Category Archives: Sermon

The Boy, Jesus

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Title: The Boy,  Jesus

Text: Luke 2.40-52

Introduction: The basic events as outlined in the Gospels are stories related by eyewitnesses. And, the writers, themselves were often times those same witnesses (i.e, first-hand reports). They observed first hand, Jesus in action. But stories of his childhood must come from other sources. That is why these stories of his childhood are very limited. Maybe that is why Luke begins this Gospel Account as he does in 1.1-4:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

Luke states clearly that he wants to document his research so that there might be a certainty of the things being taught. I’m glad he did this extra work – going the extra mile, in order that we might know this story. This is the only story we have of his childhood.

**note: there are pseudopigraphic writings containing other-worldly type stories of the childhood of Jesus, but there is none we consider authoritative. Only this one…

I think Luke’s genius in his organization, thought and flow becomes apparent as we look closer at the text. I want you to remember the declaration of the Angel to Mary: 1st, She would bear a Son and his name would be called Jesus. In Lk 2.21, we read that is just what happened: they named him Jesus. 2nd, Her son would be Holy. We see that take place in Lk 2.22-23; 3rd, her son, Jesus, would be the Son of God (1.35). That hasn’t happened yet. As we’ve walked through Luke 1 and 2, we’ve not seen such a declaration, yet. We will see that in our passage today.

Notice how Luke brackets this story with certain phrasing: rd 2.40 and 2.52; growth, strength, wisdom, favor;

Luke is employing his journalist gift by creating a bridge between his birth and the start of his earthly ministry. To do this, he sets up his outline of three marks or traits of Jesus as given by the Angel, Gabriel. This third mark (i.e.,: being called the Son of God), is the purpose in this story and the link between these two separate parts to the book (his birth and the start of his earthly ministry).

So, just how will Luke do this? Let’s read the story together and I’ll then take you through his process, step by step. Read Luke 2.40-52; pray

This story reads like a narrative. Each narrative consists of:

  1. Setting
  2. Conflict or Crisis
  3. Climax
  4. Resolution
  5. Stasis (D. Helm: A New Setting; Simeon Trust Workshops)

See Graph: this is a picture of how a narrative might flow.

Let’s look at each one of these in our story:

  1. Setting (40-42): these people are Jewish and they are faithful to this religious observance.
  2. Conflict (43-45): every narrative has a crisis event where conflict occurs. This story finds the conflict or the crisis when Jesus (as a child) remains in Jerusalem and his mom and dad loose track of him. A search ensues. A return to the city is warranted. The search continues. It is on the 3rd day he is found.
  3. Climax (46-49): the story reaches its climax when Jesus is found and his mom confronts him for this action that has created such worry for them. And in his response, Jesus asks them two questions to demonstrate his childlike naïveté. Luke tells us that his parents don’t get it – they don’t understand his response.
  4. Resolution (50): The story’s resolution isn’t really much of a resolution. It finds its resolution and
  5. Stasis (51-2): The New Setting – Jesus lives out his childhood perfectly in the obedience and submission of the Messiah to his parents. He gets older, wiser, and stronger and is well respected among the people as he finds their favor. Most of all, he has his Father’s favor. Mary has a keen awareness of the fact that something is going on here. She doesn’t totally get it, but she gets that something is afoot.

But is that what Luke wants for his readers? Is his desire to just tell you a story and move on? Did he just think to himself that he had a journalistic problem here and was looking for filler? Or, are their lessons here for us? Is their theology that will help us understand the Messiah? More Questions:

  1. What is the significance of the Passover?
  2. What is the significance to the age of 12?
  3. How can a Mom and Dad not know where their child is?
  4. Was this Jesus so brilliant and smart that he actually became the teacher to these Doctors of Religion (think Seminary Professors)?

As we begin working our way through the text, I find it interesting that vs. 40 and 52 could serve as an outline to the story as well: he grew (v 42; 12 years old), he became strong (v 46; he was three days on his own), God’s grace or God’s favor was upon him (v. 49; about my Father’s business/things).

I hope to answers these questions as I make my way through this passage this morning using our stages of the narrative. Let’s begin with the 1st stage…

The Setting (40-42)

exp.: we continue with our rd in v 41; A reminder of their faithfulness; It appears that they made the trek to Jerusalem each year for the Passover. The OT Law required faithful Jews to make the trek to Jerusalem three times a year to present themselves to the Lord. Exodus 23.14-17: 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord God. We see it also in Deut. 16.16: 16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you. Cf.: Deut. 31.11; this is just one of the three times each year they would make that Journey (or at the very least, that Joseph made). Rd v 42;

app.: what you and I would probably miss is that this particular event is an important time of preparation for a Jewish boy. Sometime over the course of the next year, Jesus would turn 13 and would experience his Bar Mitzvah (Son of the Commandment). He would become a man. This Passover experience was an important part of that Bar Mitzvah experience. There were activities, lessons, experiences he would need on this particular year over the others. The identification of this particular year and this particular season is important in his life as a Jewish boy, who is becoming a man.

t.s.: The setting is a specific time frame, but there is more here than just identifying that it is about 7-8AD. It is a very special time in the life of a Jewish Boy. He’s becoming a man. Now that the setting has been set, the story continues into a time of conflict and crisis.

The Conflict or Crisis (43-45)

exp.: rd v 43-45; So his parents pack up and leave to head back to Nazareth, but Jesus remains in Jerusalem. It would be easy for him to be overlooked because Jesus has just experienced something special and wonderful. He’s in this ‘in-between’ stage of not really being a child anymore and not really being a man. In a traveling caravan like this one, filled with ‘relatives and acquaintances’ the men would travel together and the women and children would travel together. Joseph must have assumed that his son felt more comfortable with his mom and the other children and not yet ready for the rough and tumble world of manhood. Mary must have thought that Jesus felt himself to be ready to travel with the men. But, there must be even more here.

ill.: Have you ever known a child like this, who was found to be self-reliant and self-supportive? A child who needed very little oversight? At the age of 12, Jesus is just such a kid. He is so trusted, that his parents aren’t even that concerned with the fact that he is not in Joseph or Mary’s presence. He can be trusted. If he isn’t with me, then he is where he believes he is supposed to be.

This should be speaking volumes to us at this moment. Jesus is a good kid. He is so good, and so trusted that his parents aren’t even checking up on him. See the end of v 43: His parents did not know it…

exp.: at the end of the day, as the caravan makes camp, they come to realize that Jesus isn’t with them. A search ensues amongst relatives and friends, but to no avail. There is only one logical explanation: Jesus must still be back in Jerusalem.

ill.: Did you by chance catch this week’s biggest story? 13-year-old Jayme Closs escaped from her captor’s home and found a woman walking her dog. The woman called 911 and knocked on a door to a house where they were. Jayme was kidnapped last October by a man who killed both of her parents. The police said that she simply vanished. There was no trail to even begin trying to track her whereabouts.

app.: You and I sit here this morning and think that story is probably our biggest nightmare: one of our children missing – and unaccounted for… And this is where we find these parents: miles from Jerusalem and no idea where their little boy is. All of the sudden, he goes from this perception of “becoming a man” to “he’s their little boy”…

exp.: pick up in v 46; after three days, they found him in the Temple! The 1st day, they weren’t too worried, they figured and expected the best of their son – and it wasn’t until later that evening at their stop that they make this discovery. I’m sure it was a long night, waiting for daylight so that they could return to the city. Did they have to make arrangements for their other children, animals, possessions? They traveled all that 2nd day. That day must have been the worst. But on the 3rd day, and yes, I think there is a hint of the story of the tomb here; But on that 3rd day, they found him in the Temple.

t.s.: and this is where the story reaches its climax…

The Climax (46-49)

exp.: They found him; rd v 46; three participles describing the actions of Jesus: sitting, listening, and inquiring. Two responses I’m supposing comes from a parent at this moment. An overwhelming sense of relief that there he is alive and well. And 2ndly, an overwhelming attempt to hide their incredible anger and disappointment for putting them through this anguish. Mary says as much in v48: Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress. This word in the Gk, translated in great distress, is a medical term which means internal distress and anguish. I’m grateful for the work of William Kirk Hobart in his scholarly book, The Medical Language of St. Luke. The work to produce this book is mindboggling, in that, Hobart did this work in 1882, without the help of computers. According to Hobart, Luke applies this word to three separate stories in four places:

  • Here (2.48), to describe the internal anguish of parents who have lost and cannot find their missing child;
  • Luke 16.24f; to describe the anguish of hell in the Story of the rich man, Lazarus, who is cast into hell. And, interestingly enough, in
  • Acts 20.38, where the elders say goodbye to Paul, knowing that they will never see him again. Their goodbye is filled with the deepest of sorrow because they know their friend is going to his death.

A couple of notes, I think are interesting here: Teachers usually sat in the midst of their students. Where do they find Jesus? Lit. Gk: sitting in the midst/middle of the teachers (professors). So, he appears to be in the position of teacher. But the text doesn’t say that. 2ndly, he is answering their questions and asking them questions that display to them an incredible aptitude for the things of God. Look at the response of these professors; rd v 47;

But, this is what I find so amazing about this story – and it is the response of the boy Jesus to his mother. Rd v 49: And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.” Gk. Lit.: Did you not know that about the things of my Father, must be me. In other words, I must be about my Father’s things (i.e., his business).

app.: Jesus is totally caught off guard at their anguish. Didn’t they know that he would be right where he was, doing just what he was doing?

I have to pause and say that I missed this in our children. Lisa, she was keenly aware of our children and their child-like state. She understood their little minds. She saw when they acted like Children, that they weren’t being rebellious – they were just being children. Being. That is the word that Jesus uses here.

t.s.: Which leads us to the Resolution.

The Resolution (50)

exp.: in Biblical narrative, I find that the resolution of the story is often quite short, as we find it here. One verse. Rd v 50; If you’ve been a believer for many years, then you know this is common with those who follow Jesus. Often times, as he speaks to them about spiritual things, they just don’t get it. These things were hidden from them and they didn’t fully understand them. And, even with all that has taken place with them, even since before Jesus was born, they’re still trapped in the earthly mindset of human beings.

Consider their responsibility as parents. They might look bad to the others they were traveling with, to the others who have their other children.

Jesus asked them in v 49 – why were you searching for me? Did you not know…. Surely you knew. Jesus is shocked that they don’t grasp what it is that he is doing – and what he came to do. And v 50 clarifies that they don’t! But he does! Even at the age of 12, he knew that he was to be about his Father’s business.

Parents, has your child ever embarrassed you? I think Mary and Joseph are embarrassed, humiliated. But Jesus doesn’t think they should be. They should have known what he would be doing and where he would be. At least, HE thought they should have known. He doesn’t get why they don’t understand. He sees things through the eyes of a 12-year-old – a boy who is turning into a man – but he isn’t quite there yet. He has a childlike naivety that is essential to our faith. It is that ability to trust.

They don’t understand. Mary said… your father and I…, Jesus said my Father’s things.

But, with the Resolution comes a New Setting – Stasis.

Stasis: A New Setting (51-52)

exp.: rd v 51; Jesus goes home with them to Nazareth and lives out his life in obedience and submission to them. Sometime over the next few years, Joseph will die. We won’t know about any of that, because the next part of the story will pick up when Jesus begins his earthly ministry. Until that time, Jesus will take the leadership role in his family. He will serve as a carpenter. He’ll build houses, furniture, plows, and yokes. And all of that will come in handy as he teaches, relying on his experiences to share.

Conclusion: So, what would I like you to take home with you this morning?


  1. As we consider the Passover and the experience of a 12-year-old boy, I think it is important to remember that God is God over everything in our lives – even the timing of the events that take place. He is neither too slow in moving, nor too fast in resolving matters. His timing is perfect. Time must have been of great concern for mom and dad. But, even in their fear, in their anguish, and yes, even in the timing of it all – God is God.

I’m worried that phrasing may sound too trite. I don’t mean to downplay anyone’s anguish. But, be honest. Is any of this out of God’s control? Do you believe he is in control?

  1. It is also a great reminder for us to consider that each story in Scripture, even though it might only seem to be a simple story, is so much more than just a moral to be discovered. God was at work in the lives of those people, accomplishing his purpose and his glory. Every act and action is vital.
    1. So, don’t think of your life as small and inconsequential. Don’t think that any small part of your life as something too small in the grand scheme of God’s plan. You just might have no idea of what God is on the verge of doing or accomplishing in you or around you. Whether you are the Mary or the Joseph or the Teachers or someone in the crowd – God is in your midst. He’s up to something. And yes, I do believe that. God is up to something and that something is bringing glory to himself through you and the events of your life.
    2. So, let me ask, in all you do, are you about your Father’s things?
  2. I’m keenly aware of this friction between the two storylines of Jesus and his faithfulness to be about his Father’s business and the anguish and distress of these two parents who’ve lost their son and have no idea where he is or what he is going through. But if I might, I’d like you to pull away from the close-up view in the Temple – and away from these parents who are moving back toward Jerusalem as fast as they can, praying as they go. Pull back to the place where God sits and get a ‘God’s eye view” of things. He is there in their anguish. He is there in the mother’s tears and the father’s quiet pleading in prayer for his son’s safety. God is not absent in it all.

As you sit here this morning enduring whatever life has thrown at you, I want to ask you to consider that God is in the midst of your struggle. He knows the outcome. He knows the details. He knows… So put your trust in him.

I’d like to invite you to do that. At Calvary, we sit in silence and reflect upon the day’s activity. We reflect upon God’s activity in our lives. In a moment, we’ll be dismissed to a time of fellowship. We’d love to visit with you about it all.


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Filed under Luke, Messiah, Scripture, Sermon

Simeon’s Song

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Title: Simeon’s Song

Text: Luke 2.21-35

Introduction: Well, here we are just a day away! We’ve made our way through three of the Christmas songs. Zechariah’s Song, Mary’s Song, last week – the Angels’ song, and this morning we’ll look at Simeon’s Song.

We’re in Luke 2.21. We’ll also be in two other places this morning – and we’ll read a significant portion of those Scriptures when we get there – so, you’ll want to bookmark them. Leviticus 12 & Isaiah 52. Go ahead and mark that spot in your Bible. Leviticus 12 and Isaiah 52.

Let’s begin with the reading of the text (Luke 2.21-35). Rd Lk 2.21-35

I think it is interesting that Luke tells us so much about what this family is doing. There is a lot of action and there is a lot of explanation: circumcision on a specific day, naming the son at that time, a period of time passes for her purification. Then, as that time passes they all go to the Temple for some sort of presentation of themselves and the baby in the Temple, with it all culminating in a sacrifice. There are details surrounding it all.

Typically, for us as Americans, we already know the name of the baby when he or she is born. Why wait 8 days before giving the baby his name? Besides, from earlier in the story, they already knew his name was going to be Jesus! Come to think of it – it was the same with John. They knew his name early on but didn’t go to name him until the 8th day. And what is with the purification process? How long does it last and what is involved in all of that? What is the issue with circumcision? How does all of this fit in the story of Jesus and what is the purpose in it all?

Before we begin to answer some of the questions, I’d like to make a note of something I just said and ask you to think about it: did you notice I mentioned the naming of Jesus on the 8th day when he was going to be circumcised? And then, I said the same thing about John? When studying the Bible, I think these sorts of points or information should get our attention. We should be asking ourselves if there is something being repeated? Is it similar to what is in the other story? If it is, then are there other similarities? If there is, could there be a pattern to these stories? Finally, why is Luke writing in such a manner?

`St. Augustine said: The Old (Testament) is in the New (Testament) revealed. The New (Testament) is in the Old (Testament) concealed.

That is precisely what we see going on in our text today. In order to understand much of what is taking place in this New Testament passage, we need to look back and understand some of the Old Testament!

I’ve often commented on how it would be nice if we could become Jewish before we become Christians. Now, please understand that I am being hyperbolic. I do not really believe people should become Jewish before they become Christian! But, my point is that we really need to understand the Jewish mindset – culturally, sociologically, religiously, philosophically – to better understand what it means to be a Christian. A broader understanding of the Old Testament will illuminate the New Testament for us.

This morning in our NT passage we see the OT, “Jewish-ness” of this family. Our text picks up in 2.21; all of these rituals, practices, and actions played a huge part in the life of any Jewish family when a child was born. Check out these keywords quickly with me:

  • Circumcision in v 21
  • Purification in v 22
  • The Law of Moses; v 22
  • Presentation; v 22
  • The Firstborn male; v 23
  • The Law of the Lord, v 23; v 24
  • Sacrifice; v 24;
  • The Consolation of Israel, v 25
  • The Custom of the Law, v 27

Transition: We’ll look at these a little closer in a moment, but for now, this is the application for us in all that we see with this little family: Faith should be observable.

Faith is lived out in a very public way: Luke is writing for many people who are not Jewish and don’t understand the Jewish mindset. I think even today there is much we don’t understand. It’s good for us to see this. We see someone and we recognize that they are Jewish: the hat, the beard, the hair that curls down long in front of the ears, the sash, the tassels. We see and we recognize, but do we know why each of these traits and characteristics serves a point? They all mean something!

In our text, as we begin reading, we will note that this family is Jewish.

1st, we see that this family is Jewish.

And (even greater than that) we see their obedience to that Jewish faith. What I mean is that it isn’t just that their racial identification is Hebrew. Their faith is something that is lived out, which is the way it should be. They are going where they should be going and doing what they should be doing when they should be going and doing it!

  • Time frames are set in v 21 & 22; Lev. 12.1-2a; you might wonder why the Jews waited until the 8th Well, first of all, mom is considered unclean. This practice is so important for the Jews and we Gentiles miss out when we don’t get this. The teaching of what is clean and unclean demonstrates for the Jews the holiness of God, and, not to treat God in a way that is irreverent. Rd Lev 12.3; So, once mom has been considered ceremonially clean, there is a very important ceremony that she should be a part of for her baby boy – his circumcision. This process is so very important because it is an outward symbol of God’s Covenant with his people – the Jews. So, just in Luke 2.21, we see some very important Jewish traditions being played out, that we might not know if we’ve never studied the Jewish faith. Consider again Luke’s audience – to whom he is writing. Those Gentiles might not know very much about the Jewish faith.
  • 2ndly we see the Law of Moses and its importance in their lives. Rd v 22; In going back to Lev 12, we see the requirements set out. Rd Lev. 12.4; Continuing 33 days from 7 days = 40 total days. In our text in Luke, we see that he was probably circumcised in Bethlehem – probably at the local synagogue. Mary wouldn’t be allowed in the Temple area. But now, after 40 days, the time of her purification would be complete. Their family would then travel the 6 miles or so to Jerusalem to the Temple to make their sacrifice for Jesus. But why? Well, there are a couple of reasons. Luke explains in v. 23f; rd v 23f;

exp.: 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, [so he’s telling us where this is, which by the way, isn’t a quote] “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”); Just so you know, the requirements for sacrifice are set out in the book of Exodus at the Passover. God said that every firstborn son belongs to him. If it was an animal, depending on the animal, then it was to be sacrificed to God. If this was a son – that is, human, then it was to be redeemed. And so Luke continues: 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” Luke is actually referring back to the Leviticus passage: rd Lev. 12.6-8; So we see some important markers with this family – namely, that they were poor. But don’t miss the most important teaching moment from Luke: this identifies for us their obedience to the Law. They were Jewish – and they were practicing Jews – faithful to their God.

2nd, they name their son, Jesus, according to the τὸ ῥῆμά of God through Gabriel. So they’re faithful to their religion, but they also demonstrate their piety in their attention to the plan of God. They offer sacrifices and perform their ceremonial tasks according to the Word of God. But, they also stick to the plan as outlined by the angel – τὸ ῥῆμά of God. I think it is interesting that the Angel appears to both Mary and Joseph at different times and in two different places. And, in both instances, the Angel makes it clear that the baby’s name is to be, Jesus. You read chapter 2.1-7. The baby is born – but he isn’t named in v1-7! He isn’t named until they come 8 days later to observe the Law for their newborn son. And, in that ceremony, they demonstrate their trust that God has a plan for their little boy. That very public demonstration of their faith is that they give him the name, Jesus.

You probably remember there was one requirement set out by the angel. Back up in 1.31-32: 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

Joseph had two requirements set on him: Marry Mary and name your son, Jesus. Over in Matthew 1, beginning in v 18 it reads: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

  1. Marry Mary and 2. Name this baby boy, Jesus.

Transition: So they are living out their faith in a very public way.

There is a 2nd application for us here: Faith should be deeply private and personal.

Faith lived out in a very private way:

Here, Luke does another… meanwhile, back at the ranch transition. This is a… meanwhile, back in Jerusalem transition. Rd v 25a; So, we meet another character and we get to know just a little bit about him: rd v 25b; Here’s what we know about Simeon.

  • He was righteous and devout.
  • He was waiting for the consolation of Israel.

What exactly does that mean? Well, if you were Jewish, you would know. But for us Gentiles, we need a little help. So, let me show you. Isaiah 52 & 53; So, Simeon has been waiting for this Messiah, this Arm of the Lord.

As we move forward through to V 26, it tells us of a supernatural experience in such a way that τὸ ῥῆμά of God was revealed to him. Rd v 26; Basically, that he would not taste death before he saw the Messiah. Did the Holy Spirit reveal this in a dream, like with Joseph? No tango idea. But this had to be pretty powerful. Consider it: centuries in the making and now someone is promised that he will see God’s Anointed, God’s Messiah in his lifetime.

Ill.: the only way I can even begin to equate it would be if one of you had a supernatural experience with the Holy Spirit and were told in no uncertain terms that you would not taste death before Jesus returned again. That would be so cool! But, I’m not sure that is something you could share with people. They would think you were nuts!

App.: Please allow me to share something of experience here… I want you to know that these times of God’s supernatural communication are a very real experience. I don’t want to downplay what has happened with Simeon and I sure don’t want you to think that God doesn’t work that way today. Let me offer this caveat with this application. We don’t see communication with God like this on a daily basis. So, neither should you! I’m not saying it isn’t possible. God can do as he pleases. But, most of us don’t even listen to God when he speaks us through His Word – logos or rhema. And in case you’re wondering, Yes, I’ve had supernatural experiences like this in my walk with God.

  • I call these times Pearls from God. Don’t cast your Pearls before swine! If you ever have an experience like this, it isn’t precious to other people. If you cast your pearls before others, there is a high probability they’ll be trampled underfoot.

They are called pearls because they are precious and they are very rare. Consider Abraham. How often do we see God interacting in a supernatural way? Very few times. And often long periods between.

exp.: The Holy Spirit was at work in Simeon (26) – leading him, guiding him (27). Rd v 27a; Ok, so Simeon is living out his faith in a very private way. Rd 27b; Wow… these parents are being obedient to the Law – living out their faith in a very public way. They’re on their way to fulfill their obligation to the law… when BAM! – they collide!

Simeon knows right away that this is the Messiah – this little baby has come to save the World! So, he sweeps him up in his arms. I wonder if the parents are caught off guard?

Can I pause and give us an application here? God works in and through us when we’re being faithful, living out what we believe in both public and private ways. And a song is born in Simeon. Let us go through this line by line:

  • Now is the first word of importance in this song. It takes the place of emphasis in the sentence structure. I think the English language looses that a little. The 2nd most important word in this sentence is the word You see, in the Greek, words appear in any order the speaker or writer wants. He puts them in the order he wants to emphasize. With Simeon, it is Now and in Peace.

That is what Christ brings! Now, when we give our lives to him, he brings peace. Undefinable, Unexplainable, incomprehensible peace. Sins washed away – Peace! A wasted life, to Peace! A messed up marriage, to Peace. A broken heart that’s been shattered – Peace.

Can anyone here tell me the Candle for this morning? The Peace Candle. That’s what Jesus brings: Peace.

  • Lord that word is mostly translated Master in the bible. Like when you read in 1 Timothy .. behave this way with your slaves. “Slave” is the other word here that you see translated servant. Now, in peace, Master, let your slave depart… according to your word. According to your rhema!

Rd v. 30-31 – For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples… Just a glimpse of this baby and he knew that God’s long-awaited salvation for his people and for the world was here! Rd v 32: a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. That is the consolation of Israel and salvation for all people.

Rd v 33: And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. I’m sure! And all of God’s people said: Aaaahhhh!!

Conclusion: Wouldn’t it be nice if it ended right there? Oh, but it doesn’t. There is more.

The truth is that life is hard. We’re not getting through this life unscathed. Sin has had its impact on us. And we see that in these next few verses. Rd v 34-35.

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

  1. You’re a Christian – act like it. Live it out: in public and in private. Sure, sometimes it can feel like legalism. But if you’re a Christian, then live out that faith. Tithe. Attend worship. Get discipled. Read your Bible daily.
  2. The Christ-filled life doesn’t mean “without struggle”. Yes, there is peace – but that peace comes within the storm that rages. That’s a part of the witness and the living out your faith in a very public way.
  3. Christ came – and he fulfilled what had been promised. Christ is coming again. Are you watching and waiting in anticipation of that event?
  4. But maybe you aren’t a Christian. Maybe life is a struggle. If Christ returned today you’d be in big trouble. Let me offer you, Christ, today.

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God Matters

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

Title: God Matters

Text: Luke 2.8-21

Introduction: We’re in the midst of our Sermon Series Christmas Songs. Our previous two songs (Zechariah & Mary) were set in the timeframe of ‘BC’ – that is, “Before Christ.” They took place before Christ was born. 1st, we meet Zechariah when he enters into the Holy Place and sees an Angel named Gabriel. Think about this: at this point in history, God has been silent for some 400 years. The Remnant of Israel came back from Exile and settled, or should I say ‘resettled,’ the land. You might recall that the Old Testament closes out with the promise of one who would come and prepare the way of the Messiah. Amos and other minor prophets foretold of a famine of God’s Word. And so there was silence… for 400 years. Next, we meet Mary. Her story a little different than Zechariah’s story, but, as we shall see, presented in similar fashion.

These two songs appear in Luke 1. In Chapter 2.1-7, we have the story of the birth of Christ. That’s our Christmas story – so we’ll hold off on telling it for another week. Our story this morning takes place at the same time as his birth or thereabouts. It is a ‘meanwhile, back at the ranch’ moment. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, angels are a bringing a birth announcement to the Shepherds.

I love Baby Announcements; show pics

That’s is how our story begins this morning – with an announcement. But it isn’t just a regular announcement. This announcement outdoes all other announcements. Sure, these announcements are cute and clever. But, man, oh, man – this announcement is pretty spectacular!

We pick up our story in Luke 2.8; rd v 8; Luke has created some spectacular scenes spread out across the country: from the Temple in Jerusalem, up North to a town in Galilee, out to some small village in the Judean Hill Country, to the little town of Bethlehem, and now out into the countryside where shepherds are keeping their watch over their flocks by night. Luke makes these stories so easy for us follow. He helps us see how each story follows:

A Similar Pattern (8-12)

exp.: This storyline follows the same pattern as the previous storylines of Zechariah and Mary:

  1. The Appearance of an Angel (rd v 9a,b)
    • Zechariah sees an Angel standing at the Altar of Incense
    • Mary sees an Angel come to her
    • The Shepherds see an angel who appears to them. They are working in the dark of night and the darkness of night flees as the angel lights up the sky, dispelling the darkness. I think there is something here of the darkness and the light. Imagery, if you will. As with the appearance of an Angel, each of our stories has…
  2. The Reaction of Fear (rd v 9c)
    • Zechariah: fear fell upon him
    • Mary was greatly troubled. In our story this morning…
    • The Shepherds are filled with great fear, or as the King James says: they were sore afraid!
  3. The Appeal to Fear Not in v 10
    • 13 – Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because God has heard your prayers!
    • 30 – Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God!

in both of these passages, the literal translation is Fear not, which is what we see in our text this morning, rd v 10;

  • Do not be afraid, Shepherds, because I bring you good news of great Joy!
  1. The Announcement of a Birth: a son
    • Zechariah, God has heard your prayers! Elizabeth is going to bear you a son and you shall call his name John.
    • Mary, you have found favor with God and you will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus.
    • Shepherds, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
  2. The Sign:
    • And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place.
    • And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
    • And this will be a sign for you: You will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths (i.e.: strips of cloth) and lying in a manger. Here is a question: what makes this sign something special and different that it’ll be easy for them to identify?
      • There is the time frame, which is limited to ‘this day’.
      • There is the location: the city of David, which is identified for us in v 15; rd v 15; – which fits with Micah’s prophecy (Micah 5.2)

These alone will limit their search. It isn’t like Bethlehem is a big city and it isn’t like there were 25 babies born that day. But, here is where it gets good. Wrapped in strips of cloth is unusual. And even more out of the ordinary is a baby sleeping in a feeding trough. And this is what makes it a sign: This description doesn’t match that announcement!

ill.: Ok, here’s the deal. The greatest miracle of all time is happening this morning! God is coming to earth in human form as a baby boy. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Messiah you’ve been looking for since Genesis 3.15. Oh, and by the way, the way you’ll recognize him is that he’s going look like a pauper!

t.s.: So, first, we see how each story has a similar pattern. And 2ndly, we see how each story has…

A Song of Praise (13-14)

exp.: rd v13-14; I see this as a crescendo of what has been happening through the evening and possibly early morning hours. When you watch this in a play, it usually takes 30 minutes to an hour. I don’t think the actual story lasts nearly as long. I know what you’re thinking: like your sermons! You guys are so funny.

ill.: I need your help with this. I want you to time me. Get your timer ready. Tell me how long this lasts. Go:

And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                14         “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

app.: Stop. Less than a minute, right? Well, I’m thinking with full orchestration it lasted a few seconds longer! But you get the point. This announcement is a lot quicker than many probably think!

t.s.: So we see A Similar Pattern and A Song of Praise. Third, our stories then demonstrate

A Searching Out of the Possibilities (15-20)

exp.: Zechariah is stricken with silence – for months and his barren wife becomes pregnant! Mary travels to their house to take all of this in. Check out what our Shepherds do in v 15; 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Do you see the word translated things in v 15? The Gk word is ῥῆμα; You’ve probably heard that word before. I think ῥῆμα is hard to translate in English because it doesn’t have just one word in English you can use. Luke 1.37: Because not not able with God every word (or thing or matter). The Shepherds said let’s go see this thing… The Angel said in 1.37 No thing is impossible with God. Or, get rid of the double negative and you have: All things are possible with God! This word can also be translated matter. The Shepherds said, let’s go see this matter… or with the Angel to Mary, No matter is impossible with God. If it matters to God, it’s possible!

Now you see how I got the title to my message this morning!

app.: Like Mary, Like the shepherds, this needs to be our reaction to God’s Word – God’s ῥῆμα; An angel of the Lord probably isn’t going to appear at the end of our bed in the night. Right? But he doesn’t have to! We have God’s Word right here! We need to know that every ῥῆμα of God is going to be accomplished. When God declares a ῥῆμα – a word to you through his Holy Word – you should seek these things out. I don’t like the word things, but things here would be equivalent to the word ῥῆμα. You should seek this ῥῆμα out. Seek this matter out. That’s what the shepherds do. They say: Let us go immediately to Bethlehem and behold this matter which has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.

I have a question for you to ponder: Do you ever wonder if you miss out on wonderful matters because you don’t seek out the matters God makes known to you? Or worse: Do you think God makes matters known to you and you just don’t care enough to pursue them?

Imagine with me now: The shepherds are out in their fields, watching over their sheep by night. Lo, and behold, an Angel of the Lord appears to them and gives them God’s ῥῆμα (just as he did Mary). “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

                14         “Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Picking up now in v 15: When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Wow, that was really cool. Now, where were we? Ahmed, you were saying…?”

I think that’s kind of how we are when reading God’s word – His Holy Word and we don’t pursue it! It is almost like we just want to read God’s Word to find a good devotional thought for the day. But v 15 doesn’t read that way! 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste…

Matters go just as the Lord revealed they would; So they make a plan (15), they go (16a), they find (16b), they declare it (17), the people are amazed (18), and lastly, God is glorified (20);

t.s.: Now, some of you might be saying: Hey, Hang on there! You skipped v. 19. Don’t you just love verse 19? 19 But Mary treasured up all these things (ῥῆμα), pondering them in her heart. Which brings me to the conclusion this morning…

Conclusion: The events of our lives are matters that must be treasured. Ponder that for a moment. God works in so many ways: relationships, events. God is actively working in your life at this moment. He’s working in the mundane. He’s working in the routine. He’s working in the surprises. He’s working in the sickness. He’s working in the pain. He’s working in the promotion. He’s working in the relationships. He’s working in the struggle. He’s working in the storm. Whatever is going on in your life right now – or, whatever isn’t going on right now – God is at work!

app.: and that matter right there should lead us to do what the shepherds did – glorify and praise God.


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Mary’s Song

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

Title: Mary’s Song

Text: Luke 1.26-56; 2.19, 35

Introduction: Our Story today picks up in the middle of last week’s story. We see two connections to the greater storyline as we pick up in 1.26; rd 1.26a: In the sixth month the angel Gabriel…; 1st, there is the connection with the time reference – 6th month. Back in v 24, we’re told that Elizabeth has kept her pregnancy quiet for 5 months. Now, it is a month further into that pregnancy. And we’ll see another reference when we get down to v 36, Gabriel tells Mary about her cousin Elizabeth. 2nd, we have the connection with the angel Gabriel, who declared to us back in v19 that he stands in the presence of God. Lit.: in his eyes.

So, with this connection, we’re to understand that these stories are related – really, entwined.

As we continue with this verse, we see a foundation for the whole story. Rd 1.26b; Gabriel was sent from God. This word sent in the Gk is the verb form of the word for which we get for our word Apostle (ἀποστέλλω). It means commissioned. Gabriel has been commissioned by God for this very special task.

Continue in v 26c-27: Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. Let’s take a moment to look more at his mission

Gabriel: Commissioned of God

  • His Mission – sent from God with a very specific task; Mary is a popular name, but this Mary is a virgin. She is also engaged – that is, she’s in the middle of her courtship with a specific man, Joseph. This Joseph happens to be in the lineage of King David. The writer here, telling us this story is being very specific in the details.
  • His Message – you will have a son
    • Greetings: Lit.: Rejoice!14; O favored one, it is interesting to note that Gabriel said the same thing to Daniel in Daniel 9.23; The Lord is with you! Read v 29; Usually, when an angel shows up, you can’t help but wonder what it might all be about. But Gabriel assures her; rd v 30; I think v 30 is all a part of his message. But, to this point his message has been non-prophetic, so to speak. But that is about to change.
    • The Prophecy of the Messiah: Let’s continue; rd v 31-33; The Angel is pretty straightforward here: you’re going to conceive a baby boy in your womb and you’ll give birth to him – and when you do, his name is called Jesus. Furthermore, he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. AND, the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. AND, he will reign over the house of Jacob – forever – there will be no end to his kingdom.

Now, Mary is thinking in the present. I wonder if she has really grasped all of this forever, and no end bit of the prophecy. Look at what she asks: rd v 34; 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Lit.: I do not know a man. “Know” as in the biblical way of know – Adam knew Eve and she conceived… Well, she is engaged, but that part of the relationship hasn’t been consummated, yet. Physically, this would be impossible.


Some people have wondered why Zechariah got in so much trouble over his question and Mary appears to not get into trouble for asking her question. Let me show you. It has to do with two different words know and be:

  • When you read Zechariah’s question in v 18, it is apparent that he wanted to ‘know’ this before he would believe, demonstrating his disbelief.
  • Mary asks how this will “be”, demonstrating she believed it would be, she just didn’t understand how.
  • Her question is more about the process and how it will all come about. Zechariah doesn’t think it will come about and wants some concrete answers before he’ll go there.
  • Added to this, the angel tells us the Zechariah didn’t believe in v 20; Her belief is declared down in v 45, but it is also expressed in what she says and what she does in v 38-39.

So Gabriel spells things out for her:

  1. By way of the Holy Spirit, the power of the Most High God (God the Father) will envelop her; cf.: Luke 9.34; that’s how it will happen; 2ndly, rd v 35b;
  2. Ok, I like the NASB’s translation of this next phrasing: and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you – for this reason, because of this, the holy begotten (Child) will be called the Son of God;

Ok, so that is a full explanation for her, but Gabriel offers more – he gives her a sign that God is already at work in all of this; rd v 36-37; So, look at Elizabeth.

  1. Elizabeth is a Sign for Mary – Elizabeth is now in her 6th month! Here is a barren woman – that is a woman who was never able to have a baby. Added to this physical impossibility is her age – she is already beyond childbearing years. But God has taken the impossible and proven that nothing is impossible for him. But check out Mary’s Humility: rd v 38

Mary: A Demonstration of FaithHere we see Mary’s faith expressed

  • Her Faith Expressed: 1st, through her words. 2nd, through her actions.
    • First, Mary declares her faith in God by humbly acknowledging that she is the Lord’s slave. He is God and she wants to serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses.

Can I just say that this blows my mind? First, it blows my mind because she is so young but responds with such maturity. But, 2ndly, this will humiliate her. The consequences of what God will do in and through her life will make her the lowest in her society. She’ll be made fun of, if not worse – persecuted, mistreated, or even sentenced to death by stoning.

Question – before we move to that 2nd expression: Are you willing to be considered a fool in order that you might be obedient to your Lord and Master? The truth is, you are a fool to that which you serve! Is it cigarettes? Alcohol? Food? Social Media? People? Pornography? In High School, I saw a man with a ‘sandwich’ billboard that he was wearing. On one side it read: I’m a fool for Christ. On the other side, it read: Whose fool are you?

Mary will be considered a fool. She is going to make Joseph look so bad. She’ll embarrass her parents. She now faces unknown hardship because of her faithfulness to God. She’s a fool for Christ. Whose fool are you?

  • Second, she packs up to go and see this miracle of God – a pregnant Elizabeth. Verse 39 ties these next so many verses with the overall storyline, just as we saw connections in v 26. In those days; rd v 5; rd v 24; So, we’re still in this same storyline; we’ll see it again in 2.1; What happened in that 6th month?
  • Her Faith Experienced: rd v 40-41; So, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, as was Zechariah, whom we looked at last week. And then Elizabeth breaks out in song. Now, I’ve not listed this as one of my songs for the sermon series – and, the ESV doesn’t print it like a song, but my Greek text does! Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Rd v 43; this is a sign of humility; rd v 44; We spoke of this last week, that an unborn John leaps in the womb at Mary’s hello! And look at this blessing on Mary rd v 45: She is blessed because she has believed. Just the fact that she has run off to see Elizabeth is pretty powerful – it is a demonstration of her belief.

And so Mary breaks out in song: Magnificat; rd v 46-55;

I don’t know that this will mean much to you, but this song is broken into four stanzas with four lines each. There are two units with two stanzas in each unit. Each unit has the focus of the Mercy of God. It is composed with organization to it. God has shown mercy to Mary and blessed her. And not only that, but God shows mercy to those who fear him. And in sending Jesus… God has shown Mercy through keeping his covenant with Israel.

Mary magnifies the Lord by 1. declaring who he is (Lord, God, Savior, holy; v 46-7) and 2. by declaring what he has done (for her: v 48-9; for those who fear him: v 50; kept his promises: v 51-5).

That is probably what all songs should do, isn’t it? Magnify the Lord? Because, if you remember the way I began this message, I pointed out that God is the one who started all of this. It really is all about him. And so Mary brings us full-circle to God again.

Mary then, returned home about the time of John’s birth: rd v 56

Conclusion: You know the ‘rest of the story’, as Joseph was greatly distressed over her pregnancy. And, being a godly man…being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

 23         “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

There are two other passages that highlight Mary’s part in this story. The first is found down in Luke 2.19. After the Shepherds came and found the baby lying in a manger – they left and shared their testimony of all they had heard and seen. And the Scripture says: 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. This word pondering is a word that means to cast it all together: συμβάλλω. I’ll bet that is a common theme among mothers.

This would be a wonderful ending if this were it for Mary, but as we’ll see in a couple of weeks, Simeon has something to say to her. Rd v 34-35; And a sword will pierce through your own soul also.

She pondered all that she had experienced concerning her son in her heart. A sword will pierce through her soul. I’m sure there is more here than we’ve covered concerning her heart and soul. But what I want you to see is that this story isn’t all gumballs and roses. This prophecy declares pains for her in the future. It is a reminder to us who know the whole story just why Jesus came to earth. He came to die for the sins of mankind. He was born to die for us.

And so God sent his Son to earth to die for our sins – and in return he calls for commitment from us. Mary called him her God and her savior. Would you do the same?


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Zechariah’s Song

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

Title: Zechariah’s Song

Text: Luke 1.5-25; 57-79

Introduction: I love Christmas. I really do. I haven’t always loved Christmas – for many reasons of which I will not unload at this point. But, that has changed for me. And I’ll credit Lisa for the change. The Challenge for the pastor at Christmas is presenting something new from the same stories you’ve heard about your whole life. But here is the problem. The story is the same. So, who does a pastor tell the same stories year after year without losing that freshness? The answer I find is this: simply retelling the story.

Lisa and I are reading “The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent” by John Piper. This activity is just one example of what Lisa has done in building traditions for us that means so much to me. As we began the readings, Piper made a statement in the preface of his book and I wanted to share his quote with you as I begin this new Sermon Series for Christmas: The Songs of Christmas: Brand-new truths are probably not truths. What we need are reminders about the greatness of the old truths. We need someone to say an old truth in a fresh way. Or sometimes, just to say it.

That’s my goal this season: to present the story of Christmas with freshness and excitement by simply retelling the story. The idea of the Christmas songs came from Duffey. I don’t want you to think I came up with this myself. When we began looking at last year’s Christmas sermon series (which I had already planned out), Duffey shared with me that his pastor at his previous church had preached on the songs of Christmas. I already had my sermon series planned and so that is what we presented. But, I wanted to look closer at this idea of Christmas Songs from the Bible. I thought it was a great idea. And what we start today is the culmination of that journey.

Our songs from the book of Luke will follow our Advent Candles:

  • Zechariah’s Song (which is really the 2nd song, but this story begins our journey, so we’ll start with it)
  • Mary’s Song
  • The Angels’ Song
  • Simeon’s Song
  • Anna’s Song (which isn’t recorded)

Now, if you follow the text through Luke, you’ll note that Mary’s song actually appears before Zechariah’s; however, Zechariah’s story is in the text first, because John, the Baptizer was born about 6 months before Jesus. So, that is why I’ve chosen his story first.

The text itself is broken into three different sections, with Mary’s story in the middle. Zechariah’s song is born out of an experience with

  • His Service
  • His Suffering
  • His Son

Let’s look first at his Service

I.     Zechariah’s Service (5-20)

exp.: rd v5-8 is the introduction to this couple; in v 8-10, we see how he comes into his service; rd v 8-10; you know this is special because he was twice chosen! First, he was chosen from his division and 2nd, he was chosen to enter into the Holy Place during his service. It is during this routine service that an angel from the Lord appears to him and interrupts his service.

Let me give you a great application before we even dig deeper into this experience: You should be praying for something like this in your life – that God will interrupt you in the midst of your service to him. Service can become routine. You learn what you’re supposed to do. You practice what you’ve learned as you do it and before you know it, there is no passion – there is no enthusiasm. You’re just simply walking through the motions of your service to the Most High God.

Oh, God, please interrupt my service! Let me have a fresh encounter with you.

This interruption brings a message – Gabriel’s message: rd v 11-13: Your prayer has been answered; Elizabeth will have a son and you will call his name John. Now he says, let me tell you a little bit about this son of yours, John.

  • John’s impact (the impact he will have): rd v 14
    • You will have joy and gladness!
    • Many will rejoice at his birth (they do in v 58)
  • John’s life (what his life will be like): rd v 15
    • He will be great (no one will be considered greater according to Jesus in Luke 7.28: I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John).
    • He will be filled with the Holy Spirit
  • John’s ministry (the work he will accomplish): rd v 16-17
    • Turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.
    • Be accomplished in the spirit and power of Elijah (Malachi)
    • Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children
    • Turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just
    • And make ready for the Lord a people prepared.

exp.: there it is, all spelled out for you. This is all pretty miraculous. The fact that there is an angel here is pretty miraculous. There is only one problem: Zechariah doesn’t believe him; this is evident from his response; rd v 18; How shall I know this is a basic declaration of unbelief. What you’re saying is pretty unbelievable. So, give me a sign. Show me something that will let me know. He wants to know because, from the physical side of life, things look pretty impossible. First, he’s an old man and 2nd, his wife is advanced in years. Evidently, that means she is past the childbearing years.

app.: Here is another great application for us. Zechariah is asking for signs because he doesn’t believe. So: be very careful what you ask God for! Especially when you’re asking God to do something because you don’t believe him. Disbelief is sin. Hebrews 11.6 – for without faith it is impossible to please God

I’m not talking about doubt or confusion or struggle. I’m talking about an unbelieving heart. Faithlessness. So, the angel sets him straight. First, he gives Zechariah his name: I am Gabriel. Zechariah should have thought of the book of Daniel. Gabriel appears twice in that book. Any priest worth is weight in drachmas should know this. Gabriel is connected with the Messiah. Then, added to the weight of his name is his position (19): I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. V 20 communicates his unbelief to us: rd v 20; silent and unable to speak because you did not believe.

t.s.: And that is just what happens; which brings me to the second experience in this story:

II.    Zechariah’s Suffering (21-66)

exp.: rd v 21; can I add another application for us from this story? Our sin affects others around us. That is no new truth – to mention Piper again. But it is what happens here. He’s delayed and so they are left wondering what is up. This is odd to the people because this is a daily routine. They’ve experienced this before, many times. The priest goes in and does his thing and then he comes out. But this time he is delayed. So they’re left standing out there. 2ndly, when he does come out. He can’t speak. When I first thought of this 2nd point, I thought I should call it Zechariah’s Silence. But after working on it through the week, I think it is more than just living in a silent world. There has to be frustration and struggle. And, that is just what we see in the next v; rd v 22; He wants to tell them, but he can’t; rd v 23; and so he silently heads home. Rd v 24 – it’s all coming true.

Now the next so many verses turn our attention to Mary. I don’t want to look at her story just yet – we’ll do that next week. For now, let’s skip down to v 39 and resume our story with Zechariah; Gabriel has told Mary that she is going to have a baby. And, added to this joy – if I can call it that – her much older cousin, Elizabeth, is going to have a baby, too. Indeed, she’s already 6 months pregnant (v 36). So Mary goes to see Elizabeth. We pick up in v 39; rd 39-41; There is something supernatural going on here; I’ve never experienced this myself, but I’m sure there are mamas all over this worship center who could try to describe for us men what it is like to have a baby leap in the womb. But that is what makes this story so real to us. We read and we know this experience – either as a woman who has had a baby or a man who has watched his wife’s stomach move.

app.: Something wonderful happens all in this moment – but Zechariah isn’t a part of it. He misses out: the baby leaps and the Holy Spirit of God fills Elizabeth and she sings her own song. Rd 41b-45; Now, I wonder if this adds to Zechariah’s suffering – you know, because he’s not a part of this celebration. You see, he isn’t involved in this part of the story. Did he just sit by and watch, unable to say anything? Sometimes, when women get together, that is a byproduct of their getting together (men aren’t included). Sometimes, men just aren’t welcome. And that’s ok. But maybe, just maybe, he didn’t participate because he couldn’t. He could only look on from the outside. He was left alone with his thoughts.

t.s.: Well, the day comes for his wife to give birth to a son and we pick up down in v 57…

III.   Zechariah’s Son (57-79)

exp.: rd 57-58; here is the fulfillment from the prophecy in v 14; let’s keep reading; rd v 59-63; John, that isn’t a family name. Isn’t his good to know that even back then people criticized what you were naming your baby! John? John ain’t no family name. Why would you pick John? Let’s intervene and help this poor kid out before his mama names him something funny. Don’t you just love v 62 – They made signs to the father. Like, because he’s mute, he’s also deaf! Can you see them talking louder and making gestures? But he asked for an etch-a-sketch! And he wrote – John is his name. Boom! Rd v 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God! The moment he wrote out that John was to be called John, he was expressing his belief in what the Angel said. Boy, here is another moment where we can identify a Truth – not a new truth mind you – just a reminder: Faith is action. Zechariah expresses his faith in writing out on the tablet. And a song was born! You see it down in v 67 and following: Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit – as was Elizabeth, remember? Zechariah filled with the Holy Spirit praised God! rd v 68-75

app.: That’s Zechariah’s song – born out of his service to the Lord as his priest, born out of the suffering he experienced in silence over the months, and born out of his experience in watching God do just what he said he would do – give him a son.

Conclusion: And his son? His son is going to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. Rd 75-79

We often think of the Christmas stories from a very positive perspective – and rightfully so. But I wonder if we seriously take to heart that these stories are real life. Each story is taken in a positive light and often times can feel more like a fairy tale than practical history. I say ‘practical’ because these stories are given for us. Zechariah’s Song was born out of his real-life experience. Born out of his practical service to the Lord through his work and service in the Temple. Do you serve the Lord in and through your local church? There is something here for you!

Zechariah’s Song was born out of his suffering: a real, physical ailment. He couldn’t speak! His communication was stifled.

ill.: This week I was visiting with a member in his hospital room. The nurse asked him if he was in pain. He said: I am always in pain. This man lives with chronic pain. After 101 years, his body aches constantly. Pray for Tom. What about you? Are you living with pain or sickness or some other type of struggle? This story has something here for you, too!

Zechariah’s Song was born out of God’s work in his life. Zechariah saw with his own eyes how God fulfilled his promises. There is this tie or bridge from Daniel to here through the angel, Gabriel. What about you? Do you have an unbelieving heart toward the things of God? Are you so earthly minded that you struggle with how God is going to accomplish his work because physically it just all appears impossible? Logistically, you can’t map it out? Maybe you’re in the midst of it all? Zechariah didn’t believe it when it was happening to him. Will you be found full of faith when God moves in your life in an impossible way?

Application: review – let me challenge you to:

  1. Pray for God to interrupt your routine and make things fresh!
  2. Pray that God will guide your prayers. You don’t want to ask for foolish things. And you don’t want to have a disbelieving heart. Here is a simple practice: pray the Bible. Think about it – everything in this text is already somewhere else in God’s Word.
  3. Pray for God to keep you in his will. Your disobedience has an impact on the lives around you. For John, it also kept him on of some pretty cool happenings as God was fulfilling his purpose in Elizabeth and Mary’s lives. Pray for a strong faith.

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George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

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

George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

Psalm 84.11

The Five Stages of His Life:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

His Conversion:

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

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

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

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

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

The Pastorate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George’s later years:

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

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

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

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

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

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The Anxiety of Missions

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

Title: The Anxiety of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 4.9-22

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

I.     The Certainty of Time Constraints (9)

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


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

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

II.    The Struggle with Relationships (9-12)

exp.: look through this list:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map: Ephesus to Troas – a circuitous route.

Map #2: Where he was going.

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

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

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

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

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

IV.    Suffering (14-22)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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The Duty of Missions

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

Veteran’s Day: 11/11/18

Title: The Call of Duty

Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.     The Master (1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

II.    The Message (2)

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

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

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

III.   The Mission (3-5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.    Moment (6-8)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Foundation of Missions

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

Title: The Foundation of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 3.14-17

Introduction: We’re in 2 Timothy this morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I know whom I have believed

and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I’ve committed

unto him against that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Continue…God’s been at work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Competent… God’s equipping you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm 134

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

Title: Come, Bless the Lord!

Text: Psalm 134

Introduction: We’ll be in two places this morning, really more than that, but the two we’ll turn to together are 1 Chronicles 23 and Psalm 120-134. Mark 1 Chronicles 23. Our text is Psalm 134, but I’d like to walk through the Psalms of Ascent with you to get there.

We have journeyed through the Psalms of Ascent over the last few months. I did an introductory sermon on July 8th. Together with Shawn Cook, Duffey Henderson, and Joshua Webb, we have walked with the people of God through remembering some of their history. The Pilgrims have taken us with them from their distant lands to the mountain of God. We’ve journeyed with them to worship as they made their way through the countryside toward Jerusalem. We started in Psalm 120 where the pilgrims journeyed from Meshech and Kedar. – two extreme locations to the Northwest and the Southeast. In Psalm 121, we looked to the hills for our help and acknowledged that our help comes from the Lord – the maker of heaven and earth. We rejoiced with the pilgrims in Ps 122, as they entered the gates of Jerusalem. We felt the elation of finally arriving. We felt the anticipation of the coming time in the Temple of God.

A big part of enjoying where they were standing was in understanding where they had been and just what had brought them to where they were. We felt their pain as we remembered their punishment in exile in Psalm 123. We sang praises to the Lord with the pilgrims in Psalm 124 as we acknowledged the work of God in preserving the remnant. We stood atop Mt Zion in 125 and felt the strength and security of the Lord as we took in the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. In Psalm 126 we praised God for his goodness. We acknowledged that God has been so good to his people through the ages and prayed with the pilgrims that God would once again restore the fortunes of Israel.

In Psalm 127 we watched as the pilgrims sang about the man and his relationship to his family, his community and his work. In Psalm 128 we followed along as we watched a man walk in the fear and in the ways of the LORD and have seen that he is blessed in the grandest of ways (from his work, to his wife, to his children). Added to this, we saw the community be blessed by such families – not just in the moment, but also in future generations. Psalm 129 is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness in the past and, praise and expectation for his continued blessings in the future. Others had risen up against Israel in the past, but God has always provided for and protected his people. The enemies of God and God’s people have not prevailed. We heard testimony of the Pilgrims and their suffering, but that did not mean the enemy of God had succeeded. Where Psalm 127-128 dealt with the blessings of God, we saw in Psalm 129 the polar opposite: the enemies of God and God’s people are not blessed. Their hands are empty. They will not hear shouts of ‘blessings from the LORD’ as Israel will. And in that time, we paused to reflect upon the themes of youth, building, fruit, labor, and blessings flowing freely throughout this section.

And the blessings continue: Psalm 130 then moves from this place of suffering to a place of trust. It is a cry for mercy born out of a wayward soul and a plea for those who love the Lord to wait and hope and trust in Him. Psalm 131 then deals with this hope in the Lord and the satisfaction one has in the Lord who waits on and puts their hope in Him. In Psalm 132 we then were called to remember David’s hardships and suffering which he endured. We remembered his passion and his zeal for the things of God. And like David, the Israelites were challenged to endure and trust. They were challenged to be zealous for the things of God. For someday, as was the case with David, God’s blessings and promises would come true. You and I see those blessings and promises fulfilled in Christ. You and I enjoy those blessings fulfilled in Christ. In Psalm 133, Joshua Webb guided us to the Temple where we watched as Aaron, the High Priest was anointed with precious oil. He focused in on the theme of unity and pleasantness – to experience the wonder of unity in the body – and, what a blessing it truly is for us when we dwell together in unity.

Now, the evening has come and the pilgrims are making there way out of the city to a place they’ll settle down for the night.

I’m reminded of when Jesus came into Jerusalem and walked around the Temple on the first night of the last week of his life. The servants of the Lord were there, but the people had gone. He walked around the Temple grounds and then he and his disciples left the Temple, left Jerusalem and walked to Bethany.

The Evening sacrifice has been offered. Worship is over and the people are headed out of the Temple, out of Jerusalem to the places they’ve set up. In the morning they’ll pack up and head home. As they leave they look back up at the Temple walls because someone has beckoned them to do so. They look up and see the lights of the servants – the priests and the Levites. I don’t imagine it being too dark, but I imagine the sun has fallen back behind the hills far enough for them to see the lights clearly.

Maybe there is a somber feeling of sadness that it is all over. Maybe there is still this wonderful feeling, like when you leave the stadium after a really close game and your team won. But with this emotion and passion inside, someone cries out: Rd v 1a; Hinneh! Come! Behold! Look! Here!

Genesis 22.1: After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” That’s this word. Later in Gen 22.11, the angel of the Lord calls out to him again as he is about to offer his son as a sacrifice in obedience to the Lord’s command. Abraham, Abraham! And Abraham answered: Here I am. We see this again in Isaiah 6 where the Lord asks: Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And Isaiah said: Hinani! Here I am! Send me.

This cry in Psalm 134 is getting everyone’s attention to look and behold something special. Rd v1b-2; Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands to the holy place and bless the Lord!

There are three commands in the imperative mode here – issued from the people below:

  1. Bless the Lord; v 1
  2. Lift up your hands; in v 2;
  3. Bless the Lord; a repeat of the 1st command there at the end of v2.

Someone cries out this command. But, to understand who is being commanded here, we note the rest of the sentence. Who? All you servants of the Lord, more specifically, who stand by night in the house of the Lord.

The servants of the Lord are the priests and the Levites who minister before the Lord day and night. Their service never ends. People leave and go back to their lives, but the work in the Temple must continue.

These men, these servants of the Lord have been doing this work for hundreds of years. At first, they took care of the Tabernacle as it traveled around – with each group having its own responsibility for the tearing down, transporting and setting it all up again. Moses organized them to do the work and care for the Lord’s Tabernacle. But, things changed when David settled them in Jerusalem. Knowing the Temple would be the place where God’s Ark would reside, he then changed things up. Look with me in 1 Chronicles 23.25-32; And now you see in the rest of this book, David organizes them with their new tasks in the Temple. That is what is going on here in Psalm 134. The people are leaving, but the work of the Lord continues.

Ill.: Can I just pause for a moment and bring this home for us – for you? I’m thankful for Pastor Appreciation Month. I’m grateful that H.B. London, who just recently passed away, worked so hard to make Pastor Appreciation something special. You might remember H.B., who worked for Focus on the Family. For the last 30 years or so, he did his best to keep Pastor Appreciation before the church. I think some stores have caught on to the opportunity to make some money and continue to promote the idea.

  1. Please allow me to give you an idea for the most wonderful pastor appreciation gift you could ever give to me: Pray for me and my wife and my family. Pray that God would grant me his favor – that his Hand would be with me. Pray that God would grant me vision and wisdom and discernment. Pray to the Father for my protection and guidance. Pray that I would stay in his Word daily and pray daily – that is to say, pray for my fellowship with the Father through the Son and by his Holy Spirit – for my own benefit. But, also pray for those same things in regard to my teaching and preaching. Pray that I would be bold when it comes to preaching and teaching. Pray that God would bring godly men in my life to offer me godly counsel. Pray for me.

When Calvary first asked me to be their pastor, I passed out some prayer cards. I asked you to pray for me as Luke outlines at the beginning of his Gospel concerning Jesus:

  • God’s Pleasure – that he would be pleased with me (this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased)
  • God’s Provision – turn this stone to bread; Luke 4
  • God’s Protection – Luke 4 – the temptation (v 13: departed until an opportune time)
  • God’s Power – the power of the Spirit took him to minister and he taught the people (4.14-15)
  • God’s Presence – The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… Luke 4;

This hasn’t changed. I still need your prayers. Without them, I’m doomed – and to be honest, it will affect us all.

In Psalm 134, they notice that the work continues even when they have all gone back to their fields and homes; rd v1-2; Pray for me, that I will not fail in my work, as it continues without fail. I don’t stop being a pastor when the lights turn off and we all go home.

  1. Pray for Duffey and his wife and his children. Pray these same requests. Pray that he would be humble and receptive to teaching, rebuke, correction. Pray that God would soften his heart and that he would learn as he leads. Older men and women, treat him as a son. Bear with him – he has a lot to learn and he doesn’t even grasp the magnitude of it all – even though he might think he does. Love him, not with just words, but in deed. And be honest with him. Love his wife as a daughter. Be caring and kind toward her. Nurture her as she loves her husband and nurtures her children in the Lord. Disciple them both, as they lead in this place. Love their kids. Pray for them all regularly.

Pray for us because, like the servants listed here, we understand the work continues. It never stops for us. When we get away, we never really get away. Think of us like these men here – still at work in the service of the Lord after everyone goes home.

Then, in an antiphonal echo, a priest (or someone like him) offers this blessing in v 3: May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who made heaven and earth!

What a time it has been! I wonder if someone says in a reflective way quoted from Psalm 122.1 as they walked through the gates: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” What a wonderful feeling to think back on the previous days of celebration and worship. Now, they leave with a blessing… a blessing of hope from the Lord.

It is interesting to me that in the Psalms of Ascent up to this point, all of the blessings mentioned are upon the people, except two. In 124.6, a blessing is spoken of the Lord who has preserved his people from their enemies (Blessed be the Lord). And in 129.8 it is said as a curse, may you never hear a blessing from the Lord. May those who pass by you just pass by and not utter a word of blessing. Then, here in 134, there is this call for the servants of the Lord to bless him.

The word bless is barak in Hebrew, which most literally means to bend the knee. Over time, of course, it took on various forms of this word to indicate showing favor. It can be a salute or a greeting. God, of course, doesn’t bend his knee before anyone, but he can show us his favor. He does what we can never do and we do what he would never do. He shows us favor and pleasure and blessings. We bless the Lord with our worship. Think about this blessing we now have by which we bless the Lord.

Listen to Hebrews 12.22-24: 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

When you gather with your brothers and sisters to worship – you come to Mt. Zion, you come through Jesus the Messiah to worship God. And in worship, it isn’t just the few of us here. It is, spiritually speaking, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and that great cloud of witnesses who gone before are gathered there. Christ, by offering his blood as an atoning sacrifice has torn the veil, which separated us and has allowed us entrance to the throne room of God.

Come, let us Bless the Lord together…



Blessing: 24 The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

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Filed under Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, Scripture, Sermon