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Ezra 3

Title: The Priority of Worship

Text: Ezra 3

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

CIS: Our Worship should reflect our strong belief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We begin with part 1…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ill.: Christmas – as practiced by Christians:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

III.   An Unexpected Response (12-13)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations & Implications:

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

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

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Jude 1-2

Title: Jude: An Introduction

Text: Jude 1-2

Introduction: Start recording; Let’s pray:

  1. We as human beings have fears that shape us and sometimes lead us. They shouldn’t, but we let them. You have fears. I have fears. You know some of my But just in case you didn’t know about this one, it’s the fear that someone might sneak in and lead others astray through their deceptive leadership or power. Another fear is that I should fail in protecting the church against unhealthy doctrine. A healthy church is so hard to achieve and it is so easy to be led astray. I have to say that it is the most wonderful feeling laying my head down on my pillow at night with the knowledge that our church isn’t perfect, but she is healthy. As I read the NT, I see that it was a constant battle for Paul and the writer of Hebrews and Timothy and Barnabas and Jude and Peter. That battle was against false doctrines and false teachers.
  2. That battle still rages today. I see churches rejoicing over the SCOTUS recent decision to redefine marriage and the family. They’re having wedding celebrations and embracing what the Word of God has clearly rejected. We were reminded this past Wednesday in the Truth Project that God has given us His design in who He is. From marriage to family to all areas of the social order, God has placed his divine imprint on them all. Satan’s goal is to destroy that image – distort that image and replace it with disorder and dysfunction.
  3. And so we must guard against the things that can destroy us and we must work to protect it – like a marriage. A couple will set up boundaries to protect their marriage. And so, we act in like manner. We must set up boundaries to protect the bride of Christ.

To lighten this heavy message, Jude ‘bookends’ his letter with this focus upon their safety in Christ. : v1 and v24; to those who are kept at this moment – and are being kept until the day we are presented blameless to the Father. Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a sermon all to itself! Baptists call this the perseverance of the saints. And we take no credit for it, as Jude says, it is Christ who does the keeping. He keeps us safe.

This safety, this security, this assurance we have, comes with a better understanding of just what it means to be a Christian. The phrase “in Christ” doesn’t appear until after the gospels. It appears for the 1st time in Acts 24.24: 24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. Then, ‘in Christ’ appears 90 more times. It is a term used to define the believers: to all who are in Christ Jesus; What does this mean for us? Who are we in Christ? What is ours because we are in Christ? These are questions Jude answers for us this morning.

Well, let’s begin with who he was:

Who was Jude?

exp.: rd v 1a; Jude (lit.: Judas);

  1. Now, there are 6 men who have this name in the NT. It was such a popular name because some 200 years before, Judas was a mighty warrior and leader for the Jewish people. So many people chose that name for their little boy:
    1. Judas Iscariot: One of the 12 (Mt. 10.4)
    2. Judas, the younger: Also, one of the 12; the son of James; (Lk 6.16; Jn 14.22: Judas, not Iscariot)
    3. Judas, the Galilean: a leader whose rebellion was quickly squelched. (Acts 5.37)
    4. Judas, the owner of the home in Damascus on Straight St. where Paul was taken after his encounter with Jesus. (Acts 9.11)
    5. Judas, called Barsabbas: One of the men who traveled with Paul and Barnabas to send the Church’s decision concerning the Gentiles. (Acts 15.22, 27, 32)
    6. Judas, the little brother of Jesus: this is the writer of this letter. Amazing! Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Mt 13.55); Jn 7.5 tells us that he was an unbeliever in the time of Christ’s earthly ministry; that he was probably embarrassed by his older brother, Jesus; and, was probably a part of ridiculing him to go up to the feast. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” (Mk 3.21); But, something incredible happened – the crucifixion, the burial, the resurrection. And somewhere in all of that… Judas gave his life to Christ. He could deny it no longer and was saved! You see it here in his first description of who he is. He could have said: Jude, the little brother of Jesus. But he didn’t; Rd 1b; This brings us to our 2nd question:

Who are we in Christ? Look at these words Jude uses to describe himself and his readers. They tell us who we are in Christ: his statement a slave of Jesus Christ tells us we’re…

  1. Bought: You have been bought with a price. A slave of Jesus Christ; your text probably says ‘servant or bondservant’; the Gk is δοῦλος; J. MacArthur @ the shepherd’s conf.: those who translate the Bible didn’t want to offend anyone; What a shame; HCSB gets it right in the modern translations; The strong Greek word δοῦλος cannot be accurately translated in English as servant or bond servant; the HCSB translates this word as slave, not out of insensitivity to the legitimate concerns of modern English speakers, but out of a commitment to accurately convey the brutal reality of the Roman empire’s inhumane institution as well as the ownership called for by Christ. It is vital that we get this: don’t soften this for a moment. If you are in Christ, then you are not your own. You belong to Him and what he says for your life goes.

This really means so much more because of his next statement (1c): a brother of James. This statement accomplishes for us, a couple of major points:

  • He is the little brother of Jesus. 1st we’re positive this Judas is not any of the other Judas’ mentioned above. 2nd, we know that the only other Judas mentioned was the son of James, not the brother. So, with relative confidence, we can say He is the brother of Jesus. This is also the attestation of the early church, and their confirmation of Jude’s family line.
  • He refuses to say that he is the brother of Jesus. That would give him some status! But he instead, identifies with his brother, James, the pastor and leader in Jerusalem. What he’s saying in all of this is that his relationship to Jesus isn’t brother to brother – familial; but, rather, slave to master. He has been bought by the blood of Christ.
  1. Called: Gk word is κλητός; According to Tom Schreiner, N.T. scholar from Southern Seminary, there are two general meanings for the word ‘call’:
    1. There is a general call (Matt 11:28-30): an invitation; 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
    2. There is an effectual call (Rom 8:30): 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Now, normally we don’t like to talk about these ‘hard to understand’ words; Let me just make this easy and say we cannot fully comprehend this concept of predestination – how God could predestine us. He who knows all things and is the agent by which all things (to quote Paul) live and breath and move – and find their being – How could God predestine? Where does our free will end and His divine sovereignty begin? And visa-versa? Answer: I don’t know. I really don’t. I only know that both are real and both are true.

ill.: It’s like the doctrine of God in the flesh: Was Jesus fully God? Yes – 100%. Was Jesus fully man? Did he sweat and thirst and hunger and get tired? Yes – 100%. How can he be 200%? My answer: Dunno! I only know the Bible teaches us this. So, I accept it by faith.

app.: It’s the same here. God, in and through his infinite mercy, called me. I was undeserving, unworthy and unfit for this grace. And yet, His Holy Spirit wooed me. My heart was softened and I fell to my face and trusted what he said: I confessed my sins and he forgave me.

ill.: Listen to Daniel Akin, president of SEBTS: There is a mysterious wonder in this truth that the sovereign God effectually brings persons to salvation in perfect harmony with their free will and response to the gospel. There is a marvelous complementarity to these twin truths that, if you push them beyond their biblical parameters, you will find yourself lying in your closet, drooling out of one side of your mouth, attempting to do Hebrew and Greek verb conjugations in tantum!

He continues: Timothy George has well said, “God created human beings with free moral agency, and He does not violate this even in the supernatural work of regeneration. Christ does not rudely bludgeon His way into the human heart. He does not abrogate our creaturely freedom. No, He beckons and woos, He pleads and pursues, He waits and wins.” (Amazing Grace, p74)

t.s.: let’s move on: We are bought, we are called, we are loved.

  1. Loved: rd 1d; Beloved in God the Father; lit.: in God the father, being loved; no where else does this phrase occur just like this. It’s a pft pass ptc;

pft: a present state, because of a past action;

pass: meaning we’re the one’s being loved.

part: describing those who have been called.

It’s a great declaration of the Father’s love. There is in one sense a love of the Father for all people; John 3.16; And there is this – a wonderful sense of deep, abiding love that the Father has for His children. I think it might be something akin to my love for kids. I love the children at Calvary, but I have a deeper love for my little girls: Elizabeth, Caroline and Annie.

We are loved!

  1. Kept: rd 1d; and kept for Jesus Christ. τηρέω: appears 5x’s in Jude (1, 6 (2x), 13, 21); Each time it is used in to describe guarding, protecting; Acts 12.5-6 – So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. This is the word that is used to command us to ‘keep’ God’s commands. We don’t just observe them – we protect them, we guard them, we keep them close to us.

app.: this is what is being said of you, believer. You are kept, protected, guarded in Christ Jesus. You are kept by an incredible power! By His death on the cross, purchasing your pardon; by his resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand – he keeps you now! He who is powerful enough to save you is powerful enough to keep you.

t.s.: Ladies and Gentleman, this should cause you to stand and applaud! Nothing will happen on this day that God isn’t already aware of! Nothing will touch your life that doesn’t 1st pass through His hands. And if he allows or causes any activity in your life, you can be sure that you are kept and protected and are being preserved.

Transition: Jude says this of himself and of his readers. Blessed assurance Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine; Heir of salvation – purchase of God; Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood. This is my story, this is my song: praising my savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song: praising my savior all the day long. Security comes in knowing who you are in Christ Jesus. 2ndly, Security comes in knowing what you have in Christ Jesus.

What is ours because we are in Christ? (2)

exp.: rd v 2; Jude has a love of triads:

  • Jude, a slave, a brother
  • To the called, the loved, the kept
  • Be multiplied to you mercy, peace and love.
  1. Mercy: the word ‘multiplied’ gives us a greater understanding of what he is saying here: it’s in the optative mood – which I know means nothing to you, but bare with me: 1st, it is rarely used in the N.T.; 2nd, it is used to express a wish. Paul uses it when he says: μὴ γένοιτο; May it not be; God forbid! Here is Jude’s wish for these people – God’s mercy abounding in the believer’s life. The Hebrew equivalent is hesed; Psalm 23: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. The younger generation learned: Surely goodnes and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life. Akin says: It is a characteristic in God that moves Him to seek a relationship with persons who have no right to be in relationship with Him. The word speaks of compassion, lovingkindness (hesed). It is gracious, undeserved and unmerited; yet it is not blind, dumb or ignorant. It is something in God that moves Him to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Mercy is a characteristic of God. It is something he pours out on us. Likewise, we’re called to be like him – to show mercy. In v 2 Jude wishes this mercy upon us increasing measure – “multiplied” and

  • in v. 22, he commands the reader to show mercy to others.
  • In Mt 5.7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
  • Jesus teaches us that this is an O.T. concept when he quotes from Hosea 6.6 (Mt 9.13): 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
  • Paul calls us ‘vessels of mercy’ in Romans;

app.: in Christ you now have mercy – freely given to you and freely given by you to those in need. 2nd, Peace.

  1. Peace: Another word that finds its meaning in the Hebrew: shalom. It makes me wonder if the recipients of this letter were Jewish believers. My guess is yes – they were.

Shalom has so many meanings. Akin says: Ideas such as wholeness, completeness, prosperity and success are just a few of the concepts that emanate from this word. Douglas Moo writes: By ‘peace,’ Jude may mean the inner contentment that comes from a restored relationship to God in Christ – the ‘peace of God.’ But it more likely means our ‘peace with God.’ that is, the new status of reconciliation that God provides in his Son for us.

In Judges we learn it is God’s name: Jehovah Shalom (6.23). In Isaiah (9.6-7) we learn that it is God the Son’s name, too: Prince of Peace. In the OT they search for peace, but it can’t be found. In the NT Jesus says: 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. Paul affirms this for us when in Romans 5.1 he writes: 1Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

app.: No wonder there is peace for the believer. He is saved from his sins now, he walks in peace because God is his life and when he dies, he has the promise of heaven!

You ask how? You say: “Sure, our sins are forgiven – Sure we have the promise of heaven, but right now is so hard”: 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. (Phil 4.4-7) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

app.: yes, this life is hard – but for those of us in Christ Jesus – we have the peace of God. 3rd,

  1. Love: This word appears more than any other in Jude (7x’s; 1,2,3,12,17,20,21); more than any other word of consequence (meaning – if you don’t count the pronouns and conjunctions); Equal to this number is Christ, Jesus and Lord. Next is love – 7 times. And then, kept – 5x’s; really, the focus on this letter is a warning of false teachers and false doctrine, but an argument could be made for focusing upon these words: that in Christ Jesus, you are kept and loved. Just how kept and loved are you?

Romans 8.28-39

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Application:

  1. Know who you are in Christ: bought, called, loved and kept.
  2. Know what is yours in Christ Jesus: mercy, peace and love.
  3. Know also, that you are a conduit of these virtues, traits to a lost world.
    1. So in your struggle, hang in there: God is doing a work in and through you – that you might not even know he is doing. It’s easy to focus on yourself and your suffering when in it. But remember, God is using it for his glory.
    2. So in your celebrating this glorious truth, don’t forget that there is a lost world out there – on their way to hell.

In New Orleans, the summer of 1985, the city threw a big part for the lifeguards who worked that summer. The New Orleans Recreation Department wanted to recognize their workers for a safe summer. Combining all of the pools in the New Orleans Community Pool system, it had been a drown-free summer. Hundreds of guest gathered and celebrated together. Four life-guards were hired to sit and guard the pool, while over 100 lifeguards were recognized and celebrated. When the evening was over and the guests had left, one of the lifeguards cleaning up and putting things away noticed something dark in the deep end of the pool. Jerome Moody, age 31, was found drowned in the deep end. This man drowned, with over 100 trained lifeguards were gathered all around.

It makes me wonder about the church: do we miss those ‘drowning’ near us because we’re so busy celebrating our successes?

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Filed under Church Membership, Evangelism, Faith, Jude, Scripture

2 Corinthians 11.1-15

Title: Instinctual Leadership

Text: 2 Corinthians 11.1-15

CIT: Paul’s boasting is with good reason. He is led to it by

Introduction: Pastor Joe Wright had been invited to serve as the House’s guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright’s church. Accordingly, Pastor Wright composed a prayer, read it at the opening of the legislature on January 23,and departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.

Reportedly, one Democrat walked out in protest, three others gave speeches critical of Wright’s prayer, and another blasted Wright’s “message of intolerance.” House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer (also a Democrat) asserted that the prayer “reflects the extreme, radical views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year.” Rep. Jim Long, a Democrat from Kansas City, said that Wright “made everyone mad.” But Rep. Powell, who had invited Wright in the first place, claimed that House Democrats were only trying to make political points with their criticism and affirmed that he supported the theme of the prayer. What did he pray that was so bad?

Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. Lord, we know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. 

We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it moral pluralism. 

We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism. 

We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. 

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. 

We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. 

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. 

We have killed our unborn and called it choice. 

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. 

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem. 

We have abused power and called it political savvy. 

We have coveted our neighbors’ possessions and called it ambition. 

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. 

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our fore-fathers and called it enlightenment. 

Search us oh God and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. 

Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ. 

Amen.

R Kent Hughes tells a similar story in his commentary on 2 Corinthians. He writes: Many years ago a number of government officials in The Hague, who were more fashionable than religious, invited Van Courtonne, the famous court preacher of Paris who was of Dutch descent, to preach in their State Church chapel. But because Van Courtonne considered their interest more social than spiritual, more a curiosity than a zeal for truth, he declined to come. When the invitation was repeated several times, he agreed to accept—on the condition that all the government officials would be present. They agreed.

The famous Van Courtonne appeared and preached on “The Ethiopian” from Acts 8. His sermon had four points:

1) A government official who read his Bible—something rare.

2) A government official who acknowledged his ignorance—something rarer still.

3) A government official who asked a lesser person for instruction—something extremely rare.

4) A government official who was converted—the rarest thing of all!

Van Courtonne never received a second invitiation.

What is it about the Truth that makes people so mad? … especially those in leadership? Are we really so righteous and holy that we have a right to be angry when confronted with the truth? that is not what ‘above reproach means?” If anyone here thinks that he has obtained perfection, let me say: Get over yourself! Good! Nobody got up and walked out!

Yes, it is true that being confronted with our sin is painful. But as it says in Proverbs 12.15: The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.

Paul is hoping these Corinthians will listen to him. Look at 2 Corinthians. In chapter 10, He has just explained that boasting has limits – the limits of the work of God through the Apostle. After this passage that we’ll look at today, Paul will begin his boasting in v 22. But, only in his weaknesses! For today, he’ll explain where this boasting is coming from and just why he is driven to boasting. Namely, he describes three instincts:

  1. The Paternal Instinct of an Apostle
  2. The Pastoral Instinct of an Apostle
  3. The Prophetic Instinct of an Apostle

Transition: Let’s begin with the 1st instinct, the paternal instinct…

1.     Paternal Instincts (1-6)

exp.: it is interesting how many times we see the personal pronoun “I”; rd v 1-6 w/ emphasis; Parents don’t usually have to explain ourselves to our children; but, sometimes we do – especially if we think it’s going to help them; if we think it’s for their good; Paul is really hard on himself here;

  • I wish
  • I feel a divine jealousy is zealous;
  • I betrothed
  • I am afraid –
  • Even if I am unskilled: idiot; I told you Paul was being hard on himself! It simply means, Untrained or unskilled – not professional;
  • I am knowledgeable!

Paul’s use of parental terminology and illustrations is rather common; to make his point from time to time in the letters he compares his feelings and emotion to that of a parent;

  • to the Corinthians themselves, in 1 Cor 4.15; 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church
  • Phil 2.22 of his relationship to Timothy again; But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
  • Turn to 1 Thess. 2. He tells them of his parental instincts using both the father and the mother; Turn there:
    • Dare to share (2.1-7) – facing strong opposition
    • Care to share (2.8-9) – being affectionately desirous of you – to share our very selves. Like a mother
    • Go out there to share (2.9-12) – like a father; a hard worker; is not a burden to his children but is holy and righteous before them; exhorting and encouraging and charging his children to live in a manner worthy of the name we bear.

This is what our missionaries are enduring even now in Montenegro. This is what our missionaries will endure when they head out overseas.

  • And likewise, in Philemon 10 of his relationship to Onesimus; I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.

ill.: I have two fathers in the ministry; One who was a part of my conversion and growth (And, has kept up with me through the years) and another who invested heavily in my ministry.

  • 3 John 4 – John says: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. And often calls those he’s writing to my little children.

ill.: This is something we can relate to, as we consider what Paul is saying. We as fathers wish to present our daughters to their future husbands – pure and prepared. We have a divine jealousy for them. We want to protect them from those who would take advantage of them. I think of some dads who will do this sooner than later. You’re thinking, man I got years before that happens to me! Listen, the years pass so fast! David – to Ellie; Lee to Audry; Bob – to Abbey! And mothers feel no less toward their daughters: Dawn to Kristin; Melissa to Allie, Jennifer and her girls and the list goes on –

app.: you understand what he means – you get this illustration of a parent’s instinctual concern.

t.s.: Paul demonstrates his parental instincts through his concern for this church, his baby, if you will. Next, he shows us his…

2.     Pastoral Instincts (7-11)

exp.: rd v 7; a pastor knows he’s called to preach, at whatever expense he can; for Paul, he didn’t want the Corinthian church to be burdened; rd v 8;

ill.: Teen Mania has been in the news for the last few years because of their financial woes. In an article I read in World magazine, they were spending money in wasteful ways. One such report was that Ron Luce paid TD Jakes $100,000 to speak in New York at their BattleCry event in 2008. Jacob Morales (Luce’s executive assistant) says Teen Mania chartered a $21,000 private jet and spent more than $4,000 on a two-night stay at the Ritz Carlton for Jakes, whom Luce wanted as a Teen Mania partner. Morales says he had discretion over $10,000 in cash to buy imported flowers, chocolates, rare bread, candy, iPods, and other gifts for the Jakes family to find in their hotel suite, green room, and two Cadillac Escalade limousines.

app.: Now, I don’t want to disparage Jakes or Luce. I’m sure there are fans of these ministers here in this room. From what I understand, Jakes didn’t accept Luce’s offer to speak at first – it was only after much prodding and pressure to get him that he gave in to Luce’s advances. My point is that this isn’t anything new: the super apostles were an expense to the Corinthians. My guess is that Jakes had no idea of the financial struggles Teen Mania was experiencing.

What I do see is a man here who loves the people he’s trying to reach so much, that he took a hit financially to bring them the gospel. He even accepted gifts from others who saw his work as missionary and wanted to contribute so that he could forego making tents to spend time in ministry. And, that appears not to be the case with these so-called super-apostles.

exp.: and Paul declares this in the next verse: rd v 9; And the effect has been tremendous, rd v 10; But the Corinthians might not see this…they might see his refusal to accept payment as spite; rd v 11;

app.: a pastor loves his congregation. Just how to describe it? I’m not sure it can be put into words. Maybe love isn’t supposed to be expressed in words; maybe love is simply shown through the sacrifices made and the actions one takes to protect and care for others – like a father or mother, like a pastor and his church.

t.s.: finally, Paul displays his…

3.     Prophetic Instincts (12-15)

exp.: The role of a pastor is to wear many hats; gratefully, I’m blessed with many around me who help keep the ministry going. There is the pastoral role already mentioned, but there is also the prophetic role – the job of declaring thus saith the Lord. It involves the spiritual side of what we do. The prophetic instinct is to smell out unhealthy, unsound doctrine and those who lead the church astray.

rd v 12-15; he calls them false, lit.: pseudo apostles; he says they’re disguising themselves: is the word μετασχηματίζω; So you have this small schematic of a larger one; These false apostles are like the one they imulate, the one who disguises himself as a angel of light. Their end will correspond to their deeds. Like Satan, they’re fooled into thinking they’re something.

The prophet, using the Word of God as his standard, works to see that believers are being transformed into the image of Christ. There is a huge difference between the two. Note: There is a difference between a change that takes place with the believer vs. the non-believer. In Romans 12.2 Paul says: Do not be conformed (schematic) to this world, but be transformed (metamorphosis) by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

app.: Wow! Paul puts it so clearly: these super apostles were simply smaller diagrams, schematics, patterning themselves after the devil – and they probably didn’t even know it! Acting out of pride, selfishness and greed, they acted like the one they were following. That isn’t what we do as believers. It is God who works in us, transforming us, as we work out our salvation – with fear and trembling.

And isn’t that the goal of the parent, the goal of the pastor, the goal of the prophet who speaks the Word of God to you? – that you would be renewed, that you would discern the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Conclusion: Paul’s message has been much like Van Courtonne’s and Pastor Joe Wright’s prayer to the Senate. What would have happened if the leadership in Paris or in Kansas would have bowed their heads before God and asked for wisdom to see … what did he pray?… see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free.

Application:

  1. A Heart of Humility: The church and its leadership must humble itself before the Lord. There is no place to stand before the Lord.
  2. A Zeal for Honesty: The church and its leadership must deal honestly with God’s Word. What does God’s word say? What does it mean? And what does it mean for me? What is God calling me to do in light of what I’ve just heard?
  3. A Spirit of Wisdom: The false apostles of today, who proclaim another Jesus and present a different gospel, must be identified. They are slick and smart. This calls for wisdom on the part of the believer.
  4. A Physical Boldness: We must confront false doctrine. We must speak out against the sin that is becoming commonplace in our society and culture. The days of being quiet about sin are behind us.

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Filed under 2 Corinthians, Bible Reading, Discipleship, Humility