Category Archives: Sermons

A rough draft of my sermon content

FROM FAITH – FOR FAITH

Romans 1.16-17

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

In these two verses, the Gospel’s objective is presented in a couple of sentences. The Gospel is God’s power at work bringing salvation to all who put their faith in Him. It really is that simple: I mean, Believe God in what he said and what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust him: that he has done all that he has done through Christ and you’ll have salvation. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done.

  1. Trust Him and you’ll experience the Power of the Gospel through Salvation.
  2. Believe Him and you’ll experience the Provision of the Gospel through Forgiveness.
  3. Put your faith in Him and you become the Proof of the Gospel through a life lived righteously.

These verses teach us that the only way to attain salvation is to be perfectly righteous. Now, on your own, that is impossible. The Law has demonstrated this for us. We’re all sinners and we can’t obey the Law perfectly. But now, the righteousness of God has been revealed to us: how do you become righteous in the eyes of God? By believing the Gospel!

This is so easy for me to tell you, but it sure was hard for me to grasp as a young boy and someone who struggled with trust. Yes, to put it mildly, I had trust issues. I came forward and got saved every Sunday practically. Why would God love and save me?

But that is what the Gospel or Good News is: God loves you and did everything to save you. You just have to trust him. You trust him with your words, you trust him with you actions, you trust him with you life.

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

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

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

I. The Power of the Gospel is Salvation (16)

exp.: The Gospel is God’s power displayed in people’s lives: God’s power saving those who believe; The Gospel’s power is demonstrated through the salvation of people. Paul says here that he isn’t ashamed of the Gospel, because it (The Gospel) is the power of God for salvation – for everyone who believes. There is no power outside of God’s Power that can bring you salvation. None.

Ill.: World magazine reported of an elderly Chinese woman who through her superstitions thought she’d have safe travels if she threw some coins into the airplane’s jet engine. Coins and a jet engine don’t mix!

  • You can’t buy salvation with your money anymore than you can throw coins in a jet engine and expect it to carry you to your destination.
  • You can’t earn salvation with your good works;
  • You can’t steal it;
  • You can’t get lucky somehow on you own and win it through some lottery;
  • You can’t get gain it through someone else’s work or charm.

Our very best – the most righteous we can be on our own is as filthy rags before God. Isa. 64.6

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

ill.: Years ago Lisa and I watched a movie about a man who was held by the Russian Govt. trying to get him to confess crimes that he didn’t commit. He was cruelly mistreated in efforts to get him to confess. He was left in a dungeon without the proper food for the longest period of time. His clothes became soiled and nasty.

Over the weeks, this man grew a wire-y beard and his hair grew long and oily and his clothes basically rotted on him. Still he refused to ‘confess’. Then one day they came and got him. They cleaned him up. They gave him new clothes, a fresh haircut and cut his beard. They brought out a steak dinner and he ate like a king.

Then, they asked him to ‘confess’. But he refused. What broke him was when he was forced to put his nasty soiled, polluted clothes back on. He just couldn’t. He confessed.

app.: I think of his clothes and the difference from the nasty, grimy dungeon to that clean, sterile environment and how he broke when he was forced to put those polluted garments back on.

Can I say that this verse in Isaiah 64 – without getting too graphic, is even worse than what I’ve just described? Imagine with me if you will a situation at the hospital. Most of you have been in hospitals before. There is usually a bin marked ‘soiled linens’. Workers come in and remove sheets and gowns that have blood and urine and fecal matter on them. They clean up the patient and give them fresh linens. These workers take the ‘soiled linens’ and put them in that particular bin. Can you imagine being moved to a new room and your nurse digging through that soiled bin to find something for you to wear? Taking some sheets from their and making your bed.

That’s the picture Isaiah is painting when he says our righteousness is like ‘soiled linens’ …

The Gospel is God’s power at work in the lives of people. It is saving us from our sins and making us like a pure, clean garment. You see that in the rest of this sentence: to everyone who believes. As I stated previously: Believe what God has done and you’ll be saved. Trust that he has placed your sin upon Christ who died for you. Trust him that he has placed all of Christ’s righteousness on you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Place your trust in him and you are saved.

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

II. The Provision of the Gospel is Forgiveness (17)

exp.: Righteousness through forgiveness: The passage reads: For in it (i.e.: the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed… what that means is that God makes us righteous – that is, His righteousness is credited to us. You see, we’re sinners. We’re conceived in our momma’s wombs that way.

Ill.: one of the lessons in Starting Points, the class I teach at Venture, over the last few weeks has been that sin has been passed down to every human from Adam. That sin separates us from God because he is perfectly righteous and has no sin. We are conceived that way. And the only way to have a relationship with God is that we must be righteous – we must be forgiven of the sins that separate us from God.

A couple of chapters from here, in 3.21-22, Paul explains more about this righteousness. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. You see, what Paul is saying to us is that this righteousness could only be attained through the perfect obedience to the Law. But what the Law did, was show us that we can’t be perfect – we can’t obey the Law perfectly. So, God made a way – apart from the Law – through the Gospel, we can have this righteousness poured out on us. See v 22: The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.

ill.: in that class, Starting Points, the students are learning the definition of certain words: Atonement, Propitiation, etc. The word Atonement means simply “to cover”. And I think of Genesis 3 when I hear those words. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. In their new sinful state, they knew they naked and they were ashamed. Yet their attempt to cover themselves was so inadequate. So, God covered them. He did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves.

app.: That is such a small picture of God’s provision in comparison to the provision of covering us through Christ’s great sacrifice. For Adam and Eve, animals would have been killed to provide the skin covering. For you and me, Christ died, providing for us what we need because our attempts to cover ourselves would be totally inadequate.

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

III. The Proof of the Gospel is Righteousness (17)

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

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

app.: it’s really that simple. The Gospel is the power of God at work in your life, bring you forgiveness and making you righteous, calling you to live your new life in righteousness – demonstrating your new commitment. This, of course, comes to you free of charge on your part, but paid in full through the sacrifice of Christ.

Conclusion:

I read a story a couple of weeks ago about a mom whose child had gone missing. A search was made. In Africa, where the local animals eat children, time was of the essence. The child was found. It turns out that she had fallen into a pit. I didn’t fully understand what the pit was. It sounded like a trap for capturing animals. Anyway, this mom found her child, but the child starting screaming because there was a venomous viper in the pit. Without hesitating, the mom jumped into the pit to come between this viper and her child.

The viper did bite the mom, but it also bit the child. Both mom and child were taken out and rushed to a hospital in the nearest city. There really was no hope for them both because this viper is a killer and had bitten both. But as it turned out, mom died, but the child lived.

The people were shocked. How could the child live with this venomous killer biting her? It didn’t seem possible. The doctor explained: yes, both were bitten, but the mother took all of the venom. When the snake bit the child, there was no more venom to harm the child.

It made me think that this story is very similar to what Christ did for us: he took the venom of sin’s bite, as it were. The death that should be ours, became his. And the life that was his, has become ours when we believe.

Application: So, what do we do about this?

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

  • The Gospel is God’s power for Salvation to everyone who believes.
    • God can save you, it is just a question of whether you believe it or not.
    • If you believe (have faith, trust) that what he says to you is true.
  1. You’re a sinner.
  2. The punishment of your sin is death (eternal death).
  3. Jesus paid your penalty when he died on the cross.
  4. Place your faith (trust, belief) in Christ and all of your sin is placed on him and all of his righteousness is placed on you.
    • Then you will be saved.

II. Share this good news with others. There are so many out there who don’t know Christ. They’ve never experienced this forgiveness I’m talking about. I’ve met a couple of people over the past month who’ve said they came to Christ at a later age. They assumed they were saved before. Lived a good life. Came to church, and had been baptized as a child. But, there was something missing. After an internal audit, they came to the realization that if they died they weren’t sure if they would actually spend eternity in heaven.

Let me ask you: if you were standing at heavens gate and knocked on those great gates, when God answered by asking why should I let you into my heaven. If you don’t know that answer, or unsure of what you’d say, please get that nailed down today. Don’t put it to chance. Don’t think that you’d be too embarrassed to stand before the church and admit it.

Respond in faith: share the good news yourself and the best way to do that…

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

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Filed under Faith, Romans, Sermons, The Gospel

SIX QUALITIES OF A GODLY MAN

Title: Six Qualities of a Godly Man

Text: Romans 1.8-15

CIT: Paul’s Prayers for Rome Reveal Much About This Man

CIS: There are characteristics and traits to observe in an Apostle.

Introduction: It is quite typical to move from the Greetings and Salutations to a mentioning of Prayer and Thanksgiving in a 1st Century letter. That is exactly what Paul does in this next section.

Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Rome is outlined in verses 8-15. First of all, these prayers include thanksgiving for the fact that their faith is known and proclaimed by other believers throughout the Greco-Roman world (8).

Secondly, Paul offers the unceasing request to one day make his journey to Rome (9-10). His request is simply to preach the gospel among them and it is expressed in three separate statements:

1st, Paul’s desire is to impart some spiritual gift to them to encourage them and to be encouraged by them, as well (11-12).

2nd, Paul has intended for some time to get to them but has been prevented from ministering there (13). Now, it appears that whatever was hindering is no longer in the way.

3rd, Paul has a calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. He says he is under obligation to all and so desires to come and preach the gospel in Rome.

These prayers reveal more of the man we know as The Apostle Paul and his desires as a godly man. I think there is more than just information sharing here. Paul is opening up his soul and giving us a glimpse inside.

Transition: This week I shared with the Venture group in Chapel about the old man and his elder wife who were sitting at the Table sharing a meal. The woman looked over at her husband of many, many decades and felt this overwhelming sense of pride. Herbert, I’m proud of you, She gushed. Without missing a beat, the old man replied: Well, I’m tired of you, too!

Sometimes it is easy to communicate what is in your heart and at other times… not so much. Sometimes you want to communicate what lies deep within but it gets misunderstood.

Well Paul doesn’t confuse us here and there is no miscommunication as he reveals his heart to the church at Rome – and to us. Paul tells them plainly what he feels and what his desires are. He does so by laying his prayer requests before God and he lets us all in on those prayers.

For us, we’re able to glean some qualities from a godly man. These qualities are Paul’s, but I think they can be true for any man or woman who has been called of God to serve. And yes, that means even you. Your first temptation might be to take them and measure them up against me. To be honest, that is fine. It really is something you should do. I would encourage you to do so. Furthermore, you can use them to measure up your spiritual leaders (i.e.: elders and deacons).

But don’t be so quick to just move in that direction. I want to encourage you to use these marks for your own life – to see how you measure up to Paul. And, I would not say these marks are exhaustive and complete. But I would say they are useful for us today in their current form to help in our service and ministry. So here we go…

Six Qualities Found in a Godly Leader:

I. He has a thankful heart for all God has done in fulfilling His promises. (8)

exp.: rd v8; God is fulfilling his promises to the Romans. The proof is in the pudding! They’re being discussed wherever there are other Christians gathering. It is interesting what Paul doesn’t note here. He thanks God, but not for…

  • It isn’t their leadership – pastors or elders.
  • It isn’t their worship.
  • It isn’t their facilities.
  • It isn’t their ministries or ministers.
  • It isn’t their mission work.
  • It isn’t the money they’ve raised for disaster relief or the people they’re sending to help the folks in Jerusalem.

Paul is grateful for their faith. Faith is expressed and their expression has been something to talk about. The word all appears 2x’s in v 8; two different words: all is the word pan; the 2nd all is the word from which we get whole. A most literal translation would be the whole world. And I think to myself: Really? The whole world? I think what he is saying is that brothers and sister across the Christian world are talking about the faith of this church. That is amazing… people talking about their congregation.

ill.: this past week Spring Creek Baptist Church was in the News. The County Commissioner who attends there, JoAnn Hampton was indicted on aggravated assault charges this past week. Back on April 2nd, Ms. Hampton came to church to find someone had already prepared the Lord’s Supper Table. It seems a 72-year-old member of the congregation and Ms. Hampton had already had words about the timeliness of setting up the table. The 72-year-old woman came in early and set everything up. Ms. Hampton was furious. She went to the pastor’s office where the woman was talking with the pastor and assaulted her. Basically, she pushed her back onto the couch and the woman injured her hand.

app.: That isn’t the kind of notoriety Paul is talking about! These folks in Rome are in the news because of their faith. Do you remember I told you Claudius Caesar kicked the Jews out of Rome in 49AD? Well, it appears this young Gentile congregation had to start living by faith. And the result was the testimony of those who were scattered abroad.

Philippians 1.6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Paul was so thankful to God for fulfilling his promises to this congregation.

t.s.: The 1st Quality we see here of this godly leader is: he has a grateful heart. 2ndly,

II. He recognizes His first and main audience is with God (9a)

exp.: The context, of course, is that God is his witness  – that he is telling the truth concerning his prayers. Rd v 9a; Yes, God is his witness, but more than that. It is God that he serves. When he says with or literally, in, my spirit… I think that is his way of saying with my whole heart.

You’ve probably felt this way about yourself when you’re singing: Bless the Lord, O’ my soul, and all that is within me… bless his holy name. All that is within me… that is, with my spirit. And his service: the gospel. This may be hard to grasp, but a pastor’s first calling is to the gospel. It is the spread of the Gospel that saves souls and it is the repetition of the gospel that disciples the believers. It’s the telling and retelling of that old, old story – over and over again.

ill.: I love to tell the story of unseen things above. Of Jesus and his glory… of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story because I know tis true. It satisfies my longing as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story – tis pleasant to repeat. What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet. I love to tell the story for some have never heard the message of salvation from God’s own Holy Word.

I love to tell the story. T’will be my theme in glory to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

app.: Sing them over again to me… Wonderful words of life. That’s what discipleship is. And that is what the godly man loves to do – is to tell the story that changed his life. And to tell the story that sustains this congregation. Well, a godly man recognizes his first and main audience is with God. It is God he serves. That’s why God is a witness to the work and prayer.

t.s.: He has a grateful heart. He recognizes that he serves God by serving others with the Gospel. 3rd,

III. He incessantly remembers the church in his prayers (9b-10)

exp.: Paul’s prayers don’t just end with thanksgiving. Paul’s prayers are unceasing for this congregation, moving from gratitude to a very special request. Rd v 9b-10; Paul’s desire is to travel to Rome. Who wouldn’t, right? Anyone here ever been to Rome? We’re looking for missionaries to serve in Tahiti and Hawaii! We need Home Missionaries in Florida and Colorado!

ill.: I remember reading about some missionaries who on Sunday morning would go skiing and stop at a chapel up on the slopes. There, they would lead a service. I thought: where do I sign up? Well, my guess is that some of the hardest ministry is in the midst of those who think they don’t need it. But, those people need Jesus, too.

app.: Paul’s message is clear, but let me be very literal here: so that without coming to an end, remembrance of you I make my request or I do my asking; “Without ceasing, unrelenting”; It’s very wordy, but desperately points out the prayers of Paul for these people.

Do you know that your leadership prays for you? I can’t say for me it is without ceasing. I wish I were better at it. But I do pray for you daily. Sometimes I pray for individuals. Sometimes I pray for groups. And my requests for you vary according to our needs.

I like knowing how to pray and what to pray for. If you want me to be specific in my prayers for you, email me or drop it in the offering plate. That will allow me to pray specifically for you.

t.s.: Godly leaders have grateful hearts. They recognize their service to others is service to God. And they pray for their churches and their members. They keep them before the Lord. 4th… And we see this of Paul…

IV. He desires to encourage them through his service (and to be mutually encouraged by them in theirs) (11-12)

exp.: look at v 11; do you see the 1st word there: γὰρ. A marker of reason. Because; At this stage he’s telling them why he wants to come. Truth is, he finally gets to it in v 15; …so I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. His purpose in going there is singular in focus (i.e.: to preach the Gospel, v 9, 15) but this focus of preaching the Gospel is expressed in three different ways; the 1st is in v 11: I like to translate this: For I long to behold you. I want to see you, to behold you with my own eyes. Continue reading v 11…

  1. By preaching the Gospel in their midst, he would be imparting a spiritual gift that will encourage them and strengthen them. Added to this, that he might be encouraged at the same time. Rd v 12; He’s heard about their faith (8) – really all over the Christian world. I’m supposing because of Paul’s popularity that they’ve heard of his faith, too. If not, they will from Phoebe and anyone else carrying this letter.

app.: I don’t know if you’ve thought this through or not, from a personal standpoint, but living out your faith in front of others strengthens and encourages them…just as you are when you see others living out their faith.

Last month Jamie Dean of World Magazine shared the story of a North Korean defector who talked about the punishment and persecution of Christians. One family kept their Bible in magpie nest… a bird’s nest. Late at night, someone would crawl up into the tree, into the nest and get the Bible. They would read what they could under the cloak of darkness. Then, get the Bible back in place before sun up. One day, a neighbor who was cutting a branch down, somehow caused the nest to fall and reveal the Bible. The family was busted. Can you imagine? How many of you have your Bible with you now? If we were in North Korea, we’d all be thrown in prison.

We’re so blessed to live out our faith in the eyes of others. We’re so blessed that we don’t have to hide our Bible in a tree outside. You, meeting in your community group… that’s mutually encouraging to each other.

Transition: Paul hopes to strengthen them and to be strengthen and encouraged by them in return. Also, he says in v 13; Rd v 13a; this is the 2nd way of he hopes to preach the Gospel to them but it is also our 5th quality that we find in Paul.

V. He surrenders his will to the Lord’s will in spite of what he himself wants (13)

exp.: he’s been hindered from going there to Rome. He has wanted to for some time, but for some reason, God hasn’t opened that door to him.

  1. Because, whatever was hindering him before, is no longer in the way. I suppose it was his mission work in the east. He has been preaching the Gospel everywhere he can between Jerusalem and Greece. Now, he’s finding others who’ve gone before him… like Rome for example. Having completed that task, and seeing the area evangelized, Paul’s desire now is to expand the mission work to Spain. We’ll see that in 15.24. He’ll mention also in chapter 15 the gift from the Asian churches to Jerusalem and his need to travel there to deliver that gift. But after that, he wants to come see them on his way to Spain.

app.: Man, we’re learning something very valuable here, in this quality Paul displays. Sometimes, and this has been my experience as a believer and as a pastor, God says no. Sometimes God says, yes. And sometimes God gives us a third answer and says – not yet. It doesn’t mean no, forever, just for a while. It usually means that God has some work to do in our hearts and in our lives to prepare us for what we’re asking.

ill.: When Lisa and I were in Cotulla we felt a call to go to the Rocky Mtns and work. We knew the call was on our hearts, but God wasn’t opening up the door. Instead, we went south to Harlingen. God made it clear to us that we were to go south. The criticism was pretty sharp by some. I thought God was calling you to go north? Well, we moved to Harlingen, 8 miles north of the Mexican border. And God used our experience there in so many ways, preparing us for the ministry in Wyoming.

I could stand here and begin telling you stories of what I learned in deep South Texas that God used in Wyoming, but we don’t have time… so I’ll save those for then.

God may have called you and is preparing you, but thus far has hindered your progress. Let me encourage you: Trust him. Whatever you want for this church or this mission or this ministry or your community group or… whatever it is of God… Let me tell you: He wants even better things than you do. So let this quality be found in you: surrender your will to his, in spite of what you might want. Let him finish preparing you for the task ahead.

t.s.: His 3rd expression is found in the rest of 13(b) and 14.

  1. His obligation to the Gentiles encompasses the believers in Rome. Do you see the last word in v 13? It is the word from which we get ethnic… ethnic groups or as we say today, people groups.

t.s.: and that my friends, is the 6th quality we find in Paul…

VI. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it (14-15)

exp.: He is eager to preach the Gospel to this unreached people group. I didn’t say unreached and unengaged, because I’m assuming they are engaging their own people. But as a whole, they remain unreached. That is his mission field. He’s been gifted to be successful among the ethnos… the unreached people groups.

t.s.:

  1. He has a thankful heart.
  2. He recognizes his 1st audience and service is to God.
  3. He keeps his people and ministry before the Lord in prayer…
  4. He desires to strengthen and encourage his people through his service and to be encouraged by them, too.
  5. He surrenders his wants and wishes to the Lord, in spite of what he desires. That’s because he trusts in What God is doing…
  6. He knows his calling and is passionate about fulfilling it.

Conclusion: Let’s land this plane. So what will you take home with you today? How can you make it personal?

Application: 1st, let me ask you some questions…

  1. What moves you to prayer?
    1. Gratitude? Or, are you taking God’s blessings for Granted?
    2. Is it opportunities for the Gospel? Do you get excited about what God might be doing in your life and in the life of your church?
    3. Or do you find you only pray when things are bad and you’re in need?

Maybe that is a commitment you need to make this morning: to pray regularly.

  1. Do you recognize that your service to people and for people is really to and for God? He is your first audience. I think of the ministries we have:
    1. CUB: it is easy to get tired of people who just use you.
    2. Bridgemark and Venture: for bridgemark, sometimes it feels like people just take advantage, just using the building; but then there are times when I see the good we’re doing in a child’s life. Do you realize that there are children who will grow up to be adults and know how to read because of your ministry? Some little girl down there will hold her granddaughter someday and read the Bible with her. Some man may read Scripture from the pulpit. Or even more – God may call one of them to missions or to the pastorate. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You’re serving God by serving people when you do his bidding.
    3. Maybe its teaching Bible Study or a Community Group. Trust that your service to God is being rewarded and used by Him for his glory.
  2. Do you know your calling and are you passionate about it? I hope so. If not, you’re missing out on so much. I believe God has every person here for a reason and it isn’t to keep the seat you’re sitting in warm. God began a good work in you and I am confident that he will carry it through to completion.

If you don’t know your calling, will you come visit with me about that? Or, maybe you’d feel comfortable with an elder. Please come talk to us. If you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, I offer him to you today.

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Filed under Calling, Christian Living, Romans, Sermons, Spiritual Formations

Romans: An Introduction

Text: Romans 1.1-7

Introduction: I’ve always had a fondness for Romans. I guess it began with the Roman Road (3.23; 6.23; 5.8; 10.9-10; 13) Romans 8.18; and that long passage from 29-33; Romans 9 and the Sovereignty of God;

  • I remember reading about Martin Luther when I was on Sabbatical and how Romans 1.17 moved him…changed him. That powerful experience where Martin Luther read that one is justified by Faith alone launched the Reformation. But so many others have had similar experiences in Romans.
  • Augustine’s life was changed when he read Romans 13.13-14. He would become the 1st great scholar to truly have an impact on the church 4th
  • John Wesley had attended a meeting and someone, whoever was leading the study from Romans, began to read Luther’s preface to his commentary. Wesley was ‘strangely warmed’ as this book on Romans was being read and his spirit was stirred to Faith. Wesley, of course, was one of the ministers who was instrumental in the Spiritual Awakening that began in England and spread to the US.
  • John Bunyan, who wrote Pilgrim’s Progress – came to faith and was stirred by Romans.

And the list goes on.

And that is what I want for us here – that we would experience a life changing study. I pray that somewhere in the course of our study, your life will be changed, your spirit warmed and that you will never be the same.

History:

I find it interesting that Paul hadn’t established the church at Rome. Most of us just assume that the letters he wrote were out of his concern for something he started. But that isn’t always the case – and for sure, not this letter.

Let me give you a little history as I understand it. Jewish Christians established the Church at Rome as they were scattered abroad in times of persecution. Of Course, the Roman Catholic Church believes Peter established it; however, there is evidence of the church’s existence as early as 42AD. Peter was still in the area of Israel as late as 45AD. Paul is clear in this letter that he didn’t start it. So, best we can surmise, Jewish Christians came to Rome and began sharing with other Jews who got saved.

Now, in 49AD Claudius Caesar expelled the Jews from Rome. So, that left only Gentile believers in the church at Rome. By 54AD, Jews were making their way back into Rome because Claudius had died and his decree was no longer in effect. That left the church without a Jewish influence for some 5 years. We don’t know of what other influences good or bad, these believers would have had. Paul’s letter then, would be so very important and play a major role in their understanding of the Christ and the Church. Paul’s writing takes place sometime between 55-58AD. My guess is that his letter of Theology would be a stabilizing factor for their church.

With that thought in mind, you’ll see in his letter that he is addressing a bit of conflict between the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers. That should become clear for us when we get into chapters 2 and beyond.

Reasons for writing this letter:

That is one reason why he is writing: conflict between these two groups. But in the process, we get some great theology that comes out…

Another reason he’s writing is because he wants to visit them and stay with them on his way to Spain. Paul’s very clear about having preached throughout that area from Jerusalem to Greece. His desire is to boldly go where no man has gone before to preach the Gospel.

Ill.: Henry Cho tells the story of a buddy of his, BJ. That’s his name: BJ. It doesn’t stand for anything. He got tired of people asking him, so he would respond B only, J only. When he applied to get a driver’s lisence, he didn’t want there to be confusion – so he put down on the form, B only, J only. Of course it came back that his name was Bonly Jonly. Anyway, Henry and BJ were watching Star Trek:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

The intro finished and the music started. BJ then asked Henry: Do you think they’ll ever get to Boldlygo. Like, Boldlygo is the place they’ve been heading: to boldly go, where no man has gone before.

Well, that’s Paul… not to a place called Boldlygo, but rather to Spain – to boldly preach where no man has preached before. And Spain was as far away as you could go… He would need a stopping point along the way. Rome was it.

The Introduction:

This intro is the longest intro of any of Paul’s 13 letters. It is more theologically robust and full. Let’s read it together. Rd v 1-7;

There are 4 parts to this introduction:

  1. Paul introduces himself: The Man
  2. Paul tells them what he does: His Message
  3. Paul tells them why he does what he does: His Authority or His Commission by God
  4. Paul lists the recipients: but it is so much more than just the believers at Rome. It identifies certain traits believers possess. Belong to Christ, loved by God, called to holiness, Grace, and Peace.

Transition: Let’s walk through these verses with the first section:

I. The Man (1)

exp.: he identifies himself in three ways in v1: a slave; an apostle; set apart

  • Slave: δοῦλος; The lowest form of a human being;

Ill.: have you been reading about the move in our city to change the name of Lee High School? I really don’t get it. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I don’t understand why people want to erase history. If we do, then we’ll be doomed to repeat it.

We find something similar here in modern translations. Your version probably says servant or bondservant. If you have the Holman CSB, you have a literal translation of slave. Why is it softened? It’s offensive. Slavery is offensive. And well it should be.

You and I abhor slavery, but it is a very real part of our world. Ignorance of this fact doesn’t make it go away. People, women and children mostly, are kidnapped and sold into slavery every day. Even, right here in Tyler!

When you think of slave, you probably have negative thoughts. I hope so. And, I think you’d be right on with what Paul is trying to illicitate in you.

Slaves have no rights. Yes, you and I want to set those who’ve been enslaved set free. Boko Haram still has Christian girls captive who he has enslaved. This should capture your attention. Now, with this thought in mind, I want you to see how Paul sees himself.

app.: Do you fight against this idea? I sure do. I hate slavery. The stories of young girls being kidnapped and sold into slavery nauseates me. It makes me angry. Look at what Paul is saying here: that he is a slave of Christ Jesus. Christ Jesus is His Master. He has no rights. He is totally and uterrly at Christ’s Command. He can do nothing of his own, but only what his master commands.

  • Apostle: called to be; An apostle is someone who has been sent with a mission; Commissioned; The idea that he has been called is that this isn’t his own doing. He didn’t just set out to do it because He had a passion for the Gentiles. God called him and commissioned him.

App.: We begin to sense that Paul is taking our eyes off of him and putting them upon God. Paul is nothing – the lowest form of a human, a slave. His Master is Jesus Christ. Paul is called and commissioned to a task. That means the work he is doing is someone else’s work. His job, his mission is because they have commissioned him to this task. Specifically, he says…

  • Set apart: this is a compound word different from the idea of sanctified. Usually, when we see set apart, we think of holy, separate. This compound word means away from and marked off with clear boundaries.

ill.: We’re all called in some sense – to be believers. You’ll see that in v 6 and again in v 7. This calling, well, it’s different. Sure, we’re all called to share Christ. This calling here, though, well, It is just different. I sometimes wish I could be like you. Sometimes when I hurt. Sometimes when I want to quit and give up. Coffee Cup: Pastor. Sometimes, though, I love what I do and who I am. My calling is different than yours. God called me to all of the same things he has called you to…I’ll mention some when we get down to v 6-7. But, he called me to something more. I’ve been set apart for a specific ministry here. I don’t take that lightly. I know some of you have ideas about what that is. And, some of you aren’t afraid to tell me. But, as one who has been called – my one heart’s greatest desire is to be found faithful to God. My heart’s desire is to be the pastor God intends me to be. So that when I stand before him – on that day, I’ll hear him say of me: Well done, Fred. Enter into the joy of your salvation.

app.: notice in each characteristic Paul is placing the focus on God. That’s his goal. You see, this calling is all about Him. He is the Master, He is the one who commissions and sets apart His slave to accomplish His task.

t.s.: And that is who Paul is saying he is… He is really nobody: a simple slave doing the work His Master has commanded of him. 2ndly, His message….

II. His Message (2-4)

exp.: at the end of v 1, Paul tells us what it is he has been called and set apart to do: the Gospel. And he outlines for us just what he understands about that Gospel in v 2:

  • God Promised; we saw this from Genesis 3.15 onward.
  • From long ago, and long before Paul’s day… hundreds and thousands of years.
  • Through His Prophets: Rom 3.21-23 talks about a righteousness that can be attained apart from the law – to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
  • In the Scriptures: that is where the promises are recorded; these are his Holy Scriptures

Exp.: rd v 3; concerning His Son; well, what about His Son? Two major points he makes and expands on:

  1. Son of David: lit.: seed of David; the point he’s making is that Jesus was from the House and Line of King David. The Messiah is from David’s line. Paul’s point here is that Jesus was human. 100% Human. He ate and drank and slept and walked and sweat and tired and … everything humans do, except of course, Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4.15 says: 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Paul places emphasis upon this when he says according to the flesh. Not only was he human, the Son of David, but he was also…
  2. Son of God: rd v 4; declared is the word in Greek from which we get our word in English The Horizon is a line that clearly separates the earth from the heavens. The horizon helps determine or declare, if you will, where the earth ends and the heavens begin. Paul is saying that there was an event that clearly separates him from all other humans, making him divine. And that, my friend is the resurrection. It isn’t to say that Christ was not divine before the resurrection and it isn’t to say that he wasn’t God’s son before he became David’s son. No, as a matter of fact, the construction of the original language hints that he was indeed God’s Son before he ever became David’s Son. You see that in the Construction and brought out so well by the ESV.

Cranfield and others say this is an early confession formula that Paul is using. If that is to be the case, and I believe that it is, then as a Confession of sorts, it is meant to be poetic and flow. I think it is saying something unique about the resurrection. Something new happens here. It is a new era: a new age. Life lived on this earth will now be different. And for you and me and anyone else who comes to faith in Christ, it is! We no longer offer sacrifices. Our sacrifice was offered in Christ. We now live by faith and have Christ as our priest. We no longer need a priest to intercede for us.

He experienced life in the weakness of the flesh and died that way. But, he was resurrected to New Life in the power of the Spirit. He really died: all the way, dead. He wasn’t mostly dead. His heart stopped. His brain waves stopped. His blood stopped pumping through his heart. But, three days later – He is alive!

app.: this is Paul’s message.

t.s.: Next we see the why, which he has touched upon a little in v. 1;

III. His Authority (5)

exp.: why he does what he does; rd v 5; grace and apostleship; Not many people that I know of are saved and called in the same experience. If you’re familiar with Acts 9, then you know that Paul’s salvation experience was also his calling to spread the Gospel. And this calling is to bring about the obedience of faith, that is, to see people surrender their lives to Christ. That through faith and obedience, the whole world might come to Christ – you see that in among the nations.

ill.: I can’t help but think about this mission we’ve accepted to reach our people group. Every people will be represented around the throne. That call still goes out to us… to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.

There is a church about 2, maybe 2.5 hours away that has heard about our mission. They’re small, but are seeking a partnership in this mission. Will you make that a matter of prayer? It would be help for us in the area of finances and the area of service. But, the conversation has only been broached. Conversations can break down at any time. So please be in prayer as we do our part to reach this people group and possibly some others around that area.

app.:

  • Paul saw himself as God owned;
  • He saw his message as God prepared;
  • and he saw his authority as God appointed.

Conclusion: Paul concludes his introduction with a statement that really is about all believers; rd v6-7;

I’ve been taught that Spurgeon used to teach his students in their preaching to make a Beeline to the Cross. Really, it’s His Story, so it is all about him. I don’t know if it is always true, but for the most part, every message should point people to Jesus.

That’s what Paul has done here:

  • In telling us who he is, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us what he does, in the Gospel, he points us to Jesus.
  • In telling us why he does what he does and by what authority he does it, he still points us to Jesus.

I’ve been reading up on Luther in preparation for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. One of my favorite stories is of Jon Huss, who some 100 years before Luther spoke out against the papacy and the Catholic Church. But, Luther said that his gripes with the church were different Huss and Zwingli, who predate Luther. Where Huss and Zwingli spoke out against the morals of the Pope and the Church, Luther’s outrage was at the Theology of the Church. And Romans played a huge part in that.

For sure, think about it: if it was simply moral, then we would all still be Catholic. The difference would be a moral Pope and a moral leadership within the Church. But the difference is theology. Salvation isn’t found in the Church – it is found in faith through Jesus Christ and him alone.

So, what will you take home with you today?

Application:

  1. All of your life should point people to Christ.
    1. He is our Master.
    2. He is the one who has called us.
    3. And, he is the one who has given us His Great Commission.
  2. Salvation comes through faith in Christ alone. There is no other way to be saved. There is no other man to trust. There is no other work to be accomplished. If you wondering about this this morning, Paul called it the obedience of faith.

I want to offer Christ to you this morning…

 

 

 

 

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Living in Silent Times

Title: Living in Silent Times

Text: Galatians 4.4-5

Introduction: We’re in Galatians 4 this morning. We’ll also be in Romans 5, so you can set your bookmarks in those places if you’d like.

Silence. Silence can be difficult to endure. We often grow uncomfortable with silence. When we first began the practice of ending our services in quiet reflection back in 2009, I noticed it was hard for people. You know, when we have our time of ‘Silent Reflection”. At home we turn on the TV or in the car we turn on some music to fill the void. There is a commercial by T-Mobile that is out right now about a couple who flees the city to finally get to go camping. We’re here, we’re finally doing this: We’re Camping! You hear them say as they lay in their tent. And then they lay there listening to the silence. There is nothing but the sounds of the night. An Owl hoots. Crickets and Frogs are singing in the background. Maybe a coyote barks in the night. Then, they grab their phones and upload the sounds of the city so they can sleep! There are horns honking and sirens…

Nothing eats away at a husband more than when his wife won’t talk to him. He knows he has done something wrong. And, it is the same for all of us when we want to hear a Word from God, but there is only silence. It seems as if the clouds are creating a buffer, a barrier that won’t let our prayers through.

Silence can be deafening. And the longer it goes, the louder it gets!

We pick up in His Story at just such a time in the life of Israel. The people have been experiencing a silence from God. Amos prophesied 300 years before it began that God would create a famine for his Word. He would stop sending them prophets. They didn’t listen to them anyway because they didn’t want to hear from God.

HiStory begins at Creation when things are perfect. In the Garden, Adam and Eve hear his voice and converse with him in beauty and simplicity. But the conversation is disrupted when sin enters into the picture. Life in the fall was ugly. It got so bad that God decided to flood the world, destroy everything in creation and start again with just 8 people: Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives. After that God chose a man from whom would come a nation – a nation of people who would be His people. The Man’s Name was Abram. God chose his son, Isaac. And then he chose Isaac’s son, Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons who through time would have descendants of their own and would make up the 12 tribes of Israel. They would be slaves in Egypt, but God would bring them up out of Egypt and give them a land of their own – a promise he had made to each of their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So understood was this promise of God for a land and a people, that Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, made the people of Israel promise that they would bring his bones up from Egypt to the place his great grandfather and great grandmother were buried, his grandfather and grandmother. And, he buried his father there, too.

Israel was to be God’s people in God’s land. They were to be distinct and different. Their existence was to be a message to the World that God was their God. But they refused to act like it. He gave them his commands, but they rejected them. He gave them priests to intercede for and shepherd them like sheep. But, the priests very selfishly lived for themselves. He gave them kings, but very few led them to follow God. He gave them prophets to tell them what they were doing wrong and what they needed to do to get back on track. But, they didn’t like what the prophets had to say, so they did their best to silence them – even if it meant killing some of them.

Now, that they needed a Word from God but nothing comes. Only silence.

This period of time in the history of Israel is pretty much unknown. The quills, known as the prophets’ pens lie still on their desks. The ink in the jars has dried up. No Word from God. No words; no signs; no object lessons.

Basically, the words of the prophets end by 427BC. Let me see if I can outline this for you.

History from 586BC:

  • Exile in Babylon begins in 586BC. They have rejected God’s commands for long enough. Off to Babylon they go for 70 years! Jerusalem and its Temple are utterly destroyed.
  • The Temple is rebuilt from 536BC to 516BC – 70 years later as had been foretold. You can read all about this in the book of Ezra.
  • Nehemiah, who was governor of Jerusalem, rebuilds the Walls of Jerusalem around 445BC.
  • According to John Bright, the prophets disappear from the scene by 427BC.

Amos foretold of this event in his book. Rd Amos 8.11-12: 11“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

The information we have about the Jews who’ve returned from exile seems to indicate the genealogy of the Priests and Levites down to the end of the 5th Century (so, 400BC). You can read about them in Nehemiah 12. The Chronicler records David’s Descendants, as well (1 Chron. 3) to about that same period. But it is as if the last names are read in Nehemiah or in 1 Chronicles and then silence.

By 400BC God’s voice had grown quiet. And it would be quiet for a long time.

So, from this point forth, there is silence in the World of the Jews. Truth is, we know almost nothing about Israel from 400BC until about 175BC when the Maccabean Rebellion against the Seleucids occured.

We know that during the Exile, the Babylonians fell to the Medes and the Persians. Then, the Persian Empire fell to the Greek Empire. By his death in 323 BC – Alexander the Great had conquered most of the known world and Israel lay under his authority. In due time, in the 1st Century BC, Rome would conquer Greece and the Jews would be under Roman authority at the time of Christ’s birth. (Cf.: Daniel 8)

At his death, his four Generals divided up his empire and Israel fell under the rule of Ptolemy. Over the next nearly two centuries, Israel would be ruled by either the Seleucids or Ptolemies.

In 175BC, the Jews would face fierce persecution from the Seleucids. It was out of this persecution that a famous rebellion arose, known as the Maccabean Revolt. These battles are recorded and we enter back into a time of information of Jewish History.

But, in all that was going on in the world and in Israel, God’s voice still lay silent.

For roughly 400 years the Jews lived without a Word from God. 400 years! That’s an incredibly long time to not hear from God. But, when the time was right – I mean perfectly right – God sent his Son! Let me show you what I mean. We’re in Galatians 4.4-5: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Transition: I find three interesting facts about God’s timing in these two verses:

  1. God’s timing in sending his son was perfect.
  2. God’s timing in sending his son was foretold.
  3. God’s timing in sending his son was purposeful.

Notice first, God’s perfect timing.

I. God’s Timing was perfect.

exp.: fullness of time; not one more drop – there is the picture of completion. If this were a picture, one more stroke would mess it up. If this were a poem, one more word would mess it up. If this was a recipe, one more ingredient would ruin it. If this were a glass of water, one more drop would cause it to spill over. Romans 5.6 says: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. This was the message of Jesus as he came onto the seen in Mark 1.15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

This gives us a sense that God was doing everything to save his people in his own time. He was at work in History to make things perfect for the arrival of His Son.

t.s.: 2ndly notice, his timing was the fulfillment of prophecy.

II. God’s Timing was foretold.

exp.: He had told his people all along that this Messiah would come.

ill.: Prophecies fulfilled by Jesus:

1.  That he would be born of a woman

 

Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4

 

2.  That he would be from the line of Abraham

 

Gen. 12:3, 7; 17:7; Rom. 9:5; Gal. 3:16

 

3.  That he would be from the tribe of Judah

 

Gen. 49:10; Heb. 7:14; Rev. 5:5

 

4.  That he would be from the house of David

 

2 Sam. 7:12–13; Luke 1:31–33; Rom. 1:3
5.  That he would be born of a virgin

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22–23

 

6.  That he would be given the throne of David

 

2 Sam. 7:11–12; Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:6–7; 16:5; Jer. 23:5; Luke 1:31–32
7.  That this throne would be an eternal throne

 

Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Micah 4:7; Luke 1:33
8.  That he would be called Emmanuel

 

Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:23

 

9.  That he would have a forerunner:

he would look like Elijah.

 

Isa. 40:3–5; Mal. 3:1; Matt. 3:1–3; Luke 1:76–78; 3:3–6
10. That he would be born in Bethlehem

 

Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:5–6; Luke 2:4–6

 

11. That he would be worshiped by wise men and presented with gifts Ps. 72:10; Isa. 60:3, 6, 9; Matt. 2:11

 

12. That he would be in Egypt for a season

 

Num. 24:8; Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15

 

13. That his birthplace would suffer a

massacre of infants

 

Jer. 31:15; Matt. 2:17–18

 

14. That he would be called a Nazarene

 

Isa. 11:1; Matt. 2:23

 

15. That he would be zealous for the Father

 

Pss. 69:9; 119:139; John 6:37–40

 

16. That he would be filled with God’s Spirit

 

Ps. 45:7; Isa. 11:2; 61:1–2; Luke 4:18–19
17. That he would heal many

 

Isa. 53:4; Matt. 8:16–17

 

18. That he would deal gently with the Gentiles

 

Isa. 9:1–2; 42:1–3; Matt. 4:13–16; 12:17–21
19. That he would speak in parables

 

Isa. 6:9–10; Matt. 13:10–15

 

20. That he would be rejected by his

own people

 

Ps. 69:8; Isa. 53:3; John 1:11; 7:5
21. That he would make a triumphal entry

into Jerusalem

 

Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:4–5

 

22. That he would be praised by little children

 

Ps. 8:2; Matt. 21:16

 

23. That he would be the rejected cornerstone

 

Ps. 118:22–23; Matt. 21:42

 

24. That his miracles would not be believed

 

Isa. 53:1; John 12:37–38

 

25. That his friend would betray him for

30 pieces of silver

 

Ps. 41:9; 55:12–14; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 26:14–16, 21–25
26. That he would be a man of sorrows

 

Isa. 53:3; Matt. 26:37–38

 

27. That he would be forsaken by his disciples

 

Zech. 13:7; Matt. 26:31, 56

 

28. That he would be scourged and spat upon

 

Isa. 50:6; Matt. 26:67; 27:26

 

29. That his price money would be used to buy a potter’s field

 

Jer. 18:1–4; 19:1–4; Zech. 11:12–13; Matt. 27:9–10
30. That he would be crucified between

two thieves

 

Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38; Mark 15:27–28; Luke 22:37
31. That he would be given vinegar to drink

 

Ps. 69:21; Matt. 27:34, 48; John 19:28–30
32. That he would suffer the piercing

of his hands and feet

 

Ps. 22:16; Zech. 12:10; Mark 15:25; John 19:34, 37; 20:25–27
33. That his garments would be parted and gambled for

 

Ps. 22:18; Luke 23:34; John 19:23–24

 

34. That he would be surrounded

and ridiculed by his enemies

Ps. 22:7–8; Matt. 27:39–44; Mark 15:29–32
35. That he would thirst

 

Ps. 22:15; John 19:28

 

36. That he would commend his spirit

to the Father

 

Ps. 31:5; Luke 23:46

 

37. That his bones would not be broken

 

Exod. 12:46; Num 9:12; Ps. 34:20; John 19:33–36
38. That he would be stared at in death

 

Zech. 12:10; Matt. 27:36; John 19:37
39. That he would be buried with the rich

 

Isa. 53:9; Matt. 27:57–60

 

40. That he would be raised from the dead

 

Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28:2–7

 

41. That he would ascend to the Father

 

Ps. 24:7–10; Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51

 

t.s.:  finally,God had told them, but they wouldn’t listen. And when God spoke again: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son… when God spoke again through His Son, most didn’t want to hear it then – even though God had been silent for so long!

III. God’s Timing was purposeful.

exp.: God did what he did when he did what he did because he had a purpose: to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. I don’t see this as two separate purposes, like you can have one without the other. The New American Standard presents this beautifully and so literally: 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

app.: God has always been at work saving his people. And, I would propose to you that remains the same today:

app.: It has been nearly 2000 years since Jesus died and rose again and ascended to be with the Father. Nearly 2000 years have passed since he gave us his promise to return. When you look at the time frames of HiStory, you notice patterns. I believe that where we are in history fits that pattern and the time for his return is very near. It is so close to happening that I stand here this morning and feel the need to repeat the words of Jesus: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” As the prophets of old shouted at the people to get ready for the Lord – it is time for us to do the same. Ladies and Gentlemen, We are in the last days.

t.s.: It is time to stop thinking so much about ourselves. It is time to stand up and be heard: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” I fear that people around us live in silence – the silence of God’s Word. They don’t know of God’s love them. They don’t know their sin separates them from Him, but that a way has been made for them to find forgiveness of sin.

Conclusion: Mindy Belz: Lost and Found

August 2014, almost three years ago, ISIS had infiltrated and captured Qarakosh in Iraq. A desperate mother of four struggled with what to do. Aida’s husband, Khader, is blind. Running with him would be impossible, especially with a three-year-old daughter to try and deal with. Sure, she could run with her three older children, but the other two… impossible. And she would never leave them. In fear and with a torn spirit, she pushed her three oldest out the door: two sons and a daughter. Run! She urged them. Save yourselves!

The terrorists would take Aida, Khader and their little girl, Christina captive. They would be loaded onto a bus headed…who knows where. As Christina sat on her mother’s lap, suddenly an emir snatched Christina from her momma’s lap. Mom screamed and cried, but with a gun pointed at her head, she was forced to remain as they carried her daughter away. Christina’s father heard what was happening, but he was helpless to do anything.

This couple would be forced to flee with 150,000 other Iraqi Christians from the Nineveh plain to safety. Aida and Khader were reunited with their older three children, but what had become of Christina?

Mindy Belz writes of their family in one of the many refugee camps: There Aida and Khader spent sleepless nights sorting rumors about their daughter: They heard ISIS had put her in the care of a Christian woman also captured and taken to Mosul, then “married” the girl to a fighter, then gave her to a Muslim family.

A couple of years later Christina’s older brother found a picture of her on Facebook. It was just after her 5th birthday and proof that she was still alive, but they really knew nothing else. Christina was only 30 miles away, but she was held in ISIS territory. There was no way they could get to her.

Basically, they lived in silence. No word, no hope. Then a miracle happened. Iraqi Special Forces liberated a poor neighborhood in Mosul. Word was taken to Aida and Khader that their daughter had been found. They rushed to her and found her safe and sound. She was shocked and speechless. You see, she didn’t remember them at first. She didn’t even know she was lost.

Show pic: but now she’s been restored to her family.

I wonder how many people out there in the world around us don’t even know they’re lost. Like Christina, they live an existence they think is their own, but they have no idea they’re really captives. The silence of God’s Word continues for them, because you and I haven’t told them that He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. They don’t know that they can be set free from their captivity. They don’t know that they have a Father who loves them and moved heaven and earth that they might have a relationship with Him.

 

 

 

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Mark 8:22 – 9:1

Title: Discipleship Defined

Text: 8.22-9.1

Introduction: I’ve told you before that Mark seems to love Triads? Well, observe this set of Triads: a triad of triads.

Cycle of Events:

1. Prediction of the Passion: 8.31, 9.30-31, 10.32-34

2. Demonstration of selfishness and pride: 8.32, 9.33-34, 10.35-41

3. Teaching on True Discipleship: 8.34-38, 9.35-37. 10.42-45

  • An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (8.22-26). Basically, here is how the Scripture flows in Outline form:
  • An Example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (8.27-33).
  • The Reality of Discipleship: you must be like Christ! (8.34-9.1)

Transition: let’s begin with the illustration we finished up with last week.

I.      An Illustration of the slow progression of blindness to sight (22-26)

exp.: As a way of review, I think this story fits our storyline; the miracle is completed in two stages:

  • 23b: and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?”
  • 25: 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

This progression illustrates for us the slow, progressive coming to faith the disciples’ experience; and, especially in today’s passage, Peter’s journey.

app.: Jesus demonstrates that He is The Messiah through the healing of the blind man. He is the answer to the prophecy found in Isaiah 35.5-6. He concludes with the command to keep the Messianic secret: Don’t even enter the village.

t.s.: Mark then gives us the an example of Peter’s progression.

II.     An example of Peter in the midst of his progression to perception (27-33)

exp.: where he lets us see into a certain time frame in Peter’s journey; rd 27a; where are they headed toward? Caesarea Philippi.

Let me digress for a moment – when traveling in Israel this past June, we went Caesarea Philippi. This is the sight of Banias Springs the second tributary of the Jordan. It is actually “Panias” but Arabs cannot say a P and there is no P in Arabic, thus they called it Banias. It is named Panias because they would worship their many gods here (Hence, the word Pan). At the start of this area is where the spring used to be – you can see from the picture that the water carved out a little cave. At the mouth of this spring, the people who worshiped their many gods believed was the entrance to the underworld, Hades, hell. The river that flows through Hades is the river Styx.

Remember that, we’ll come back to that. For now, they’re on their way and Jesus asks them a simple question: who do people say that I am? This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this: 6.14;

6.14 King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 15 But others said, “He is Elijah.” And others said, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” 16 But when Herod heard of it, he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.”

8.27 And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”

So, the rumor mill is the same; however, Christ wants them to know that he isn’t any of those men. And so he asks them, personally in v 29: “But who do you say that I am?”

  1. It appears at first that Peter understands who Jesus is: Q.: Who do you say I am? A.: You are the Christ or Messiah. That’s huge! So, it appears that Peter gets it. He understands.

Matthew 16, records this same story and expounds on it quite a bit. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Transition: we have the Messianic Secret again in v 30 where he charges them to tell no one. What Peter has said is true, but his time has not yet come. And then, in v 31…

  1. Jesus gives a clear picture of the Messiah in his prediction of the passion.

app.: rd v 31-32b; So, just to be sure you understand when you say I’m the Messiah – this is what the Messiah looks like:

  • Suffering: Lit.: It is necessary that the Son of Man will suffer much (the word things doesn’t appear in the Gk)
  • Rejection: will come by the religious leaders;
  • Death: he will be killed
  • Resurrection: after 3 days, he will rise again

That’s the Gospel! That’s the whole reason Christ has come! That is the job of the Messiah. That is how he will save his people from their sins – he will pay the penalty for them. Thank you, Mark for v 32a…

So Jesus asks who they think he is. Peter gets it: You the promised Messiah! Jesus says, yes, wonderful. Let me let you in on more of what the Messiah has come to do. He will suffer and be rejected. He will die, and he will rise again.

Transition: and this leads us to the third step in his progression… rd 32b-33

  1. It appears that Peter doesn’t understand at all who Jesus is at all.

exp.: Peter makes one of the most beautiful declarations in Scripture! He thinks he knows who Jesus is! It’s kind of like Jesus says Do you know who I am. Peter says: Yes, I do. And Jesus says: uh, no, you don’t.

This is a cycle we’ll see repeated and climax at the end of this cycle of triads.

  • What do you know or what can you do?
  • I do know, or, I can…
  • No, you don’t or No, you can’t

Transition: to be sure, Jesus now outlines what it means to be like him… what it means to be a true disciple.

III.    The Reality of Discipleship (8.34-9.1)

exp.: rd v 34: Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. You’ve probably noted before that Jesus commands those individuals listening to take up his or her own cross, but they don’t have the context of Jesus doing the same thing. You and I do! Still I wonder, if he’s not giving them context here. He just told them he was going to suffer, be rejected and die. I’m wondering if that is the context for this statement. I’m going to suffer, be rejected and die. And, if you want to follow me, you’ve got to do the same thing as me (i.e.: take up your cross). You’re going to have to suffer and be rejected and die to yourself on your cross.

Jesus then presents or defines this reality, this task of discipleship with a set of oxymorons:

1) Save and lose

2) Profit, gain, and forfeit;

 3) Give and return;

4) Shame and Glory

app.: One author wrote: Jesus presents the choice of following him through a series of dichotomous positions.

t.s.: I wish I could talk like that!

Conclusion: Jesus has just defined for us who the Messiah is and what the Messiah will do. He is not one who comes for conquests; but, through suffering and rejection he will die. The good news is, three days later he will rise again.

He then turns to the crowd and he speaks to individuals. This is important, don’t miss this – he doesn’t speak to the crowd, but rather individuals in the crowd: If someone wants to follow me, you (sg) must

(1) Deny yourself (reject): That means you’re no longer calling the shots for your life. You surrender what you want to what Jesus wants. And when selfishness rears it’s ugly head, you reject or deny yourself (daily) and follow after Christ.

(2) Take up your own cross (lift it up and carry it); Have you ever thought about this? What do you do with a cross? You don’t ride them – they don’t take you anywhere? You don’t give them to other people – Jesus makes that clear with the relative personal pronoun he uses. What do you do with a cross? You carry it, until you lay it down and climb upon it to die.

(3) Follow him; The paradox of the Christian faith is that by dying to ourselves and following God’s way, we inherit true life. We save it, when we lose it. We truly profit and gain it, when we forfeit it.

Application:

  1. Jesus wants to clarify misperceptions about him. He is the promised Messiah!
    1. He is not Elijah, John the Baptist or one of the prophets.
    2. He is not a military or political ruler.
    3. He would suffer and be rejected and die on a cross to pay the penalty for sins.
  2. Jesus demonstrates true Christian leadership through sacrifice and service. And, he calls us to be like him.

In a few moments we’re going to baptize a couple of girls. But I don’t want to let this time slip away and offer someone here the chance to follow Christ. Just as he did 2,000 years ago, Jesus spoke to the crowd, but he was speaking to individuals. If you hear his voice today, summoning you to follow him – I want to give you that chance to make it public this morning.

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Mark 7:31 – 8:26

Title: Busyness or Business

Text: Mark 7.31-8.26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I.      An Outline of the Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

II.     A Comparison of The Previous Text

exp.:

 

6:31–44

 

Feeding the multitude

 

8:1–9

 

6:45–56

 

Crossing the sea and landing

 

8:10

 

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

 

Conflict with the Pharisees

 

8:11–13

 

7:24–30

 

A negative discussion about bread

 

8:14–21

 

7:31–36

 

Healing (Blind & Deaf)

 

8:22–26

 

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

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

III.    Theology in Application

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

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

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

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

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

Do we? Really?

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

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

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

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd v 7;

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

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

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

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

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

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Ezra 8

Title: Expressing your Gratitude through Worship in Acknowledgment of the Mercy of God.

Text: Ezra 8.1-36

CIT: The Exiled Jews return to their homeland by the faithfulness of God and hard work. Their return culminates in a time of worship and celebration.

CIS: We learn invaluable tactics and lessons on leadership and performance as we watch Ezra lead his people in the return from the exile.

Introduction: Numbers 3 & 4; recording?

When I was a youth pastor in Cotulla, I had one of my teens approach me to interview me about Baptism. In the moment, I was able to explain what baptism is all about and offer my own definition. It’s so good, I’ve often wondered if I thought it up myself in that moment, or, if I borrowed it and claimed it as my own! I didn’t even realize it until he gave me his paper and asked me to proof it. In his paper he quoted me as defining baptism as: An external expression of an internal experience. I’ve continued to use it through the years and have even seen it expressed in these exact words at various times and in various ways. That’s why I think it was never original – but I claim it nonetheless!

An external expression of an internal experience… If you think about it, that definition could be used with other words, too. Like worship.

What about Giving Thanks? Sure, you can feel it inside, but isn’t it truly noticed when expressed externally?

We’re going to look at a people who come together in worship to externally express their gratitude for God’s faithfulness to them in Ezra Ch. 8.

I’ve taken the liberty to break down chapter 8 into three main sections with multiple subsections under each heading.

  1. The People who Return with Ezra
  2. The Preparations for The Long Journey
  3. The Project is seen through to Completion

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

I.     The People who Return with Ezra (1-14)

exp.: rd v 1;

  • only listed names are ‘heads’ of the family;
  • 2nd is genealogy;
  • the particular caravan – evidently there were more during other reigns. This one is the one led by Ezra in the reign of Artaxerxes;

The purpose is to identify the three parts to this list:

  1. Descendants of the Priests in v 2
  2. Descendant of Royalty in v 2b-3a
  3. The Laity in 3b-14

Let’s look closer now:

  1. The Priests in v 2; two lines going back to the High Priest
    1. Phinehas (not Eli’s son) Grandson to Aaron, son of Eleazar
    2. Ithamar, brother of Eleazar, sons of Aaron
  2. Royalty in v 2b-3a;
    1. David, through Solomon to Shecaniah; 1 Chron 3.1(10)-22
  3. The Laity in 3b-14

exp.: rd v 15; uh-oh, Houston, we have a problem: no Levites. I wonder, why is that a problem. Do we really need Levites to go back to Jerusalem to work in the Temple? We do if we’re going to be obedient to God’s commands. Numbers 3.1-13; Numbers 4.1-4; Ezra is sharp! He knows this. The Levites serve in the Temple area. They serve the High Priests who have duties of their own. The Levites must guard the precious items of the Temple.

Ill.: Do you remember the story of David, going out to retrieve the ark, which had been returned by the Philistines? They have it on this cart, and they’re celebrating what God has done. Truly amazing, a miracle that only God could have accomplished. The ark is resting on this cart that’s moving along when it hits a bump. The ark begins to fall over and Uzzah reaches out his hand to steady the ark. The moment he touches it, God kills him. David learned a valuable lesson that Day – a lesson that Ezra seems to be very much aware of: Don’t mistreat the things of God. Don’t handle the holy things of God as if they were common!

So, Ezra remedies the problem – rd v 16-20; v 20 – these were all mentioned by name. This list is a shorter, abbreviated, emphasized list. Another list is kept of all the names. These names are provided for a reason, but why? Here’s what I think: Ezra wants us to see the parallel between the Exodus and the return from Exile.

The Exodus: The Exile
The 12 Tribes The 12 “Heads of Family”
The Levitical Uprising: Don’t want to do their job

Numbers 16

The Levites are Missing: Don’t want to do their job
   

Before we leave this section, there is something interesting to note: Ezra 7.9; 1st day, 1st month, 7th year the journey began; they camped out on the canal for three days in 8.15; they fasted to seek God; then in v 31, it says they departed on day 12; so, between days 4 and 11 these roughly 40 men and their families, along with 220 temple servants were summoned to return to the land, made the decision to go, packed up their belongings, and with their families set out for Jerusalem. Day 4 to day 11 would be one week!

Transition: But before they set out… they must make final preparations – that’s point #2

II.    The Preparations for the Long Journey (21-30)

exp.: vs 21-30 show two aspects of this preparation; the 1st aspect of this preparation is spiritual; rd 21;

  1. Spiritual Preparation: look at the elements involved in spiritual preparation –
    1. Public Proclamation: when people fast together, a public proclamation should be made. I think this is great for accountability and encouragement.
    2. Proper Perspective: Humble ourselves before God; nothing helps your attitude more than to catch a glimpse of who God is in his Greatness and who you are in your smallness. Fasting is a great way to do this. Fasting is the denial of the physical appetite while placing a focus on your spiritual needs. It isn’t so you can make God do something for you, but rather it is a time to focus in on God’s agenda. That is really what prayer is: a surrendering of oneself to the will of God. I used to think that prayer was to get God to do something for me – give me what I wanted. Now I see that prayer – especially through fasting – changes me, not God.
    3. Petition: to seek from him a safe journey. Seeking – I think it is good to acknowledge that you are in need and, that need can only be provided for by him. …for ourselves, our children, our goods. Rd 22; this verse cracks me up, because we’re so like that as humans. We want to witness to the world with our words about how awesome and powerful God is. And then, when it comes time to trust him, we don’t, we want to run to the king. Rd v 23; and he listened to our entreaty. HCSB: He granted our request.

Ill.: I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage: Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you. And this leads us to the 2nd part of preparation – working like it all depends on you…

  1. Physical Preparation; rd v 24
    1. He sets apart the Leadership; This is wise on the part of Ezra. Consider there will be roughly 3,000 people on this journey. It would be like packing up Bullard and moving to Greenville, S.C. – without the aid of movers! No United Moving vans! Ezra needs help. He needs strong leadership: so he picks 12 leaders. Sound familiar. Much like the Exodus.
    2. He divvies up the work; he assigns portions to each group: rd v 25a, 26a, I weighed out to them; I weighed out into their hand. Next, he makes probably his most important move:
    3. He gives them a proper perspective of what they’re in charge of: rd v 28; you are holy, the vessels are holy; these belong to the Lord. This is a great application. When you serve in ministry – that ministry is the Lord’s. Those are his items. That is his money you’re counting. You are holy as are the devoted things.

ill.: I think some folks have characterized the God of the O.T. as mean – killing people even. Well, we gain a great understanding of this as we read: touch not the devoted things! When money is given to God, it is His. We must care for those items – things if you will, that are devoted to Him.

4.  He gives them clearly defined tasks; rd v 29; Guard, keep – until you’re in the chambers of the house of the Lord!

5.  He lets them do their job: rd v 30;

ill.: Lisa and running the game at rec. time. Do you want to do this or do you want me to do this?

app.: this was always hard for me when I was young. In one of my very first ministry trips, a young lady volunteered to find us a place to stay. She was from the town we were going to stay in. She was friends with a couple of youth pastors there and was sure she would find us a place to stay. If I recall correctly, I spent the last couple of days trying to find us a place to stay. Sometimes, you’ve got to let your leadership fail. It’s a great teaching time. More times than not, they’re going to come through – especially if you let them do their job.

Transition: we move to the final section of our passage this morning in v 31-36…

III.   The Project is Seen Through to Completion (31-36)

exp.: a list of who they are 1-20; then this is a list of what they do in v 21-30; Now we come to the completion of their journey. Rd v 31-32; There is nothing recorded for the 900 miles they traveled. How do 3,000 people caravan that far together? 100 days at 900 miles is about 9 miles a day on average. There is a lot of time that passes and a lot of happenings. I mentioned earlier that it would be like packing up the folks of Bullard, TX and relocating them to Greenville, South Carolina! Do you think nothing happened during that journey? Nothing is recorded – only rd 31b. Does this mean that No one ambushed or no one attacked them? Or, does it mean ruffians and bandits did attack them and God protected them? I don’t know – only that God delivered them safely to their destination. If you go back to chapter 7, you’ll read that they arrived on the 1st day of the 5th month. It’s kind of like they left January 12th and got there on May 1st. Nearly 4 full months. It takes three days for the Temple to be ready to receive what’s been brought. Rd v 33; Here is really a 6th assignment when working with people.

6.  He holds them accountable. They weighed out their portions. Rd v 34;

Finally,

7.  They celebrate a job well done. They praise God for his goodness, for his faithfulness in all of this. They worship and celebrate God for all he has done. Rd 35-36;

It is good to give thanks to God for all that he has accomplished. Yes, we work like it all depends on us, be we know that through our prayers, God has been working. I like what Paul says in Phil 1: 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance… And when that deliverance comes, it is appropriate to give thanks – to celebrate God’s faithfulness.

Transition: So what are our take-a-ways…

Observations & Implications:

  1. God blesses the work that seeks to honor him through faith. For Ezra, we see him seeking God’s protection and blessing in their journey. He put his trust in power of God and not in the strength of men.
  2. God is honored and glorified through godly leadership. It’s important to put the right people in the right places of service.
  3. God is honored and glorified through the service of faithful workers. Did you notice that there is more than 5 times as many servants/workers than there are leaders? The workers are as important as the leaders.
  4. God is honored when we place our trust in him to protect and provide for our families and our service.
  5. God is honored when we display integrity in our service to him. How the church has suffered scorn and ridicule whenever his people rob the church. How many times we have faced embarrassment as staff members and accountants and those put in charge of the finances have skimmed the coffers to line their own purses and bank accounts? God is not honored in those instances. But, God is honored when we display integrity in our service to him.

Pray

Invitation to respond…

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Ezra 3

Title: The Priority of Worship

Text: Ezra 3

CIT: God had fulfilled his promises in times past, and was once again showing himself faithful to His word.

CIS: Our Worship should reflect our strong belief.

Introduction: rd Jeremiah 7.1-16 – The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you men of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your deeds, and I will let you dwell in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: ‘This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.’

“For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, if you do not oppress the sojourner, the fatherless, or the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own harm, then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers forever.

“Behold, you trust in deceptive words to no avail. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, make offerings to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known, 10 and then come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, ‘We are delivered!’—only to go on doing all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord. 12 Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things, declares the Lord, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim.

16 “As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger. 19 Is it I whom they provoke? declares the Lord. Is it not themselves, to their own shame? 20 Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.”

Transition: God was firm. Time and again they were warned and time and again they would not listen. You know the rest of the story – God would indeed do what he said. The people would go into exile and after many decades, God would bring a remnant back to Jerusalem.

This is where we pick up our story in Ezra. Rd 3.1. Here we see them coming together to Worship, to Work and to Weep. That is actually the three parts to chapter three: Worship, Work, Weep. I’ve outlined the passage this way:

  1. Building a Spiritual Foundation
  2. Building a Physical Foundation
  3. An Unexpected Response.

We begin with part 1…

I.     Building a Spiritual Foundation (1-6).

exp.: in this section we find three aspects of worship as demonstrated through their Unity:

  1. Unity among the Body: rd v 1; Phil 1.27-2.2
  2. Unity among the Leadership: rd v 2; Exodus 27.1-2;

Ill.: instrushuns? Annie; well, the Law gave them instructions for constructing the altar.

–     Leading God’s people onto God’s agenda – v 2.

  1. A descendant of the High Priest and
  2. A descendant of the line of David.
    1. These leaders leading the people onto God’s Agenda – as written in the Torah of Moses
    2. They set the altar in it’s place

App.: the people are demonstrating unity in their action – the leadership is demonstrating their unity in their work and

  1. Unity in their Purpose:
    1. Their Motive was simply that they needed God to intercede on their behalf – they were afraid of the people in the region who were against them. I think the NIV conveys a different thought – 3 Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the Lord, both the morning and evening sacrifices…not that its wrong, but I think the ESV, NASB is clearer in conveying their motive: They were afraid of the people around them and they needed God to protect and intercede for them. And so, They offered sacrifices – instituting the sacrifices offered in the morning and in the evening; rd v 4;
      1. Diligent to keep the Law: Keeping the rule of the law before the people; this demonstrates for the people the importance of God’s Word; stated in v 2 – reiterated again here in v 4;
      2. Diligent in their Worship: rd v 5-6a;
        1. Seventh Month: Probably the holiest of months.
          1. The Feast of Trumpets (Lev. 23.23-25) – a blast of trumpets, a holy convocation
          2. The Day of Atonement (Lev. 16.29; 23.26-32)
          3. The Festival of Booths (Lev 23.33-43) rd v 6b;
        2. What they didn’t observe…the foundation was not yet laid… indicates that they did not observe #2 – The Day of Atonement. It is interesting to acknowledge The Feast of Booths, but not the Day of Atonement. Well, in going back to Leviticus 16, you’ll find that the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was observed to cleanse the Most Holy Place or classically know as the Holy of Holies. The Most holy place hasn’t been built yet. Their simple observance was a remembrance of what God had done for their ancestors and for what God had done in bringing them back from Babylon.

Ill.: I’m grateful to Dr. James Hamilton for his reminder to me that such activities were important because it built their worldview. Repetition, year in and year out would solidify that worldview. They would learn that God is faithful to keep his promises. They would learn that sin would be punished. They would be reminded that their only hope was in God – all else would fail.

Exp.: every year they would build booths or tents to dwell in. They would enter into their ancestors’ flight from Egypt, their trust in God, their dependence on God. The men and their sons would build the tents together and tell the story once again. Here they celebrated not only the past, but their own exodus from Babylon and recognize once again that God was faithful to do what he had said. And beyond that – He would do what he has promised in the future.

James Hamilton, NT professor at Southern says there are certain Parts to their celebration:

  • Dogma: a principle or set of principles as laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
  • Narrative: the story you believe about the world.
  • Symbols: memorials that celebrate the truths of your dogma in the sweep of the narrative in which they make sense;
  • Liturgy: the use of these three in worship

Ill.: Christmas – as practiced by Christians:

  • Dogma: Christ is God come in the flesh.
  • Narrative: God sent his son to live a perfect and sinless life to die for the sins of mankind.
  • Symbols: the giving of gifts, nativity,
  • Liturgy: A Christmas Eve Service celebrating the advent of Christ and anticipating the 2nd advent of Christ.

App.: Mark Dever outlines this Worship as something that happens every Sunday when we gather: read the Bible, pray the Bible, sing the Bible, preach the Bible and see the Bible as practiced in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. As we practice the Bible week in and week out we’re developing a Biblical Worldview.

That’s what these people are doing: for as much of Scripture as they have, they’re practicing their worldview and passing in on to the next generation.

  • Dogma: The faithfulness of God; protection, provision, etc. cited here in the responsive worship down in v 11: “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever toward Israel.”
  • Narrative: God delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians, he delivered them from the Babylonians.
  • Symbols: building booths, the palm branches, the boughs from leafy trees;
  • Liturgy: using them all in worship…

So, v 3 says they renew these practices, v 4 says they kept them as outlined by the Torah of Moses, v 5 gives a summary statement of these practices being resumed after a long absence. V 6 says makes two important statements: rd v 6

  • They resume the practice of daily sacrifices in the Temple; These would begin again at this time after a long absence and I believe they would continue until the destruction of the Temple in 70AD (BCE); Hebrews 10.11 – daily sacrifices is mentioned, however
  • The observance of Yom Kippur isn’t mentioned. I think that’s what is meant by but the foundation of the Temple of the Lord was not yet laid.

Summary: Here is the summation of the 1st part in building a spiritual foundation: Worship like it all depends on God. They had recognized and acknowledged this in v 3; They observed what they could and began preparations for constructing a foundation so that they could observe more in the future.

Transition: This leads us to the part 2 of this movement..

II.   Building a Physical Foundation (7-11).

exp.: vs 7 serves as a transition verse; rd v 7; this reads like the story of building the 1st Temple. And rightfully so – meaning – this is the intention of Ezra. There are these freewill offerings (also in Leviticus) used to raise money and goods to be used in the rebuilding of the Temple. Rd v 8-9; Here is a genealogy of the priests, Levites, workers. Rd v 10; Here these leaders are doing their best to follow Scripture. They follow the instructions of David to the letter. In v 11, you see the liturgy practiced before the people through responsive praise; rd v 11; What an incredible time of worship!

Transition: in part 1, building a spiritual foundation: Worship like it all depends on God. Here is the summation of the part 2 in building a physical foundation: Work like it all depends on you. But, the human side kicks in and it’s wonderful that the writer doesn’t hide this from us. Look at part 3…

III.   An Unexpected Response (12-13)

exp.: rd v 12-13; What? You’d think that there would have been a sense of relief from the older folks! Man, compared to the ashes and dust it all sat in for so many years, you’d think there would be a tremendous sense of accomplishment and success. It would be easy to miss this incredible moment. Don’t! Why would these priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ houses, old men who had seen the first house, weep loudly? I think they see what brought them to this place – their forefathers’ rebellion against God.

ill.: Jeremiah 44 – The Word of the Lord comes to the people of Judah in Egypt by the mouth of Jeremiah the prophet. He says – stop offering sacrifices and giving gifts to these foreign gods and idols that you’ve made with your own hands. You see the desolation of Jerusalem and Judah. You see the dead in the streets. If you don’t stop, the same will come to you here in Egypt.

The men, who knew their wives were doing this responded: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we will not listen to you. 17 But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster. 18 But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” 19 And the women said, “When we made offerings to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, was it without our husbands’ approval that we made cakes for her bearing her image and poured out drink offerings to her?”

And Jeremiah tells them: well, God is going to do to you what he did in Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. But, there will be a small remnant that will return. And the reason for this small remnant: Listen: 28 And those who escape the sword shall return from the land of Egypt to the land of Judah, few in number; and all the remnant of Judah, who came to the land of Egypt to live, shall know whose word will stand, mine or theirs.

Transition: I think they’re sad because they knew what they had and and they knew what was lost. Here is the message which these elders get: sin destroys. If you’re thinking – oh, yes, but there is forgiveness from God. That’s true. He is kind and compassionate and long on mercy, desiring that none should perish, but that all might come to repentance. But what is equally true is that the consequences of sin still ravage a life.

These people look at what was and realize that their sin – their rebellion is why they’re looking at something so much smaller than before. 600,000 men came up out of Egypt. Less than 50,000 men came up out of Babylon. Their numbers are small – so small that they fear the people around them.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Our worship should be shaping our worldview. I hope you see the Word of God being read, prayed, sang and expressed in our Worship. What about your private devotions? Family devotions?
  2. Our worldview should be motivating us to share our faith with those around us.
    1. Do we honestly believe sin damages?
    2. Do we believe Christ is coming again? How is that belief reflected in our worldview?
  3. We should be majoring in the majors!
    1. Worship is more important than facilities.
    2. People are more important than programs.

This especially hits home for me as I look to the future and where I’m leading you.

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Filed under Ezra, Sermons

Jude 8-10

Title: In Dependence

Text: Jude 8-10

Introduction: Start the recording; we started with a simple introduction in v 1-2; then, we were quickly introduced to Jude’s purpose and his warning to the church about False Teachers.

What makes a false teacher so scary? They infiltrate our ranks as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their own self-deception leads them to lead others away like a blind man leading a blind man off of a cliff. They willingly embrace their own destruction because they think they are right. They inject their venom into willing victims who buy their lies. A false teacher is:

  1. Someone able to sneak in Unnoticed (4)
  2. Someone who behaves in an Ungodly fashion (4)
  3. Someone who leads others astray (i.e.: rebel) (5-7)

Think terrorist. How else are they able to set off a bomb in a crowded area and kill so many and wound so many more? They sneak in unnoticed. They look and act like everyone else. Their actions are without a doubt ungodly. And, their leadership is able to tap into a resource of youth and immaturity that leads others astray. Eventually bringing about their destruction and the destruction of others.

Now, I know that isn’t a perfect illustration and doesn’t fit every terrorist. But think about the actions of those who have killed in the US lately… (pause).

Read the text: Jude 8-10;

By attaching these verses with the previous verses, Jude offers us three warnings about False Teachers through their actions:

  1. Independence from the Word of God leads to Spiritual Immorality (8)
  2. Independence from the Authority of God leads to Spiritual Arrogance (9)
  3. Independence from the Spirit of God leads to Spiritual Ignorance (10)

Let’s leave that screen up for a moment for those who want to write them down. You’ll want to note that each point is a verse.

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

Independence from the Word of God leads to Spiritual Immorality (8)

exp.: or, you might say: dependence on anything other than the Word of God leads to spiritual immorality. I’m not saying any other source doesn’t matter (Congregational Votes; Prayer)– What I’m saying is that God’s Word must be our standard – you cannot separate your life from God’s Word. If you’re getting information which conflicts with God’s Word – you open the door to Spiritual Immorality. Now Brother Fred, why would you Spiritual Immorality? Answer: Because it’s God’s terminology! He refers to the prostituting of ourselves to gods when we chase after them and reject Him. This is the illustration he uses. rd v 8a; Yet in like manner these people also; he is drawing attention to the previous illustrations;

  1. In the same way; these people (v4), these false teachers rebel
    1. Rebellion due to a lack of trust – like the Hebrew children
    2. Rebellion due to a sense of pride – like the fallen angels
    3. Rebellion due to selfish lusts and desires – like Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities

Rd 8b; relying on their dreams; these guys are dreamers. I see this in two ways: 1. They dream dreams while sleeping and interpret them. Or, 2. They have visions, possibly while inebriated with some aid. This leads them to Jude’s next Triad:

  1. Defile the flesh, – like the behavior of those in Sodom and Gomorrah; This is detestable to the Lord:

Deut. 13.1-5: “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Jeremiah 23.25-32: 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.

Dr. Akin writes: If you choose to live loosely and immorally, lewdly and out there on the moral edge, don’t look to God to justify your foolishness and immaturity. Be honest enough to point your finger at the real enabler: Yourself.

  1. Reject authority;: to despise Lordship; these people don’t like anyone telling them what to do; basically, this is a rejection of the Lordship of Christ.

ill.: John MacArthur has a book entitled: the Gospel According to Jesus. I read it years ago. In it Dr. MacArthur makes an argument against making Jesus your savior and not making him your lord. He says it is impossible have one without the other. Some people actually preach and teach you can do that: instead of Jesus as Savior and Lord, they say you can be saved without surrendering your life to him as Lord. It makes for great debate; however, that is exactly what Jude is saying these people are doing.

  1. Blaspheme the glorious ones:
    1. Blaspheme is a theme in this text. Did you notice it appears in all three verses: rd 8-10;
    2. It appears the context for glorious ones is the angels; note the angel Michael appears in the next verse;

app.: these people live immoral, ungodly lives by rejecting the authority of God’s Word for their lives. Instead they follow their dreams and do what they want to do without accountability to rein in their passions.

t.s.: 2ndly,

Independence from the Authority of God leads to Spiritual Arrogance (9)

exp.: rd v 9; But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” Yeah, this is a hard verse to understand, so let’s just skip it and move on to the next verse. V 10; Just kidding. God has preserved it for us, let’s see what we’re supposed to learn. I think for us, the application of the verse is where we want to go. Let’s not struggle with what we don’t know. Let’s focus in on what we do know.

  1. We know the Characters of the story:
    1. Michael – the archangel; that title means he is the highest ranking angel there is; I was taught when I was younger that there were three archangels: Satan, Michael and Gabriel. I don’t really have any proof of that. I think that was more of an assumption on the part of my teacher. But, it sure did teach well. The title archangel is used only here and again in 1 Thessalonians 4 to describe the return of Jesus. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Michael is seen in battle in Revelation 12.7 where he defeats Satan and his followers and casts them out of heaven. In Daniel he seen in a similar fashion and is called the ‘Great Prince’ and “one of the chief princes”.
    2. The Devil – the arch enemy of the Lord; Satan, Lucifer, the fallen angel from heaven who took with him 1/3 of heaven when he fell. Revelation 12;
    3. Moses – The leader of Israel; He died before the children of Israel were allowed to enter into the Promised Land. He, himself, did not get to go with them. That was pretty hard on him. He dies in Deut. 34 and is buried by God in v. 6. I assume because God didn’t want the Israelites to have his body. They were already carrying the bones of Joseph. And, they didn’t make an idol out of his bones. But, Moses was different. He was special.
    4. The Lord – self explanatory; he’s not really a character in this story, but I think it is inferred.
  2. This verse tells us something we’ve not found elsewhere in Scripture. My commentaries tell me this is a story found in The Assumption of Moses or The Testament of Moses. There are no existing copies, so we can only go by the testimonies of those who read from these and tell us about them. And, our best guess as to the purpose of Satan wanting the body of Moses would be to make him an idol and a stumbling block for the children of Israel.

ill.: Can you imagine what it would be like for us if we had a really good picture of Jesus? Can you imagine what the original would be worth? We make idols of the goofiest things in churches: crosses, pulpits, chairs, pictures, pew cushions. You can see why God would bury him rather than let him become an object of worship.

Now, before I move on, I want to address the issue of when Biblical Authors quote non-biblical material.

  1. Acknowledge that it happens. Twice in this book; 9, 14; It happens in others.
  2. Acknowledge that all Truth is God’s Truth. The source doesn’t matter. The Source of Truth is what matters. In a post-modern culture, people want to apply truth to specific topics or times or circumstances. They would say that what is truth for you, might not be for someone else. No, All Truth is God’s truth. Satan is the father of lies and what is false.
  3. Just because the author cites someone secular, it doesn’t mean everything that author says is to be believed or accepted. Acts 17.22-29: Paul uses a secular poet to make his point. It doesn’t mean Epimenides was a prophet of God.
  4. There are 66 books in the Bible. We don’t have these other books because God chose not to preserve them for us. These books meet certain very specific requirements. These 66 were chosen because the early church recognized that they were inspired of God. There are many other books out there with great history or descriptions; however, the early church did not include them because they obviously did not meet the requirements and the Holy Spirit either directed them or caused them to be lost (i.e.: the other two letters to the Corinthians; there was another letter to the Philippians; There was a letter to the church at Laodicea from Paul); what we have is what God wants us to have.

So, here’s how this applies:

app.: Michael knew his place and position. He also knew his responsibility. He humbled himself and let God take care of it. False Teachers don’t know their place. They presume to be more than God has positioned them and do more than God has ordained for them. If Michael, the highest ranking angel out there humbled himself and recognized he wasn’t God – what does that say for you and me? Where is our position in God’s economy.

t.s.: Don’t make more of yourself than God has assigned to you.

  1. Independence from the Word of God leads to Spiritual Immorality
  2. Independence from the Authority of God leads to Spiritual Arrogance
  3. Independence from the Spirit of God leads to Spiritual Ignorance

Independence from the Spirit of God leads to Spiritual Ignorance (15-24)

exp.: rd v 10; 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Here is what this verse says: They blaspheme what they don’t understand. They have a natural understanding just like the animals do, which leads to their destruction.

Teaching Points: 1 John 4.7-13

  1. We have a relationship with God because he loves us. His love abides in us.
  2. This relationship gives us benefits:
    1. Love: the action on his part to redeem and restore us. Rd 1 John 4.7-9
    2. Forgiveness: propitiation; rd 1 Jn 4.10
    3. Relationship:
      1. With each other: We love others as he loves – giving, sacrificially v. 11
      2. With God: He abides in us and we abide in him; the word is also remain. Rd 12-13; His Spirit in us!
    4. Knowledge/Understanding for life. And, this is what separates the believers from the non-believers.

1 Cor 4.11-14: 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Independence from the Spirit of God leads to being a Spiritual Moron! To quote Jude: These people blaspheme all that they do not understand. They’re spiritually immoral, arrogant and ignorant. What they do know is the same thing an animal knows instinctually. But, left to their own choices, they destroy themselves.

ill.: Watching the Truth Project again has been an eye opener. This past week we watched a portion of the study where Dr. Tackett took the imprint of God on certain spheres of life and showed us how in ignorance, we as humans try to do what God has taken care of and we mess it up. This week the sphere we looked at was the State. God’s design is God, King, the people. When God is removed from the equation, the state can become the most monstrous, evil mechanism. Just look at Stalin, Hitler, The Khmer Rouge. When God is removed from the structure of every institution, that institution gets distorted and ultimately fails. 50,000,000 unborn children murdered in the US. Now, these babies are being harvested to the highest bidder for research.

ill.: Show pictures: The Trinity, The Family, The State; Show the portion of the video that talks about the state becoming the savior.

app.: here’s the point – when we divorce ourselves from God’s design, we become dysfunctional. Independence from the Spirit of God leads to functioning in ignorance.

t.s.: So how do we avoid this?

Application:

  1. Acknowledge God’s Design for your life.
    1. Your relationship with Him
    2. Your marriage/family
    3. Your business
    4. Your state or government
    5. Your church
  2. Guard your heart
  • Proverbs 4.23 – 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
  • Phil 4.7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
  1. Let the Word of God be our standard in all affairs.
  2. Let the Authority of God define who we are in our relationships.
    1. Love
    2. Accountability
  3. Let the Spirit of God be our teacher in all matters.

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Filed under Authenticity, Jude, Scripture, Sermons