Category Archives: Sermons

A rough draft of my sermon content

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.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Amos, Galatians, Prophecy, Sermons

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Discipleship, Mark, Sermon, Sermons, Uncategorized

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.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

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

Mark 6.1-34

Title: What does it mean to follow Christ?

Text: Mark 6.1-34

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

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

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

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

Do we? Really?

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

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

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

I.      The Ministry of Jesus (1-6)

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

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

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

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

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

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

exp.: rd v 7;

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

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

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

III.   The Ministry of John (14-29)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Application:

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

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

Leave a comment

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

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…

Leave a comment

Filed under Ezra, Leadership, Scripture, Sermons, Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Authenticity, Jude, Scripture, Sermons

Jude 3-7

Title: Beware of False Prophets

Text: Jude 3-7

Introduction: Start the Recording; Read the text: v3-7; Last week we simply took time to look over Jude’s introduction and greeting. We answered the questions:

  1. Who is Jude?
  2. Who are we ‘in Christ’?
  3. What do we have ‘in Christ’?

At this point of the letter, Jude, the little brother of Jesus, turns his attention to the purpose in writing his letter. This is the 1st point of my message today. A simple breakdown of the passage would look something akin to this:

  1. The Purpose: A Call to Contend
  2. The Warning: False Teachers Clothed as Sheep
  3. Three Reminders: Jesus Punished Those who rebelled against Him.
    1. Jesus Destroyed the Hebrews who rebelled against him.
    2. Jesus has kept the angels who rebelled in chains until the Day of Judgment.
    3. Jesus has set before us an example of punishment in Sodom, Gomorrah and their surrounding cities.

Just reading this outline already has me ruffled. I can feel my spirit beginning to move and wonder if some of you are thinking the same things. Let me take a moment to pause and say: if this is happening to you, take a breath. Let’s not miss the intent of Jude because we are angry at the Supreme Court. Let’s not use this as fuel to feed the fire already kindled in our hearts. There is a danger we must keep before us as we move forward: Legalism is as dangerous as liberalism.

Ill.: In the days of Christ, he faced both ends of the spectrum in the Pharisees & Sadducees. Both groups hated him and both groups wanted him gone. A simple way to describe them would be with the words: Laws & License.

  • The Pharisees: loved the laws. They had hundreds of laws to describe the Law of Moses. In their eyes, everyone needed to be like them. They set the standard. They tithed everything, even down to their spices: mint, dill and cumin. They fasted not just the one time a year, but 2x’s a week! And on and on and on – ad nauseam. The missed the Law of Grace. For them, salvation is something you earn.
  • The Sadducees: loved their freedom. They didn’t believe in anything. Not angels, not in afterlife, not the resurrection. If you asked, well, what do you believe? They’d say: I believe I’ll have another drink! They were the exact opposite of the Pharisees. The Sadducees would do well in San Francisco or Hollywood today.

Most of us would bristle at the thought of being labeled the same as a Sadducee. But I’ve got to admit that a Pharisee doesn’t turn me on either!

And I think that’s sort of the way we’re supposed to feel when we begin to read Jude’s letter – not anger, not pleasure, but concern. Let me show you a way to get the flow of a message. If you read the passage with only the subject and verb of each sentence, you’ll see that Jude isn’t angry at all.

  • I found it necessary to write.
  • Certain men have crept in unnoticed.
  • Let me remind you about Jesus: He destroyed, detained and demonstrated.

Wow… I think Jude displays for us a deep reluctance to write what he had to write. He wanted to write about something totally different: rd v 3; 

The Purpose: A Call to Contend

exp.: The subject is Jude; he’s writing to the ‘beloved’ in God (v1); The verb is found or lit.: have necessity; Jude wanted to write about ‘our common salvation’; lit.: the shared of us salvation; κοινή; not common as in ‘everyone around here has it’ but rather common as in shared. But he was pressed to write about something else: he needed to change the subject to encourage them and warn them to contend for the faith.

He continues: I found (have: vb; aor act ind) it necessary to write (nfn) appealing (pres act ptc) to you to contend (nfn) for the faith (note the def. art. which describes not what we believe but rather the content of that belief) that was once for all delivered (aor pass ptc) to the saints. He describes this Faith as that which was once (and not needed again) delivered over to the saints.

Do you see the difference? We’re not talking about the manner in which each one comes to a place of belief and surrenders their lives by what they now understand in their minds. No, Jude here is talking about an objective reality of the truth of the Gospel.

Gal 1.23 23 They only were hearing it said, “He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” – ‘the faith’; Gal 1.6 – I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel here it is termed the Gospel; This faith is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here are the facts:

  • Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life. Thus, qualifying him to serve as our Passover lamb.
  • He died on a cross, shedding his blood to pay the penalty for our sin.
  • He was placed in a borrowed tomb where his dead body lay for three days.
  • He rose from the dead and lives now in glory and honor.
  • He ascended to the right hand of the Father where he makes intercession for us.
  • By placing your faith in him, you can receive the forgiveness of your sins and the hope of eternal life.

This is the objective reality of the Gospel and it is what Paul is telling the Galatians not to abandon. It is the passionate plea of Jude to these recipients, and to us to contend for this Gospel. Don’t tamper with it, Don’t dilute it to make it palatable and don’t distort it to make generic – contend for The Faith!

ill.: Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns. As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface. The little girl, suddenly enveloped in utter darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Immediately was heard the voice of her brother: “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights.”

app.: In a very real sense, that is the message of the Gospel: Light is available, even when it seems that the darkness is gloomy and overwhelming! And Paul and Jude are saying – you know how to turn on the lights! This is the Gospel, which you have received! Don’t change it…Don’t let it be changed by others!

Point # 2:

The Warning: False Teachers Clothed as Sheep

exp.: rd v 4a; The subject is men – specific or certain men; he doesn’t name names, but he tells them, and this is the verb: Certain men have crept in unnoticed; one word in the Gk, 4 words in the English.

This word appears only here in the NT. It’s related to many words with similar structure. A similar word ἔνδυμα/ἔνδυω which means clothing and to cloth; Mt 7.15: 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. This word in Jude means to cloth oneself in such a way that one might be able to blend in and go unnoticed. But the motive of this one is to bring harm to those who are unsuspecting.

These people don’t come into the church through the front door and announce they’re here to challenge the sufficiency of Scripture, or to shed doubt upon efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice.

But don’t be afraid! God knew about them long before they even breathed a breath. Rd 4b; 4 Descriptions:

  1. Who long ago were designated (pft pass ptc) for this condemnation, Prophesied about – Maybe Peter in 2 Peter; Maybe a common source for Jude and Peter; Maybe an OT Source or extra biblical literature, like Enoch; Dunno – but I do know that God has already known about it. He’s not surprised!
  2. Ungodly people; godless – not atheist per se…Douglas Moo writes: The word connotes a person who is “without religion” who ‘fails to worship.’ Hellenistic Jews used it especially of irreverence in an ethical sense: not theoretical atheism, but practical godlessness. In other words, their lives were filled with immorality. Their actions are the actions of someone who doesn’t have God in their lives; however their speech probably does. And this comes through in the next statement:
  3. Who pervert (pres act ptc) the grace of our God into sensuality; this could be sexual misconduct, drunkenness, gluttony, and so on. Sins of the flesh, if you will.

I wonder if this fits with Gnosticism. You know, you can do anything with the body because it is separate from the spirit. Someone would ask, as in Romans 6: Shall we continue in sin that Grace may abound? Yes! Absolutely!

I wonder if there were these men pushing for all the men to be circumcised. A procedure done in the flesh, but not necessary any more; however, these teachers wanted adherence to the Law. I don’t know; Jude doesn’t tell us. Maybe that is why he doesn’t name them – we can apply this principle across the board. But he continues…

  1. Who deny (pres mid ptc) our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. There is one def. art.

Point #3

Three Examples of Punishment

exp.: rd v 5a; Now I want (vb; pres mid/pass ind) to remind you, although you once fully knew (pft act ptc) it, …

  1. Jesus destroyed the Hebrew slaves

exp.: rd 5b; The subject is Jesus; The verbs are destroyed, has kept, has set

…that Jesus, who saved (aor act ptc) a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed (vb: aor act ind) those who did not believe (aor act ptc). You and I know this is the exodus from Egypt (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and into Deuteronomy).

  1. Jesus has kept and is keeping the Angels

exp.: rd v 6;And the angels who did not stay (aor act ptc) within their own position of authority, but left (aor act ptc) their proper dwelling, he has kept (pft act ind) in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— This is one of two stories:

  1. The Rebellion in heaven and the fall of Satan and his followers.
  2. Genesis 6.1-4; Elaborated on in 1 Enoch. Which Jude refers to in v 14;
  3. Maybe they’re one and the same;
  1. Jesus has set Sodom, Gomorrah, surrounding cities before us as an example of punishment

exp.: rd v 7; just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged (aor act ptc) in sexual immorality and pursued (aor act ptc) unnatural desire, serve (pres mid ind) as an example by undergoing a punishment (pres act ptc) of eternal fire.

So Jude is saying: Let me remind you that this Master and Lord of ours has destroyed, is detaining and has demonstrated for us the punishment that awaits those who rebel and lead others astray.

Conclusion: Some years ago, when I was really struggling as a pastor, Lisa asked me to take a moment – she wanted to share something she’d read in her quiet time. She told me that she doesn’t go looking for messages for me in her quiet time, but this was something that really stuck out. So, I listened. She took me to Galatians 5.7ff – 7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? She said, that verse was a picture of my life: I had been running this race, but something happened – someone cut me off. Then she read verse 8 – 8 That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

That truth hit me hard: I had indeed let others cut me off and they were keeping me from obeying my calling. That sort of thing wasn’t from the Lord. I needed to do a serious gut check. Lisa doesn’t know this, but I returned to that verse many times. The context was different, but the principle was the same. God had called me and I was letting people move me away from that calling. The passage continues: 9 “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

Satan is good at using people to derail your movement and obedience. The sinful nature of a person causes that person to seek prestige and power – and they’ll use that to get you to follow them and not the Lord.

Application:

  1. Do not lose the sense of urgency Jude had. He could have acknowledged to himself that there were indeed false teachers around, but he would write about them later. NO. He changed his plans because he sensed the urgency of the moment.
  2. False Teachers abound in this day and age. We need to be diligent. Set up barriers and alarms. Can you identify when something isn’t just right in what you’re hearing?

Ok, let’s make it personal:

  1. Are you listening to the Lord or pursuing your own passions? Are you one who is leading others astray? This is a very serious matter – to be so head strong about a program or ministry that you’ll sacrifice relationships to get your pet project off the ground?

Some years ago, our little church where I was serving was doing a Bible Study which was also a weight loss program. I was involved and was dropping a few pounds myself. It was all about portion control – and eating only when you were hungry. Good principles! However, some things were said in the Bible study time that bothered me. A couple of people noticed it, too and asked me about it. I did a little research and found that one of the tenets in their statement of faith was that Christ was the 1st Created being. According to their statement of faith, they did not believe in Christ’s eternal existence – He always has been and always will be. This group didn’t believe in the Trinity – they couldn’t conceptually grasp the idea of the plurality of the Godhead. I met with some of my leaders and made a decision that we would not host that Bible study anymore. Fssht – cancelled.

Do you think everyone was ok with that? No, there was one lady in our church was very upset. The mother of this family just happened to be losing more weight than she had ever experienced before. For her, that success was a litmus test – it was good enough. She was so angry with me. And her argument was very emotional: for the first time in my life I’m experiencing real weight loss. Fortunately for me, she found no followers interested in my lynching.

Each of us as believers is called to faith and called to service. In your service, are you listening to the Lord or pursuing your own passions? I’m not just asking if you prayed about it – What does the Lord say through His word.

  1. Note the three examples and what exactly were their egregious offenses? Why did they not follow the Lord?
    1. Rebellion due to a lack of trust.
    2. Rebellion due to a sense of pride.
    3. Rebellion due to selfish lusts and desires.
  2. You know how to turn the light on. There are others around you who live in darkness. What are you going to do?

Leave a comment

Filed under Jude, Scripture, Sermons

2 Corinthians 10.1-11

Title: A Random Check: Scan your files!

Text: 2 Corinthians 10.1-11

CIT: Paul is giving them ample warning: He is coming so they need to deal with these problems.

CIS: Church discipline is a necessary tool to keep the church pure in it’s doctrine.

Introduction: We’re in 2 Corinthians 10.1-11

John Huffman, Jr. tells the following story: Over lunch, several friends were discussing a church that had been so decimated by internal strife that it had become common knowledge in that community. Some members had no stomach for the fight and were drifting into neighboring churches. Those who remained were being pushed by the opposing groups to take sides. The whole affair was becoming very unpleasant.

What was the issue that had precipitated such a furor? Believe it or not, the whole upheaval was over the changing of the job description of the organist. She had been there for years and had built a small empire in her area. She had developed great skill in using a loyal following as a power base for budget, program and calendar advantages. So when a special Lay committee brought a report to the congregation suggesting a slight change in her duties, she took it as a personal rebuke and declared war.

None of the friends who were discussing this at lunch were members of that church. Therefore, they didn’t have to deal with the situation. They quickly agreed with one who said, “That doesn’t sound like a big enough problem over which to split a church!” Then one of the group reminded the others of a truth that is too easily forgotten, “Any problem that has to be dealt with by people who are spiritually immature can divide a church, no matter how small a matter it may appear to be.”

Think back to the issues you have experienced that have torn apart brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. It’s often the little matters that divide-issues over the color of the walls or the carpet in the sanctuary. I knew a church that split over the size of a door being put into the fellowship hall. The lady leading the fight won and got her 4-foot door. Her reason was so that her daughter, who was getting married soon after the fellowship hall was finished, would be able to wear her wedding dress out of the door when she and her new husband left. What’s more is that when the day of her reception came, the young bride chose to use a different exit! Added to this, the mother quit coming to church after her daughter’s wedding.

So, what actually divides churches? I think the lady in the conversation mentioned above got it right: Spiritual immaturity divides churches.

In Corinth, we find a church that is divided: 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” That’s a bad split. Now, it appears, as we get to our text today (2 Cor 10.1), that Paul is still dealing with the issues of Corinth that divide them.

So, Paul issues a warning to them: our text illustrates this with bookends. Rd v 2; I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. And again at the end; read v 11; Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

There are two words that appear in both v 2 and in v 11; the 1st is translated count on and understand; the 2nd word is translated when I am present and again, when present. So, the emphasis here being made by Paul is: count on my action when I am present.

In the rest of the text, Paul will make this plea while explaining the reality of the situation to the Corinthians and issuing them a stern warning.

  1. The Plea
  2. The Reality
  3. The Warning

1.     The Plea: Deal with this matter before I come. (1)

exp.: rd v 1-2a; I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away!— and again in v 2 – I beg of you;

  • His Authority: 4x’s when you consider the vb, too. I, Paul, myself I encourage;
  • His Humility: His power is presented in meekness and gentleness; his speech isn’t harsh and the volume of his voice isn’t loud. The tone is even: the meekness and gentleness of Christ.

Q.: Why? Why is Paul using his Apostolic Authority to warn the Corinthians? Because their regard for Paul had been undermined by those who twisted his words and made wrongful comparisons of Paul to themselves. They need to take care of their church body. They need to protect the body from those who would lead them astray.

app.: It’s called Church Discipline; Really, for us – you trust the elders to take care of you in spiritual matters. To ensure that false doctrine isn’t being spread; that people aren’t trying to worm their way into positions of power or prestige. And we take that calling serious.

t.s.: So, just how is that done;

2.     The Reality: We walk in the flesh, but we wage a spiritual war. (2-6)

exp.: Paul is distressed at their disregard of the Truth. They’ve cast it aside to follow these ‘super-apostles’ who have wowed them with clever and articulate speech. They appear so strong:

  • Handsome
  • Intelligent
  • Clever
  • Witty
  • Their sermons entertain
  • The numbers are there to support their success.

ill.: While on the other hand, Paul isn’t much to look at and not very articulate like some other polished orators. He’s already said as much in his letters to them: And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. As for his appearance…

I’m not sure how accurate it is, nor the extent to which the NT played in the following writing; but, there is a 2nd Century apocryphal text entitled: The Acts of Paul and Thecla. 1:4 And a certain man named Onesiphorus, hearing that Paul was come to Iconium, went out speedily to meet him, together with his wife Lectra, and his sons Simmia and Xeno, to invite him to their house. 1:5 For Titus had given them a description of Paul’s personage, they as yet not knowing him in person, but only being acquainted with his character. 1:6 They went in the king’s highway to Lystra, and stood there waiting for him, comparing all who passed by, with that description which Titus had given them. 1:7 At length they saw a man coming (namely Paul), of a low stature, bald on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he appeared as a man, sometimes he had the countenance of an angel. And Paul saw Onesiphorus, and was glad. I think a more modern translation might read: He was short, bald, bow-legged, hollowed eyes and a crooked nose. I get the idea he wasn’t much to look at!

app.: but Paul’s argument is quite simply that these folks are not seeing reality. For, the reality of the situation is that, as preachers, we don’t do what we do in the flesh. Oh, sure (rd v 3); though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. rd v 4 – For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power… It’s a spiritual battle. Look at his remarks in v 4ff: For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power

  1. to destroy strongholds – Now, this word only appears here in the NT; however, appears 69x’s in the OT! A stronghold is:

1: a fortified place

2a: a place of security or survival

2b: a place dominated by a particular group or marked by a particular characteristic; I think this is the closest definition to the context of v4;

  1. 5to destroy arguments – the word used here means reasoning powers – that is what people are thinking. Which, then, matches this next phrase…
  2. every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God – This deals with reasoning thoughts; All of these working and running together, look at the rest of v 5;
  3. take every thought captive to obey Christ, look at v 6;
  4. being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

exp.: many think that Paul is going to go off on these people – Like Nehemiah who in chapter 13 goes all Chuck Norris on the people – 25 And I confronted them and cursed them and beat some of them and pulled out their hair. And I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.

app.: But I don’t think Paul is threatening like that. No, the texts makes it clear that it has to do with thoughts and reasoning.

t.s.: it really becomes clearer as he continues in his warning…

3.     The Warning: Take care of this now, or I’ll deal with it when I come. (7-11)

exp.: rd v 7a; I love the Gk; it’s more descriptive, like: Watch out for what’s in your face. Rd 7; And then, Paul identifies for us just what’s at stake: rd v 8; Barrett, in his commentary on 2 Corinthians writes: It is the nature of the apostolic Gospel, and the apostolic authority behind it, that are at stake. Paul can’t let this slide, and he must confront the church on this issue. I think he’s meek and gentle still as we read v 9-10;

app.: who can understand the passion a pastor has for his congregation? How can anyone other than a pastor comprehend this great calling and the earnest desire to keep the church he’s planted remain pure and unmolested? He let’s them know in v 11 11 Let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present.

Conclusion: Now you might be wondering to yourself if there is trouble at Calvary. Not that I know of! I’ve just been making my way through 2 Corinthians and have come to this passage. What a great reminder for us to visit this practice of church discipline. We must be diligent to keep the doctrines of the church strong and healthy.

So, how does this apply to us? Application:

  1. If someone has hurt you – go talk to that person.
  • Most grievances are unintended. That’s what is so beautiful about the model in Matthew 18. So many misunderstandings have gone unchecked and people get hurt. Most of the time that’s all it is: a misunderstanding. Most brothers and sisters just want to serve – they’re not out to hurt anyone. If they knew they had hurt you, they would do anything they could to fix it. That wasn’t their intent.
  • One on one protects the person from embarrassment. When we’re caught in our sin, we’re embarrassed! To save face, we get defensive; we try getting the attention off of us and on to someone else. The fight or flight instinct kicks in and neither one are beneficial for the church.
  • Some grievances are intentional. When a person has been hurt they will begin to find validation for their hurt. Hurt comes in so many ways. The best way to fix this is to go talk with the person who has hurt you. Someone can’t fix what they don’t know is wrong.
  • Trust – Trust is foundational to the church. It’s how we become believers. It’s how we work and do ministry. Some people feel like you don’t trust them or maybe they don’t trust you. No ministry can flourish without trust.

Think about the implications here. A church is only as strong as it’s weakest link. We could have dozens of trusted ministries; however, if we are found negligible in one area, we lose trust. And, the whole body suffers.

If trust is lost between members of a team, a breakdown will occur – that ministry within the church suffers. Let me just say we’ve got to build trust between members and teams. Anyone who refuses to confront this hurts the whole body. We could stay here, but let’s move on.

  1. Often times, the reason people are fighting isn’t the real reason. There’s an issue deeper down that isn’t being discussed.
  2. If you see a brother or sister in sin – confront them. The road that leads to destruction is smooth, paved and downhill. Sinking deep into sin is a quick, easy process. The sooner you deal with sin, the quicker a person can be restored. Again – ALONE!
    1. Don’t go to the pastor – go to that person!
    2. Don’t go to the elders – go to that person!
    3. Don’t go seek counsel from a friend – go to that person!

Why can’t we learn this one? Do you not comprehend that he who brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

  1. Let’s take a personal inventory. Pretty much across the board, most of us feel we’re in the right and others are in the wrong. But that isn’t always the case. Is the ministry you’re involved in becoming too much of you? Is it your puppy, your pet? Do you have too much responsibility for money and budget and people? Would you pray about giving that ministry to someone else? Would you step down and let someone else do that ministry or lead that ministry. If the answer is, “no,” then you need to do a personal inventory.

I wonder what would have happened to that church I was talking about in the beginning – the story from that pastor – I wonder what would have happened if those folks would have practiced some of these principles. What could have saved that church? Maybe someone should have approached that organist a long time ago? It sounds like she was in sin. Maybe, not. Why didn’t one of her friends talk to her in private as she began to wage this war on those who sought to get the ministry under control.

Leave a comment

Filed under 2 Corinthians, Church Discipline, Sermons

Discipleship: DNA

Title: Discipleship: Getting the Job Done

Text: Acts 11.19-30

CIT: The Church at Antioch had been Evangelized and Discipled so well, that they naturally wanted to serve when the time came.

CIS: that we as a congregation, and as individuals would be looking for that one person to ‘disciple’

Introduction: A Marine recruiter took the stage in front of a high school assembly after the other service recruiters had given long-winded speeches about why the students should join their respective branches.

The Marine recruiter simply looked out over the audience for a few seconds and said:

“I don’t think I see anyone in this room that has what it takes to be a United States Marine. But if any of you think you can prove me wrong, I’ll be at that table over there.”

The Marines got more recruits that day than all other branches combined.

There is something about a challenge – Or should I say there is something to being challenged. Most people want to do better than others. We want to feel that we’re above average when we’re compared with others. It doesn’t stop as individuals. We do this as members of teams and owners of businesses. We do this as churches.

Ill.: It seems to me that when I’m asked about Calvary, the question that is asked most is: how big is your church? Translation: how many people come to your church? Well, I’m not convinced that numbers alone is the measure of a healthy church.

Today we’ll look at a church and how it found success. And, to be quite honest, I was surprised at what I found:

Turn to Acts 11.19-30; In this text we’ll find three parts to an healthy, active church;

  1. Evangelism (19-21)
  2. Discipleship (22-26)
  3. Mission/Ministry (27-30)

This is the outline, but I’ve structured it differently… evangelism and evidence. 1st,

1.     Evangelism (19-20)

exp.: rd v 19a; A persecution arises and forces many believers to flee. I like the Greek – it paints a picture with the words; the word translated scattered is a farming word. It is what farmers would do when sowing their seed. It’s as if the writer is letting us in on what God is up to behind the scene. You can almost picture God’s hand sowing the seeds of faith in broader strokes. Rd 19b; These persecuted believers were at first sharing only with Jews, but something cool happens in the next verse; rd v 20; for the 1st time, we see a concentrated effort in sharing Christ with non-Jews;

1st, let’s look at this word: Hellenist. It’s found in 6.1, in reference to the Greek speaking Jewish widows being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. The 2nd time we see it is in 9.29, when Paul comes to Jerusalem after his conversion and preaches Christ to Jews who are only Greek speaking. The context gives us a clear understanding of this. But when we come to Hellenists in 11.20, we see the context leads us to understand that for the 1st time, someone other than Jews is being targeted with the Gospel. There is greater emphasis placed on this with the word εὐαγγελίζω – preaching boldly in the name of Jesus. If you transliterate that word, εὐαγγελίζω, you get Evangelism;

ill.: C.H. Spurgeon is credited with saying: In the Roman Empire, all roads led to Rome. In the Bible, all texts lead to Christ. No matter what Scripture you’re reading, there is a message of hope and something that points us back or toward Christ. And so when reading Scripture – What a great opportunity to εὐαγγελίζω!

app.: Here is a simple reason to commit to reading the Bible with someone: Evangelism. Sharing the good news. Did you know that many people don’t want to go to a church. They’re uncomfortable with it. However, many people wish they knew the Bible better. Believers and non-believers alike.

t.s.: now, there a second part to this and it really runs inside this first point; however, for the sake of simplicity, I’m going to make this point #2 and it is:

2.     Evidence (22-26)

exp.: rd v 21; note the two parts: 1st, God’s favor is upon them and 2nd their numbers show that! The 1st part of this echoes my verse for this year: Ps 90.17: Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! That has been my prayer since I came across it on Sabbatical. I pray it almost every day. Will you pray that with me? …that God’s hand would be with us and that we would begin to see people committing their lives to Christ? We can do our part, but if God doesn’t bless – it’s all for naught. Pray: Indeed, Lord, Let your favor be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! And 2ndly, Let this evidence be found in us! May we see untold numbers of people committing their lives to you!

Look at v22; in v 22 we find set of words most common to the LXX; you get the idea of what this means when you read Mt 10.27: 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. Jesus is of course speaking there. But here, there is this idea of whispers about the church at Antioch coming to the ears of the church in Jerusalem – Did you hear that Believers are sharing Christ with Gentiles – and some of them are actually getting saved? “Whispers in dark”; this adds weight to our thought about these Hellenists being non-Jews, that is Gentiles. This is something new, something different.

So, what do they do? They send Barnabas – good, ole Barnabas – Son of Encouragement – to check things out. Why? Who are they? There is some wording here that doesn’t really translate into English. It’s the idea that this church in Jerusalem, being what it was at that time, when they heard of this, sent Barnabas. I think that’s an interesting statement by Dr. Luke. How would that apply to us?

Well, 1st off: we have a responsibility to check on those who are coming to faith through our ministry. Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s a huge responsibility. We’re recording this, so I want to be careful. But let me ask: how are we following up on the people who get saved through our ministry. From Pine Cove to the Pacific Rim, how are we actively following up on reports that someone has accepted Christ? I’ve heard some reports about people being saved. You have, too. Let’s ponder that for a while – while I push on into verse 23.

Rd v 23; What did he find? Evidence!

  • He saw the grace of God! He saw God’s favor had been poured out on these people. Which of course, echoes the above statement that God’s hand was with them. Next,
  • He rejoiced! He was glad.
  • He encouraged them to remain faithful to the Lord w/ steadfast purpose.

Ill.: Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, tells the story of a church being revitalized. It was during his tenure teaching at a seminary. He was asked to step in and fill the pulpit. So, he did. It was a hard experience, but it was well worth it as many people were reached.

On my last day at the church, Harold, the over 80 year old deacon chairman poked me in the chest and said, “Preacher, I still don’t like the music and the kids are breaking everything.” And he was right. The more activity you have in a church, the more likely things are going to be broken.

Any disconnected church that seeks to reengage with their community will find the experience to be messy. There may be mud on the carpet, smudges on the walls, dirty bathrooms, or broken vases. The way of church life to which your people had grown accustomed will suddenly change.

So there we were, Harold with his finger in my chest and me looking at him trying to figure out this confrontation. Still making eye contact, he teared up and said, “I still don’t like the music and the kids are breaking everything, but it was worth it.

App.: a church that chooses to reach out to its community and to the world needs to know that this work is messy. It is. But like Harold said – It’s worth it.

I think Harold is a bit like Barnabas – able to see the good in things. I made a few notes about Barnabas, that I felt like each person who chooses to disciple others, should emulate:

  1. His Character: Wisdom, joy, encouragement – that is, an encourager of others. 2nd, his…
  2. His Attributes: rd v 24; good; full of the Holy Spirit; Full of Faith – faithful, yeah, but I like full of faith; rd v 24; another attribute – discernment: seeing what is needed; and having the wisdom to act on that. His Character, His Attributes, His Sacrifice. Rd v 25-26a;
  3. His Sacrifice: Invest in the lives of others…
    1. Yourself – What I mean by this is: it takes someone – why not you? Most of us like the group setting; probably because we don’t have to go very deep – just let others do the talking. Consider one to one.
    2. Your time – rd v 26; a whole year; ;
    3. Meet together – this isn’t a fb Bible study; sorry ladies, I mean no offense; but, I’m asking you to do more than ‘friend’ someone. I’m asking you to sacrifice yourself on the behalf of another; sacrifice your time; give of yourself – be vulnerable, be transparent;

Here is an area I think we’ve failed at as believers. We’ve tried to make people think that being a Christian means everything perfect. It is not. Indeed, my guess is that we have just as many problems, concerns and issues as the rest of the world. The difference comes in how we handle those problems, concerns and issues. We don’t respond like the world does. And, that’s part of what you’re teaching when you meet with someone. And that’s the next area where sacrifice is made.

  1. Teaching – Specifically, God’s Word; As I’ve repeated over the past couple of weeks: this is our standard – the measurement by which we measure our lives.

ill.: We’ll delve more into this on May 17th for those that are interested, but for the moment let me just add what it means to meet and teach someone.

  1. Read the text – This is what it says.
  2. Discuss the text – This is what it means.
  3. Apply the text – this is what it means to me.

app.: There are believers out there who would like to grow in Christ, but don’t know how. Spending time reading God’s Word with them will open doors for you to teach, share and invest in their lives. Discipleship; this is our main area of focus this morning – investing our lives in someone else.

t.s.: this text concludes with one last section – mission/ministry

3.     Mission/Ministry (27-30)

exp.: rd v 27-30; Maybe this is another area of evidence? I think Calvary is doing this well. Sunday night, May 17th, I’m going to invite you to the church to talk about reading the Bible one-to-one. I want to challenge you now to find someone and invite them to meet with you regualarly – one a week, once every two weeks, at lunch, on Saturdays for brunch, just whenever you can make the time. The goal isn’t to meet with someone to encourage you and then to meet with someone who needs your encouragement. We’re just trying to start something here. I’m calling it DNA (Discipleship and Accountability) Sunday night May 17th, we’ll meet to talk about all of this. To conclude, I want to give you 4 reason to consider DNA.

Conclusion: let me ask: Why participate in DNA?

  1. Salvation: each of us knows someone who is lost and needs to be reached. This just might be a way to present the gospel.
  2. Sanctification: no doubt each of us needs to grow. None of us has arrived.
  3. Service: Right now, would you think of one person you are pouring your life into? Maybe it’s your kid. Maybe it’s your sibling. If there isn’t someone you’re meeting with regularly, will you begin to pray about doing just that?
  4. Substance: This comes back to the issue of a superficial church. How involved are we in the lives of others? Who are you meeting with regularly to share life with – as it pertains to Scripture? I basically want to challenge you to begin praying about developing a relationship that takes you beyond the superficial. Our Church is only as strong as a weakest link.

Leave a comment

Filed under Acts, Discipleship, Sermons