of the genealogy?

Linda Click, Adrian, Mich. Christian Reader Showing that genealogy isn’t that important. She wrote: One day I sat down with my daughter and explained with great pride that her grandfather was a preacher, her great-great-grandfather was a preacher, and her great-great-great-grandfather was a preacher. To which she replied, “Wow! We sure come from a long line of grandfathers.”

Lisa and I have been sharing with folks over the last few months that we’d taken a new position and were going to be moving. “Where?” people would ask. Tarpley, Tx. We would answer. “Tarpley? Where’s Tarpley?” I only met one person who actually knew where Tarpley is! A few new because I said: between Bandera and Utopia or South of Kerrville. But only one person actually knew. Karen Pylant. She said her family is from here.

app.: You know, genealogies aren’t that important to us: maybe through interest, but not for our being able to do things. Lisa and I are not able to come to Tarpley because of our connection to Bruce and Karen Pylant.

I mentioned President Bush, he wasn’t elected president because of his genealogy – not even because his dad had been president. You and I can buy and sell and move and do things without our genealogies. However, for the Jews, that wasn’t the case. Each Jew understood the importance of their genealogy. They needed their genealogy to buy and sell and trade and move and get certain jobs. That’s what we’ll be looking at this morning.

Transition: We begin our journey together in Matthew 1.1. I’ve never heard anyone preach on Matthew 1:1-17; We’ll also be looking at Luke 3:23-37, the genealogy of Christ in that book. You can have them open and flip back and forth if you’d like.

Let’s begin by reading in Matthew…rd v 1; rd v 17

Transition: I’ve divided this morning’s message into two parts: The Importance of His Genealogy and The Interpretation of His Genealogy. Let’s look first at The Importance.

I.     The Importance of His Genealogy

exp.: Genealogies were important for a few reasons:

  • Purchasing land: Lev 25:23-27; Ruth 2:20; Jeremiah 32:7,8
  • Determining a priestly line: Ezra 2:62; Ezra 7:1-6; Neh 7:64;
  • Determining a royal line: 1 Chron 5:1-7 (Gen 35:22; 49:4);

exp.: The importance of His Genealogy: v 2-6a are found in 1 Chr 2:1-15; v 6b-11 are found in 1 Chr 3:10-14; v 12-16 are 1 Chr 3:15-19; Every name is covered up to v 13;  from Abiud through to Christ is unconfirmed, but really no problem. It was very common for families to keep their genealogy! 1 Chronicles 9:1 tells us that all of Israel was recorded in Genealogies; King Saul’s is down in v 35-44;

With Christ’s Genealogy, we have a problem- because we have two of them – and they don’t match! I don’t know if you’ve ever read the genealogies found in Matthew in Luke and compared them, but they differ. Here are some struggles you might have:

  1. Luke’s is recorded backward.
  2. But even so, From Abraham to David – they’re the same.
  3. From David to Zerubbabel, they follow two different lines – but they do come back together at Zerubbabel.
  4. Then, from Zerubbabel to Jesus, they split again.

The Featured Image on this posting is a Table Outline of the lineage I’m referring to. and it might help in following along with the names. 

app.: So what is the application to this? If Lineage was so important, why does the Lineage of Jesus seem so messed up? Which one is the right one?  Those are great questions and they should lead us to understand what each writer was doing. We must combine and interpret what we have…

t.s.: So let’s do that… #2… The Interpretation of His Genealogy

2.     The Interpretation of His Genealogy

exp.: Matthew 1:1-17; Lk 3:23 -38; Luke follows the OT Pattern we see with Moses and the way his genealogy is recorded. It is given just before he begins his ministry. It is the same with Luke in recording the genealogy of Christ.

  • Two Genealogies: Here’s what I think is happening…
    • First
      1. Matthew – represents Joseph’s lineage: Joseph’s
      2. Luke – represents Mary’s lineage: Lk 3:23 – as was supposed; Luke uses this word quite often, especially in Acts to communicate a thought that people had, but they were obviously wrong;
    • Second
      1. Matthew – uses Joseph’s lineage to confirm a Royal or Kingly Line.
      2. Luke – uses Mary’s line to show or confirm a Priestly Lineage. Connection: Consider that Mary’s cousin was Zechariah and he served as a priest in the Temple.
    • Third
      1. God is using these two to demonstrate his goodness toward us. Can I let you in on a little secret? I think God gives us pictures or illustrations of his story or his existence for us to identify him. For example He gave us pictures of the Messiah in David and Zerubbabel. Theologians call these “types’ of Christ. These two guys were special compared to all of the other kings of Israel. David could function as a priest and a king, but Saul couldn’t. Saul didn’t have both lines. And neither did Solomon, or any other of the Kings. Until you get to Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel is a type of Christ – giving us a picture of the Messiah, so we could recognize Him when he appears. (Ill.: Isaiah 25)
    • Fourth
      1. God is showing us a picture of how he is the Father of Jesus and why the Jewish people would accept Jesus as King. There is a prophecy concerning David, that God promised David that he would always have a descendant on the throne (2 Samuel 7). However, Jechoniah, because he had led the people astray, He was told that he would be childless (Jeremiah 28.30); How can God keep both promises? Kinsman Redeemer. A Kinsman Redeemer is a process that God gave to the people of Israel to ensure that the lineage could be preserved.

Ill.: Ruth 2.20; 3.9; 4.13-14 – they rejoice that God has given Naomi an heir for her husband and her sons. Which, BTW, is preserving the royal lineage. Cf. Mt 1.5

Here’s where I’m going with this: The Jews could accept Jesus as the Messiah because Joseph didn’t have to be Jesus’ biological father. God became the Kinsman Redeemer, if you will, preserving the Royal Lineage on behalf of Joseph.

Conclusion: Now, George W. didn’t get to be president because of his prominent heritage. No one does, except Jesus. He’s different. He is both priest and king. The book of Hebrews teaches about these two roles and how Jesus played the part. He offered Himself on a cross to pay for our sins. Only he could.


  1. The Advent of Jesus was not “Plan B”. God had already planned it all out. – Just as he has planned the future.
  2. Things are going along according to plan. Just as it was, so it shall be. When Christ returns sometime in our near future, it will all make sense. So, we anticipate his return, just as they anticipated his arrival. We have been given these pictures or illustrations so that we will say as in Isaiah: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
  3. We should be praying about our part in the plan. How might God be using you? Will you miss out on things because you’re so into you and not into what God is doing?
  4. I’m reminded that all of time is in God’s hands. So is everything outside of time.

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Filed under Christmas, Genealogy, Isaiah, Luke, Matthew, Scripture, Sermon

The Servant of the Lord Waits Upon the Lord

Isaiah 49

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd v 6;

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

Rd v 7;

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Filed under Faithfulness, Isaiah, Sermons, Servant

Isaiah 9:2-7

Title: The People who walked in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light!

Text: Isaiah 9.2-7

Introduction: Thank you Jason Hall for reading our text today; however, without context, it might not make a whole lot of sense. To be sure, you’ve probably heard this before.

Sing Handel’s Messiah.

You and I know this passage is of the Messiah. You and I know this is the passage about Jesus. But today, I’d like to give you the context for this passage. I’d like you to see and feel and hear what the people of Judah went through with Isaiah.

Our story takes place around 734 BC, when Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria, cut off the Egyptians supply line to Israel and Syria (Israel, the Northern Kingdom and Syria, the country just to their north). In 734 BC, Israel is divided into two separate countries: the Southern kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom called Israel. The Southern Kingdom consisted of two tribes: Judah and Benjamin. The Northern Kingdom was the other 10 tribes. By 733 BC Israel would lose much of her land (Megiddo, Galilee, the Transjordan). Their King would wise up and become a puppet king – but it only saved her for another decade. Syria would fall to Assyria the next year. For the next 10 years Israel (i.e.: northern kingdom) would go back and forth on their commitment to Assyria and in 722 BC – they would be annihilated. Assyria would send in people to settle the land and inter-marry with the Jews there. This land would be known as Samaria.

What you and I find truly sad, is that Isaiah gave them fair warning, but they wouldn’t listen. He will do the same for Judah, but they will not listen either. In another 100 years, Judah will begin its time in exile.

I wonder if people will look back at us in the decades to come and think similar thoughts that you’re having about the Northern and Southern Kingdoms? Why didn’t they listen? Why didn’t they listen?

Behold, Distress and Darkness

Ill.: At this time of year the sun goes down earlier and the night gets longer. When there is no moon out, it gets really dark. My brother-in-law was hunting out on the ranch this past week and shot a deer. It was wounded and so he had to track it. He called us up at the ranch house and asked for help. We went down to where he was to help track this wounded deer. I’m telling you, that when I pulled up and turned off the lights to the jeep – I was enveloped in a sea of darkness. My eyes adjusted to the stars, but all around me was pure darkness. And guess what? I didn’t bring a flashlight! I couldn’t even take a step without the light. It was just too dark. And with all the cacti and thorny mesquite, I didn’t want to take a step without some light.

This is where we find the people of Jerusalem and Judah in our text: 8.22 – 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

How did they get here? We have to go back to chapter 7.1 and read through chapter 8 to get the context. Here’s how I’ve outlined it:

  1. A decision to be made.
  2. A sign to be offered.
  3. Ahaz rejects God. He chooses the King of Assyria over the King of Kings.
  4. God rejects Israel and Judah; but, a remnant will return
  5. The Promise of a Remnant

Transition: let’s begin with #1.

I.     A decision needs to be made as pressure mounts from outside forces (7.1-9)

exp.: rd 7.1-2; the story begins with these two countries to the north of Judah needing Judah to join forces with them to withstand Assyria’s aggression. They could all come together – but it would be of no use. Ahaz rejects Syria and Israel’s invitation and so they decided to attack him, defeat him and put another king on his throne – one who would be sympathetic to their cause.

exp.: in v3-9 Isaiah is sent to Ahaz to encourage him. God is on his side!

V7 says: These two kings’ plans will not stand!

8-9a say who these two kings are – they’re sons of kings. However, There is this idea that Ahaz is someone’s son, too. He’s the son of David – and as his heir, he’s been promised by God the protection he needs. Ahaz only needs to be faithful. He must believe God’s word and follow. That’s it – other wise; rd 9b. Their plans will not stand – but neither will you if you don’t stand in your faith.

t.s.: now, that is the 1st word of encouragement from Isaiah to Ahaz. But God is good. He’s really good. So, he sends Isaiah again with another word – a promise he wants to make. And that’s point #2

II.    A sign is offered to demonstrate God’s great mercy and to strengthen Ahaz’s faith (7.10-12)

exp.: rd v 10-11;

7.10-11: Ask for a sign – I’ll go to any lengths to help and encourage you. There is no valley to deep or no mountain to high that I won’t scale for you. So how does the king respond? Rd v 12; But, Ahaz rejects God’s offer;

III.   Ahaz Rejects God (7.13-8.7)

exp.: and so God himself will give them a sign. Rd v 13; and here’s the sign: rd v 14-17; that probably sounds familiar; if you have a footnote in your text, you can look up what Immanuel means: God with us.

App.: Ahaz’s rejection of God results in God’s rejection of him. His poor attempt to veil his lack of belief in his piety results in the very thing Ahaz wants to prevent: full collapse, being conquered and going into exile. God says: These two kings will amount to nothing and your land and people will be decimated – just like theirs.

And that’s point # 4

IV.  God will reject Ahaz, Israel and Judah (7.13-8.7)

exp.: In 7.13-17: God, through Isaiah informs Ahaz that Judah will fall and nearly be destroyed, but God offers Judah some hope in v 18-25.

To save some time, I’m going to just tell you about 7.18-25: In that day…; Judah – land, people, people, land. Then, in 8.1-7 God, through Isaiah, informs Israel that she will be utterly destroyed. No hope is offered for them; however, in v 8, God turns back to Judah and offers them hope. In v 5-8, God tells Israel that a flood called Assyria is going to annihilate them. rd v 8a; so this flood of annihilation is coming to Judah, too. Rd 8b; so it will almost drown Judah, but it will stop at the neck.

Now, at this point, we’ve identified a couple of Characteristics about this promised sign:

  1. He will be special and like no one else. He will be born of a virgin (conceived and born). He must be divine. Today’s technology makes this possible and I wouldn’t be surprised if the anti-christ makes such a claim.
  2. He must be king. This is ‘his land’ in v 8;

Note: some folks argue that this one, Immanuel, mention in 7.14 and again here is really the son born to Isaiah in 8.1-4; but, Isaiah’s wife isn’t a virgin – remember 7.3? She already has had children. Chapter 8.1-7 is for Israel – who will disappear from the face of the earth for her sins and rebellion. This sign is for Judah. Rd v 9-10; Isaiah is saying that even though the floods will rise up to the neck – Judah and Jerusalem will survive because…our God is with us. If you look at your Hebrew Bible, that is translated Immanuel. Here is our 3rd Characteristic:

  1. He will be the one who will protect them and bring them through.

So, even with disaster coming – God will still protect them.

t.s.: And this brings me to point #5…

   V. The Promise of a Remnant

exp.: Chapter 8.8-10 inform us that a remnant will survive; however, 11-22 tells Judah what is coming.  rd v 11-15; Here we learn about this remnant:

  1. The Remnant will experience God’s presence. (8-10; 14) Ahaz and the rest of the people will not know the presence of God. 2ndly,
  2. The Remnant will fear God and not any other king or ruler or country. (8.11-15); Ahaz and the rest of the people fear Tiglath-Pilesar.

Here we also learn our 4th Characteristic of Immanuel, God with us:

  1. The Messiah will cause many to stumble. (Cf.: Luke 20.9-18; Mt 21.44)
  2. The Remnant will experience true hope. (8.16-22); and though they are few, it will be what sustains them. As for the others, they will remain in the night – no dawn will come. They will be in utter darkness. But for those who hope in God – they will experience victory.
  3. The Remnant will experience a light at the end of the darkness. (9.1-7) Only utter darkness remains for Ahaz and the rest of the people. And that light – is the Messiah of God.

Rd 9.1-2; notice Isaiah is using past tense. It is as if he has been transported into the future and he can see back over time so very clearly. Rd v 3; their joy is intense and great! Rd v 4; he has broken their chains and set them free from their captors; rd v 5; the war is past – peace has come. Rd v 6-7; A messiah is coming! He is promised and the zeal of Yahweh will accomplish this!

app.: They will know and experience all of this because of Immanuel, God with us.

t.s.: well, ladies and gentlemen, we really are in the future. We can look back through time and see that Isaiah did see it right.

Conclusion: God did prove himself faithful to His Word.

  1. A Virgin did conceive and she did bear a son. And his name is called God with us.
  2. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
  3. He has continued to protect and care for his own.
  4. He is the rock that causes many to stumble and others to be crushed.

Oh yes, there is more to come. But let’s stop here. Let us, for this moment, celebrate the faithfulness of God. Let it wash over you and encourage you as you look to the future. In this moment, celebrate. Celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. May this holiday season be the most wonderful season ever!

  1. As you go out to buy gifts, be buoyed by the faithfulness of God.
  2. Sing the old carols with more gusto than you have as of late.
  3. Go to the office party or whatever Christmas party you go to with more cheer. You can be cheerful, because God is good. And God is faithful. He has given us the real reason for the season – he has given us Jesus – just as he promised he would!




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Mark 4.1-20

Title: The Parable of the Sower

Text: Mark 4.1-20; Isaiah 6.1-13

Introduction: Note – there are two chapters; bookmark them both;

  • Mark introduced us to the subject of his book in the 1st 15 verses of chapter 1. There, we meet Jesus, the Son of God, the promised Messiah.
  • Mark then tells us that Jesus calls his first 4 disciples and of his early ministry and the great success he has. By the end of chapter one, Jesus is so popular he can’t even go into a town or village because of the crowds, but his forced out into the desolate areas.
  • In chapter two, he calls his 5th disciple, Levi, and continues his ministry. However, the opposition begins to rear its ugly head by asking questions that imply their disapproval. By chapter 3.6, these religious leaders conspire with their political enemies to destroy Jesus.
  • In Chapter three, the opposition becomes public as the religious leaders, and his family members, accuse him falsely. They say he is demon possessed and out of his right mind. His family comes to ‘seize’ him and take him away. But Jesus clarifies for us just who his family is.
  • Mark tells us at this stage that Jesus begins to teach in parables. We see this in 3.22f: 22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables… Our story picks up in Mark 4.1 with the parable of the sower. Jesus is in a boat by the shore – a natural amphitheater.

If you look out in the crowd you see all kinds of people. I picture too many to draw. The religious leaders are there. You can see how they stick out because of their religious garb. They stick out to me because of the look on their faces. In the crowd are the rich and the poor, young and old. They represent all in society who are in need. Money can’t buy what the rich need – so they’ve come. They understand the phrase: if money can fix it, it ain’t a problem. There are young men and old; children, teens, young adults, older adults, married, single… they’re all there on the shore.

Jesus tells them the parable of the sower. Mark has told us that Jesus taught the people with many parables. We get the idea that there are many more that we don’t know about. Most of you this morning could have volunteered to retell this story for us without using your bible. It is one of the most popular parables in Scripture. Maybe it is so well known because Jesus explains it for us. It is like a key to understanding all parables.

Now, Jesus isn’t just a great storyteller and he is so much more than just another great teacher. He is different than any teacher these people have ever encountered. His stories are not just lessons to amplify a particular moral or ethic. Kim Riddlebarger says: Rather, in Jesus’ parables there are two critical perspectives. On one level (the surface), Jesus speaks of the natural order of things and of daily life in terms quite familiar to the people of that age and that culture. That is why the parables are so effective as a means of communication. We can all understand and relate to what is going on in the story. But on another level (a deeper, spiritual level), Jesus speaks of God’s redemptive purposes in these same parables. Because God is the author of both nature and redemption, these two things fit very easily together. Thus when Jesus calls attention to the one (a certain man . . .), this can easily illumine the other (the kingdom of God). This is why parables are such a profound and powerful way to teach and why those who do not believe that Jesus is the Christ have trouble grasping our Lord’s deeper meaning.

I’ve divided this passage up into its natural sections:

  • The Parable of the Sower
  • The Purpose of Parables
  • The Explanation of this Parable

Transition: let’s begin with a look at the parable itself…

I.      The Parable of the Sower (3-9)

exp.: Let me highlight a couple of important features of this parable.

  1. The parable begins and ends w/ the same word – ἀκούω: Hear ye, Hear ye; Listen! And, Listen! The difference? When he says Listen! He is addressing everyone (2nd per. Pl.). And when he finishes with hear, he is speaking to individuals (3rd per. sg.). Remember this…More on this in a moment…
  2. The same Sower sows the seed. There aren’t different sowers in this story. There is only one. And, as he sows, some seed fell here, some seed fell there, here a seed, there a seed, everywhere a seed, seed.
  3. The parable is designed with two sets of three. This isn’t apparent in the English as well as in the Greek. This comes out in the fact that the word seed doesn’t really even appear. It is understood in the words: some, other and other. What draws our attention to this is the fact that all three of these are singular, not plural. However, in v 8, the word other is plural (hence, other seeds) – which draws our attention to the 2nd set of three’s: thirtyfold, sixtyfold, a hundredfold.


  1. There is a call for all to listen, but only some can actually hear what is being said.
  2. The sower represents one person, not a group of people. You don’t apply this to you and someone else and someone else. One sower.
  3. There is only one type of soil where fruit can be produced. The other types of soil are fruitless.

t.s.: v 35, let’s us know that he is still in the boat as he is teaching the other parables. But, v 10 let’s us in on the private world of the disciples that happens at a later time. So, let’s go to the time when they were alone. Rd v 10

II.    The Parable’s Purpose (10-12)

exp.: v 10 tells us they asked; not just the 12, but the others who are with them; this is quite interesting to me because they appear to be a part of those of whom the mystery is concealed. But, Jesus says…to you. Rd v 11; secret is μυστήριον. The secret has been revealed to you; but, not so for the outsiders. And then something very interesting happens in v 12; Jesus quotes from Isaiah 6. This is a tremendous blessing to us because this gives us context to understand Mark 4. If you’re not familiar w/ Isaiah 6, let me just tell you that it is Isaiah’s calling. He comes to the Temple after the death of the King. I suppose, he is seeking a new king to take over. But what he finds is the one true King of Israel. It is a holy vision. He sees God on his throne… I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

                        “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;

                        the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

Well, Isaiah is filled with woe – he is overwhelmed with his sin as he sees God in all of his…holiness: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” The Lord then atones for his sin by sending a seraph with tongs from the altar… And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

At this point, Isaiah volunteers to go to the people of Israel with a message from God. And the message is harsh. Flip back to Mark; Rd v 12; 12 so that

                        “they may indeed see but not perceive,

and may indeed hear but not understand,

                        lest they should turn and be forgiven.”

This is harsh because it God communicates very clearly that He is going to harden them in such a way that they will be blind to seeing and deaf to hearing what Isaiah is saying. The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom will be hardened to the message of God. Isaiah asks how long this will go on and God says until they’re destroyed.

This is a hard passage for it doesn’t say that God knows this about them, but that God hardens their hearts. To be fair, Matthew and Luke soften the language. But do you remember I told you we don’t want to use those guys? I want you to feel Mark’s message. I want to get what Mark is teaching us without the filters of the other Gospels. I want us to look for Mark’s emphasis, his goal, his purpose. And Mark is pretty straight-forward here.

Do you see in v 12 the first two words are so that? In Gk this is called a ἵνα clause. It is a clause of causation. You heard that right: Mark is saying God causes the hardness of heart, the spiritual blindness, the spiritual deafness. And, he is quoting Jesus here. This ἵνα clause makes this passage one of the most difficult in the NT, since Jesus is saying that he teaches in parables in order to blind the eyes of those on the outside. Many scholars jump through all kinds of linguistic hoops to soften this statement – to take away the harshness of God’s actions; to remove his sovereignty. This is a good question: why would a loving God intentionally blind the eyes of some people? In order to soften this doctrine, many say that God just allows people the right to choose not to follow or see or hear or obey. The hardness of their heart comes from their own choosing. Makes sense, doesn’t it. It becomes calloused through years of rejection. That’s great. But that isn’t what this verse says.

So, to soften this because it makes me or you uncomfortable would be wrong. That would mean I’m going to see this verse and intentionally change a character trait described of God because I’m afraid of what you’ll think. That is why I want to be very careful here. So, I’m just going to lay this out as it is in Scripture: God is totally in charge here. He is the agent by which all things happen. He is the one creating all of the action. But that still leaves the question of why God would do this unanswered. Let me try to answer that…

I think the answer lies in understanding the context of Isaiah. You see, Isaiah 5 presents the context of a judicial and final pronouncement of coming judgment on Israel. In the story of the vineyard (5:1–7), God is presented as a farmer who has a vineyard. He loved and cared for that vineyard, but it was a fruitless vineyard. Israel, of course is the vineyard and their failure to produce fruit brings judgment from the owner. That judgment is to remove their protection. Hence, Assyria will come and destroy them. God tells Isaiah that he will go to them with this message, but he is also told that his warning to them will fall on deaf ears. They are never going to listen to him.

Jesus is quoting from Isaiah to say that his purpose for teaching in parables is to blind the eyes and make deaf the ears of those who are on the “outside” – those who are identified in chapter three as having rejected Christ. The negative function of this parable must be understood within the narrative context of Isaiah.

So, in keeping with the context of Mark and Isaiah, we see that Jesus is describing a judgment that is coming and these people’s hearts will be hardened. They will be like the Israelites who… seeing see, but never perceive and hearing hear but never understanding.

app.: Do you remember I told you that the 1st and last word of the parable is ‘Hear’? And I told you that the 1st word hear is to the crowd, but the last word hear is to individuals? That’s where this comes into play. So, when you put this all together now, it makes more sense:

  • 1st and last word – to everyone, but only certain insiders will see and hear.
  • Insiders and outsiders, a clear delineation of the two groups.
  • A quote from Isaiah declaring this to be so.

t.s.: Now with this in mind, he explains the parable.

III.   The Parable Explained (13-20)

exp.: The Sower sows the Word of God – that’s Jesus. I think this can only be Jesus in this context. In the previous chapters of Mark, he is the one who has been sowing the seed – the Word of God. And, there are various receptions to his teaching of God’s word. rd v 15; We’ve seen the work of Satan already in Mark. The Demons, who Jesus instructs to keep his identity quiet. In 1.13 where he tempts Christ out in the wilderness; in 3.23 where the religious leaders accuse Jesus of being one of Satan’s cohorts. I think this group is represented by the religious leaders – probably not them alone, but they are included here for sure.

rd v 16-17; I would think that these are represented here, too; these are the people who’ve come out to have a need met – to be healed or fed, and then, face persecution from the 1st group – the religious leaders; then, they fall away. Rd v 18-19; this would be more of the same; people who come to Jesus and use him as an ER, only to return to their life of lush when they get back to the real world and what they experienced gets chocked out.

This parable had me thinking this week: how many times have I used Jesus for my own needs? A healing; A need? How many times have I used Him selfishly – only to retreat back into the world once my selfishness had been slaked?

I’m guessing you’ve probably been taught to understand this parable with the following explanation:

  • The sower is an evangelist – you, a preacher, someone who shares Christ.
  • The Seed is the gospel
  • The different soils represent the different types of people:
    • Hard hearts represented by the heavily trodden path. It just never really takes root
    • Weak roots among the rocky soil represent people who accept Christ with words, but quickly fall away.
    • Those sown among the thorns are those who fall back with their old crowds and their faith gets chocked out.
    • The last group is the real Christian – and he produces fruit as evidence that he’s saved.

I think you’ll find this to be true. There are those who never accept the gospel because their hearts are hard. And, there are those who do accept Christ with their words, but quickly fall away. Others who start this journey but fall back into the world. But, I’m not so sure that is what Christ is saying to these disciples. I think he’s telling them a parable about the current situation of Mark chapter 4, in light of chapters 1-3.


app.: In light of what is being taught here, I think this would be a great way to apply this message to us:

  • As Christians, where is our heart hardened toward the word Christ speaks to us? Ex.: elders
  • Where do we find our lives rooted in such a shallow way that we have no depth in Christ? The boulders of this world prevent us from digging our roots down deep. Ex.: I think of when I was younger and bold and loud. I remember being a John the Baptist personality, until persecution hit. Then I ran like Peter.
  • And what about those of us who allow so many things of the world to choke out the word of God – the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things? We boldly live for Jesus until tragedy strikes – then we blame God for the trouble in our lives. The pursuit of that raise, that promotion steals our time with him.
  • Maybe we need to do some work on our hearts – removing the rocks, pulling the weeds, tilling the soil and preparing ourselves to accept the Word of God. What a great illustration, because we all know how hard it is to do that work.

Application: Are you ready to start that work in your lives?

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Isaiah’s Vision: Our Incomprehensible God

Title: The Vision of Isaiah: Our Incomprehensible God

Text: Isaiah 6.1-13

CIT: The Author desires we see God in all of his authority and power choosing to accomplish his work through a man. In order to do this, God claims him and calls him and commissions him with this grand task.

CIS: My heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call.

Introduction: Isaiah is a beautiful book of God’s sovereignty. When I say, Sovereignty, I mean the one with absolute power and authority. He accomplishes what He desires. Period. We begin today with the call of Isaiah in chapter 6. It’s pretty unusual to wait this far into the book to see his call. Jeremiah is called in Jeremiah chapter 1. Ezekiel has the same experience. He sees the Glory of God in Chapter one and is called in Chapter two. We wait for chapter two because God’s glory takes precedent. So, why do we see the delay in the book of Isaiah?

I think Isaiah is laying a foundation for this call of his. Jerusalem and Judah had become too complacent in their security to heed the call of God and they had become too corrupt in their prosperity to escape His judgment. Added to this, their relatively good king for the past 52 years had just passed away. Uzziah was stricken with leprosy in the last years of his life because of his pride and arrogance in the Temple. He was another example of one who did not finish strong. You can read that part of his story in 2 Chronicles 26.16-21 Rd Isaiah 6.1a: In the year King Uzziah died…Like I said, he was a good king that sought the counsel of Zachariah the prophet during the days of his reign.

The year was 740 B.C. Isaiah’s ministry was just beginning. It makes sense that he would go to the Temple to pray. He was seeking a king – little ‘k’. But what he found blew him away. Rd 6.1;

John tells us in his gospel that this vision sustained Isaiah in his ministry of preaching. In John 12.41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. This moment would change him and sustain him for his whole life. I’m not so sure we can wrap our wimpy minds around this idea in its entirety. We see this again in Ezekiel and Daniel and the list goes on. We eventually see this again in Revelation. John shares a few times what he depicts God on his throne. And I just don’t think we can get it.

In doing my best to present this story today, I’ve divided this message into 4 separate categories. The 4 categories will carry us through the next month in a sermon series on Evangelism. I will share this pulpit with men in our church who will bring you a message from their heart on each topic. Here are the 4 topics:

  1. The Holiness of God
  2. The Sinfulness of Man
  3. The Atonement of our Sin
  4. The Great Commission

We will see all four of these topics today, because they are what consumed Isaiah. Let’s begin in the 1st topic: the holiness of God, and continue reading in Isaiah;

1.     The Holiness of God (1-4)

exp.: The 1st attribute I want you to see in this passage comes from who He is and where He is; rd v 1-2;

Attribute #1:The Authority of God. He is adonai, and he is seated where the ruler and king should be seated – on his throne.

These creatures, I hope I’m using that term correctly, are flying about God and they are serving him. In this moment, we are overcome at who He is. He is Yahweh – God, Sovereign Lord, Master, and Creator of all things. We breathe in this moment because of Him. We are sustained in life because of his will. We exist for him and for his good pleasure. Period.

There is no way to describe him to you right now. I cannot begin to verbalize the strength of his might, the power of his will, the fact that we are reduced to nothing in comparison to him. He alone commands the universe and everything moves and exists by his design. A snap of his finger, a nod of his head moves his servants to do his bidding. He speaks and worlds are created. He breathes and life comes into being. He wills and whatever he wants – happens. He is eternal, immutable, ever-present, ever-strong, all-knowing, perfectly merciful and just in all his ways. He is perfectly independent. His desire for a relationship with you is because of you and me, and our need for him – not the other way around.

Psalm 102.25-27: 25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Attribute #2: The Holiness of God. Look at what these seraphim are singing out, calling out, repeatedly over and over again: rd v 3; the thrice repeated word holy is the Hebrew way of saying this One on the throne is the holiest, most perfect One in existence. So perfect is He, that Revelation doesn’t even give him a form, but tries to describe Him simply in beautiful colors.

Attribute #3: The Reality of God. rd v 4; One calls out this phrase of praise and the very foundations of this gigantic Temple shake. Then, the other Seraph echoes in praise and the Temple shakes again. The Temple itself is filled with smoke. I don’t know if this is the Shakina Glory of God – as in the pillar, the cloud of smoke that guided the Israelites from Egypt to the Holy land. The Hebrew word is just the simple word for smoke – as in smoke that comes from a fire. Which in this case makes perfect sense as we read on through the text and read about a burning coal on the altar. At this point, we begin to see and feel some very real parts, making this more than just a vision, but an experience grounded in the reality of thresholds and foundations and a fiery smoke.

app.: his position, his perfection, his power… His position of all authority is declared as King and Lord in v 1-2, His perfection is declared through his holiness in v 3, and His power is displayed in the reality of a shaking of the Temple filled with smoke.

t.s.: and this brings us to the 2nd topic,

2.     The Sinfulness of Man. (5)

exp.: rd v 5; I think what is being taught here is what happens to us when we catch just a glimpse of the Glory of God.

  • His Anguish: Wow is me – I am lost! We see ourselves for who we really are. When we see the holy character of God, we feel anguish for our own sin. KJV reads I am undone. That’s probably what most of you learned. The NASB reads, I am ruined. The ESV – I am lost. Young’s Literal reads: I am silent with the idea that I’ve come to my end. The word means to cease or to cause to cease – to cut off. It’s not to say that he dies, but in some sense maybe – that is he has come to the end of himself. 2 Cor 5.17

We sit here today breathing, existing. But, if we could see God like Isaiah sees him here in our text we would be reduced to nothing before him. Insignificant isn’t a big enough word. There would be an agony of the soul – a feeling of anguish. Anguish because there is nothing we can do to save ourselves from this state. We are lost without his intervention!

  • His Acknowledgment:
    • I am a man of unclean lips.

ill.: I love to hear or read the testimonies of people who came to know Christ. Each one is laced with similar stories of “the agony of the spirit” – very much like Isaiah is describing here. You remember when Peter meets Jesus. Jesus has just finished preaching from Peter’s boat and asks him to put out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter had caught nothing all night. Now wasn’t the time to fish. But Peter did, because the Lord asked him to do so. As the nets fill and the boats fill with fish to the point of sinking, Peter realizes who this is in the boat with him. Maybe he doesn’t know for sure, but he knows there is something quite different about him. And, in comparison, Peter feels dirty. He falls to the knees of this one who is different than he and says: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”

  • And I dwell among a people of unclean lips.

exp.: Listen to David McKenna: Here is another hard fact. Isaiah accepts his responsibility as a leader for the sins of his people. He who pronounced “woes” upon leaders in Judah and Jerusalem for betraying their trust now confesses the same sin in himself. He knows firsthand the truth that, just as the sins of the father are visited upon the children, so the sins of the leader are visited upon the people. And McKenna cites King David as a classic example of when he sinned against God by ordering a census. David confessed, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” (1 Chr. 21:8).

app.: most people disagree; most people in today’s society and culture think that their sin only affects them, but as no effect on others. David knew what Isaiah knew.

t.s.: So Isaiah acknowledges his sin, he confesses it before God. But there is more in his statement. It’s as if he knows he deserves to die because he has seen God: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” I wish we more time to develop this, but we must move on to the 3rd topic: The Atonement for sins.

3.     The Atonement of Sins (6-7)

exp.: rd v 6; The seraph does the work and the speaking at the Lord’s bidding; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for. Wayne Grudem explains that for those who have sinned against God (and that’s everyone), we find 4 areas we know live in as sinners:

  1. We deserve to die as the penalty for sin.
  2. We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin.
  3. We are separated from God by our sins.
  4. We are in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan.

Grudem then gives four terms used to describe the atoning work of Christ in meeting these needs:

  1. Sacrifice: we deserved to die, but he was sacrificed in our place. (debt was owed/a penalty was paid)
  2. Propitiation: We deserve to bear God’s wrath against sin – but Jesus bore that wrath. (wrath)
  3. Reconciliation: We were separated from God by our sins, but have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
  4. Redemption: We were in bondage to sin and to the kingdom of Satan, but have been set free from those chains. Satan no more has dominion over us.

app.: This is a beautiful story, no? Here is the problem: most believers end their story here. We acknowledge God and his holiness. We acknowledge our sin and rebellion before him and our deep need for forgiveness. Furthermore, we confess that sin and are grateful for the atoning sacrifice of Christ who paid the debt and satisfied the wrath of God against us. It’s what we sing about!

t.s.: But most of us fail to take this last step: the 4th topic in our study of evangelism.

4.     The Call to Respond (8-13)

exp.: Now before we read this I want to say that I see two main parts to Isaiah’s calling. 1st, there is the call to go. Really, he volunteers. 2nd, there is the call to persistence in resistance. rd v 8-10; You’re gonna go tell them what I say and they’re not gonna listen. The truth of this message will be too hard for them and they will stop up their ears and cover their eyes, and harden their hearts to it.

Ok, then. How long do I have to keep this up? For Isaiah, it will be his whole life long. During his ministry, he will see the northern kingdom fall. But even then, the people won’t listen; Look at his response; rd v 11-12; How long O’ Lord?

app.: I think the same two actions in Isaiah’s life are in ours, too. Both Acts 1.8 and Mt 28.18 tell us that it is by the authority of Christ that we’re sent to the nations.

Acts 1.7, picking up to verse 8: He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Mt 28.18 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

We call this a commission, because we have been sent by someone with the authority – all the authority. We have no right to refuse this command of God – to be his witnesses and to make disciples. So, what are the limitations – as in comparison to Isaiah? For how long, O’ Lord.

  • To the ends of the earth
  • To all nations – ethnos

I love that we’ve taken this to heart and have embraced a UUPG. And even more, I’m so proud that we as a church will bond together to make this a financial possibility. But what about in Tyler? I know many think that there is no need, but I don’t think that’s the case. You and I have been commissioned to go – not just to send others out.

We have a tremendous responsibility to share this message with those who will listen. So, to help you with your understanding, we’ll focus on this task of evangelism over the next month. Just what is this that God has called and commissioned us to do?

Conclusion: the goal of my message, my heart’s desire is that you would be overshadowed by his glory, overwhelmed by his love, and overcome by his call. Think about that for a moment.

  1. Overshadowed by his glory: Like Moses, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, John and anyone else who has ever encounter the Lord like this will be changed forever. No more will you live life in a hum-hoe way. This one experience would move you to see yourself in light of Christ.
  2. Overwhelmed by his love: That you would see how much he loves you and that you could comprehend the lengths he went to save you by love. That the Cross would have a greater meaning for you.
  3. Overcome by his call. That you would hear him ask: Whom shall I send and who will go for us?

If you are, then you’ll go – as Isaiah went. Maybe you’re in the early stages of all this right now. You would recognize that there has never been a time when you’ve committed your life to Christ. Would you, today? Let’s pray.

If you have never committed your life to Christ, and you want to know more, with every head bowed and every eye closed, would you please just slip your hand up in the air. I want to pray for you.

For others, as you’re thinking about being more evangelistic in your lives, Would you pray that God would reveal to you someone you could begin reading Scripture with on a regular basis? If you’ll make that commitment, will you just simply slip your hand in the air where I can see it? I want to pray for you too.

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Filed under Evangelism, Isaiah, Scripture, Sermons

Sabbatical Report: The Transforming Power of God’s Word

Title: Sabbatical Report

Text: Isaiah 55.1-13


Let me begin by saying hello! Long time no see! Thank you for the privilege of taking time to rest with my wife. I know many of you carried a heavier load because of my absence. KK, Wendy, Lyle for teaching my class, elders. Thank you all for blessing me. All the cards of encouragement; there were a couple of texts – nothing involving the church or church matters, but just a “hey, miss you, praying for you.”

It was a great time to get away. We lived up North before we moved here and it was nice experiencing some of the seasonal changes. Did you know it cools off at night in the mountains?

Let me tell share with you the purpose I had set before the elders back in July. Prospectus was presented to the elders:

Purpose: The intended purpose of this sabbatical is rest and renewal toward sustained excellence in ministry. This will involve a break from regular ministry activities and studies toward vision and purpose in ministry.

I set an agenda to concentrate my life around five separate areas:

Rest – I did. I took walks; I planned to take naps, but I think I only took two. I normally take a nap after every Sunday service. I found that not necessary anymore! I read a book entitled 24/6 – Did you know God says more about the Sabbath than any other of the 10 commandments? The Sabbath is for healing, restoration, to help other people. Christians, however, have profaned the Sabbath rest. Did you know that service industry people don’t like working on Sunday afternoons because Christians are the worst customers? They’re the most demanding, the rudest and the worst tippers. Now I’ve only known a handful of service industry people. But that’s what I’ve heard from them. What if we were to change that? What if we believers started presenting a better witness to the community? What we became not so demanding and what if we tipped better than the Friday and Saturday night crowds? What if we tipped 100% of our bill for that single mother waitress working her 2nd job? What if the service industry desired to work Sunday afternoon the most? What if we just decided not to go out to lunch after church if we couldn’t tip 100% of the bill? What about 50%? If we did that, we’d be more in line with what the Sabbath was intended for… Just a thought? We’ll come back to that in the coming weeks. I’ve got an idea: Sunday School teachers – make this a question to ponder amongst your students.

A 2nd area covered on my agenda was:


– I met with a counselor from Focus on the Family.

– I met with some pastors and interviewed them.

– I read through the Bible with Lisa each evening. I had a separate time of reading each morning and was able to read through the NT and much of the OT a 2nd time. Angela asked me to describe what it was like in one word. I said: refreshing. I asked Lisa the same question and she said: clarifying.

– I wanted to find some good books to help me do this. I did. I read some part or all of 23 books.

– I also did some physical therapy for my mind and my shoulder. I swam laps, which is good non-weight bearing therapy, as well as helps with the range of motion. The hikes up into the mountains were my delight. I love hiking in the wilderness. I found old, abandon mines; equipment; abandon cabins

Reflection – It was amazing that God took me back over time and brought back to remembrance some things I haven’t thought about in years. Moments, I guess, that were crossroads for me. I found pivotal moments for me where I made decisions that affected my life. And so I asked the LORD why? Why did I have to relive those? And, I think God was leading me to a place where I asked Him to help me not make foolish decisions or choose 2nd best. Instead, I want to be wise and follow God, trust God to take me down the best road. I want to look back over the next 25 years and not have a single regret!

Retool – I’ve thought of this part of the sabbatical as not necessarily making huge changes – getting new tools, but rather to sharpen and hone the tools God has given me. Ecclesiastes 10.10 states: If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength. Wisdom has the advantage of giving success. (NASB)

  • I attended the T4G conference on Evangelism via the internet. That was cool. It inspired me to read,
  • Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, by JI Packer. That was one book that helped me.
  • Another was the inspiration classic The Call of the Committed by Elton Trueblood. Wow! Timeless. Lisa and I read that together.
  • Preaching and Preachers by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones was another classic that inspired me.
  • Probably the most beneficial book for me was The Vine and the Trellis, by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. This book probably fits better under the 5th area: refocus.

Refocus – There are some principles in this book that convicted me from Scripture about what discipleship really is and what it isn’t! I have an idea of the direction I’d like to move in the area of discipleship – namely, more relationship interaction in a one on one environment. I have some ideas I’ve outlined that I’ll present to the elders for their interaction and probably begin implementation of this idea after the New Year. Again, I’ll visit with the elders about the logistics. You probably already have questions. This isn’t the forum to answer those questions. Like I said, I’ll iron out the details with the elders and present all of the information when it’s appropriate. Let me just say, Discipleship is an area of focus for me.

Besides a focus shift on Discipleship, God moved my heart in the area of Prayer. I think my prayer life has suffered over the past 9 years. I’ve always felt it was important, and yet, I allowed less and less time for it. That has changed. I spend about an hour in prayer each morning, with my prayer book and journal. I wonder if my theology has hurt my prayer life? I think so… Sometimes I grow weary in my prayers. My collarbone has been broken for 5 months. I’ve been praying for healing for 5 months. God is sovereign. He can do whatever He wants. I can’t make him. God just did a number on my prayer life. Added to this, I’d like to place a greater emphasis on prayer in our church: as individuals, but in groups also. I’ve a couple of ideas I’d like to work out with the elders and sometime after the New Year, you should see and hear more about prayer.

Discipleship, Prayer & Finally, the Word of God…

Open your copy of God’s Word to the 55th chapter of Isaiah. There were two passages that God kept taking me back to over and over again. This is one of them. The other was Psalm 65. This passage is very popular – you’ve probably heard it preached or taught or even quoted from time to time. That is, the 1st part is: follow with me:

It begins with an Invitation and there are 4 commands to emphasize the invitation: Come, Listen, Behold, Seek! Within these 4 commands are three attributes of God. The 1st attribute is seen in v 1-5 where we see…

  1. The Call to Come and Experience the Wealth of God:

Exp.: The Cost is Free – The price for participation has been paid in full! Why waste your money on things that don’t satisfy? What you can buy with your money will never be enough! It will never satisfy! Your money is your good works. They’re nice, but they won’t get you anything from God! But God invites you in to his supermarket and offers you to buy without money, to purchase his goods at no price.

The Covenant is Universal – it’s not just for Israel. Rd v 4-5; The diehard Israelite would have none of it –

Ill.: Read Luke 4.16-29; But Isaiah is here saying that God’s Covenant is for Everyone (v1) including us Gentiles!

Transition: you’ve probably heard the 2nd part taught, too. I call this section…

  1. The Urgency to Respond to the Ways of God

Exp.: rd v 6; Time is of the essence, it is Urgent – Seek – while there is still time! While He may be found by you! And Isaiah doesn’t leave the hearers hanging, he tells them just what to do:

– How? – repent! Rd v 7; forsake and return, that you may find his compassion and find his forgiveness. A pardon is needed that you might miss the punishment.

– Why? – rd v 8-9;

                        8         For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

        For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Ill.: in the home we stayed in there was a magnet on the fridge that said: shoot for the moon, that way if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Ah… Well, truth is, you can’t touch the moon. It’s impossible. In reality, that is. But that’s the difference between your ways and thoughts, as compared to His. Yours just doesn’t compare. Mine either.

Transition: your wealth can’t compete with his, you’re ways can’t even compare to his and finally, in this final section we see

  1. The Effective Power of the Word of God.

Exp.: Rd v 10-12; Now, that’s a celebration! When you come at his invitation, when you drink from the living water, when you taste and see that the Lord is good, when you buy, free of charge what He’s selling, When You take Him at his Word – then, you’ll be satisfied, you’ll go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Finally, Rd v 13;

13         Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Remember the context: snow and rain water the earth and bring forth plants. You’d expect a thorn bush in your back yard to be watered by the snow and the rain and produce a larger thorn bush. But not with the purpose of God’s Word – uh-uh, the water here, as expressed in the snow and the rain, as described back in v 1 in the invitation to come and drink of, it transforms a thorny bush into a Cypress Tree! Instead of the brier patch, the Word of God transforms it into a Myrtle Tree. It doesn’t just nourish the plant – it changes the plant!

That’s the transforming power of the Word of God. Mean people become nice. Filthy conversation becomes clean. Hard hearts get softened. Closed minds are opened. Haters become lovers. Those once who couldn’t care less become concerned for the needs of others. The lustful become loving and pure. The selfish become servants. The Angry lose their anger. The bitter become sweet. The captive are released and set free – free from anxiety and other chains that used to hold them down.

The Blind really do see and the deaf really do hear because what was veiled off to them is revealed and what was a clanging, aggravating noise has become music to their heart’s ears!

That’s the transforming power of God’s Word. And that’s my vision for our future. The power of God at work in your heart, in my heart and the hearts of people we come in contact with:

Through Evangelism

Through Discipleship

Through Prayer

In Worship

Let’s pray… that invitation is for you.

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Missions in the Old Testament

Title: Missions in the Old Testament

Text: Isaiah 56.1-8

Introduction: Read Isaiah 56.1-8 as Scripture Reading;  Our church has set three priorities under my leadership and the leadership of the elders. Those of you who are members already know them:

Worship; Discipleship; Ministry & Mission and we’ve outlined these on the website as: show

  • One Passion: Worship
  • One Mission: Disciples – the Great Commission
  • One Body – serving in Ministry & Mission

What I want you to see is that all of these are inter-related and that you really can’t have one part without the other.

·      Remove Worship and you have a social group that meets and is man-centered. They’re set on having fun. Remove the fun part and folks head off to another social gathering. This was my experience in Kiwanis. I mean not to hurt your feelings if you are a Kiwanian, but this was my experience. Indeed, there was a Universalist in our church who told me simply that his church was the Kiwanis International.

·      Remove Discipleship and you’re left with the rugged individualist who charts his own course. He lacks accountability and responsibility. One log doesn’t burn on it’s own. It needs others to feed that fire. My favorite church sign of all time was the one that read: Warm fellowship inside. Some assembly required.

·      Remove Ministry and Mission and you have an organization that quickly rivals a museum. It becomes a lighthouse that is torn down and moved inland so that tourist can see it. Sure, the light may work and the workers may run around pulling levers and tooting their horns, but in the end, they’re of no value whatsoever.

·      Our Goal at Calvary is 1+2. Sure, there are lots of activities here. Come most days and you’ll find something going on. But, there is a process to our priorities. 1 – Worship. The only time we come together during the week is Sunday at 10am. Miss that, and you’ll be without that important priority for 2 weeks. Miss two in a row and you’ll not worship with this Body, the one you’ve committed to for 21 days. Every Sunday is important. 2ndly, we want you to be involved in Discipleship and Ministry. Choose any of those two somewhere during the week. Yes, it’s wonderful if you can do everything, but my guess is, added to the events of the world and work, you’ll get pretty run down. So we simply challenge you to 1+2.

Transition: Now, why am I telling you all this? Well, namely because we’ve been focusing on missions this Fall. The sermon series for this month is entitled: Missions is the Heart of God. It has always been his heart. Some folks think that Christians are mission minded because Jesus gave us the Great Commission. Well, that true! However, that isn’t the only reason. The Hebrew people were supposed to be God’s missionaries, too. They were supposed to communicate God’s love to the lost world around them. I can see how people can become arrogant and conceited when they see themselves as God’s chosen people without the proper perspective of missions. I can think of some Christian groups who’ve become that way.

Let’s turn to the OT and see God’s heart for the nations. Isaiah 56.1-8. I’ve divided this text into three parts:

1.     The Behavior of the Saved – v1-2

2.     The Mission of the Saved – v3-6

3.     The Hope of the Saved – v7-8

Let’s look at the 1st section, The Behavior of the saved 1st

1.     The Behavior of the Saved (1-2)

exp.: rd v 1; I love this – he tells us

·      What to do – imperative, and

·      Why to do it – soon and very soon!

·      What to do – keep justice, do righteousness; Micah 6.8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

·      Why to do it – It’s not often that God blesses us with an explanation for his commands, but here he does; my salvation will come, and my righteousness will be revealed! Have you ever seriously considered that your righteousness, your justice makes you a missionary? What you do and how you act are all part of the missionary strategy.

Now, beyond the explanation, he offers us a promise: rd v 2a; Blessing! What is this? What is it?

·      Keeps justice, does righteousness, but there is more… rd v 2b;

·      Keeps the Sabbath and his hand from evil (internal & external)

app.: Now that’s not the whole missionary strategy, but it is a great foundation. You are given the right to speak about Christ when your life communicates truth (i.e.: when you do justice and righteousness).

Transition: So this 1st section deals with the behavior of the Saved, now Isaiah moves to the actual mission…

2.     The Mission of the Saved (3-6)

exp.:  rd v 3-7a; I think this is what God is saying: Don’t exclude anyone;

·      Foreigner – forbidden in the Temple; Gentiles

·      Eunuch – forbidden due to deformaties

And what are the promises? Rd 7a;

a.     Heaven – My Holy Mountain

b.     His house of prayer – Here and Now

Transition: the Behavior of the Saved, lived out and giving a foundation for missions; The mission of the Saved – to exclude no one! You see, those who’ve been excluded are no longer excluded. And 3rd,

3.     The Hope of the Saved (7-8)

exp.: Blessing is promised; this is evident in v 5 – I will give & I will give; Could there be something better than Children?

Ps 127 tells us: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! Is there a better, great blessing? Yes!

In Revelation 2.17 he says: To the one who conquers… I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ in 3.12 he says: The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. These things spoken of here will be fulfilled! That, ladies and gentlemen is our hope! But there is more: look back at v 7!

Quickly, I need you to turn to Matthew 21.12-13; Here’s what he’s saying: Isaiah told you about this and what you were to be doing here! This isn’t a place for making money! This is to be a place of prayer for all people! More than that: I am the fulfillment of that passage! I’m the promised one, the one who brings you peace and forgiveness. Don’t believe him? Continue on to v14-16: Son of David – they get it, they see he’s the Messiah! He’s the promised one from the line of David. The Pharisees get it, that is why they’re so upset with him. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is the hope we have today! Heaven doesn’t start when we die! Heaven starts right here, right now.

Oh, I implore you: If you’ve never committed your life to Christ by surrendering who you are and finding the forgiveness of your sins – please, give up your life now! Don’t waste another moment! Step out into the aisle and cry out for mercy before God. Today is the day of Salvation.


Rd v8; The idea of missions isn’t something new. It was God’s heart from the beginning.

That’s why:

·      We’re commanded to live our lives justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with our God

·      We’re commanded to go and entreat everyone to come – the foreigner and the eunuch alike – don’t forbid anyone to come.

·      We’re promised the hope of salvation – not just for heaven, where will live with Him eternally, but for this moment forward – to walk with him through all things.

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