Moving from Despair to Action. Psalm 119:24-32

Psalm 119 Message 3

 

Moving from Despair to Action

 

7.16.2023

Message 3 From A-Z God is Good.

Psalm 119:25–32 (CSB)

ד‎ Daleth

25 My life is down in the dust;

give me life through your word.

26 I told you about my life,

and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

27 Help me understand

the meaning of your precepts

so that I can meditate on your wonders.

28 I am weary from grief;

strengthen me through your word.

29 Keep me from the way of deceit

and graciously give me your instruction.

30 I have chosen the way of truth;

I have set your ordinances before me.

31 I cling to your decrees;

Lord, do not put me to shame.

32 I pursue (I will RUN, ESV) the way of your commands,

for you broaden my understanding.,

1. The Psalmist is moving from despair toward action.

  1. He named his condition (my life is in the dust, I’m weary from grief).
  2. He has asked for help from God through God’s Word.
  3. Now, we see several statements of action.
  4. The Psalmist writes, “I have chosen, I have set, I cling, I pursue/run.”
  5. The writer has asked God to do what only God can do.
  6. “Give me life through your word.”
  7. “Teach me your statutes.”
  8. “Help me understand.”
  9. “Keep me from deceit.”
  10. And now it is the Psalmist’s turn.
  11. Life on Earth will have trouble and pain.
  12. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble.”
  13. The Good News is that Jesus has overcome the world.
  14. What that means is that, for the believer, pain and trouble are checkpoints, not destinations.
  15. The Good News means that we do not have to stay in places of despair, pain, and hurt.
  16. We cannot prevent all pain and trouble, but it does not have to define us because of what Jesus has done.
  17. How do we move from despair to action?

How do we move from despair to action?

  1. Believe that life, truth, and faithfulness are only found in God.
  2. As long as we hold out hope that life or truth or faithfulness can be found elsewhere, we are not fully faithful to God.
  3. For example, The other day, I was asked if it was ok to pay 99% of our tithes.
  4. I asked them if it was ok for their spouse to be faithful only 99% of the time.
  5. By holding even a glimmer of hope of finding salvation and life anywhere except from Christ alone, we are not being completely faithful.
  6. But despair, sorrow, and pain can have clarifying functions.
  7. There is something about hitting rock bottom and having everything else stripped away that can lead us to life in Christ alone.
  8. Because pain is never neutral, pain will drive us toward God or away from God.
  9. The Psalmist has confessed time and again that life is only found in God alone.
  10. With that confession, he is committed to God and His Word for life.
  11. It is worth our time to reflect upon where we believe life comes from.
  12. We too often place our hope and faith in places that were never meant to be the source of real life.
  13. Even good places like our spouse or kids.
  14. They can be life-giving, but they are not the source of our life and strength.
  15. To begin moving from despair to action, we must declare that Jesus is our only source and strength.

2. We must believe that God is Good.

  1. We do not trust what we do not believe is good.
  2. If the tires on your car are bad, you may still drive on them but you don’t trust them.
  3. If a family member has stolen from you often, you don’t trust them because they are not a good person.
  4. We will never fully trust in a God that we do not believe is good.
  5. We must be convinced that God is good.
  6. 1 Chronicles 16:34 (CSB) 34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.
  7. Psalm 34:8 (CSB) Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him!
  8. Mark 10:18 (ESV) 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.[i]
  9. This means that God is good, even when I don’t think so.
  10. When we are at our lowest, this has to remain in front of us.
  11. I may feel like God is not fair or good.
  12. What I see with my eyes and think with my mind may lead me to question God’s goodness.
  13. But, like the Psalmist, these are moments when I have established God’s goodness as “fact”.
  14. We cannot move from despair into life if I don’t trust the Giver of Life.
  15. Even when I feel like I’m in the dust, God is still good.
  16. Even when I’m surrounded by all that is evil, God is still good.
  17. With this foundation, I am able to leave despair and move toward action.

3. We must invest ourselves in God’s Word and God’s presence.

  1. How do we choose, set, cling, and pursue when that part of our will seems broken, exhausted, and done?
  2. Because God is good, trustworthy, and faithful, I can move forward with what little strength and will I have left.
  3. It may not be much, it may be a mustard seed, but if that is all we can bring to the relationship, God provides the rest.
  4. How often have we asked a small child to take hold of our hand before crossing a street or walking into a busy place like Silver Dollar City.
  5. Are we asking that little kid to provide the strength necessary to not run in front of a car or not to be taken by a stranger?
  6. NO.
  7. When we tell a child to “hold my hand,” we are asking for their trust and proximity.
  8. But the STRENGTH is provided by the Adult.
  9. It is my strength and my reaction time and my awareness that is keep the kid safe.
  10. Their hand in mine is their permission to keep them safe.
  11. Oh, dear child of God, God isn’t asking for you to provide supernatural strength.
  12. He is asking you to give Him your hand.
  13. Give Him our permission for Him to exercise His strength and power.
  14. Yes, cling with whatever you have left.
  15. Yes, run with what you have.
  16. Yes, set your mind upon God with your meditation.
  17. We do have a part to play, but path forward is not for you to become super-human but to trust God and to set you mind upon Him.
  18. When we trust in Jesus, we can believe that He will not put us to shame.

Apply: Put your life in Jesus’ hands.

  1. I remind us, pain is a checkpoint not a destination.
  2. We do not have to deny our present position to be a person of faith.
  3. But instead, we trust in God and His goodness.
  4. We put our hand in His hand.
  5. Not that we have the strength to hang on but because He has the strength to pull us through.
  6. We do what we can, however much or feeble that feels, and God who is faithful and just provides the rest.
  7. Today, for all who are weary, tired, exhausted, depleted, done, and finished, let us move from despair to action.
  8. Let us call upon Jesus.
  9. Let us focus upon His Word.
  10. Let us do what we can, and trust God for the rest.

[i] Here are 23 verses about God’s goodness.

https://www.davidjeremiah.org/knowgod/23-verses-about-the-goodness-of-god

A-Z God is Good. Psalm 119:25-32 part 1

Psalm 119 Part 1

 

Psalm 119:25-32

From A-Z, God is Good

7.2.2023

 

 

Introduction:

  1. Have you ever made something worse by trying harder?
  2. I can think of several times when working on a car or putting together a piece of furniture that I reach a point where I get frustrated.
  3. When I’m frustrated, trying harder makes things worse.
  4. On the contrary, when I step back and take a break, often the solution comes to mind or my fingers work better and pieces “fall” into place.
  5. The same can be true with lots of things.
  6. Years ago, when I did some competition shooting, the natural tendency when making misses was to shoot faster instead of slowing down, focusing, and making each movement count.
  7. Sometimes, the cure to your golf swing is not more practice but going back to the basics of your swing.
  8. When professional athletes get in a rut, they often compare where they are with their swings or shots with previous moments when things were better, purer, and more comfortable.
  9. I believe the same can be true with our relationship with Jesus and the Church.
  10. I am all for complexity and going deep.
  11. But when life is hard, overwhelming, or too much to bear, its simplicity that I crave.
  12. What I need most in those moments is to hear and know from God.

That brings us to our text today, Psalm 119

Introduction to the Text

  1. Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem.
  2. Each stanza of 8 verses follows the Hebrew alphabet.
  3. You will notice a Hebrew letter with English transliteration above each stanza.
  4. This is followed by 8 verses, with the main theme of every verse and chapter focusing on God’s Word or Law, Torah.
  5. Although 7 different words are used to represent Torah, they all carry similar meanings.
  6. The Law, thus God, is good.
  7. When it all seems overwhelming, we must remember that God is Good.
  8. God is the only One that is Good.
  9. Every other relationship has the capacity to fail, disappoint, shame, or sin.
  10. But God is good.
  11. Psalm 119 uses every letter of the Hebrew alphabet to get across this point: God is good.
  12. Even though the writer’s life was full of struggle, pain, anxiety, and fear, he knew where to turn in the midst of his struggle.

 

  1. Today I want to share a word that I hope encourages and refocuses our attention.
  2. I’m too easily riled up or distracted by those things that, although important, are tangential to the focus of Scripture and Eternity.
  3. Today, and maybe this whole month, I’m calling all of us to refocus our eyes on Jesus.
  4. This week, this message is for me, a “chiropractic” word.[1]
  5. The word “chiro” means “hand” and the word practice means practical. Thus, together, it means “done by hand”.
  6. I’m praying that for myself and for each of us, that God’s word aligns, shapes, and forms us through this text so that we will all align with what God is doing and wanting to do.

TEXT

Psalm 119:25–32 (CSB)

ד‎ Daleth

25 My life is down in the dust;

give me life through your word.

26 I told you about my life,

and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

27 Help me understand

the meaning of your precepts

so that I can meditate on your wonders.

28 I am weary from grief;

strengthen me through your word.

29 Keep me from the way of deceit

and graciously give me your instruction.

30 I have chosen the way of truth;

I have set your ordinances before me.

31 I cling to your decrees;

Lord, do not put me to shame.

32 I pursue the way of your commands,

for you broaden my understanding.,

Three Comments from Vs. 25-26

Two Questions

One Invitation

1. Psalm 119 is both Wisdom and Lament.

  1. The Psalms is Hebrew Poetry.
  2. It served as the basis for prayer and worship for both Israel and the Church.
  3. It is the Prayer Book and the Hymnal of all who call upon God.
  4. Even today, the words of the Psalms are equally inspired, the same as the words of Jesus and the writings of Paul.
  5. This is because 2 Timothy 3:15-16 tell us that ALL of Scripture is Inspired and profitable.
  6. While most of Psalm 119 is Wisdom, there is an element of lament.
  7. Wisdom provides instruction on how to live.
  8. Lament expresses grief or sorrow.
  9. The writer is certainly under distress throughout this Psalm.
  10. He starts Psalm 119 by saying, “Blessed, happy, or content” are those who walk in the Lord.
  11. Yet the Psalmist is completely far from feeling blessed, happy, or content.
  12. We don’t know who wrote Psalm 119.
  13. It was possibly written by David.
  14. Some propose Ezra, the scribe.
  15. Perhaps it is anonymous for a reason, so that all who read it may relate to what the message is.
  16. King David is raw in this Psalm.
  17. The first two letters are pretty upbeat and happy.
  18. But then the mood gets real, honest, and relatable.
  19. The Psalmist is not in a good place.
  20. He is not having fun.
  21. He is stressed, perplexed, and longing for a change.
  22. For 176 verses, he expresses his hurt and pain.
  23. A few examples:

Psalm 119:107 (CSB) 107 I am severely afflicted; Lord, give me life according to your word.

Psalm 119:49–53 (CSB)

ז‎ Zayin

49 Remember your word to your servant;

you have given me hope through it.

50 This is my comfort in my affliction:

Your promise has given me life.

51 The arrogant constantly ridicule me,

but I do not turn away from your instruction.

52 Lord, I remember your judgments from long ago

and find comfort.

53 Fury seizes me because of the wicked

who reject your instruction.

  1. The writer perfectly captures the human condition.
  2. He’s hurt by betrayal.
  3. He’s angry and furious because people reject God’s instruction, causing others harm in the process.
  4. If this is David, then we see him far from feeling like the same man who killed Goliath; instead he feels afflicted, ridiculed, and overwhelmed.
  5. The beauty of the Psalms is that they encourage us to be honest with God and ourselves.
  6. So much of what we do is fake or dishonest.
  7. We act as if God cannot handle our frustration, our pain, or our disappointment.
  8. Yet, God in His goodness, left for us the prayers and words of King David and others as examples of the kind of relationship He encourages us to have.
  9. A relationship that cannot handle honest words and thoughts is unhealthy.

c.

 

2. Psalm 119 expresses a longing for God’s Word.

  1. 7 different words are used to represent Torah; they all carry the same meaning.
  2. The words are:[2]
  • ʿēd̠â, translated here as “decree” (used 23 times)
  • mišpāṭ, “ordinance” (23 times)
  • ḥōq, “statute” (22 times)
  • dāb̠ār, “word” (22 times)
  • miṣwâ, “commandment” (22 times)
  • piqqûd̠, “precept” (21 times)
  • ʾimrâ, “promise” (19 times)
  1. These words help express the totality of God’s Word.
  2. Not only the commandments, not only the promises, not only the decrees, but every word that comes from God.
  3. Jesus quoted this Old Testament truth in Matthew 4:4 (CSB)

He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.,

  1. The Psalmist longed for God’s Word because he valued the one behind the Word.
  2. A letter written to me by a close friend, my spouse, or a trusted leader has far more value than a junk mailer.
  3. For example, King David loved the Lord and thus desired the Word.
  4. Even when the Word was a message of judgment from Nathan, David loved the Word.
  5. Even when David was told he couldn’t build the Temple, he respected the word.
  6. Jesus prayed, “Take this cup from me” and yet submitted to the Word of God to die for the sins of the world.
  7. The Apostle Paul prayed for deliverance from a thorn in the flesh, yet God answered, “My grace is sufficient.”
  8. You can’t love God’s yes and reject His no.
  9. We all must
  10. David, although far from perfect, loved the Lord and longed to hear from Him.
  11. This is one of the things that made David a man after God’s own heart.
  12. It wasn’t his skills as a warrior, but his passionate pursuit of God through His word.
  13. God does not require perfect people, but people who are willing to be men and women who love His Word.

Third comment:

3. Psalm 119 is the Psalm of Pentecost

  1. It would be relatively easy to dismiss this Psalm because it’s Old Testament.
  2. But what if I told you this Psalm was repeated often by Jesus, His disciples, and all of the Jews between King David and Jesus, the Son of David?
  3. Psalm 119 sits in a group of Psalms called Hallel.
  4. Hallels (Hallelujahs) were read walking up to Jerusalem.
  5. Psalm 113-118 were read journeying to the Temple for Passover.
  6. Psalm 119, however, was recited not at Passover but at Pentecost.
  7. “It is recited at the Feast of Pentecost, the spring festival observed fifty days after Passover, which celebrates the giving of the torah to Moses at Sinai during the wilderness wanderings.”[3]
  8. Every year, for hundreds of years, faithful people read aloud Psalm 119 at the Feast of Pentecost.
  9. As part of their life and spiritual journey, they celebrated the giving of the Law each year.
  10. Yet, I cannot but think it was no accident that on the Day of Pentecost, the same disciples that received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit had ALSO recited Psalm 119.
  11. Just as water Baptism is full-immersion representing the complete giving over of ourselves to God, the Spirit Baptizes us fully.
  12. Our victories, our struggles, our emotions, our trials, and our desires are brought under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

2 Questions

 

Question #1: Does your life feel like you are down in the dust?

  1. This may seem overly dramatic.
  2. But have you ever felt so dry and dead that you
  3. Who in this room has thought about quitting?
  4. Don’t RAISE YOUR HAND Who in this room has considered suicide recently?
  5. Maybe you considered quitting your spouse or considering leaving the Church or, worse, Jesus.
  6. Have you ever wondered how long you can keep going? When were you going to catch a break?
  7. If so, you can relate to the writer of Psalms 119.
  8. But instead of quitting, he asked the Lord to revive Him.
  9. I want to encourage someone in this room today with this truth:
  10. God never asked you to pretend like things are better than they are.
  11. Instead, the place of miracles begins in a place of honesty.
  12. When Jesus asked the blind man, “What do you want?” the blind man had to admit to being blind.
  13. Before Jesus fed the five thousand, the people had to admit they were hungry.
  14. Before Jesus binds the broken-hearted, we must confess our broken hearts.
  15. Does your life and soul feel like it is so beaten down that you are eating the dust?
  16. If so, that’s ok.
  17. Because that position leads us to our petition.

 

 

Question #2: Have you asked to be revived?

  1. This is the first of seven prayers in these 8 verses.
  2. “Give me life through your word.”
  3. The Hebrew says, “revive me”.
  4. Yes, our lives may be in the dust, but we are to pray for God to revive us again.
  5. Nine times in Psalm 119, the writer mentions the need for life and revival from God.
  6. This is a gift that only comes from God.
  7. The Good news is that we are invited to pray and receive life, revival, and renewal from God.
  8. The Torah could not bring life, the Apostle Paul said.
  9. But the Spirit brings life and freedom.
  10. And on the Day of Pentecost, the day the Jews had recited Psalm 119, God sent His Spirit so that we might experience life, revival, and renewal.
  11. If today you are feeling dry, dead, hopeless, or helpless, know that God invites you to bring your feelings, doubts, emotions, and experiences to Him.

Invitation: Notice the Invitation.

Psalm 119:26 (CSB)

26 I told you about my life,

and you answered me;

teach me your statutes.

  1. Every person needs a friend, a pastor, and a counselor.
  2. We all need people to talk with, pray with, and share with.
  3. We were designed to live in a community.
  4. But there are times when we take our hurts, opinions, feelings, and feelings to the wrong place.
  5. When we do, we live out of alignment.
  6. As great as other believers are, there is only one who can help us.
  7. There is only one person that can revive us, heal us, and save us.
  8. When you don’t know where to go, go back to where it all started.
  9. Go to Jesus, the LIVING WORD.
  10. Go to Jesus, who listens to our problems and offers us to cast all of our burdens upon Him.
  11. Go To Jesus, who teaches us in Spirit and in Truth.
  12. Go to Jesus, who a bruised reed He does not break,
  13. Go to Jesus, Who does not snuff out a smoldering wick but encourages it to burn again.
  14. Today’s Invitation

Matthew 11:28 (CSB)

28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

 

  1. I invite all who will to come to Jesus this morning.
  2. Tell Him all about your troubles.
  3. Tell Him what feels too heavy to carry.
  4. Tell Him about your life, and let Him teach you His ways and revive you again.

 

[1] Etymology. From chiro- (“hand”) +‎ practic; from Ancient Greek χείρ (kheír, “hand”) + πρακτικός (praktikós, “concerned with action”).

[2] deClaissé-Walford, Nancy. 2014.

[3] deClaissé-Walford, Nancy. 2014. “Book Five of the Psalter: Psalms 107–150.” In The Book of Psalms, edited by E. J. Young, R. K. Harrison, and Robert L. Hubbard Jr., 870. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Dad Advice that Really Matters

PDF->.  Dad Advice that Really Matters

Dad Advice that Really Matters

6.18.23

Father’s Day

 

Introduction: A world in need of Fatherly advice.

  1. There is no doubt in my mind that we live in a world in need of fatherly wisdom.
  2. I’m not casting blame, but I’m admitting a fact.
  3. Young, old, boys, and girls, we need godly wisdom from godly fathers and men and, of course, women.
  4. Today, we look at a passage from Proverbs.
  5. The man who wrote Proverbs was a lousy husband and father.
  6. Solomon was the smartest and wisest man who ever lived but an absolute bust at home.
  7. Yet God used him to record the Heavenly Father’s heart for His children to grow up wise, whole, and mature.
  8. The first 9 chapters of Proverbs include incredible advice from a father to his son.
  9. Each segment begins with the phrase, “my son.”
  10. Originally, it was probably meant to be advice from Solomon to one of his sons on how to be a wise and godly king.
  11. But the wisdom in these chapters is extremely applicable and appropriate to all of us.
  12. The advice that follows serve as guardrails that, when followed, keep men and woman heading in God’s path.
  13. Because God orders the steps of a righteous person, these are the steps that are included in our journey.
  14. Regardless of your age or gender, these verses serve as incredible advice from our Heavenly Father to us, his children.
  15. Today, we look at 6 words of wisdom we all need.

 

Proverbs 3:1–12 (CSB)

My son, don’t forget my teaching,

but let your heart keep my commands;

for they will bring you

many days, a full life,, and well-being.

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you.

Tie them around your neck;

write them on the tablet of your heart.

Then you will find favor and high regard

with God and people.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not rely on your own understanding;

in all your ways know him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Don’t be wise in your own eyes;

fear the Lord and turn away from evil.

This will be healing for your body,

and strengthening for your bones.

Honor the Lord with your possessions

and with the first produce of your entire harvest;

10 then your barns will be completely filled,

and your vats will overflow with new wine.

11 Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son,

and do not loathe his discipline;

12 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.

 

1. Listen to godly teaching and instruction. 1-2

My son, don’t forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commands; for they will bring you many days, a full life,, and well-being.

  1. There is so much advice out there today on every conceivable topic.
  2. All of the advice has a similar purpose:
  3. To fix something that is wrong and make life better.
  4. My YouTube feed is full of advice to help me be a better guitar player.
  5. How to be a better handgun shooter.
  6. How to wake up earlier and get more done or read more books.
  7. Even the videos that are demonstrating or reviewing products have the purpose of selling me one more thing so that my life will be just a little bit better.
  8. The world is looking for answers, specifically on how to make their life or some part of it better.
  9. But it seems most people are not looking for solid, biblical advice that extends our days, gives us full life, and impacts our well-being.
  10. We live in a world desperate to live their best lives while rejecting the source of real life.
  11. The teachings found in Scripture lead us to Jesus, and Jesus is the Truth and the Life.
  12. Furthermore, when we practice biblical wisdom we find what the world is looking for: “2 many days, a full life,, and well-being.”
  13. So why doesn’t the world choose God’s advice?
  14. A better question:
  15. Why don’t people who claim to be Christians follow biblical wisdom?
  16. What if the problem we have today is not so much a problem of disobedience but ignorance?
  17. We don’t know what we don’t know.
  18. We can’t forget teachings we’ve never received.
  19. I was talking last week with some friends who work on college campuses as Christian missionaries.
  20. They were talking about the struggles faced by incoming freshmen.
  21. Some of the biggest struggles 18-20 years face are related to normal, everyday life.
  22. How to do laundry, the need to eat when you are hungry, and other basic tenants of adulthood.
  23. College campus missionaries are having to teach young men and women:
  24. How to have actual conversations,
  25. How to make phone calls for appointments.
  26. Basic Financial stewardship and budgeting.
  27. Is it possible that we have educated a generation to calculus but failed to teach them how to be productive adults?
  28. The reality is that they don’t know because they weren’t taught.
  29. There is a difference between teaching someone and doing it for them.
  30. One produces productive adults or disciples, and the other produces consumers.
  31. We live in a day and time when we desperately need parents and adults who are engaged in teaching and passing on wisdom.
  32. This has ALWAYS been the calling of adulthood,
  33. To pass on wisdom, instruction, and lessons in righteousness.
  34. For all of the adults in the room, whether physical parents or spiritual parents, let me encourage you to remain gentle and patient when people ask you to teach them or answer questions.

2 Timothy 2:24 (CSB)  24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient…

  1. I’m afraid we have raised a generation that asks Google and YouTube all of the questions.
  2. Why? The world is asking Google and YouTube because they are always patient and available.
  3. To teach and disciple, you must be available and patient.
  4. We all must model listening and obeying the Lord’s teaching and instructions.
  5. The best way to teach is to model.
  6. Let’s live an example before others that demonstrate the blessing of following Jesus.

2. Value loyalty and faithfulness. 3-4

Never let loyalty and faithfulness leave you. Tie them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will find favor and high regard with God and people.

  1. If I were to describe America today, loyalty and faithfulness would not be at the top of my list.
  2. Whether it is loyalty and faithfulness to the country, to family, to workplaces, or church, it doesn’t seem like people are as loyal and as faithful as they used to be.
  3. Yet, loyalty and faithfulness are necessary for healthy communities and relationships.
  4. When we are loyal and faithful, we experience favor with God and people.
  5. I don’t know about you, but I want favor.
  6. I want God to look favorably upon me.
  7. I also want the community to see me as someone trustworthy, dependable, and consistent.
  8. Loyalty and faithfulness are missing today among all generations.
  9. Before we lay this problem at the feet of young people, listen to what the statistics are showing about church attendance:
  10. “Patterns in church attendance show that people over 40—that is, Gen X and baby boomers—are at least as likely to stop attending church as millennials and Gen Z.”
  11. But according to Barna, some of the biggest declines in church attendance over the past three decades have been among adults 55 and older.[1]
  12. We all share the responsibility of teaching and modeling loyalty and faithfulness.
  13. Model loyalty and faithfulness at home by loving your family consistently and constantly.
  14. Model loyalty and faithfulness by working when you should work, resting when you should rest, and playing when you should play.
  15. Model loyalty and faithfulness by putting down roots in the church and worshipping even when you do not feel like it.

3. Trust in the Lord.  Vs. 5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.

  1. This Proverb speaks to the importance of full devotion to God.
  2. Trust the Lord with all your heart.
  3. In all your ways, know Him.
  4. The key to living our life for Jesus is to give it to Him fully.
  5. This begins not with our actions but with our thoughts and intentions.
  6. Where our heart goes, our feet follow.
  7. Our problem is that we act like we know better than God or, at least, we know better what to do.
  8. But my understanding is faulty.
  9. My understanding leads me astray and gets me lost.
  10. But when I follow the Lord’s understanding and follow His leading, He makes our paths straight.
  11. Each of us has the responsibility of pointing others to the Truth, which is Jesus.
  12. The best legacy you can leave for your kids is not a financial inheritance.
  13. The best legacy is to model how to trust the Lord with all of your heart and to know Him.
  14. This is easier said than done, but a few practical steps to not rely on your own understanding:
  15. Pray about it.
  16. Consult Scripture.
  17. Avoid the easiest roads (the high road is usually hardest).
  18. Pray again.

4. Don’t be wise in your own eyes. Vs. 7-8

Don’t be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body, and strengthening for your bones.

  1. In other words, to be arrogant and don’t be a know it all.
  2. Axiom: If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.
  3. Axiom: All the people in the room are smarter than any individual.
  4. This makes sense, but notice the reason!
  5. This will be healing for your body and strength in your bones.
  6. Fear of the Lord and turning away from evil is the only way to reverse the curse of death.
  7. Earthly wisdom and knowledge is not enough to reverse the curse.
  8. All the best minds and all the advice in Google cannot bring life, healing, or internal strength.
  9. But the fear of the Lord brings life and healing.

5. Honor the Lord with your possessions. 9-10

Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; 10 then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.

  1. I feel as if this advice is particularly aimed at us men.
  2. Generally, women are not as strongly motivated by possessions or items, although diamond rings never hurt.
  3. But guys love our possessions.
  4. There are two realities here.
  5. All of us men have enough “toys”.
  6. But we would buy more if we could.
  7. There is always something new, improved, better, handier, or prettier for us to pursue.
  8. This pursuit is both fun and unfulfilling.
  9. Scripture doesn’t tell us not to have possessions but to honor God with them:
  10. If we honor God with our possessions and our tithe, we don’t do without.
  11. Instead, God blesses what remains.
  12. One of the most powerful prayers any man can pray is, “Here I am, and here is my stuff!”
  13. One of the great tests of faith that God asks from all of us is to tithe.
  14. Tithing is giving the first 10% of your income to the Lord through the Church.
  15. The rest is yours.
  16. Tithing and giving does a few things for us.
  17. Tithing is an act of worship, as we give of what cost us to the Lord for His work.
  18. Tithing keeps possessions from controlling us.
  19. Tithing honors God.
  20. Tithing brings God’s blessing upon the remainder.
  21. The father in Proverbs taught his son to tithe because he wanted him to be blessed.
  22. I want to teach you this because I want you to be blessed.

6. Do not despise the Lord’s instructions. 11-12

11 Do not despise the Lord’s instruction, my son, and do not loathe his discipline; 12 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves, just as a father disciplines the son in whom he delights.

  1. We do not teach or discipline people we don’t care about.
  2. To teach is to share life with someone through the sharing of information.
  3. To discipline is to inflict pain on both parties so that the lesser party may achieve his or her best.
  4. Teaching and discipline are expressions of love.
  5. For the son or daughter, we can’t accept God’s instruction if we do not accept His discipline.
  6. When you sign your kid up for sports, you are entrusting your child to a coach to instruct and teach them and discipline where appropriate.
  7. If the rule is to run laps for being late for practice, then your kid needs to run for being late.
  8. The role of the coach is to bring the most out of the player, and that involves discipline and instruction.
  9. Same is true for pastors.
  10. The good news is that you all have a choice regarding what church you attend.
  11. Within that choice, you have to be willing to accept a pastor’s teaching and, when necessary, discipline.
  12. Every time I’ve told a parent about an incident involving your kid, almost all of you have responded, “We wouldn’t bring our kids here if we didn’t trust you.”
  13. We can’t cling to Jesus’ teaching and reject His discipline.
  14. Please do not despise the Lord’s instructions or His discipline.
  15. We despise them to our detriment.

Close: As we close, I believe the best thing we can do this morning is to pray for the men in the room.

  1. I’m not going to ask you to come from the front, but I would like to ask every male to stand where you are.
  2. I want to pray with you and for you.
  3. Let’s Pray
  4. Would everyone stand!
  5. Prayer.
  6. Cookies.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2022/march/gray-gen-x-boomers-older-churchgoers-leaving-church.html

June 11 2023, Message 26 PRAY, ENCOURAGE, LOVE

Message 26 Pray Encourage Love

 

Message 26: Pray, Encourage, Love

 

6.11.23

Message 26

Ephesians Series

Ephesians 6:18–20 (CSB)

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.

Ephesians 6:21–24 (CSB)

21 Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed. 22 I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.

23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.,

Introduction: Here ends Paul’s letter to Ephesus.

  1. Ephesus had a unique place in Paul’s life.
  2. He spent 3 years ministering in this city.
  3. The younger pastor, Timothy, was the pastor, and they shared a special relationship.
  4. It shouldn’t surprise us to realize that Paul had a love and affection for the Christians in Ephesus.
  5. Paul’s Apostleship was marked by a genuine love for people.
  6. Even today, God’s ministers should be characterized by a love for God’s people.
  7. Because of Paul’s love for the Ephesians, he does not entrust this letter to just anyone.
  8. Tychicus was a man who had become a trusted partner.
  9. He was the letter-bearer, responsible for the safe delivery of the letter and the conveying of Paul’s love for the believers, his condition, and other updates.
  10. It is likely that Tychicus carried the letter of Colossians also, and perhaps traveled with Onesimus, who was the subject of the letter to Philemon.[i]
  11. Because Paul was in prison, he had to depend upon others to share in his ministry.
  12. Thankfully, Paul didn’t have to create a network of co-laborers at the last minute.
  13. He had been intentionally investing in people all along, and here in a time of need, Paul was able to entrust this important work to capable people.
  14. The necessity of doing life, ministry, and spiritual warfare together is evident in the last sentences of Ephesians.
  15. As we finalize this series of messages from Ephesians, I want to encourage us to pray for each other, for our community, and for those not yet known.
  16. As we live and engage in spiritual warfare, we must remain committed to Jesus AND each other.
  17. We can’t do this any other way.
  18. Love God, Love others.

What does Paul say in his last words?

1. Stay alert with all perseverance and Intercession for all the saints.

  1. We must Pray in the Spirit on all occasions for our own safety and for others.
  2. It seems cliché, but prayer really is an act of service.
  3. Often, when we reach out to people to help, many will say, “Just pray for me.”
  4. But part of me wants to do more than that.
  5. I want to do something “meaningful”.
  6. I want to be hands-on.
  7. But truthfully, often times the best way we can serve is to pray for people meaningfully.
  8. Why pray for others?
  9. Your prayers may keep people alive.
  10. Your prayers may keep people safe.
  11. Your prayers may be a conduit for God’s provision.
  12. We need people praying for us.
  13. The Apostle Paul was never shy about asking the churches to pray for him.
  14. Why, then, are we shy about asking others to pray for us?
  15. This isn’t only for missionaries but for each of us.
  16. I am extremely thankful for all of you who pray for Julie and me.
  17. I am convinced your prayers have sustained us, provided for us, and strengthened us in our calling.
  18. What do we pray for?

 

2. Pray for others’ boldness.

  1. Paul asks the believers to pray for God-given boldness.
  2. As Paul awaits trial in Rome, he is asking “for a divine infusion of strength and courage to make the good news clear and powerful in every circumstance.”[1]
  3. This is especially important as Paul will have the opportunity to share the Gospel with none other than Emperor Nero.
  4. A few years later, this Emperor sent the order for Paul’s execution.
  5. But in this moment, the Apostle has one desire: To make known the mystery of the Gospel to this man.
  6. The believers in Ephesus were unlikely ever to meet the Emperor, but they could pray for the one who would.
  7. When we pray for other believers, we participate in the advancement of the Kingdom.
  8. We each have unique circles of influence and responsibility.
  9. Those circles are our mission field.
  10. This is why we must pray for ourselves and have others pray for us so that we might be bold where only we can be bold.
  11. There is never a good time for a weak presentation of the Gospel.
  12. You don’t always have to be weird when you witness, but you must always be empowered.
  13. When you pray, don’t forget to pray for boldness.
  14. But remember, when you pray for boldness, you also pray for opportunity.
  15. And if you refuse the opportunity, you won’t receive the anointing.
  16. Be prayerful when someone comes to mind.
  17. Holy Spirit often recalls people to our hearts and minds.
  18. There are countless testimonies of people being led to intercede for others in moments of crisis and need.
  19. I’m thankful for grandparents who would give God their nights to pray for their families.
  20. For many of us in the room, we need to be more obedient and faithful to those 2 am wake-ups and pray for people as they come to mind.

3. Inform and Encourage each other.

21 Tychicus, our dearly loved brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me so that you may be informed. 22 I am sending him to you for this very reason, to let you know how we are and to encourage your hearts.

  1. Too many of us live our lives like spiritual orphans.
  2. We withhold information and progress from each other, walking through life alone.
  3. Then wonder why no one calls.
  4. We wonder why we have no friends.
  5. We wonder why it seems like no one cares.
  6. Relationships require reciprocity.
  7. The only way to build a healthy community is to inform and encourage.
  8. No that doesn’t mean you share all of your life with everyone.
  9. We do need to be mindful of what we share and with whom.
  10. Not everyone can process what we are feeling, dealing with, or sensing from God.
  11. It does mean that each of us need people, other than our spouse, to share our spiritual journey with.
  12. The Apostle Paul was the most qualified person to exclude people from his life.
  13. Yet, each of his letters is addressed to people and carried by dear friends and colleagues.
  14. The end of Paul’s letters introduce us to his dear friends and co-laborers like Tychicus.
  15. One of the many characteristics of Paul’s ministry is that he did not do it alone.
  16. Let me encourage you to find people to walk this journey with.
  17. Find someone to mentor you.
  18. Find some peers, people who are in the same stage of life.
  19. Find some people to mentor.
  20. And in each of these relationships, inform and encourage.

4. Let your love remain incorruptible.

  1. The letter ends with this:
  2. 24 Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ., ESV
  3. 2. 24 Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (NLT)
  4. God’s grace is attached to those who love Jesus.
  5. To be seated with Christ in the heavenly realms is only possible because of God’s grace.
  6. To walk worthy of this calling that we have received is only possible because of God’s grace.
  7. To stand in strength and victory is only possible because of God’s grace.
  8. There’s nothing more valuable than having Jesus in your life.
  9. May that love be incorruptible.
  10. Let us be on guard for anything or anyone that corrupts our love for Him.
  11. Be wary of anything and anyone who causes your love to grow weary and worn.
  12. May your love be steadfast.
  13. When times are great, love Jesus from the mountain top.
  14. When times are hard, love Jesus from the deepest valleys.
  15. But whatever you do, do not let love waiver.
  16. May your love be characterized by God’s grace toward others.
  17. Your love for Jesus should not make you angry to others.
  18. Your love for Jesus does not give permission for envy, jealousy, pride, anger, or unforgiveness towards others.
  19. Let your love be characterized by Grace.
  20. In other words, “Love Jesus, and don’t be a jerk.”

Close:

  1. Today we are preparing to do two things:
  2. First, we want to participate in communion.
  3. This act of participating in the broken body of Jesus and His shed blood is shared in community.
  4. It is a reminder that Jesus’ love is not for “me”, but for “us”.
  5. Then, after communion, we are going to serve the community of Success.
  6. It is my hope that through these tangible expressions of water, we can also share the love of Jesus and the Church with others.
  7. So, if you are able to help, right after service we will meet in the warehouse/gym area.
  8. If you are unable, I’m going to ask you to invest 10 minutes or so and pray here in the sanctuary for a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit and for a quick resolution to the water problem.

Prayer

 

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[i] Paul commends Tychicus as a “dear and faithful servant in the Lord.” The term “dear” is actually “beloved brother” and emphasizes his extremely close relationship to Paul as his coworker and friend. Most likely he was traveling with Onesimus, Philemon’s returning slave, whom Paul also called “a dear brother” in Colossians 4:9 and Philemon 16. If so the two, who had become trusted associates, personally carried the three letters back to the province of Asia. Paul wanted them to bring these churches up to date on his “circumstances” (niv “everything”), which he summarized as “how I am and what I am doing,” specifying his personal situation and the state of his ministry in Rome.[i] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Jesus, a Wedding, and a Divine Revealing June 7, 2023

Jesus and wedding of Cana John 2

 

Jesus, a Wedding, and a Divine Revealing

6/7/23

Introduction: This year, I felt a clarification about my call.

  1. It was in January, and I was reading through Matthew.
  2. This passage from Matthew 13:52 provided some clarity:
  3. Matthew 13:52 (ESV)

52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

  1. This resonates with me so well.
  2. One of my greatest joys as a pastor is to tell stories of Jesus and Scripture.
  3. It is a joy to read Scripture, meditate upon it, and see the meaning and share it with others.
  4. Nothing new here, and yet there is unrealized beauty before us.
  5. Today, I want to read with you a passage from John.
  6. With this passage, my intention is to take us on a journey that, when finished, I hope leads us to give Jesus even more glory and praise.
  7. While we will be focused on John 2, it was necessary to bring many other passages into the conversation.
  8. I will reference far more passages in this message than what is usual for me, but they demonstrate to us the beauty of the miracle Jesus performs in this passage and its prophetic significance.

 

 

John 2:1–12 (CSB)

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.”

“What has this concern of yours to do with me,, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”

“Do whatever he tells you,” his mother told the servants.

Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained twenty or thirty gallons.

“Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the headwaiter.” And they did.

When the headwaiter tasted the water (after it had become wine), he did not know where it came from—though the servants who had drawn the water knew. He called the groom 10 and told him, “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are drunk, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.”

11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

12 After this, he went down to Capernaum, together with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples, and they stayed there only a few days.

 

1. John’s record of Jesus’ first miracle puzzles modern readers.

  1. Of all the miracles John could have mentioned including:
  2. Raising the dead, restoring sight to the blind, or cleansing a leper, this is the first miracle mentioned.
  3. And only the Gospel of John records this miracle.
  4. Question: Why did the other writers miss it?
  5. Why would John even mention a miracle like this, when he could have chosen from an unlimited number of examples?
  6. What does John see in this miracle that we miss?
  7. John’s Gospel is tightly focused upon Jesus’ divinity.
  8. Yes, Jesus’ humanity is consistently on display also.
  9. But John consistently and constantly writes with Jesus’ divinity in mind.
  10. In John, Jesus is the “Word who was in the beginning,” and the Word made flesh.
  11. Jesus is the True Light that has come into the World.
  12. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
  13. Jesus is the source of Living Water.
  14. Jesus is the Bread, the manna, of Life.
  15. The list goes on.
  16. And most of these statements about Jesus occur within the first chapter of John.
  17. What portrait of Jesus is John painting here?
  18. Verse 11 points us to something significant that happened at Cana:
  19. 11 Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee. He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.
  20. We would understand if this was the story of feeding the five thousand or the resurrection of Lazarus.
  21. But, Where is the glory in multiplying wine, and why did this seemingly simple miracle result in the disciples believing in Him?

2. The scene of an unknown wedding.

  1. John never mentions who the wedding is for.
  2. But we know that there was a bride and a groom.
  3. We also know that weddings in Israel were much different than in Western culture.
  4. Weddings were a week-long affair.
  5. The whole village would be welcomed and expected to attend.
  6. And each day, new guests would appear to participate in the wedding feast.
  7. The crowd would grow and swell.
  8. There was no way to plan for everyone since anyone could attend.
  9. The bridegroom and his family were responsible for ensuring that all guests were fed, happy, and fulfilled.
  10. Ancient weddings were not focused on the bride, but the groom.
  11. They were his guests, his responsibility, and it was his arrival that initiated the festivities.
  12. Often, the groom would betroth himself and go off to prepare a home for her with his family.
  13. He would also save up the bride-price.
  14. And when the bride-price was raised and the home prepared, the groom would come to get his bride.
  15. The bride and her party had to be ready, and anticipate his arrival because there would be no delay when he came. (sounds a lot like John 14).
  16. When the groom appeared, having finished all preparations for his bride, the wedding would begin.
  17. Because this was the social event of the year and maybe a lifetime, there was a lot at stake.
  18. To disappoint your guests would lead to loss of “face” and shame.
  19. Furthermore, several scholars emphasize that weddings were legal affairs.
  20. The bride and groom were legally bound to each other.
  21. But guests who did not bring an appropriate gift could be sued, (or thrown out as in Jesus’ parables) and hosts who did not provide a good enough party could be sued by the guests.[1]
  22. Therefore, one of the worst things to happen would be to run out of wine before the event was over.
  23. For people like me, who do not drink, this is where the disconnect takes place, tempting me to dismiss this parable.
  24. While we cannot be sure about the alcoholic content of the wine, what must be understood is the significance of wine in Jewish culture.
  25. In the OT, Wine often represents celebration and abundance.
  26. Plenty of wine represents God’s blessing upon the harvest.
  27. Absence of wine could indicate a time of difficulty or famine brought about by sin and God’s displeasure.

3. This difficult situation prompts Mary to ask for Jesus’ intervention.

On the third day a wedding took place in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’s mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding as well. When the wine ran out, Jesus’s mother told him, “They don’t have any wine.” “What has this concern of yours to do with me,, woman?” Jesus asked. “My hour has not yet come.”

  1. This is more than a mom believing her son was something special.
  2. Mary is clearly asking Jesus to perform a miracle, even though He has not done so yet.
  3. She asks Him to intervene in a situation that wasn’t his.
  4. Two subtle clues let the reader know something big is happening.
  5. The first can be found in the opening, “On the third day…”
  6. This chronology does not really make sense with the preceding chapter.
  7. It’s actually the 6th or 7th day of the trip mentioned in Chapter 1.
  8. Also, according to custom, weddings for virgins took place on Wednesday and for widows on Thursday, neither of which would be considered the third day.[2]
  9. Often in Scripture, the third day refers to a time of Divine Intervention.
  10. On the third day, Abraham saw the place of sacrifice afar off (Gen. 22:3-4)
  11. On the third day, God descended upon Mt. Sinai in sight of the people (Exo. 19:11)
  12. Jonah was three days in the belly of a whale.
  13. Hezekiah was miraculously healed and went to the Temple on the third day.
  14. Hosea 6:2 says, “He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him.”
  15. Of course, we know that Jesus was resurrected on the third day.
  16. In fact, if we read a little further in this chapter, we see Jesus make a seemingly blasphemous prophecy.
  17. Jesus cleanses the Temple of the money changers and, when asked by whose authority and by what sign He did this, He proclaimed, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
  18. Therefore, it seems John intends for the readers to understand Jesus’ intervention in the wedding as divine intervention and not as a party favor.
  19. Because what is a miracle other than the intervention of God in the natural world of man?
  20. Perhaps John stresses that this is on the third day so that we might be prepared for Divine interaction, intervention, and interruption.
  21. However, the clearest clue of Divine significance is in Jesus’ words: “My hour has not yet come.”
  22. Jesus’ “hour” is the key to understanding this passage.
  23. It is in this simple word that we interpret what Mary is asking and what Jesus is doing, and why the disciples believed that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

4. Hour for what?

  1. Jesus uses this phrase regularly throughout John.
  2. John 7:6 (CSB) Jesus told them, “My time has not yet arrived, but your time is always at hand.
  3. John 7:8 (CSB) Go up to the festival yourselves. I’m not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.”
  4. John 7:30 (CSB) 30 Then they tried to seize him. Yet no one laid a hand on him because his hour had not yet come.
  5. John 8:20 (CSB) 20 He spoke these words by the treasury, while teaching in the temple. But no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.
  6. At first, Jesus said his time had not come. But once the Cross comes into view, He changes.
  7. John 12:23 (CSB) 23 Jesus replied to them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
  8. John 13:1 (CSB) Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
  9. John 16:32 (CSB) 32 Indeed, an hour is coming, and has come, when each of you will be scattered to his own home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
  10. John 17:1 (CSB) Jesus spoke these things, looked up to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you,
  11. In view here in John 2, Jesus is not saying His time for miracles hadn’t come.
  12. Instead, the hour of redemption had not come.
  13. That day would come.
  14. When Jesus would take upon Himself the sins of the world.
  15. The day would come when His blood would be shed and his body broken so that those who accept Christ as their Lord and Savior would participate in the great and divine mystery of the marriage of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).
  16. The same John who tells of the Wedding at Cana is the same writer who tells us of a future wedding banquet:
  17. Revelation 19:6–9 (CSB)
  18. b. 6 Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying,

Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty,

reigns!

Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory,

because the marriage of the Lamb has come,

and his bride has prepared herself.

She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.

For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write: Blessed are those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb!” He also said to me, “These words of God are true.”

  1. In light of this hour, what Jesus does next in John 2 declares to His disciples what His ministry is all about.

Now six stone water jars had been set there for Jewish purification. Each contained twenty or thirty gallons. “Fill the jars with water,” Jesus told them. So they filled them to the brim. Then he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the headwaiter.” And they did.

 

5. Ritual water becomes New Wine.

  1. The six stone water jars had a purpose.
  2. They were not designed to carry wine but water.
  3. The Jewish law required water to be poured over the hands of each guest before eating.
  4. Earthen vessels could become unclean, but stone could not.
  5. So stone jars were often used.
  6. In this way, the people were ceremonially clean to eat.
  7. The jars were clean, but the water would be dirty.
  8. Jesus’ instructions were probably burdensome but necessary.
  9. How hard would it have been to dump 20-30 gallons of water?
  10. How far did they have to go to draw water?
  11. A few feet?
  12. A few miles?
  13. Yet it seems quite clear that Jesus had them pour out the old water and fill with fresh, clean water.
  14. For the very water that had been used to purify the guests had, in fact, become dirty.
  15. The dirty water of purification was unsuitable for the miracle Jesus wanted to accomplish.
  16. Jesus doesn’t destroy the pots but instead fills them with clean water.
  17. Jesus didn’t destroy the earthly temple in the next paragraph, He cleansed it to become what God intended again.
  18. At times, what we all need, is the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the rush of Living Water, to purify us again.
  19. As the headwaiter, the man responsible for the feast, dips water, a miracle happens.
  20. Somewhere between the pouring out, the pouring in, and the dip of the ladle, the water becomes wine.
  21. Not the cheap stuff, expected at this time.
  22. But the best stuff: a new wine that no one expects.
  23. And not only is it the best, but there is an overwhelming amount of wine.
  24. At this, they see and believe and give Him glory?
  25. But because the wine tasted good?
  26. What is it that they see, and feel, and sense in this first sign?

6. The disciples caught a glimpse of Jesus as the Promised Groom of Israel.

  1. Several Old Testament prophecies spoke of a day like this, symbolized by an abundance of wine:
  2. Amos 9:11–13 (CSB)

11 In that day

I will restore the fallen shelter of David:

I will repair its gaps,

restore its ruins,

and rebuild it as in the days of old,

12 so that they may possess

the remnant of Edom

and all the nations

that bear my name—,

this is the declaration of the Lord;

he will do this.

13 Look, the days are coming—

this is the Lord’s declaration—

when the plowman will overtake the reaper

and the one who treads grapes,

the sower of seed.

The mountains will drip with sweet wine,

and all the hills will flow with it.

  1. Joel 3:18 (CSB)

18 In that day

the mountains will drip with sweet wine,

and the hills will flow with milk.

All the streams of Judah will flow with water,

and a spring will issue from the Lord’s house,

watering the Valley of Acacias.,

  1. When Mary asks of Jesus to intervene in this wedding, it is Jesus’ identity of “Groom” that is being pulled upon.
  2. First of all, In Isaiah 25, we see the prediction of a heavenly wedding feast that the Messiah would usher in.

Isaiah 25:6–10 (CSB)

On this mountain,,

the Lord of Armies will prepare for all the peoples a feast of choice meat,

a feast with aged wine, prime cuts of choice meat, fine vintage wine.

On this mountain

he will swallow up the burial shroud,

the shroud over all the peoples,

the sheet covering all the nations.

When he has swallowed up death once and for all,

the Lord God will wipe away the tears

from every face

and remove his people’s disgrace

from the whole earth,

for the Lord has spoken.

On that day it will be said,

“Look, this is our God;

we have waited for him, and he has saved us.

This is the Lord; we have waited for him.

Let’s rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

10a For the Lord’s power will rest on this mountain.

 

  1. Jesus knew what He was called to do.
  2. Jesus knew He was the one that would swallow up the burial shroud.
  3. Jesus would unite the nations and invite them to a wedding feast.
  4. Jesus would make it possible to wipe every tear and remove our disgrace.
  5. Isaiah 25 is echoed in Rev. 21:

Revelation 21:1–4 (CSB)

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband.

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne:, Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples,, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

  1. As Jesus attends another man’s wedding, focused upon a different groom and a different bride, His mother’s request inaugurates a prophetic promise:
  2. Even though her son, she knew that Jesus was the Promised Messiah, the Groom of Israel.
  3. And that someday, Jesus would come back to Earth as the celebrated groom and would retrieve His bride.
  4. John the Baptist knew it, when he declared:

John 3:27–30 (CSB)

27 John responded, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Apply: What do we do in light of John 2?

  1. First, I believe we take a moment and give God glory.
  2. This was the original response to this revelation.
  3. The miracle wasn’t about what was in the jars but in the One who attended the wedding.
  4. Here stood the Promise One of Israel, the Ancient of Days, the Source of Living Water, the Bread of Life, the Bride-Groom of Israel.
  5. And very few even noticed.
  6. Mary was first.
  7. Then the servants understood what happened.
  8. Lastly, a few of the observers and disciples.
  9. But the groom, the bride, and most of the guests never realized that the ONE whom their wedding foreshadowed was actually in their midst.
  10. Too often, we are so distracted and busy, that we fail to recognize that the Spirit of God is in the room.
  11. Therefore, this passage should cause us to pause, worship, and give God glory.
  12. Second, let us remember that God still fills and uses ordinary vessels.
  13. Isn’t this just like Jesus?
  14. The One who takes a few loaves and fishes and feeds thousands.
  15. Or has Peter cast a fishing line and retrieved money from a fish’s mouth,
  16. Is also the one that repurposes some jars, has them poured and refilled with something demonstrably better.
  17. Without stretching the metaphor too far, I want to encourage us to allow God to use us however He sees fit.
  18. That might require dumping, refilling, and a miracle.
  19. Yet, God can and does use willing vessels for His glory.
  20. Perhaps what is inside of us has grown stale and unclean.
  21. Perhaps you are like me and in need of a fresh refilling.
  22. May we allow the Spirit to empty us of ourselves and fill us, fresh, with Himself.
  23. Lastly, remember that Jesus is coming soon.
  24. Jesus is still yet to return.
  25. When He does, it will be an event we do not want to miss.
  26. I’m looking forward to the day when:
  27. He wipes the tears from our eyes for the last time.
  28. I look forward to a Kingdom with no more pain, sorrow, or grief.
  29. I look forward to eating the Marriage Supper with the Nations, hearing their stories of how Jesus saved them and redeemed them.
  30. Most importantly, I look forward to seeing Jesus face to face.
  31. Today, we are reminded that Jesus is Coming Soon.

 

         [1] J. Duncan M. Derrett has a very valuable discussion of this miracle.   p 156  He points out that in the ancient Near East there was a strong element of reciprocity about weddings, and that, for example, it was possible to take legal action in certain circumstances against a man who had failed to provide the appropriate wedding gift. This is quite foreign to our wedding customs and we are apt to overlook such possibilities. But it means that when the supply of wine failed more than social embarrassment was involved. The bridegroom and his family may well have become involved in a heavy pecuniary liability. The gift made by Jesus was thus doubly important.[1] Morris, Leon. 1995. The Gospel according to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[2] Morris, Leon. 1995. The Gospel according to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. pg 157.

June 4, 2023 Message 25 “Praying through the Attacks”

Click Here for a PDF : Message 25 Praying through the Attacks

 

Message 25: Praying through the Battles

6.4.23

Ephesians Series

Synopsis:

How do we faithfully stand when the enemy seems relentless? The Apostle Paul told believers to pray at all times and to pray in the Spirit. Modern believers must heed Paul’s direction.

Ephesians 6:18-20

18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.

Introduction:

  1. Paul teaches prayer in the context of Spiritual warfare.
  2. Without prayer, the armor of God just lies that.
  3. It is in prayer that we exercise the power of Jesus in our world.
  4. Apart from prayer, we will not be “strong in the Lord” or able to resist the enemy.
  5. It is in prayer that we exercise faith, and truth, and righteousness, and the Gospel of peace.
  6. If we do not pray, how can we be Christians?
  7. We can be moral people; we can be trustworthy; we can even have an appearance of goodness.
  8. But because Prayer is the manner in which we commune with God, how can there be “prayer-less” Christians?
  9. We will have times when we do not pray as we should.
  10. We will have times when our prayers do not seem to matter much.
  11. But how can it be possible for a Christian’s walk with the Lord not to involve prayer?

 

1. Pray at all times.

  1. The danger of prayer is that we are too familiar.
  2. We should be amazed and shocked when we realize that Christian prayer is the intentional communication of created man with the eternal God.
  3. This only applies to Christian’s praying.
  4. Other religions and even non-religions pray and meditate.
  5. But when Christians pray, there is communion with God, and this is startling.
  6. To have access to God at all times and for all reasons is the rare privilege of Christians.
  7. Perhaps it would be helpful for us as Americans to stop and reflect upon this a moment.
  8. Have we culturally appropriated prayer in a way that inoculates our culture to prayer’s beauty, wonder, and significance?
  9. When we pray, we are having conversation and fellowship with God.
  10. Because God is “Omni…”, we are invited to pray at all times.
  11. God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Eternal.
  12. He is all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing, and has no beginning or end.
  13. All elements that we are not.
  14. The Apostle tells us to take advantage of this because we need what we are not.
  15. We are not all-powerful and need God’s power.
  16. We are not all-present, needing God to be both where we are and where we are not.
  17. We are not all-knowing and need His wisdom, insight, knowledge, and discernment.
  18. Finally, we are not eternal; we have definite beginnings and ordained ends.
  19. In the midst of this spiritual warfare we call life, we MUST pray at all times.
  20. On our own, we do not have what it takes to stand, resist, or endure.
  21. We must pray.
  22. And because we never know when the attacks will come, we must pray at all times.

2. Pray in the Spirit.

  1. There is a right way to pray.
  2. Why is this distinction important?
  3. I remind you that all religions pray.
  4. Muslims pray faithfully multiple times a day.
  5. The surrounding temples of Ephesus were busy with acts that looked and sounded like prayer.
  6. Christian prayer is different because of God’s role in prayer.
  7. It isn’t about the words you use.
  8. You don’t have to be eloquent, loud, or use KJV or Hebrew.
  9. What does it mean to pray in the Spirit?
  10. Romans 8:26–27 (CSB) gives us insight here:

26 In the same way the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us, with inexpressible groanings. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

 

  1. This kind of prayer does not originate in our imagination but in the mind of God.
  2. A few years ago, the Houston Astros were found guilty of stealing the signs of other teams.
  3. Not only did the Astros have a great season, they won the World Series.
  4. It’s much easier to hit a pitch when you know what’s coming.
  5. The Apostle Paul says we can PRAY according to the mind of the Spirit and the WILL of GOD.
  6. We are invited to pray according to God’s will, and yet we do not take advantage.
  7. Why not?
  8. Because we are freaked out about spiritual praying.
  9. What does it sound like?
  10. Paul says it sounds like groanings and a language we do not understand.
  11. I get why we feel this way.
  12. First of all, the spiritual realm scares most of us.
  13. Second, many of us were taught that spiritual prayer and praying in tongues is wrong, confusing, or not for you.
  14. So, over the years, we have developed an aversion to anything that comes close to praying in the Spirit.
  15. Here is how I understand it:
  16. If you offered me the most amazing Wagyu burger, cooked to perfection, with cheese and bacon, and that burger was a $100 burger, but if you put mustard on it, I’m going to pass.
  17. Why? Because you added an ingredient that I do not want.
  18. If I could offer you the kind of prayer that the Apostle Paul is talking about, without it being too spiritual or involving tongues, you would bite.
  19. But most of us have an aversion to speaking in tongues.
  20. But listen to what Paul told to the church in Corinth:

1 Corinthians 14:14–15 (CSB)

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing praise with the spirit, and I will also sing praise with my understanding.

 

  1. D. Paul distinguishes between praying with his natural tongue and praying in the spirit.
  2. Paul distinguishes between singing with our mind, our understanding, and with the Spirit.
  3. This is not an either/or situation but a both/and.
  4. Here is my recommendation:
  5. This afternoon or tonight before bed, get alone for a few minutes, just you and the Holy Spirit.
  6. And tell yourself and the Spirit, “I want all God has for me.”
  7. And then give yourself room and time to pray with both your mind and your Spirit.
  8. Although this seems unnecessary and “extra”, Paul says we are to pray this way WITH EVERY PRAYER AND REQUEST.

3. Pray in the Spirit with every prayer and request

  1. Most of us triage our prayers.
  2. We assume that because our resources are limited, we need to share only the most important prayer requests with God.
  3. We don’t want to “bother” Him.
  4. We are scared that we come across as the main character in the old video by Rex Stevens: “It’s me again, Margaret.”
  5. We don’t want to waste our “one miracle” on something frivolous.
  6. Many of us do not pray in the Spirit with every prayer and request because we project our weaknesses upon God.
  7. Not only do we stumble over praying “in the Spirit,” but we also struggle with “every prayer and request.”
  8. This should be good news:
  9. We should be thankful that we can bring everything to God in prayer.
  10. But too many of us feel like we are bothering God when we do what He invited us to do.
  11. 3. We think we are being thoughtful, considerate, mature, and responsible by not bringing everything to God in prayer when in reality, we are being disobedient.
  12. 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.

  1. Is there anything that “all” and “every” excludes?
  2. And when we pray in the Spirit, we can be assured we are praying in the perfect will of God.

Close: Prayer

  1. This morning, I want to lead all of us in prayer for both small requests and large.
  2. Have you ever avoided praying about something because you thought it was too small for God to care about? Today, let’s take a moment to bring even those small things before God in prayer and trust that He is capable of handling them.
  3. Let’s also bring those BIG, insurmountable requests to God as well.
  4. And if you have never prayed in the Spirit, why don’t you practice?
  5. Let’s all be open to what God wants to say and do in and through us.
  6. Prayer.

May 21, 2023 Stand in the Armor of God

 

Message 24 Christ’s Weapons for the Church

Message 24:Christ’s Weapons for the Church.

 

5.21.23

Ephesians Series

Ephesians 6:10–20 (CSB)

CHRISTIAN WARFARE

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.

Introduction: War, not peace.

  1. The nature of this world does not permit peace.
  2. As soon as sin entered humanity, we were put at enmity, or hostility, with God.
  3. This hostility is our default condition:

Ephesians 2:1–3 (CSB)

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.

James 4:4b–5 (CSB)

You adulterous people! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility (enmity) toward God? So whoever wants to be the friend of the world becomes the enemy of God. Or do you think it’s without reason that the Scripture says: The spirit he made to dwell in us envies intensely?,

 

  1. The writers of the New Testament often viewed their world in an “Us Vs. Them” mindset.
  2. Church versus the World.
  3. Christ vs. Satan.
  4. Righteousness against Sin.
  5. When people accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, the Ruler of this world fights against them.
  6. This is clearly evident each time we take a step of faith and devotion.
  7. Try to spend time in prayer, the phone always rings.
  8. Set time to worship, and the dishes suddenly call out to be washed or you have an irresistible drive to clean out the garage.
  9. Start leading your family, a child rebels.
  10. Start loving you spouse like Christ loves them, your spouse is all of a sudden meaner and angrier than ever.
  11. These small skirmishes are actually representative of a far larger battle raging in the spiritual.
  12. And it’s not in the background, out of sight, but in the forefront for all to see if they will pay attention.
  13. To be honest, if we had a play-by-play announcer reading the Book of Revelation aloud, we might pay better attention.
  14. We think we would notice the Beast or the AntiChrist.
  15. But what if I told you that the spiritual warfare happening now is just as real as what we read about what happens at the end of it all?
  16. The Apostle Paul wasn’t preparing the Churches for a future fight but for a present one.

1. First, we have to be convinced there is a real, spiritual enemy.

  1. Just like in everything, there are extremes even within the Church.
  2. Some people do not believe there is anything spiritual.
  3. We believe that there is a heaven and probably a hell.
  4. But the reality of demons, spirits, or anything we can’t see is not really on our radar.
  5. Then there are those who see demons and spirits behind everything.
  6. These people are the ones that when they run out of gas, they rebuke the devil instead of putting gas in the tank.
  7. (Picture) They are kind of like the fictional character Don Quixote, chasing and fighting windmills because he thought they were dragons.
  8. Scripture does not give detailed descriptions of principalities, powers, rulers, or authorities.
  9. Scripture gives some examples, like the Prince of Persia mentioned in Daniel or Jesus’ many confrontations with the demonic, along with Paul’s encounters with persecution and worldly systems.
  10. We do not know all the intricate details.
  11. Unlike the pagan religions of Paul’s day, there is not an elaborate cosmology in Christianity.
  12. But we do have all the information and power needed to stand against these authorities and to resist Satan’s schemes.
  13. Allow me to provide some pastoral encouragement and exhortation:
  14. First, believe that a very real spiritual war is raging around us.
  15. This war involves you and your family and every person, regardless if they are aware or not.
  16. Just because we may choose to remain ignorant of this spiritual struggle, it does not negate its reality.
  17. Second, spiritual warfare doesn’t end until Jesus returns.
  18. Every generation contends with Satan and his schemes.
  19. No one is exempt, and the struggle does not care about your age, ministry status, or if you are retired.
  20. Third, be clear where Scripture is clear and vague where Scripture is vague.
  21. There is a lot of extra teaching on spiritual warfare available.
  22. Some are helpful, and some are speculation.
  23. Always interpret EVERYTHING through the clear teaching of Scripture.
  24. Human visions, teachings, and revelations do not have the weight of Scripture.
  25. Paul warned us in Galatians 1:8

Galatians 1:8 (CSB)

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, a curse be on him!

2. The Armor of God

  1. Paul mentions 6 pieces of armor.
  2. Every person in the Roman Empire would have been very familiar with this armor.
  3. It was the standardized kit for a Roman Legionary.
  4. And the whole world knew what they looked like.
  5. From Britain to Gaul, to Italy, to the Middle East, the world knew a Roman soldier when they saw them.
  6. Furthermore, Paul was imprisoned in Rome under guard.
  7. The Praetorian Guards were with Paul every moment of his stay.
  8. Therefore, each day, Paul saw the physical, carnal pieces of these soldiers’ protection.
  9. But these Roman soldiers are not what inspired Paul.
  10. Paul is not using a human illustration.
  11. We often, rightfully, take something human to help us grasp a reality.
  12. But Paul’s teaching was not a moment of brilliance but an expression of an, already divine truth.
  13. The believers in Ephesus wouldn’t have known Isaiah’s vision, but Paul did. Isaiah in or around 700 B.C wrote:

Isaiah 59:16–17 (CSB)

16 He (God of Israel) saw that there was no man—

he was amazed that there was no one interceding;

so his own arm brought salvation,

and his own righteousness supported him.

17 He put on righteousness as body armor,

and a helmet of salvation on his head;

he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,

and he wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.

  1. Paul isn’t being creative here.
  2. He is saying what God had already said.
  3. Now, he tells followers of Jesus to take advantage of the spiritual resources.

3. Complete protection.

  1. The Roman soldier was protected from the top of his head to the sole of his feet.
  2. He would have had a helmet, breastplate, sword, belt, shield, and sandals.
  3. The key to Roman military success was not only their tools but also their tactics.
  4. They fought grouped together, shoulder to shoulder.
  5. When they remained together, they were a force to be reckoned with.
  6. But if they became separated or fell, they were vulnerable.
  7. This is likely what Paul had in view.
  8. Individually, we are vulnerable.
  9. If we do not stand strong, but fall, we will surely die.
  10. Paul commands, after you have done everything, stand in the armor.
  11. If we do not resist the onslaught of the enemy, we give way to the enemy.

1 Peter 5:8–9 (ESV)

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

James 4:7 (ESV)

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

  1. The armor protects every part of us.
  2. But our strength is only in Jesus.
  3. Be strong in the Lord.
  4. Too often we try to fight Satan in our own strength.
  5. When we do, it’s like bringing a squirt gun to a five-alarm fire.
  6. Maybe you are stronger and more disciplined than most:
  7. So instead of a Dollar General squirt gun you bought the biggest super-soaker money can buy.
  8. But even then, it is NOT enough.
  9. The attacks and power of the enemy is real.
  10. Outside of Christ, you will not survive.
  11. If you brought your own armor, you won’t make it.
  12. Trusting in your own power is like buying your weaponry and armor from Wish.com.
  13. It’s cheap for a reason.

4. Christ provides the armor, we put it on.

  1. None of these elements belong to us or originate with us:
    1. Who’s truth? Christ’s truth.
    2. Who’s righteousness? Christ’s righteousness
    3. Whose Gospel of Peace? Christ’s
    4. What faith? Faith in Christ alone.
    5. Whose salvation? Christ’s salvation through His blood.
    6. Whose sword of the Spirit? Christ’s, the word of God.
  1. The Good News is that in Jesus, we do not have to fear falling or failing.
  2. Notice, again, the words of Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:28–31 (CSB)

28 Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the whole earth.

He never becomes faint or weary;

there is no limit to his understanding.

29 He gives strength to the faint

and strengthens the powerless.

30 Youths may become faint and weary,

and young men stumble and fall,

31 but those who trust in the Lord

will renew their strength;

they will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not become weary,

they will walk and not faint.

  1. The armor does not prevent attacks; it protects from attack.
  2. Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to me?
  3. No.
  4. It does mean that nothing the enemy of our soul tries can accomplish his purpose of separating us from Jesus.
  5. If you want to take the armor off, that’s on you, but Satan cannot take it off of you.
  6. Christ provides, but we put on.
  7. I like this quote from Eugene Peterson:

The labeling of each of the six aspects of the practice of resurrection with an item of armor helps us realize that this life in Christ is not made up of passive qualities; rather, each one forms a field of participation in Christ’s work of redemption. The words are not job descriptions from which we improvise a strategy and then implement the best we can. We are the weapons. Who we are takes precedence over what we do. (Peterson 3003-3006)

  1. We are the weapons!
  2. Armor and weapons sitting in the corner are not effective.
  3. But when put on the body and in the hands of trained persons, they become mighty.
  4. Paul tells us to PUT ON THE ARMOR.
  5. How do we put on?
  6. Some people mentally picture themselves putting each piece on.
  7. For some that may be a helpful.
  8. How many of us have a checklist before leaving the house?
  9. Keys, wallet, cell-phone, lunch, all the kids, makeup, brush teeth, deodorant.
  10. You could also consider a checklist for yourself:
  11. For myself, a filter metaphor works better for me.
  12. Because all of these pieces, except Scripture and prayer, are defensive, it helps me to remind myself to “take captive every thought” and to filter them through.
  13. When I’m tempted to believe my righteousness is what got Him here, I “take off” that piece of armor and look at the tag inside, which says “plate of righteousness, property of Jesus Christ.”
  14. When I’m struggling with truth or discerning what to believe, I check the “belt” I’m wearing to ensure it says, “truth, property of Jesus.”
  15. The belt is important because it was the piece that supported the weight of all the other pieces, tied those pieces together, and was worn even when the armor was not.
  16. If we separate ourselves from God’s truth as revealed in Jesus through Scripture, we fall apart.

Apply: How do I stay in the fight?

  1. Next weekend, my friend Ty Buckingham will be sharing more about the Holy Spirit.
  2. The week after, we will examine Paul’s direction to pray in the Spirit at all times.
  3. We will be addressing several practical ways to implement this.
  4. What do we do today?
  5. Confess: I’m in a fight.
  6. Wartime mentalities are different from peacetime mentalities.
  7. We see, act, hear, and think differently in battle than at home.
  8. That is why we must confess, “I’m in a fight!”
  9. Tell your mind where your strength comes from:
  10. Even if your body is tired, the Spirit of God that lives in you isn’t.
  11. Even if you have faltered lately, Jesus hasn’t missed a step.
  12. Satan isn’t scared of you, but Christ in you.
  13. Plan on overcoming the attacks of the enemy.
  14. If you plan to lose, you lose.
  15. Time and again, the New Testament promises blessings to those who endure and overcome.
  16. This is only possible through Jesus, but you have a part to play.
  17. To stand, full in the armor of God, is your responsibility.

 

 

 

Message 23 Be Strong and Stand! Ephesians 6:10-20

Click here for a PDF version of Pastor Paul Richardson’s sermon: ->Message 23 Be Strong and Stand

 

Message 23: Be Strong and Stand

Ephesians Series

5.14.23

Ephesians 6:10–20 (CSB)

CHRISTIAN WARFARE

10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by his vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit—which is the word of God. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel. 20 For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough to speak about it as I should.

Introduction. Ephesus existed at the crossroads of the demonic and the Gospel.

  1. As people came and went through the city, one thing was sure:
  2. They would be confronted with the powers of light and the powers of darkness.
  3. They would encounter warfare and wrestle against “principalities and powers in heavenly places.”
  4. Everyone who stayed in Ephesus would have to confront these powers, first for themselves, second for their families, and third for their community.
  5. There is no middle ground in Ephesus.
  6. Paul wraps up his letter with the final theme: Stand.
  7. First, we are to Sit
  8. Then, Walk
  9. Finally, Stand
  10. It seems appropriate that this message lands on Mother’s Day and graduation.
  11. Mothers and grandmothers are called to be a line of defense against those who intend harm for their children.
  12. With weapons spiritual and physical, the mother’s instinct to protect her kids, her cubs, is God-given.
  13. The enemy of our souls knows that the surest way to bring a woman down is to go after her kids.
  14. Graduates, this message is also appropriate.
  15. You are being launched into a dangerous world.
  16. You have already encountered spiritual warfare.
  17. And in the days to come, you will encounter even more.
  18. Graduates, moms, dads, and all believers are called to stand and be strong in the Lord.

1. Stand.

  1. I think all of us can be territorial.
  2. If a kid is at a table in their classroom and someone comes and sits in their seat, an argument or fight often starts.
  3. Seniors in high school often have a “senior row” where underclassmen can’t park: it’s their spot.
  4. Every dad, or male over the age of 23, has their favorite “chair” that is their spot.
  5. We all tend to be territorial, wanting to be established in our “spot” or space.
  6. Where are we called to stand? What is our spot?
  7. Vs. 10 says, “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
  8. Many of us practice this different from what it says:
  9. We read “be strong,”… and then fight, fuss, and fume in our own strength, forgetting what comes next.
  10. The preposition “in” tells us how we are to stand.
  11. Prepositions “mark special relationships between persons, objects, and locations.”
  12. We stand strong “in the Lord and in the strength of his might.”
  13. We are at our strongest when we are “in the Lord” and “in His strength.”
  14. Of course, that’s easier said than done.
  15. And now, Paul tells the believers to stand firm in their spot.
  16. Notice, again, the progression:
  17. Seated with Christ in the heavenly realm,
  18. walking worthy of our calling.
  19. And now, STAND

2. Where are we standing?

  1. Before we can understand the ferocity of the fight, we need to know what’s at stake.
  2. The context of Ephesians leads us to the reality of spiritual warfare.
  3. There are spiritual battles being fought.
  4. There is armor for us to put on.
  5. A real enemy pulls the strings of systems, kingdoms, and ideologies.
  6. Where are we called to stand?
  7. Eugene Peterson describes it like this:

Stand firm in this place of blessing that we now inhabit. What can we hope to add to the blessings of God that have been lavished on us? Do we realize how unique this is and how refreshing it is to simply be blessed? And by God no less? In a world that confronts us with demands, criticism, misunderstanding, mistrust, manipulation, rivalry, getting and spending, lies and seductions, is there anything like this – sheer, unqualified blessing? Stand still and take it in. (Peterson 2893-2896)

  1. Are we not called to stand in the presence and blessing of God?
  2. Are we not positioned to be standing in the place of victory, power, authority, and righteousness?
  3. So why are we willing to give it up so easily?
  4. I believe the enemy knows the strategic value of where believers are called to stand better than we do.
  5. When we don’t know the real value of something, we sell short.
  6. Satan has done a great job of convincing believers that what God has given them isn’t as valuable as it really is.
  7. It’s as if believers are taking the family jewels to the pawnshop or selling them in a junk sell.
  8. We are being convinced that the position God has given us isn’t worth as much as it really is.
  9. The result?
  10. We don’t stand as strong as we should.
  11. We give ground when we should gain ground.
  12. We need more men and women who know what and where God has placed them, and to stand strong in the Lord’s strength.
  13. We need believers who will say, That’s my spot.
  14. That’s my place.
  15. That’s my blessing.
  16. That’s my inheritance.
  17. That’s my child.
  18. That’s my spouse.
  19. That’s what God has given me, and I will not give it up.
  20. And Christ, in His infinite mercy, has given us the tools not to be moved by the enemy’s schemes.
  21. This is where the spiritual armor comes in.
  22. We have not been left vulnerable or without the tools necessary to survive and stand.

3. Fighting a weakened enemy.

  1. The Apostle Paul does not prepare the believers in Ephesus for peace but for war.
  2. There are many in Christianity who want to take the blood and the warfare imagery out of Scripture.
  3. But that is not the reality believers face.

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens. 13 For this reason take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

  1. Ephesus was a secure Roman city.
  2. It was protected by the might of Rome.
  3. It is likely that there were very few veterans in the Church of Ephesus.
  4. Yet, each believer was accustomed to the spiritual battle that raged in the city for the heart and soul of the people.
  5. The most important battle we all face is spiritual.
  6. Our enemy puts on human faces, and human ideologies, and organizes human systems.
  7. But real warfare has spiritual origins.
  8. One author said, “We need deliverance from evil that doesn’t look like evil, evil that we are not likely to recognize as evil.” (Peterson, 2942)
  9. The Good News is that the enemy has already been weakened.
  10. The Apostle Paul wrote to the city of Colossae:

Colossians 2:14–15 (CSB)

14 He (JESUS) erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; he triumphed over them in him.,

  1. This is what Christ has done for us through the cross.
  2. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus disarmed these principalities and powers, and spiritual forces of wickedness.
  3. They are still real, and still active, and still threatening.
  4. However, their power has been undermined.
  5. Like a dog with no teeth,
  6. A lion with no claws,
  7. A snake with no fangs,
  8. They can threaten and bark, charge and hiss, but they do not have the power they once had over believers.
  9. But this only applies to those who are standing in Christ.
  10. I found this explanation helpful:

…how can disarmed powers still constitute a threat? The answer is that they constitute no threat to those who are united by faith to the victorious Christ and avail themselves of his resources, the resources which are here described metaphorically as “the panoply of God.” But to those who neglect those resources, and especially to those who are disposed to give them some room in their lives, they continue to present a threat.[1]

  1. Apart from Christ, these powers are still very potent.
  2. Apart from Christ, no human alive has the strength to withstand the attacks and temptations of Satan.
  3. The enemy may be defeated, but he is taking many with him.
  4. Satan is disarmed but not powerless.
  5. Again, victory is only for those who are IN CHRIST JESUS.
  6. Next week we will look at the 6 pieces of protection Christ has given us.

4. Some hills are worth dying on.

  1. In Ephesus, upon the most prominent hill, stood the Temple of Artemis.
  2. But down, where the people lived, there was a Church being birthed.
  3. As these people worshipped Jesus, they could have this confident boldness:
  4. That someday, every knee would bow and every person confess that Jesus was Lord.
  5. Artemis didn’t win.
  6. The Temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was destroyed by 401 AD.
  7. Today, only a few fragments remain in the modern-day country of Turkey.
  8. The Emperors are long since dead, relegated to history’s pages.
  9. But this Jesus is high and exalted and worthy of all praise.
  10. It was not on the hills that celebrated a Greek god or a Roman emperor that changed the world.
  11. But the hill called Mount Calvary.
  12. It was there that the blood of Jesus was shed to provide forgiveness for you and me.
  13. It was there that our enemy realized its defeat.
  14. Don’t die on every hill, but be willing to stand strong where it matters most.
  15. Moms and Grandmas:
  16. Some battles are not worth it.
  17. But fighting for the souls of your kids, family, friends and neighbors IS worth it.
  18. So don’t stop now.
  19. Every person needs a praying mom and grandma.
  20. But so many do not have that spiritual prayer warrior in their life, so YOU be that person.
  21. Graduates:
  22. Your future is in front of you, and that’s exciting.
  23. But if you walk into that future only in your strength, experience, or expertise, you will not make it.
  24. You need the Lord’s help and strength, and He has made that readily available to you if you will ask.
  25. Just remember that not every opportunity, choice, decision, or struggle is equal.
  26. But those that involve sin and righteousness matter more than you understand now.
  27. So don’t die on every hill, but be willing to risk it all on those hills that matter to Jesus.

Close: Prayer for Spiritual strength.

  1. I know today is Mother’s Day and we have several guests today.
  2. Something we do almost every week is take a few minutes at the end to pray publicly and with each other.
  3. Today, I want to lead us in a time of prayer for lost and hurting loved ones.
  4. For our sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and spiritual children.
  5. We want to pray for them to come under the blessing and protection of Jesus, who has disarmed the powers and rendered them ineffectual.
  6. I also want to pray for all of us to remain strong in the Lord.
  7. This season has been incredibly hard.
  8. And it may seem like you can’t keep going on.
  9. So I want us to pray for each other to remain strong and standing for ourselves and our families.

 

Prayer.

 

[1] Bruce, F. F. 1984. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

May 7, 2023: Slaves, Masters, and Living for Jesus. Ephesians 6

 

Click here for a PDF of Pastor Paul Richardson’s sermon notes -> Message 22 Slavery and Workplace

 

Message 22: Slaves, Masters and Living for Jesus

5.7.23

 

Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Introduction: The Kingdom is lived out in relationships.

  1. Today, we look at the third group of people the Apostle addresses.
  2. First, it was husbands and wives.
  3. Then Children and parents.
  4. And now slaves and masters.
  5. Our relationship with those we live and work with are where the Kingdom of God is most clearly visible.
  6. The Apostle gives commands and instructions to three groups of people that he doesn’t participate in.
  7. He wasn’t a husband, a parent, or a slave.
  8. The Book of Acts tells us that Paul was born a citizen of Rome, a free person.
  9. This placed Paul among the elite in the Roman Empire.
  10. By our standards, Paul is the least qualified person to advise married couples, parents, or slaves and masters.
  11. Yet, God used Paul as the medium for these divine truths.
  12. What if the Apostle Paul was more qualified than we realize?
  13. What if Paul understood each of these arenas in a way that was unique and profound?
  14. Paul understood these realities in a deep way.
  15. The Apostle Paul saw himself in these three situations:
  16. He was part of the Church, therefore, a member of the Bride of Christ and his job was to submit to the headship of Jesus.
  17. Paul understood that he was a co-heir with Christ Jesus, and although we are not divine, we are called sons of God. Thus, Paul’s life was a constant endeavor to honor and obey his heavenly Father.
  18. Thirdly, Paul, the Roman Citizen, consistently identifies as servant, the slave of Christ.
  19. With all the lofty language Paul employs in his letters, he never forgot that He served at the privilege of the Master.
  20. I believe this is a helpful balance for us.
  21. We are both co-heirs with Christ and servants of Jesus.
  22. In eternity, we will receive crowns of glory and cast those crowns at Jesus’ feet.
  23. Paul’s instructions for spouses, children, and slaves provide a framework that shapes our relationship with Jesus.
  24. Submission and love, honor and obedience, diligence and sincerity are a few of the attitudes these relationships teach us.
  25. Relationships with others are key elements of our discipleship.

1. Slavery and the Roman Empire.

  1. It’s important for us to have an informed perspective on ancient slavery.
  2. Slaves came from varied places and backgrounds.
  3. Conquered peoples were perhaps the main source.
  4. Some were born into slavery.
  5. Others sold themselves into slavery due to debts.
  6. Any number of races or people groups could become slaves.
  7. Unlike 19th century America where slavery was predominantly forced upon one racial group, slaves could come from any nationality, race, or people group.
  8. Therefore, it could be hard to tell a freed person or citizen from a slave, as in the example of the Apostle Paul in Acts 22:25-29 who surprised the Roman soldiers with his citizenship.
  9. Not all slavery situations were the same.
  10. The worst situation was mining, where the life expectancy of slaves could be measured in days.
  11. Many were involved in farming or construction.
  12. Some slaves worked in wealthy households, having a better standard of living and potentially owning slaves themselves.
  13. Regardless, slavery meant someone else owned your life, and you were property.
  14. The Roman Empire was dependent upon slavery:
  15. According to historians at the British Museum,

Scholars estimate about 10% (but possibly up to 20%) of the Roman Empire population of 50 million (in the first century AD) between five and ten million were enslaved. This number would have been unequally distributed across the empire, with a higher concentration of enslaved people in urban areas and in Italy. (British Museum)[1]

  1. Within the Ephesian church, there certainly were members who were slaves and others who owned slaves.
  2. Slavery was a real-life issue for the Church in Roman cities.
  3. This does not mean slavery was ideal or even God’s plan.
  4. Just like modern-day slavery, where an estimated 49.6 million people are in slavery,[2] Paul’s letter is not excusing slavery but providing guidance in a very sinful situation.
  5. Most of what we of slavery in Roman history comes from texts written by slave owners.
  6. These authors had little interest in describing servants’ daily lives and they only present us with polarised depictions of enslaved individuals.
  7. They are presented either as stereotypical ‘good slaves’ or, more commonly, as ‘bad’, ‘disloyal’, ‘lazy’ and deceitful people.”[3]
  8. This helps explain why Paul was adamant that those believers in Ephesus who were in slavery should be hard-working and diligent.
  9. Even in their slavery, they represented Christ to their masters and household.
  10. If they must be in slavery, they still had an obligation to represent Jesus.
  11. Their newfound freedom in Jesus did not give them permission to be lazy, disloyal, or deceitful.

Why do we care? Although there are principles in Ephesians 6 that apply to employers and employees, we miss something of vital importance if we skip to application.

2. Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.

  1. Paul refers to himself in Romans 1, Philippians 1, and Titus 1 as “a servant of Christ Jesus.”
  2. In each of these letters, Paul opens with this phrase.
  3. I’m a firm believer that first impressions matter:
  4. We often lead with our greatest achievement, attribute, or what matters most.
  5. In these letters, Paul starts with what he felt was most important:
  6. His position as a servant of Jesus.
  7. The word Paul uses for servant is doulos: which means slave.
  8. There are different degrees of slavery and servanthood, but it was the same word.
  9. Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.
  10. Each time the Apostle refers to himself as a servant of Jesus, he relates his condition and position to slavery.
  11. Jesus was his Master and Lord.
  12. Where Jesus told him to go, he would go.
  13. What Jesus told him to do, he would do.
  14. What Jesus commanded him to say, Paul said.
  15. Paul’s life was not his own but wrapped up in Christ.
  16. It is crucial to remain mindful of our privilege and position and not let it lead us to become conceited and overconfident.
  17. The Apostle Paul was confident in his position:
  18. He knew who he was in Christ Jesus.
  19. He knew he was seated with Christ.
  20. The Apostle Paul enjoyed the privilege of walking worthy of God’s calling.
  21. He saw miracles.
  22. He spoke with kings and leaders.
  23. He caused riots and was used to write Scripture.
  24. He had all the qualifications and titles to his name.
  25. Yet, his favorite introduction was “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus.”
  26. Paul’s role model was Jesus.
  27. The same Jesus that in Philippians 2, we read:

Philippians 2:5–11 (NLT)

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor

and gave him the name above all other names,

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,

in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

  1. The men and women in Ephesus understood lordship.
  2. They had sworn oaths at the Temple of Artemis and the Temple to the Roman Emperor.
  3. But now that they were followers of Jesus, they were now called to confess Jesus as their Lord and Master.

3. Slavery is part of our identity.

  1. This seems wrong, but it’s very clear in Scripture.
  2. One of the clearest passages is in the book of Romans.
  3. Paul declares that we were once slaves to sin, but through Jesus we became “enslaved to righteousness.”

Romans 6:15–23 (CSB)

FROM SLAVES OF SIN TO SLAVES OF GOD

15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching to which you were handed over, 18 and having been set free from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness., 21 So what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? The outcome of those things is death. 22 But now, since you have been set free from sin and have become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification—and the outcome is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  1. Our salvation through Christ is precipitated by our declaration of Jesus as Lord.
  2. Jesus does not become your Savior by declaring Him to be your buddy.
  3. Jesus is not your grandpappy.
  4. Jesus must be your Lord and Master.

Romans 10:9 (CSB)

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

  1. Paul understood that the Christian life is a life of submission.
  2. Submit one to another.
  3. Wives submit to your husbands.
  4. Slaves submit to your masters.
  5. But most importantly, SUBMIT TO JESUS!
  6. For those born free, in Christ, they are slaves.
  7. For those born in slavery, in Christ, there is freedom.
  8. 1 Corinthians 7:22 (CSB)

22 For he who is called by the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called as a free man is Christ’s slave.

  1. The Kingdom of God is full of paradoxes like this.
  2. The first shall be last and the last first.
  3. In Christ, we are free to serve Christ.
  4. Paul wrote to the Roman church in Romans to present their bodies as living sacrifices.
  5. In Romans 12:1, some of the more modern translations end the passage by saying “This is your true worship (CSB) or spiritual worship.
  6. But the KJV translates it in a way that captivates me.
  7. Many of us mistakenly view worship as singing or church or giving money.
  8. Worship is something that we feel like we can withhold when we don’t feel like or if it costs too much.
  9. But The KJV makes a bold statement:
  10. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
  11. An employee can refuse to do something.
  12. A worker can determine that something is outside of her contract or duties.
  13. But a slave has no choice.
  14. Everything the master asks of his servant is reasonable.
  15. Regarding our relationship with Jesus, He is Lord and Master.
  16. Therefore, whatever He asks of you is reasonable.

4. Living in light of this passage:

Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

  1. Principle #1. The why and how matter.
  2. Slaves did not choose what they did.
  3. There were no job fairs for slaves to attend.
  4. Each slave performed the tasks before them.
  5. You may not be able to choose what we do, but we can choose how we do it.
  6. At work you may not have much of a choice in what you must do, but you can choose how you do it.
  7. Work and serve in the sincerity of heart unto the Lord.
  8. If you sweep floors, do it to for the Lord.
  9. If you care for kids, love them with every fiber of your being.
  10. What you are called to do is not nearly as important as the why and how.
  11. Principle #2. All of us get graded on attitude.

Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people,

  1. Even though Paul speaks specifically to people in actual slavery, this still applies to each of us.
  2. Our attitude not only matters, but it impacts the reward.

knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord.

  1. The thing about being a Living Sacrifice, Rom 12:1, is we have a choice to stay on the altar.
  2. I’m afraid that too often, our attitudes have us popping on and off the altar of sacrifice.
  3. God ties our blessing with our service:
  4. Principle #3. The only status that matters is our relationship with Jesus.

And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

  1. Jesus shows no favoritism.
  2. No matter the label the world puts on you, those labels are swallowed up in Jesus.
  3. Servant, master, husband, wife, child, parent, slave, free, Greek, Jew, Roman, doesn’t matter.
  4. The Lord does not love one over the other.
  5. There is no favoritism:
  6. God so loved the world…
  7. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
  8. Every person who has ever breathed has been in need of a Savior.
  9. We live in a world that is getting creative with labels.
  10. But the only label that matters is the label, “redeemed”.
  11. “A servant in Jesus’ household is better than a king in Satan’s kingdom.”

Close: Where has Christ asked you to serve?

  1. The Lord is calling all of us.
  2. For some, the calling is to remain faithful where He has planted you.
  3. Others, the Lord is preparing to move or transition you, but you have to trust Him and be faithful.
  4. Regardless of where we are in this stage of life, remember who you belong to.
  5. Jesus bought you with a price, the price of His blood.
  6. When we give our lives to Jesus, we accept Him as Lord and Savior and must remain faithful, submissive, and obedient.
  7. This morning, I want to lead us in a prayer of commitment.
  8. Simply put: I want to lead this congregation in declaring our allegiance to Jesus.
  9. Jesus, where you lead, I will follow; where you want me to go, I will go; I will speak what you have me to speak and be silent when you want me silent.
  10. Lord, I am yours; Use me.

[1] https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/nero-man-behind-myth/slavery-ancient-rome#:~:text=Scholars%20estimate%20about%2010%25%20(but,and%20ten%20million%20were%20enslaved.

[2] https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/modern-slavery/#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20latest%20Global,of%20modern%20slavery%20are%20children

[3] Ibid

Message 21: Honor and Healing at Home

Click here for a PDF copy of Pastor Paul’s sermon -> Message 21 Honor and Healing at Home

 

Message 21: Honor and Healing at Home

4.30.23

Message 21

Ephesians series.

 

Ephesians 5:21 (CSB)

21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Ephesians 6:1–4 (CSB)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.,, Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Introduction: Where is the Kingdom of God most often practiced?

  1. Maybe we think that the most important place to practice the truths of Scripture is at Church or the mission’s field.
  2. It’s easy for us to separate our lives between what we think is holy and secular.
  3. Work is secular, church is holy.
  4. But this is a false dichotomy (a false separation).
  5. Paul begins his closing of this letter by telling the Ephesian believers that the places where we are to practice the glorious                         truths of Jesus are at Home and in Community.
  6. Where do we spend the overwhelming part of our day?
  7. At work and with family.
  8. And nobody can test the Jesus in us like our spouse, our kids, or our coworkers.
  9. The intensity of these relationships are PERFECT places for Kingdom work.
  10. The sign of Christian maturity is not how we act at Church but how treat our most intimate relationships.
  11. We walk worthy of our calling when we are loving well those God has put in our life.
  12. Preface: Today is an example of Preaching as Spiritual Warfare.
  13. The goal of today’s message isn’t necessarily to give you principals to make your children obey.
  14. I feel that today’s preaching functions as spiritual warfare.
  15. Meaning, as we read and declare what Scripture says about                       the family and relationships, I’m hoping we will see                                            breakthrough, healing, victory, and resolution.

Because I believe the Gospel is life-giving, I’m praying that today’s message brings life to us all today.

 1. Children, obey your parents in the Lord.

  1. The family is dependent upon 3 pillars.
  2. The individual’s relationship with God.
  3. The relationship of spouses to each other.
  4. Lastly, the relationship of children to their parents.
  5. Paul teaches that we all are to practice mutual                                     submission.
  6. One of the ways families can get off track is through unhealthy and unbiblical relationships between parents and children.
  7. I’m not talking about illegal or immoral relationships.
  8. What is in view here are relationships where children are not in submission or obedience to their parents.
  9. This is especially evident in households where the child is the boss, and the parents are submissive to the children.
  10. This happens for many reasons, but I want to point                   us to the blessing that comes when this most important                               relationship is in right alignment.
  11. We think we are doing our kids a favor by making them the center, but instead we are robbing them of God’s promises and                          blessing.
  12. Children obey your parents in the Lord because this is right.
  13. Kids and teens: honoring the people raising you is part of your discipleship process.
  14. Obeying parents “…was to be a part of the young person’s walk with God.”[1]
  15. How do you learn to follow Jesus?
  16. Ideally, it’s by following your parents.
  17. I know this is imperfect.
  18. Some parents are really bad people.
  19. Some parents do not do what is right.
  20. If you are in an abusive relationship, that is not what the Apostle Paul is talking about.
  21. He is not telling you to take the next beating.
  22. He is not telling kids to justify abuse.
  23. What is in view are the simpler things, when your mom, dad, or grandparent raising you, asks you to do something, and                           you refuse to do it.
  24. Or bad-mouthing your parent.
  25. Why should kids and teens obey their parents?
  26. First, Because it is the right thing to do.
  27. Practicing what is right when you are young helps                                     you to do what is right when you are an adult.
  28. Obeying parents is part of God’s design for humanity.
  29. This is not a flaw.
  30. Obedience or submission is not a result of sin.
  31. Jesus, himself was submissive and obedient to His earthly family, demonstrating the importance.
  32. Second, obey because it is a commandment.
  33. Engrained in the Law of God is the command, “children honor your father and mother…”
  34. Just like we are not to murder, or lie, or have idols, we are to honor our parents.
  35. How often do we expect God to BLESS us even when we are walking in open disobedience and rebellion?
  36. Third, this commandment has a promised blessing.
  37. If we honor our parents, our lives are improved and better.
  38. For the Israelites, the promise was that they would be blessed with a long life in the Promised Land.
  39. The reverse is also true: If the children refused to honor their parents, their days in the land would be shortened.
  40. Dishonor brings a curse.
  41. This applies to every relationship.
  42. Dishonor your spouse, bring a curse.
  43. Dishonor your coworkers, curse.
  44. Dishonor spiritual authority, curse.
  45. How much of our cultural problems today stem from the fragrant disobedience of this commandment to honor father and mother?
  46. When small children look at their school teacher and say, “you’re not my boss…” it means they are used to being the boss.
  47. When a young driver can look at a police officer or judge and have no respect for authority, it means they have no respect at                        home.
  48. One commentator writes:

“… the strength of family life, and the training of children to                           habits of order and obedience, were the means and the marks of             the stability of a community or nation. When the bonds of family                           life break up, when respect for parents fails, the community                          becomes decadent and will not live long.”[2]

2. Not just for little kids.

  1. Paul told children to obey, and the commandant says for us to “honor our father and mother.”
  2. The command to honor parents, as we have seen, covers adult children as well as young children. Younger children were                       to obey, and older children were to respect and care for their                            aging parents[3].
  3. The commandment to honor our father and mother may be harder when we are adults than when we were kids.
  4. Honoring aging parents is a hard thing.
  5. For all of you in this room who cared for aging parents or are presently caring for aging parents, thank you for                               honoring them so well.
  6. The Hard Part: One of the greatest challenges for adult Christians is forgiving our parents.
  7. How can you honor someone who was mean, wrong, or evil.
  8. I feel as if this is an important step for some of us in this room.
  9. Growing up, your parents did not do you right.
  10. The abuse or abandonment you experienced as a child                            was not your fault.
  11. You didn’t understand that when you were younger.
  12. But now, you are recognizing this, but you don’t know what to do with it.
  13. We will talk about that more in just a minute because of its connection to the next part of this passage.

3. The parents’ role in “honor your father and mother.”

  1. Look at what Paul says to the father:

                  4 Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

  1. In Paul’s world, this was a radical statement.
  2. Just as men had no requirement to love their wives in the Roman world, fathers had no requirement not to anger their                     children.
  3. In fact, fathers had unlimited authority over their households:

Both in the Roman and the Jewish worlds fathers wielded                              unlimited authority—even life-and-death power—over their                       children. While Roman social codes centered around that aspect                   of patriarchal power over children, Paul here reverses the norm                     and focuses on the obligation of fathers to rule lovingly and to                          raise up their children rather than beating them down[4]

  1. What Paul proposes is revolutionary.
  2. Fathers, love your children.
  3. Do not promote their anger.
  4. But instead, teach and instruct them in the Lord.
  5. The word for “bring them up” is the same word Paul used to tell husbands to “nourish” their wives as their own body.
  6. In other words, All men have a calling to steward those around them so that others grow and prosper.
  7. This stems all the way back to God’s instructions to Adam to care for the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15).
  8. We have an incredible calling to build up other people, but too often we tear them down.
  9. For many of us, this doesn’t feel natural.
  10. But that isn’t because of how God created us, but because of what sin did to us.
  11. Sin placed us in a position where we do not want to be mutually submissive, or loving, or obedient.
  12. One of the most important ways we build up our families and those around us is through the proximity of relationships.
  13. Too often, we focus on the stick instead of the carrot.
  14. Dr. James Dobson said, “Discipline, without relationship, breeds rebellion.”
  15. Correction, without love, breeds resentment.

 

  1. This is why Paul tells fathers to bring up their children in training and instruction.
  2. The word “instruction” in Greek is negative and refers to                   the warning side of raising children: It’s the correction                             side.
  3. The word for “training” in Greek is the positive side, referring to the process of leading someone to maturity.
  4. Together, this picture shows a picture of a father caring for his children so that they are well-rounded and mature.
  5. The biblical goal of parenting is a mutually rewarding relationship.
  6. Children obey and honor.
  7. Parents instruct and nurture.
  8. Then, in adulthood, both can enjoy the relationship.

4. But what if it’s too late?

  1. Perhaps this sermon is painful or becoming painful.
  2. Perhaps you are thinking:
  3. I wasn’t a Christian when I was raising my children. How can I fix this?
  4. My parent(s) really hurt me. What should I do?
  5. I didn’t have a good role model and see myself raising my kids like my parents modeled. Help!
  6. First of all, can we take just a moment and sit with these questions in the presence of Holy Spirit?
  7. Jesus, you never waste a hurt.
  8. Bring hope in the midst of our story.
  9. Lead us to your presence, and to healing.
  10. I want to share some hope with you from Scripture:
  11. First, There is hope because, in the last days, God has started                   a work that is restoring families.
  12. Malachi 4:5–6a (CSB)

                                                      5 Look, I am going to send you the prophet Elijah before                                 the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And he will                                    turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts                                     of children to their fathers.

  1. If your heart is far from your kids, or the hearts of your kids are far from you, we are praying that this prophecy                              will be fulfilled in your life.
  2. Second, no matter who raised us, the Heavenly Father is the perfect Father and role-model.
  3. Matthew 7:11 (CSB)

                                                      11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to                             your children, how much more will your Father in heaven                                 give good things to those who ask him.

  1. Our raising has a tremendous influence in our lives.
  2. How our parents raise us, for good or evil, affect us.
  3. The way we raise our kids, birth-kids, adopted-          kids, foster kids, or spiritual kids, matters.
  4. Yet, the best parent, role model, and friend you can have for yourself or your kids is Jesus.
  5. Regardless if your kids are little, teenagers, or full-grown adults…
  6. Regardless if you think you were a great parent or not, the best thing you can do for your kids is point                                          them to the Heavenly Father.
  7. If you weren’t saved when you were raising them, show them the change Jesus has made in your life.
  8. Say, “I love you” and “I’m sorry”, a lot.
  9. If it’s true that it takes 5 positive comments to offset 1 negative, and you had years or decades of negatives, you will have to say I love you and I’m sorry, a lot.
  10. Third, we are not meant to pay the price for our parents or kid’s sin.
  11. During the days of the OT, the sins family members were paid by the family.
  12. A son was punished for what his father did.
  13. A father was punished for what his son did.
  14. This was summarized in a proverb in Ezekiel 18:2

“What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel:

‘The fathers eat sour grapes,

and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

  1. In many ways, I see that repeated today:
  2. Many kids are paying for the sins of their parents and vice-versa.
  3. We end up perpetuating family crises, generational problems and addictions.
  4. But the Good News is that doesn’t have to be: God said through Ezekiel:
  5. Ezekiel 18:14 (CSB)

14 “Now suppose he has a son who sees all the sins his father has committed, and though he sees them, he does not do likewise.

Ezekiel 18:17 (CSB)

17 He keeps his hand from harming the poor, not taking interest or profit on a loan. He practices my ordinances and follows my statutes. Such a person will not die for his father’s iniquity. He will certainly live.

Ezekiel 18:20 (CSB)

20 The person who sins is the one who will die. A son won’t suffer punishment for the father’s iniquity, and a father won’t suffer punishment for the son’s iniquity. The righteousness of the righteous person will be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked person will be on him.

  1. Your family’s legacy does not have to be its destiny.
  2. This morning, I’m believing some family destinies are being altered.

Close: Prayer

  1. This morning, I simply invite whosoever will to come to the altar.
  2. We all struggle with parents, obedience, submission, and love.
  3. We all get our eyes off of Jesus’ example.
  4. Specifically, I’m praying that the hearts of every family member is being restored and healed.
  5. May forgiveness and mercy flow through your relationships.
  6. May we remember the blood of Jesus that was shed for each one of us.

Ezekiel 18:32 (CSB)

32 For I take no pleasure in anyone’s death.” This is the declaration of the Lord God. “So repent and live!

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Foulkes, Francis. 1989. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Message 20 Christ, Husbands, and Wives

Click here for a PDF version of Pastor Paul Richardson’s sermon from Ephesians.

Message 20

 

Message 20: Christ, Husbands, and Wives

4.16.23

Preface: I generally preach through Books of the Bible.

  1. I do this for several reasons:
  2. It helps us really understand what we are reading.
  3. It helps us see how to read our Bible as it is presented.
  4. It really allows us to go deeper than we would normally.
  5. It also ensures we don’t just cover stuff we like.
  6. We all have our favorite topics and stories.
  7. There are also elements that are confusing and convicting.
  8. Today, if this is your first Sunday, you are catching us as we walk through Ephesians.
  9. Don’t worry; many of the messages are online.
  10. Each message stands alone.
  11. Today, we are in a passage many people have heard about.
  12. But I think the Lord is leading us to view this passage in a way that moves beyond husbands and wives.
  13. Let’s turn to Ephesians 5, beginning with 21.
  14. We aren’t preaching all of this today, but I want us to see the bigger picture and how it all fits.

 

Ephesians 5:21–6:9 (CSB)

21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

22 Wives, submit, to your husbands as to the Lord, 23 because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh., 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, because this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise, so that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life in the land.,, Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

SLAVES AND MASTERS

Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as you would Christ. Don’t work only while being watched, as people-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, do God’s will from your heart. Serve with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to people, knowing that whatever good each one does, slave or free, he will receive this back from the Lord. And masters, treat your slaves the same way, without threatening them, because you know that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

 

Introduction: The end of Ephesians 5 may be one of the most misused Scriptures.

  1. Let’s Think through Ephesians so far:
  2. Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are Seated in Christ in heavenly places.
  3. We are empowered to Walk worthy of our Calling in this world through the ministry of Holy Spirit.
  4. We are learning to speak to one another in ways that do not grieve Holy Spirit, with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
  5. We are preparing to wrestle against principalities and powers with the full armor of God in Ephesians 6.
  6. Ephesus has no middle ground: everything is either in Christ or out of Christ.
  7. Where are all of these wonderful and glorious truths lived out?
  8. At home, at work, and with each other.
  9. “Be subject to one another. . .” (5:21), followed by an                            immersion in the details of family life and work relationships. If                           we were expecting something cosmic, this is like a door                                 slammed in our faces.” (Peterson)
  10. Paul doesn’t point the Ephesians to new levels of Kingdom authority, or reveal mysteries of the third heaven, or anything                          seemingly supernatural.
  11. Instead, Paul points us to where the principles of Christ’s Kingdom are most readily practiced: at home, at                                     work, and at church.
  12. Simply put: the Kingdom is practiced with people.
  13. If we want to change the world we must start at home, at work, and in community.
  14. The Apostle demonstrates this in the most intense of human relationships: Marriage.

1. What is marriage?

  1. The Apostle Paul views Marriage as an enacted illustration.
  2. He quotes Genesis, declaring that it was God’s idea for people to be united in marriage.
  3. From the beginning, God intended the marriage relationship to represent the relationship between God and humanity.
  4. This leads us to our first difficulty for our culture:
  5. Who has the authority to define marriage?
  6. If marriage is a state institution, then the State can allow anyone they want to be married.
  7. If marriage is a religious, biblical institution, then the Scripture determines who can be married.
  8. Because I am coming from a worldview and perspective that believes marriage is a biblical and religious institution, According                 to Scripture, Marriage can only be between a man and a woman,               because any other combination does not reflect the relationship                     of Jesus to the Church.
  9. Because Marriage is a divine mystery, pointing people to God, our marriages are to reflect the perfect relationship                                  God has with His Church.
  10. And in all of Scripture, nowhere is Jesus in a homosexual relationship.
  11. I know there are some fringe theories out there that show on the History channel at 1am.
  12. But these are not real scholarship.
  13. Furthermore, Jesus is also not in a polyamorous or polygamous relationship: His only “love” is the Church.
  14. Unfortunately, the Church does not understand this well enough to articulate the beauty and significance of marriage.
  15. The more we understand this passage and this imagery, the more sacred marriage becomes to us.
  16. Human marriage is not perfect.
  17. We are marred by sin and too often mess up this most important relationship.
  18. One of the greatest ways we can change the world and change culture is by living out healthy, God-honoring                                marriages.

2. Marriage: A Holy Mystery.

  1. All throughout Scripture, we have imagery relating God to humanity in a marriage relationship.
  2. God called Israel His wife.
  3. The Old Testament Prophets condemned idolatry as spiritual adultery since worshipping other gods meant forsaking their                      True God.
  4. The New Testament calls the Church the Bride of Christ, and the culminating event of Heaven is the Marriage Supper of the                         Lamb.
  5. We shouldn’t be surprised that the Apostle Paul uses marriage language in Ephesians.
  6. Paul has written multiple verses in Ephesians explaining our relationship to God through Christ.
  7. And now Paul explains that our relationship with others reflects our relationship with God.
  8. It always surprises me that Christians can be so mean, angry, and hateful.
  9. In all my time as Pastor, I cannot understand how we can sing “Oh how I love Jesus” or sing about the                                            Reckless Love of God one minute and chew someone                                     out the next.
  10. Or why restaurant servers have reason to dread the church crowd on Sunday.
  11. The quality of our human relationships are an indication of the health of our relationship with God.
  12. Remember, we are called to be right both vertically and horizontally.
  13. A pitch isn’t a strike unless it crosses the plate                            vertically and horizontally.
  14. “You can’t be a Christlike jerk!”
  15. Paul is not taking it easy on the Ephesians or us.
  16. Are we “really” in right relationship with Jesus if our human relationships are all out of alignment?
  17. Paul starts at the most intense relationship most of us have: a marriage relationship.

What is the key to a thriving relationship?

3. Mutual submission applies to all relationships.

21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

  1. First of all, what does submission mean?
  2. The word for submitting means: “to be or become inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such          inclination.”
  3. Submission can look like letting the person with one thing in their cart check out before you do.
  4. Submission to one another is tapping the break when you want to hit the gas.
  5. Submission is a practice not just for women but for every one of us.
  6. We submit to each other out of “fear”/respect for                            Jesus.
  7. Because Jesus values people, and because they are created in the “image of God,” we submit one to another.
  8. Love and Submission are not different coins but different sides of the same coin.
  9. When I look at my spouse through this coin, when she sees submit, I’m looking at love.
  10. “But preacher, it doesn’t say wives love your husband…”
  11. But because this relationship is perfected and embodied in our relationship with Christ, let me ask you:
  12. Do you love Jesus?
  13. We show our love to Jesus by submission.
  14. We show our submission to Jesus through love.
  15. Where there is Christ-like love, there is Christ-like submission.
  16. I cannot love my wife while I’m prideful, haughty, demeaning, and self-centered.
  17. In other words, true love is submissive, willing to put the other first.
  18. Furthermore, a person who submits without love is a slave, not a spouse.
  19. I don’t want a slave: I want a loving spouse.

4. Husbands, Love: A Radical new way of life.

  1. Paul is proposing a way of life contrary to cultures and human history.
  2. One commentary notes, “Nowhere in Hellenistic texts are                   husbands called on to love their wives.”[1]
  3. That’s fancy language to say that NO other piece of Greek literature says what Paul is saying.
  4. Ancient and modern history are full of examples of women submitting while the husband does whatever.
  5. But Christianity demands something other cultures and religions do not: Husbands, LOVE YOUR WIVES.
  6. This is radical, for it empowers the woman.
  7. This is radical, for it contradicts what most men think or believe.
  8. Paul calls for a radical reorientation because we reflect Jesus’ relationship with us.
  9. Paul spends twice the amount of space telling husbands to LOVE than he does telling wives to submit.
  10. That’s because the emphasis is on “husbands, love as Christ loves the Church.”
  11. Men demonstrate their love for Jesus publicly by loving their spouses well privately.
  12. There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.
  13. But for those who are married, we are called to healthy marriage.

5. Christ’s love for the Church is intense.

  1. He gave himself for her. vs. 25

Ephesians 5:25–26 (CSB)

                  25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of   water by the word.

  1. Many men here are willing to die for their spouse.
  2. But how many of you are willing to wash the dishes?
  3. How many are willing to pray for her and encourage her?
  4. The love Paul has in view is a sacrificial love.
  5. Not a fad love.
  6. Not “puppy” love.
  7. But a love that pours itself out for the other person’s benefit.
  8. The Apostle Paul said in Romans, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
  9. Jesus didn’t love us for what we could give in return.
  10. Men are not to love their wives because of anything they can give us.
  11. Love is a calling, not a condition.
  12. This phrase “cleansing her with the washing of water by                            the word” is wedding language.
  13. “Before the bride was presented to the bridegroom she                              received a cleansing bath and was then dressed in her                              bridal array.”[2]
  14. Part of my responsibility as a husband and is to create an environment where my wife wants to draw closer to                                Jesus.
  15. This applies to parents and even to coworkers.
  16. We all have a responsibility to encourage each other in such a way that loving Jesus is easier, not                                              harder.
  17. Jesus does this for the Church through the washing of water by the word.
  18. This probably involves the importance of baptism and the confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior.
  19. For our personal relationships, I can’t help but picture this in negative terms:
  20. How many spouses, children, or coworkers have looked at us and our relationship with Jesus and                                              said, “if that is Christianity, I don’t want to be part of                                 it.”
  21. When we love each other well, people want to be part of something like that.

 

  1. Christ’s intense love shows in how He presents her in splendor…vs. 27
  2. This could also be translated as “radiant.”
  3. The image is that of a lovely bride on her wedding day as she goes in procession to meet her groom.[3]
  4. When Jesus returns to take His Bride, the Church, home to the “place that He has prepared for us,” it’s as if Jesus                                    will show the Father and say, “Isn’t she beautiful!”
  5. True Love builds up.
  6. True love does not disparage.
  7. True love does not mock.
  8. True love is intense.
  9. When we are struggling with relationships with our spouse, our kids, or our coworkers, take a moment and remember how                            Jesus loves you!
  10. When I think about the suffering Jesus experienced for my sake, many of our conflicts deescalate.
  11. I can walk in love and submission to others because of Jesus’ intense love for me.
  12. Jesus cares for the Church like his body vs. 28.

Ephesians 5:28–30 (CSB)

                  28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own          bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates      his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the   church, 30 since we are members of his body.

  1. The two greatest commandments are “love God, love your neighbor.”
  2. Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies.
  3. This includes care, protection, and covering.
  4. When I love my wife well, I reflect God’s love for me.

Apply: What do I do with this message?

  1. The hard part of a message like this is applying this to our life if we aren’t married or our spouse isn’t saved.
  2. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus and the Apostle Paul gave the best marriage and parenting advice ever given: two men who were                       never married and had no biological children.
  3. So what was the beauty that Paul saw in marriage, even though he wasn’t married?
  4. Even though Paul wasn’t married, he saw the beauty of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
  5. Paul marveled that the God of the universe would want to be in relationship with him and others like him.
  6. Even though Paul was not married, he encouraged healthy marriages for others while practicing submission to Jesus.
  7. Paul knew that Christ loved him, so he practiced submission to Christ.
  8. All of Paul’s missionary journeys, all of Paul’s preaching and persecutions arose from his desire to submit and love                             Jesus.
  9. All of us are called to love and submit to Jesus, regardless of our relationship status.
  10. For those of us married, the application is easy to say but hard to practice.
  11. A question or us to ask today is this: Does our most important relationship depict the way Jesus loves us?
  12. We are not called to mimic the marriages or relationships of movie stars, cultural norms, or even our                             parents.
  13. Instead, we are called to mimic and model the relationship between Christ and the Church.
  14. As I lead us in a time of prayer today, I want to pray for all of our most important relationships.
  15. Lord, help us to love and submit like you have taught us, modeled for us, and commanded us to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: LeIxham Press.

[2] Bruce, F. F. 1984. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[3] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 26, 2023 FIVE CORE BEHAVIORS for WISE BELIEVERS

Message 19 Five Core Behaviors

 

 

Message 19:Five core behaviors for wise Believers:

 

3.26.2023

Ephesians Series

 

Ephesians 5:15–21 (CSB)

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—16 making the most of the time,, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 And don’t get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless living, but be filled by the Spirit: 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.

Introduction: The Apostle’s final thoughts on how to walk.

  1. First, Paul made sure we knew out to sit with Jesus.
  2. Then the language changes to “walking” with Jesus.
  3. Ephesians 5:15 warns us to pay careful attention to how we walk.
  4. We are to walk wisely.
  5. Who in here likes to watch people?
  6. Have you noticed that most people are not paying attention to how they walk or where they are going?
  7. 7 years ago, the Wall Street Journal set up in San Francisco for an experiment.
  8. VIDEO
  9. It is unwise for us to walk in a busy city, burying our heads, eyes, and ears in our phones.
  10. Just because this is acceptable, it doesn’t mean it is wise.
  11. This morning, we look at 5 core behaviors the Apostle Paul instructs believers to follow.

Core Behavior#1. Wise believers make the most of the time.

  1. Some translations say “redeeming the time.”
  2. The verb is a commercial metaphor used for purchasing a commodity, and it implies a period of vigorous trading while there is profit to be made.[1]
  3. There are two ways to measure time:
  4. Chronos is the amount of time in a day.
  5. Minutes,
  6. hours
  7. years.
  8. Kairos refers to the opportunity within time.
  9. Harvest season is not merely a measured time, but an opportunity.
  10. If you don’t harvest at the right time, Chronos, you miss the Kairos.
  11. Paul tells the Ephesians believers that wise people make the most of the opportunity God gives us.
  12. This is especially important when we understand that the days are evil.
  13. There is limited time and limited opportunity to tell people about Jesus.
  14. There is limited time to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.
  15. The Apostle Paul is aware of the temptation to waste this time and opportunity.
  16. We redeem the time by understanding the Lord’s will and doing it Vs 17.

17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

  1. Doing the Lord’s will is not limited to church activities.
  2. Included are raising kids, loving spouses, witnessing to neighbors, serving in the community, and a myriad of activities.
  3. Never has the fleetingness of time been more obvious when we look up and whole months and years have gone by in a blink.
  4. We are constantly asking, “where did that time go?”
  5. But with that is “where did the opportunity go?”
  6. Be wise, and redeem the time by making the most of every opportunity.

Core Behavior #2. Wise believers pursue a Spirit-filled life.

  1. “Be filled with the Spirit” is a present-tense imperative, commanding a continuous infilling rather than a single, as it were, crisis experience.[2]
  2. This means that Paul tells the Ephesus believers to stay filled with the Spirit.
  3. We are broken vessels, and we leak.
  4. We need more than just one experience or encounter.
  5. We need a life that is continuously being filled with the Spirit.
  6. But Paul starts this sentence with a negative imperative: “Do not get drunk with wine…but be filled by the Spirit.”
  7. The Ephesian context is key to understanding this:

Paul uses a pair of strikingly contrasting imperatives to focus our attention on just what is and what is not involved in worship: “Do not get drunk with wine .. . but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Wine and Spirit are set in contrast as ways of worship. In the Asiatic world of Ephesus one of the most prevalent forms of worship centered around the god Dionysius. Dionysiac worship employed dances and exciting music to produce ecstatic rapture.

Dionysius was the god of wine. Intoxication with wine combined with dancing and music was the method of choice for getting to the desired state of enthusiasm (literally, ally, “the god within”). Paul points to these riotous, drunken orgies on display all around the people of Ephesus and contrasts them with what takes place in worship as Christians come to be “filled with the Spirit.” Not the “mere anarchy” of drunken dances, but rather the sweet harmony of “singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts” (5:19). The manic debauchery associated with Dionysiac worship sets a sharp and unforgettable contrast to the beauty of the singing, the melodic harmonies, that it is the work of the Spirit to bring to expression in each worshiping congregation. This is the church at worship as we drink our fill of God’s Spirit. We listen to God’s Word read and preached, and once again get our story straight; we receive the life of salvation eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper, his “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” and recover our Jesus focus; we find ourselves in the singing and giving thanks, in the greetings and the prayers, freshly renewed by the Spirit to practice resurrection in the company of the Trinity.[3]

  1. Paul’s language on alcohol strongly contrasts the former life of the Ephesians with their present life in the Spirit.
  2. Because the Ephesians used to drink as worship of false-gods, and false-hopes, he is telling them to stay away from what used to be and to embrace the new worship found in being filled with the Spirit and NOT with wine.
  3. Their old life was filled with drunken dances and drunken singing.
  4. Their new life would be filled with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
  5. Is drinking alcohol a sin?
  6. Not necessarily, but in this context, it certainly seems unwise.
  7. This is evidenced in Paul’s advice to the pastor of Ephesus, Timothy.
  8. 1 Timothy 5:23 (CSB)

23 Don’t continue drinking only water, but use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

 

  1. If it had been Timothy’s habit to drink some wine, Paul would not have had to prescribe it medicinally.
  2. From my understanding of Scripture, I believe it is unwise for believers to consume alcohol.
  3. The writer of Proverbs 20:1 (CSB) says

Wine is a mocker, beer is a brawler;

whoever goes astray because of them is not wise.

Proverbs 31:4–7 (NIV)

It is not for kings, Lemuel—

it is not for kings to drink wine,

not for rulers to crave beer,

lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,

and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.

Let beer be for those who are perishing,

wine for those who are in anguish!

Let them drink and forget their poverty

and remember their misery no more.

  1. Every time I read this Proverbs 31 passage, I’m reminded of a few things:
  2. First, I’m seated with Christ Jesus and co-heirs with Him:
  3. I am seated with Him in a position of authority and power.
  4. Thus, I need to think clearly and be sober-minded.
  5. Second. I am not as one perishing, or in anguish or in poverty.
  6. Let beer and drink be for those without hope and in poverty and misery.
  7. But that isn’t who I am.
  8. The Apostle Paul says excess leads to reckless living.
  9. At primary issue here is who is in control.
  10. If alcohol is in control, then the Spirit of God isn’t.
  11. The Apostle Paul presents a better life, one filled with the joy of the Spirit.
  12. One Christian writer explains:

He does not seek simply to take away joys and pleasures from people’s lives. He would replace them by higher joys and better pleasures. It is no mere coincidence that in Acts 2 also the fullness of wine and the fullness of the Spirit are set side by side. There is the implication there, repeated here, that the Christian knows a better way than by wine of being lifted above the depression and the joyless monotony of life, a better way of removing self-consciousness and quickening thought and word and action than by the use of intoxicants. It is by being filled with the Spirit.[4]

  1. The Spirit of God presents us with a better, wiser, way to enjoy life and shoulder life’s heavy burdens.
  2. We can either be filled with alcohol, which leads to reckless living, or filled with the Spirit, but we cannot be both.
  3. To walk wisely, I live by the words of Peter:

1 Peter 5:8 (CSB)

Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.

Core Behavior: #3. Wise believers minister with their words.

  1. The Spirit-filled believer will minister one to another.
  2. Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs will characterize our speech.
  3. Perhaps there is some distinction between a psalm (scripture) hymns( which teaches doctrine), and spiritual songs that draw our spirits closer to the Lord.
  4. But the three categories together stress the beauty of corporate and congregational worship.
  5. This is, again, contrasted with the former way of life for the Ephesians:
  6. Formerly, they would be drunk, singing in a drunken stupor to their idols.
  7. But NOW, they were filled with the Holy Spirit, singing words that build each other up in Christ Jesus.
  8. Music, perhaps more than any medium, connects our spirits with the spiritual realm.
  9. Genesis 4:21 tells of Jubal, the first musician.
  10. Since that time, people have sung and played instruments for many reasons:
  11. For many of us, our internal radio is tuned into whom we are worshipping.
  12. What we are humming or singing to ourselves when we don’t realize it is a good indicator of what is happening in our spiritual life.
  13. The Apostle encourages the Ephesians, and us, to use our voices wisely.
  14. Our voices and platforms are not for tearing down others but for building them up.
  15. All throughout Ephesians, Paul implores us to be mindful of what we say to each other.
  16. This is not our natural language, which is why we are to be filled with the Spirit, so that we may “9 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music with your heart to the Lord,”

Core Behavior #4. Wise believers give thanks for everything.

20 giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

  1. Giving thanks is a sign of wisdom and maturity among believers.
  2. Little children are happy when they get what they want.
  3. They are also upset when things do not go their way.
  4. Part of maturity is growing in contentment.
  5. Wise believers give thanks for everything.
  6. How do we do that?
  7. First, thankfulness is a decision.
  8. There are days and seasons where I have to “choose” thankfulness.
  9. I don’t want to be satisfied.
  10. I don’t want to be happy.
  11. Thus, I have a decision; give thanks ALWAYS for everything to God or to be bitter and angry.
  12. Second, thankfulness is a perspective.
  13. When I lose sight of God the Father, I grow ungrateful.
  14. It’s significant for Paul to refer to God as Father here.
  15. “To refer to God as Father points to an intimacy of relationship that stands at the centre of the Christian faith. It is with gratitude that believers have a place in God’s family.”[5]
  16. God didn’t have to love me, but He did.
  17. He didn’t have to send His son to pay for my sin, but He did.
  18. God didn’t have to make room for me in the Kingdom, at the Throne, or at the Table, but He did.
  19. Thankfulness is a perspective.
  20. When I see the world through the perspective of what Jesus did for me, I’m thankful.
  21. Wise believers can view tragedy, disappointment, pain, success, and joy differently than other people.
  22. Everything about my life is different because of                                         what Jesus has done, and for that, I’m thankful in                                      everything.

 Core Behavior #5. Wise believers submit to one another.

  1. This one is so important, it sets the tone for the next three paragraphs.
  2. Because we will discuss this more in-depth in a few weeks, I want to comment on the big picture.
  3. The word for submitting means: “to be or become inclined or willing to submit to orders or wishes of others or showing such          inclination.”
  4. The Apostle’s picture of the Church is of a body, with everything submitting, assisting, and working together.
  5. When a knee decides it doesn’t want to hold us up, we go down.
  6. A toe causes us to hobble.
  7. A bad back can cause everything to come out of alignment.
  8. As believers, we were designed to work with each other, not against each other.
  9. That’s why it is important for us to submit one to another.
  10. Maturity and wisdom are always built within community and relationship.
  11. Romans 12:3–5 (CSB)

For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.

  1. A couple of weeks ago I was driving back from Springfield.
  2. I’m moving along well and come up to a vehicle driving slower than I am.
  3. Not a lot, mind you, but definitely not the same speed.
  4. In the passing lane is a car coming alongside, with some room for me to move over if I did it right then.
  5. But instead of hitting my blinker right then, I tapped the brake.
  6. The car passes by, I blinker, and them I too am around the car.
  7. But here is what came to my heart:
  8. Submission to one another is tapping the break when you really want to hit the gas.
  9. Submission is letting someone to take your spot, even for a second.
  10. A way to practice submission is through little things:
  11. Let someone in front of you at checkout.
  12. Purposefully wait in a line so others can go ahead.
  13. Tapping a brake when you really want to hit the gas.
  14. Practicing submission in these little ways before we get to the hard ways of marriage, work, and parenting.

 

When believers act wisely by making the most of our time, and staying full of the Spirit, and build each other up with our words, and are thankful to God for everything, it makes submitting to each other much easier.

Bring up the worship team

Closing: There is an old hymn that holds a powerful reminder:

 

Verse 1:
You may own earth’s silver
Have riches untold
But all of earth’s wealth, my friend
Won’t save your soul
You may live in a mansion
All the world know your name
But at the foot of the cross, my friend
Everyone stands the same.

Chorus:
The ground is level at the foot of the cross.
Anyone may come there for there is no cost
Rich man or poor man, bonded or free.
The ground was leveled that day at Calvary.

 

This morning, I pray:

  1. First, I pray that we may all grasp how much Jesus has done for us.
  2. Second, I pray that we will strive to live wisely in this evil world.
  3. The Kingdom of God does not need us fighting each other, so let us walk wisely, for the days are evil.
  4. This morning, I want to lead us in a time of prayer where we each pray for maturity and wisdom.

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Eugene H. Peterson. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Kindle Locations 2569-2576). Kindle Edition.

 

[4] Foulkes, Francis. 1989. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Bock, Darrell L. 2019. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press.

March 19, 2023: Cutting Ties with Darkness

Click here for a copy of Pastor Paul’s sermon in PDF: Message 18 Cutting Ties with Darkness

 

Cutting Ties with Darkness

Message 18

3.19.22

Ephesians 5:1–14 (CSB)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

LIGHT VERSUS DARKNESS

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made visible, 14 for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said:

Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.

1. You were once darkness, but now you are light.

  1. Darkness and light are not conditions we step in and out of as we want.
  2. They are our identities.
  3. We are either darkness, or we are light.
  4. Paul writes to believers.
  5. These men and women have not grown up in church.
  6. They grew up and were raised in the shadows of temples.
  7. Their earliest memories were of holidays to false gods.
  8. The highlights of their lives, like weddings, the birth of children, and other memories, revolved around a way of                                   life that was no longer compatible with Jesus.
  9. The Ephesus believers knew the darkness.
  10. A life of idolatry, adultery, gossip, and slander is what Jesus saved them from.
  11. Salvation is not only future, ensuring eternal life after we die.
  12. Salvation is also present, empowering us to live a resurrected, eternal life today.
  13. Salvation is not a slow transition from darkness into light.
  14. Salvation is a sudden and immediate transportation from a kingdom that has NO light into a kingdom that IS                                    light.
  15. Jesus changes us from people of darkness into people of light.
  16. Even though we practice this imperfectly, this is our calling and privilege.
  17. We are called to walk in light, producing the fruit of light.

2. What does light produce?

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord.

  1. Light produces fruit.
  2. Grant Osborne wrote:

Fruit denotes harvest, so these are the natural results of the work of the Triune Godhead in our lives. Just as light is a necessary ingredient in the growth of plants, so the light of God enables us to grow in these attributes. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives must produce certain fruit, the natural result of life in the Spirit.[1]

  1. What are we to produce?
  2. Goodness
  3. Righteousness
  4. Truth
  5. What is goodness?
  6. We all have different views on goodness.
  7. For example: some of you are still living a life that thinks mustard is tasty and good.
  8. You are deceived and still in darkness…
  9. Biblically speaking, because we are to be measured by the fullness of the stature of Jesus, we need to know what “good” is                      biblically.
  10. A helpful definition: the quality of moral excellence; especially as a quality that is not stagnant, but actively working itself out. [2]
  11. Goodness is something that is growing, fresh and not stale or rotting.
  12. A believer who is producing “goodness” is bringing life to those around them.
  13. Not death, not decay, not cursing.
  14. But life, growth, and blessing.
  15. We were saved from a disposition that leads to death to a disposition that leads to life for ourselves and those around us.
  16. A good life brings wholeness and goodness to those around them.
  17. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is life and freedom.
  18. And He wants to produce that in us and through us also.
  19. What is righteousness?
  20. The simplest answer is “right living.”
  21. Righteousness is to be in right standing with God, which is only possible through Jesus.
  22. “adherence to what is required according to a standard;”[3]
  23. “a status of legal rectitude that satisfies the moral requirements of God’s character.”[4]
  24. In this context: The light of fruit produces a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
  25. When the light works in me, what comes out of me pleases Jesus.
  26. Righteousness conflicts with the world’s understanding of goodness and truth.
  27. The standard of righteousness is based upon pleasing Jesus.
  28. If it doesn’t please Jesus, then it isn’t good, righteous, or true.
  29. What is truth?
  30. “the truth in view here has both content and ethical dimensions to it, forthright and honest behaviour. It is both thinking and acting in accordance with a true and authentic way of living.”[5]
  31. Truth is not only the right information but also the right heart.
  32. This becomes clear in the context of Ephesians
  33. 4:25 (CSB) 25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another.
  34. The right information must be given with goodness and righteousness in mind.
  35. In these ways we test to see what pleases the Lord.
  36. What we do and how we live has an effect upon God.
  37. We can live in a way that pleases God.
  38. Or we can live in a way that repels God.
  39. How we walk and live matters.
  40. Paul captures this reality by admonishing the believers to not participate in darkness.

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made visible, 14 for what makes everything visible is light.

3. What does it mean to participate in fruitless works of darkness?

  1. Acts 19 tells us of the first time Paul was in Ephesus.

Acts 19:11 (CSB)  11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands,

Acts 19:18–20 (CSB)

18 And many who had become believers came confessing and disclosing their practices, 19 while many of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them in front of everyone. So they calculated their value and found it to be fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 In this way the word of the Lord spread and prevailed.

 

  1. One of the keywords here is “disclosing.”
  2. To disclose is to expose and reveal.
  3. Many in the Ephesus church had participated in mystery religions and sects.
  4. Not only did they publicly worship at temples, but behind the scenes, they were involved in all sorts of demonic and evil practices, magic, and witchcraft.
  5. But when they got saved, they started confessing and disclosing.
  6. Confession shows a change of heart and identity.
  7. “Disclosing their practices” was to expose the darkness to light and render the powers powerless.
  8. The new believers in Ephesus understood that they could no longer participate in the darkness they left behind.
  9. The value of the books they burned was 50,000 pieces of silver.
  10. Yet, what they found in Jesus was worth it.
  11. Because of this demonstration, “the word of the Lord spread and prevailed.”
  12. When we expose our darkness to the light, we are demonstrating what it means for the word of the Lord to spread and prevail.
  13. A Bible, unopened, is not spreading and prevailing.
  14. A person who proclaims Christ on Sunday while living in darkness during the week is not demonstrating the prevailing word of the Lord.
  15. But every time a person repents and walks away from participating in darkness, we see an example of the power of God.
  16. What level of involvement is necessary to be classified as participation?
  17. Many of us have moved passed the breaking of the Ten Commandments stage.
  18. Perhaps we have already put away the stealing, or the lying, or the murder.
  19. As God prepares us, His Body and Bride, for what He has in store for us, the questions become more personal.
  20. At the beginning of the semester, Pastor Larissa and I made a bold leadership move:
  21. We challenged the teens that wanted to go deeper to sacrifice a few things, and one of those things was R-rated movies.
  22. There was some hesitation, and rightfully so.
  23. But I believed that if our teens were willing to give this up, it would create space in their lives for God to                            move.
  24. I can honestly say, watching these teens the past few months pray, worship, preach, and serve has been some of the greatest highlights in my life.
  25. Weekly, they set the pace in repenting and confessing sin as the Lord leads.
  26. Question: If the Apostle Paul was here today, what would he say about what many of us adults participate in?
  27. More importantly, what does the Holy Spirit think?
  28. Are we positively testing what is pleasing to the Lord, or are we testing His grace and mercy?
  29. We are grieving the Holy Spirit?
  30. Are we asking the Spirit of God to go where He said He won’t go?

Apply: Are we participating in the fruitless works of darkness?

  1. Here are the hard questions:
  2. Does watching people have sex on television constitute participation?
  3. Does listening to strings of profanity by my favorite YOUTUBER make me their “partner?”
  4. If you could see Jesus walk through your house, and peruse your phone, what would He think and feel?
  5. Because the truth is, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit.
  6. We can grieve Him, and we can please Him.
  7. As partakers in the light, we are called to please Him.
  8. Some exposures you have no control over.
  9. You don’t control your co-workers.
  10. You don’t the songs on the radio in a restaurant or conversations in Wal-Mart.
  11. But much of what we expose ourselves to is self-initiated.
  12. The first glimpse is an accident, the second is a sin.
  13. Paul warned the Ephesians: Do not go where darkness took you!
  14. Do not return to the Temples with its pornography and cult prostitution.
  15. Do not return to the sacrifices for the Emperors of Rome.
  16. My dear friends, PLEASE be careful with how you live, walk, and lead.
  17. Ephesians 5:15 (CSB)

15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—

  1. Perhaps it seems that the Apostle Paul and Pastor Paul are being hard on you today.
  2. So I close with this story.

 

Closing STORY: Seventeen Inches

 

In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-white home plate.

Seriously, I wondered, who in the hell is this guy?

After speaking for twenty-five minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

Then, finally …

“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

“That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

Another long pause.

“Seventeen inches?”came a guess from another reluctant coach.

“That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern began to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

“Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

“You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

“Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

“Any Minor League coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“RIGHT! And in the Major Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?”

“Seventeen inches!”

“SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” he hollered, drawing raucous laughter.

“What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen-inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you have a better chance of hitting it. If you can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.’”

Pause.

“Coaches …”

Pause.

” … what do we do when our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned it toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows. “This is the problem in our homes today. With our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!

Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

“This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

Silence. He replaced the flag with a Cross.

“And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside.

“… dark days ahead.”[6]

 

As the Apostle Paul wrote:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—[7]

 

Thanks be to Jesus whom makes this possible!

Thanks be to Jesus who has redeemed me from darkness.

Thanks be to Jesus who invites us to Himself today.

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press. 168-169

 

[2] Brannan, Rick, ed. 2020. In Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Lexham Research Lexicons. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Brannan, Rick, ed. 2020. In Lexham Research Lexicon of the Greek New Testament. Lexham Research Lexicons. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Ibid

[5] Bock, Darrell L. 2019. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press.

[6] https://www.sperrybaseballlife.com/stay-at-17-inches/

[7] Christian Standard Bible. 2020. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

 

March 5, 2023 “Imitate God, Walk in Love”

Message 17 Whose hand are you holding

 

Imitate God, Walk in Love

Message 17

3.5.23

 

 

Ephesians 5:1–14 (CSB)

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

LIGHT VERSUS DARKNESS

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things. Therefore, do not become their partners. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. 13 Everything exposed by the light is made visible, 14 for what makes everything visible is light. Therefore it is said:

Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.

1. Be imitators of God…

  1. That’s a bold command.
  2. Imitate God.
  3. “In the early church, many new believers needed models to show them how to live a redeemed lifestyle, since up to that time their lives were shaped by a pagan culture.”[1]
  4. Several times, Paul tells a group of believers to imitate God and Godly leaders so they may know how to live.
  5. Paul gives strong instructions because ambiguity is the enemy of holiness.
  6. “Did God really say…” is a powerful question that gets people in trouble.
  7. All the details of Leviticus, and Exodus, and Deuteronomy made clear God’s expectations of Israel and what holiness looked like.
  8. Paul desires the believers in Ephesus to walk closely with God.
  9. However, there are actions and behaviors that God will not tolerate.
  10. If we partner or participate with those actions or behaviors, we cannot walk with God.
  11. C. “Be imitators of God…” is a loving opportunity.
  12. It seems restrictive, and it is.
  13. The Church is the Bride of Christ.
  14. We can only be betrothed to one lover at a time.
  15. To use Paul’s analogy in Ephesians, we can only be the body for one god at a time.
  16. We must choose to either be the hands and feet of Jesus or the hands and feet of Satan.

2. To imitate God is to walk in love.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

  1. The Christian’s walk looks like love.
  2. We imitate God because He loves us, and we love Him.
  3. If “imitation is the highest form of flattery,” then the invitation to imitate God expresses love.
  4. Think about it:
  5. The King of kings and Creator of the universe allows us to imitate and follow Him.
  6. It is an offer to learn in His style and His methods.
  7. Centuries ago, apprentices would follow a master and learn their style.
  8. Even today, students learn in the style of their teacher or hero, mimicking their songs or the vibrato in the voice or the colors in their painting.
  9. Children learn by mimicking the people around them, and the more the child loves the person, the more they mimic.
  10. Ephesians 5 is an offer to be an apprentice, a disciple, to Jesus, learning how He loved and how He gave himself for us.
  11. The apprenticeship in sonship teaches us how to please God.
  12. Notice verse 2 says Jesus “gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”
  13. This refers to the sacrificial aspect of Jesus’ death, where He presented His blood upon Heaven’s altar, described in Hebrews.
  14. We cannot do that, but we can love God and others in a way that is a pleasing offering to God.
  15. The calling we have, to walk worthy of our calling, is to live and model Christ’s love.
  16. A love that forgives.
  17. A love that is faithful.
  18. A love that endures.
  19. Of all the things we are called to, every one of us is called to love as Christ loves us.

3. Sin is the “antithesis” of love.

  1. Oxford dictionary: Antithesis: person or thing that is the direct opposite of someone or something else. Their example:”love is the antithesis of selfishness.”

But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you, as is proper for saints. Obscene and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

  1. Today, I do not intend to take time to define sexual immorality, or greed or what is obscene.
  2. What I want to show you is that these actions and behaviors are the direct opposites of the life and love God has for us.
  3. When I choose these things, I reject Christ’s love.
  4. Those who reject Christ’s love have no inheritance in the kingdom.
  5. Therefore, it is impossible to live a life characterized by sexual immorality, impurity, greed, or obscenity and be a member of the kingdom of Christ.
  6. A key to understanding this hard truth is because of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
  7. Paul wrote: 4: 30 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption.
  8. First thing to notice is that the Spirit is a person, for He can be grieved and disappointed.
  9. Second, grieving is a response of the Holy Spirit living inside of a believer.
  10. Paul is not talking to unbelievers here but to born-again Christians.
  11. Thus, it is possible for believers to live in such a way that our actions grieve the Spirit of the Living God.
  12. God’s love for us is unconditional, but not His approval.
  13. If God approved of everything we thought, acted, or lived, it would not be possible for us to grieve                                          Holy Spirit.
  14. Just because a child of God does something, it          does not mean that the Father approves.
  15. Paul says that if we participate long enough in those things, then we are cut off from our                                               inheritance.
  16. Thankfully, the Spirit lovingly convicts us to correct our path so we may walk “worthy of our                                            calling.”
  17. That is why we are asked to live so we do not grieve Holy Spirit.
  18. Ephesians 5 warns believers about activities and lifestyles where the Holy Spirit does not participate.
  19. We like to quote the promise that Jesus “will never leave us nor forsake us” which is true.
  20. Yet, it is also true that He will not go with us if we go to where He has said not to go.

4. My Jesus wouldn’t do that?

  1. But the Jesus of the Bible will.

Ephesians 5:6 (CSB)

Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.

  1. It appears that even in Paul’s day, some people disagreed with this teaching!
  2. Surely, Jesus is not that strict.
  3. Surely, Jesus would not permit people to be punished.
  4. Surely, Jesus wouldn’t be so mean.
  5. When we read Scripture, we see a Jesus that takes holiness, truth, and standards seriously.
  6. So serious that He is willing to look people in the face and say “no”. You have no inheritance here.
  7. Yes, Jesus is loving.
  8. But love does not negate or cancel out His expectations and standards.
  9. If you want to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus, you can’t hold onto sinful things simultaneously.
  10. The believers in Ephesus faced a drastic change.
  11. To follow Jesus, they had to give up worship at Artemis’ temple.
  12. Yes, it was part of their culture.
  13. Yes, all their family and community worshipped there.
  14. Surely, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
  15. Yet the worship of Artemis or Rome stood in sharp contrast with the way of Jesus.
  16. So they had to choose:
  17. A life like their Gentile neighbors and former way of life, or a new life like Jesus.

Prayer: Becoming comfortable with tears of repentance.

  1. I feel like we are being called to imitate God more closely.
  2. Part of that calling involves repentance.
  3. If we stay full of those things which separate us from God, then we cannot keep walking with God.
  4. But the Good News is that through Jesus, we have everything needed to win.
  5. The Holy Spirit never asks us to do what He won’t help with.
  6. As we put away our old life, and put on the new, the Holy Spirit is there to ensure it goes on right.
  7. When we are tempted, the Spirit gives us a way out if we will take it.
  8. Through Jesus, you can walk a life characterized by God’s love.
  9. You don’t have to live angry.
  10. You don’t have to live cursed.
  11. This morning, I want to make the prayer time pretty broad:
  12. I want to invite all who desire to look less like our old selves and more like Jesus to join me in the front.
  13. If we need to repent, we repent.
  14. Then we rejoice over what Jesus has done.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Mounce, William D. 2006. In Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 352. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

 

February 26, 2023. “Take Off, and Put on”.

 

 

Take Off, and Put On

2.26.2023

Message 16

 

Ephesians 4:17–32 (CSB)

LIVING THE NEW LIFE

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off, your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin., Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

 

1. The Apostle compares the two teachers available to humanity.

  1. The first teacher is sin.
  2. Sin teaches us to be angry.
  3. Sin teaches futile ideas that lead nowhere.
  4. Sin teaches us darkness.
  5. Sin promises much while leading humanity to a life excluded from God.
  6. Sin cannot teach truth.

John 8:44 (CSB)

44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

 

  1. The first teacher is sin, but the best teacher is Jesus.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus…

  1. The call of Christianity is the same that the first disciples heard and accepted:
  2. They were invited to follow Jesus and to learn from Him.
  3. Everywhere Jesus went, they called Him “Rabbi”, or “Teacher”.
  4. The invitation to life with Jesus is the invitation to be taught by Him.
  5. We are all learning.
  6. The Apostle reminds the Ephesian believers that we have a choice to who our teacher is.
  7. We can live like the world and continue learning in the ways of the Gentiles, or we can come to Jesus and be taught by Him in the manner of truth.

2. Take off the former, and put on the new.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off, your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

  1. Paul’s word picture involves sets of clothes.
  2. He pictures our old life as one set of clothes and our new life as another set of clothes.
  3. Paul says what we take off is corrupted, soiled, and stained by deceitful desires.
  4. That old way of life is not suitable for the new calling we have to follow Jesus.
  5. It’s not enough to clean up our old selves, we must put on NEW ONES.
  6. “The change of clothing imagery signifies an exchange of       identities.”[1]
  7. Jesus doesn’t offer Himself as an addition to our identity.
  8. Jesus offers a new identity.
  9. The Greek language Paul used is stronger than our English.
  10. We are not being asked to merely lay aside our old life.
  11. Nor is Paul offering us a chance to put away our old life in a closet for future use.
  12. Instead, Paul says, “get rid of…” the old life that was corrupted.
  13. I’m guessing that we all have clothes or shoes in our closets that do not need to be saved but thrown in the trash.
  14. Our reasons for hanging on to them may be good or practical.
  15. You have work shirts, stained with oil or paint, that you keep around for the next project.
  16. You have old tennis shoes ready for when conditions are messy.
  17. But there comes a time when it is time to throw them away and get something new.
  18. Could it be that many of us in the room are still hanging on to pieces of our old life, just in case we “need” them again?
  19. Have you ever pulled out a carton of milk that was going bad, and put it BACK into the refrigerator?
  20. It doesn’t get fresher.
  21. Why is it we hold on to our old life, just in case it helps us in the future?
  22. It didn’t help us then, it won’t help you in the future.

 

3. Putting off the old, and putting on the new, are INTENTIONAL acts.

  1. Each time Paul says “take off” and “put on” he is referring to our responsibilities.
  2. Throughout Scripture, there is a tension between what God does for us and what we do with God’s help.
  3. In the previous passages, Paul tells what God has accomplished for us:
  4. Seated us with Christ in the heavenly realm.
  5. Given us every spiritual blessing.
  6. We have received an inheritance.
  7. We are indwelt by Holy Spirit.
  8. This is ALL God.
  9. Now it is time for us, with the Spirit’s help, to put off the old ways and clothe ourselves with the new life.
  10. Several times, Paul tells us to put away and to put on.
  11. These are verbs, and commands meant for us to act upon.
  12. We have a responsibility here:
  13. to “put off old self”
  14. to “Put away falsehood”.
  15. to “Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice.
  16. There is also a positive command to “PUT ON the new self, created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”
  17. The work of the Holy Spirit does not leave us naked.
  18. We are to remove the old clothes and the old ways and PUT ON clothes not of our own making.
  19. Spiritual Clothes created according to God’s likeness.
  20. They are in HIS style.
  21. It’s time for us to put away the old life because the new life we haven’t doesn’t fit the old me.

 

4. Why is this all necessary? It’s not what you think.

  1. This is not tied to our salvation.
  2. Paul never says, “do these things to receive or keep your salvation.”
  3. All of these changes are the results of salvation and sanctification.
  4. As you put off the old ways of life and put on the righteousness and truth of Jesus, you cease doing these things.
  5. Your language changes.
  6. Even the world expects Christians to act differently.
  7. When our behavior does not align with Jesus’ teaching, people call us “hypocrites.”
  8. Your inner-thought life feels turmoil as you experience conviction.
  9. What we used to be comfortable allowing into our lives suddenly is uncomfortable.
  10. This inner tension is not guilt or shame, but conviction.
  11. Shame and guilt are not redemptive in nature.
  12. Shame and guilt want us to feel bad, and to never recover.
  13. Conviction is redemptive and shows us where we are wrong and that help is available.
  14. You stop lying, cheating, and stealing.
  15. These changes are necessary as you become more like Jesus.
  16. Because Jesus is not a liar, a cheater, or a thief.
  17. These outward signs show the Spirit’s work in our lives.
  18. But Paul’s context is not “me” focused, but “other” focused.
  19. All of this is so we benefit and bless each other.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin., Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

  1. Catch the significance:
  2. We put away lying and speak the truth because we are a community, members of one another.
  3. I should be angry and not sin by not letting my anger flow into the body.
  4. This is why biblical conflict resolution is vital.
  5. My physical body cannot handle sustained anger, nor can the Body of Christ.
  6. When I choose to control my anger, I’m blessing myself and the Body.

Prayer? For those who struggle with deep-seated anger, can I pray for you right now?

  1. When I work for what I have instead of stealing, not only am I not breaking a commandment, I am putting myself in a position to be a blessing to the rest of the Body.
  2. When I choose to not use profanity, I have more room to speak things that BUILD up others and the Body.
  3. When each of us put off the old ways and put on the new with the Spirit’s help, ALL of the body benefits.
  4. I do not change so that I, alone, am holy, but so we all are Holy.
  5. The goal of Christianity, for too long, has been behavior modification.
  6. We declare, “this is bad, so don’t do it.”
  7. But the Jews had behavioral modification down to an art and religion.
  8. Jesus’ purpose is not merely to alter your behavior but to make you into a new person.

5. This is all possible because of Holy Spirit and Jesus’ Forgiveness.

  1. The Spirit is prominent in this passage.
  2. We are told 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
  3. This really does not seem to teach that our minds have a spirit.
  4. It actually makes better sense to read that the Holy Spirit renews our minds.
  5. There is no way you will naturally put away anger, or lying, or anything of those things because they are part of the default design.
  6. But, when we confess our sins, and repent of our ways asking for God’s help, He gives us the power and the permission to lay aside all that hinders us.
  7. For some, that happens in an instant.
  8. For others, it feels like a much longer battle.
  9. BUT the Spirit does not ask you to do anything that He won’t help you with.
  10. Paul tells us to “not grieve the Holy Spirit.”
  11. First thing to notice is that the Spirit is a person, for He can be grieved and disappointed.
  12. Second, this is a response of the Holy Spirit living inside of a believer.
  13. Paul is not talking to unbelievers here but to born-again Christians.
  14. Thus, it is possible for believers to live in such a way that our actions grieve the Spirit of the Living God.
  15. God’s love for us is unconditional, but not His approval.
  16. If God approved of everything we thought, acted, or lived, it would not be possible for us to grieve                                          Holy Spirit.
  17. Just because a child of God does something, it does not mean that the Father approves.
  18. Thankfully, the Spirit lovingly convicts us to correct our path so we may walk “worthy of our                                            calling.”
  19. That is why we are asked to live so that we do not grieve Holy Spirit.
  20. One of the many ways we grieve Holy Spirit is by allowing unforgiveness to live in us.

32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

  1. Anger and unforgiveness are not appropriate lifestyles for us.
  2. It was permissible for the Gentiles and for the gods of the Gentiles.
  3. It was not permissible for followers of Christ.
  4. Whereas the gods of Greece and Rome encouraged revenge, hatred, anger, and unforgiveness, the true God forgave us in Christ.
  5. Therefore, we should live a life that does not permit unforgiveness to live in our body or the Body of Jesus.

Prayer:

  1. Each week, we have a call to prayer.
  2. It’s always appropriate to pray for salvation.
  3. It’s always appropriate to pray for healing, deliverance, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
  4. I cannot shake the significance of praying for those of us who are angry or harboring unforgiveness.

Prayer?

Worship Time?

 

 

[1] Lincoln, Andrew T. 1990. Ephesians. Vol. 42. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

 

February 26, 2022 “Take Off, and Put on”

Message 16 Take Off and Put on

 

Take Off, and Put On

2.26.2023

Message 16

 

Ephesians 4:17–32 (CSB)

LIVING THE NEW LIFE

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off, your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin., Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

 

1. The Apostle compares the two teachers available to humanity.

  1. The first teacher is sin.
  2. Sin teaches us to be angry.
  3. Sin teaches futile ideas that lead nowhere.
  4. Sin teaches us darkness.
  5. Sin promises much while leading humanity to a life excluded from God.
  6. Sin cannot teach truth.

John 8:44 (CSB)

44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.

 

  1. The first teacher is sin, but the best teacher is Jesus.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus…

  1. The call of Christianity is the same that the first disciples heard and accepted:
  2. They were invited to follow Jesus and to learn from Him.
  3. Everywhere Jesus went, they called Him “Rabbi”, or “Teacher”.
  4. The invitation to life with Jesus is the invitation to be taught by Him.
  5. We are all learning.
  6. The Apostle reminds the Ephesian believers that we have a choice to who our teacher is.
  7. We can live like the world and continue learning in the ways of the Gentiles, or we can come to Jesus and be taught by Him in the manner of truth.

2. Take off the former, and put on the new.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off, your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

  1. Paul’s word picture involves sets of clothes.
  2. He pictures our old life as one set of clothes and our new life as another set of clothes.
  3. Paul says what we take off is corrupted, soiled, and stained by deceitful desires.
  4. That old way of life is not suitable for the new calling we have to follow Jesus.
  5. It’s not enough to clean up our old selves, we must put on NEW ONES.
  6. “The change of clothing imagery signifies an exchange of       identities.”[1]
  7. Jesus doesn’t offer Himself as an addition to our identity.
  8. Jesus offers a new identity.
  9. The Greek language Paul used is stronger than our English.
  10. We are not being asked to merely lay aside our old life.
  11. Nor is Paul offering us a chance to put away our old life in a closet for future use.
  12. Instead, Paul says, “get rid of…” the old life that was corrupted.
  13. I’m guessing that we all have clothes or shoes in our closets that do not need to be saved but thrown in the trash.
  14. Our reasons for hanging on to them may be good or practical.
  15. You have work shirts, stained with oil or paint, that you keep around for the next project.
  16. You have old tennis shoes ready for when conditions are messy.
  17. But there comes a time when it is time to throw them away and get something new.
  18. Could it be that many of us in the room are still hanging on to pieces of our old life, just in case we “need” them again?
  19. Have you ever pulled out a carton of milk that was going bad, and put it BACK into the refrigerator?
  20. It doesn’t get fresher.
  21. Why is it we hold on to our old life, just in case it helps us in the future?
  22. It didn’t help us then, it won’t help you in the future.

 

3. Putting off the old, and putting on the new, are INTENTIONAL acts.

  1. Each time Paul says “take off” and “put on” he is referring to our responsibilities.
  2. Throughout Scripture, there is a tension between what God does for us and what we do with God’s help.
  3. In the previous passages, Paul tells what God has accomplished for us:
  4. Seated us with Christ in the heavenly realm.
  5. Given us every spiritual blessing.
  6. We have received an inheritance.
  7. We are indwelt by Holy Spirit.
  8. This is ALL God.
  9. Now it is time for us, with the Spirit’s help, to put off the old ways and clothe ourselves with the new life.
  10. Several times, Paul tells us to put away and to put on.
  11. These are verbs, and commands meant for us to act upon.
  12. We have a responsibility here:
  13. to “put off old self”
  14. to “Put away falsehood”.
  15. to “Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice.
  16. There is also a positive command to “PUT ON the new self, created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.”
  17. The work of the Holy Spirit does not leave us naked.
  18. We are to remove the old clothes and the old ways and PUT ON clothes not of our own making.
  19. Spiritual Clothes created according to God’s likeness.
  20. They are in HIS style.
  21. It’s time for us to put away the old life because the new life we haven’t doesn’t fit the old me.

 

4. Why is this all necessary? It’s not what you think.

  1. This is not tied to our salvation.
  2. Paul never says, “do these things to receive or keep your salvation.”
  3. All of these changes are the results of salvation and sanctification.
  4. As you put off the old ways of life and put on the righteousness and truth of Jesus, you cease doing these things.
  5. Your language changes.
  6. Even the world expects Christians to act differently.
  7. When our behavior does not align with Jesus’ teaching, people call us “hypocrites.”
  8. Your inner-thought life feels turmoil as you experience conviction.
  9. What we used to be comfortable allowing into our lives suddenly is uncomfortable.
  10. This inner tension is not guilt or shame, but conviction.
  11. Shame and guilt are not redemptive in nature.
  12. Shame and guilt want us to feel bad, and to never recover.
  13. Conviction is redemptive and shows us where we are wrong and that help is available.
  14. You stop lying, cheating, and stealing.
  15. These changes are necessary as you become more like Jesus.
  16. Because Jesus is not a liar, a cheater, or a thief.
  17. These outward signs show the Spirit’s work in our lives.
  18. But Paul’s context is not “me” focused, but “other” focused.
  19. All of this is so we benefit and bless each other.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin., Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

  1. Catch the significance:
  2. We put away lying and speak the truth because we are a community, members of one another.
  3. I should be angry and not sin by not letting my anger flow into the body.
  4. This is why biblical conflict resolution is vital.
  5. My physical body cannot handle sustained anger, nor can the Body of Christ.
  6. When I choose to control my anger, I’m blessing myself and the Body.

Prayer? For those who struggle with deep-seated anger, can I pray for you right now?

  1. When I work for what I have instead of stealing, not only am I not breaking a commandment, I am putting myself in a position to be a blessing to the rest of the Body.
  2. When I choose to not use profanity, I have more room to speak things that BUILD up others and the Body.
  3. When each of us put off the old ways and put on the new with the Spirit’s help, ALL of the body benefits.
  4. I do not change so that I, alone, am holy, but so we all are Holy.
  5. The goal of Christianity, for too long, has been behavior modification.
  6. We declare, “this is bad, so don’t do it.”
  7. But the Jews had behavioral modification down to an art and religion.
  8. Jesus’ purpose is not merely to alter your behavior but to make you into a new person.

5. This is all possible because of Holy Spirit and Jesus’ Forgiveness.

  1. The Spirit is prominent in this passage.
  2. We are told 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,
  3. This really does not seem to teach that our minds have a spirit.
  4. It actually makes better sense to read that the Holy Spirit renews our minds.
  5. There is no way you will naturally put away anger, or lying, or anything of those things because they are part of the default design.
  6. But, when we confess our sins, and repent of our ways asking for God’s help, He gives us the power and the permission to lay aside all that hinders us.
  7. For some, that happens in an instant.
  8. For others, it feels like a much longer battle.
  9. BUT the Spirit does not ask you to do anything that He won’t help you with.
  10. Paul tells us to “not grieve the Holy Spirit.”
  11. First thing to notice is that the Spirit is a person, for He can be grieved and disappointed.
  12. Second, this is a response of the Holy Spirit living inside of a believer.
  13. Paul is not talking to unbelievers here but to born-again Christians.
  14. Thus, it is possible for believers to live in such a way that our actions grieve the Spirit of the Living God.
  15. God’s love for us is unconditional, but not His approval.
  16. If God approved of everything we thought, acted, or lived, it would not be possible for us to grieve                                          Holy Spirit.
  17. Just because a child of God does something, it does not mean that the Father approves.
  18. Thankfully, the Spirit lovingly convicts us to correct our path so we may walk “worthy of our                                            calling.”
  19. That is why we are asked to live so that we do not grieve Holy Spirit.
  20. One of the many ways we grieve Holy Spirit is by allowing unforgiveness to live in us.

32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

  1. Anger and unforgiveness are not appropriate lifestyles for us.
  2. It was permissible for the Gentiles and for the gods of the Gentiles.
  3. It was not permissible for followers of Christ.
  4. Whereas the gods of Greece and Rome encouraged revenge, hatred, anger, and unforgiveness, the true God forgave us in Christ.
  5. Therefore, we should live a life that does not permit unforgiveness to live in our body or the Body of Jesus.

Prayer:

  1. Each week, we have a call to prayer.
  2. It’s always appropriate to pray for salvation.
  3. It’s always appropriate to pray for healing, deliverance, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
  4. I cannot shake the significance of praying for those of us who are angry or harboring unforgiveness.

Prayer?

Worship Time?

 

 

[1] Lincoln, Andrew T. 1990. Ephesians. Vol. 42. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

 

February 19, 2023 How “Not” to Walk

For a PDF copy of Pastor Richardson’s notes, click the link below!

Message 15 How Not to walk

 

 

How “NOT” to Walk

Message 15

2/19/23

 

Ephesians 4:17–32 (CSB)

LIVING THE NEW LIFE

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off, your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on, the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin., Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

 

 

Intro. Can we take a moment and process what we’ve just read and heard?

  1. The more I read this passage, the more it challenges me.
  2. The conjunction “therefore” in verse 17 anchors everything that Jesus has done for us and connects that work to us.
  3. If a person was to read the first 3 and a half chapters of Ephesians only, we could feasibly believe that the individual believer has no part to play in God’s plan of salvation.
  4. However, Paul’s “therefore” shifts toward us.
  5. Because of what Jesus has done, because of who God is, and because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we must “walk worthy of this calling” and not walk as the Gentiles do.
  6. Paul is very clear:
  7. 2. It is possible to walk rightly BECAUSE of what Jesus has done for us.
  8. Paul declares it is possible to live a life that is not characterized by:
  9. Anger
  10. Slander and profanity.
  11. Promiscuity
  12. Sin and stupidity.
  13. Paul does not give us any legitimate excuses for walking in disobedience.
  14. For the many of you who learned to march in the military, I doubt your drill instructors accepted any excuses for your marching out of step.
  15. I love observing elementary school hallways because it’s like the evolution of dance happening as kids find a million ways to walk without walking right.
  16. One of my favorite things on Sunday morning is when the toddlers go past the back doors to their toddler church.
  17. They NEVER walk like an adult; they walk like a kid.
  18. Every teacher tells the kids, “walk right.”
  19. The Apostle Paul, serving as an Apostle for Ephesus, is fulfilling a mix between a drill instructor and an elementary teacher.
  20. And his message here is “walk right,” “take off your old life,” and “put on what is new.”
  21. This series of messages seems appropriate for the season we are in:
  22. Many of you are following the revival happening at Asbury.
  23. How did it start: a student confessing his sin and repenting.
  24. Repentance never asks for permission to sin again.
  25. These next couple of weeks will shine the spotlight of Scripture into the darkest areas of our lives.
  26. “I want you all to know I love you. And the way I can love you the best is by being truthful and clear. Even we disagree, know that I’m speaking out of my love for Jesus, Scripture, and you. I hope you still love me when this series is over.”

1. Paul opens this passage by contrasting the “walk worthy of your calling” with how to NOT walk in Christ.

  1. Do not walk like the Gentiles.
  2. But they were all born gentiles, just like Paul was born a Jew.
  3. What Paul has in mind is not ethnicity.
  4. Paul declares that their present lifestyle must look different than their past lifestyle.
  5. How they walk is not based on where they came from but who they are now in Christ Jesus.

Eugene Peterson, in his book Practicing Resurrection, explains it like this:

  1. He said that the Greeks and Gentiles understood morals, but morality had nothing to do with religion and was not for normal people.
  2. But the men and women in the street, mostly unschooled, along with a considerable slave population, wouldn’t have been much affected by the philosophers. In the imagination of the common people, Zeus and Hera presided over a pantheon of sexually profligate and murderously rapacious deities. The stories the Gentiles told about their gods and goddesses sometimes showed remarkable psychological insights and were endlessly entertaining, but they were also devoid of righteous moral content. Artemis, the reigning goddess of the city of Ephesus, was a fertility figure on public pornographic display, an idol carved with a thousand breasts. So that is the world that seems most likely to be behind the term “Gentile” here – not so much an ethnic designation in contrast to Jew but a reference to this culture that was rich in religious imagination and so impoverished morally.[i]

 

  1. Paul had to shift the Ephesian understanding away from the gods of their past to the God of their present and future.
  2. The God that saved the Ephesian believers was not like Zeus or Artemis.
  3. They were not sleeping around.
  4. They were not torturing each other.
  5. God was nothing like what they had spent a lifetime of worshipping.
  6. Growing up in Christ requires laying aside what you used to know, believe, and practice and embracing the newness of Christ.
  7. If we don’t lay that aside, we end up with dangerous a dangerous form of syncretism.
  8. Syncretism is the mixing of various beliefs and gods into a new whole.
  9. Paul wasn’t inviting the people in Ephesus to add Jesus to their gods but to proclaim Jesus as the ONLY God and the ONLY source of salvation.
  10. Paul declared the necessity of laying aside what used to be and embracing a new life.
  11. If we, as American Christians, are not careful, we merely add Jesus to our old ways instead of living a new life in Christ.
  12. If we are to accept this passage of Scripture, we have to admit a few things:
  13. First, there is truth.
  14. And not “your truth” versus “my truth.”
  15. But absolute truth.
  16. Second, there is a way Jesus expects us to walk.
  17. Third, standards are not the same as works.
  18. We are all Protestants in this room, believing we are saved by grace and not works.
  19. But we mistakenly throw out the idea that faith and belief are followed by action and work.
  20. Paul invests the first 3 chapters describing all the great things God has provided that we did NOTHING for.
  21. Seated in the complete work of Jesus.
  22. THEN, Paul describes how we are to “walk.”
  23. And these next several paragraphs are full of verbs and commands and actions meant for us.

2. This effort is necessary because our “default” condition is broken.

  1. Look how Paul describes our former way of life:

You should no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.

  1. First, our way of thinking was messed up: Futile and dark.
  2. Second, our default condition is excluded from the life of God.
  3. Three, The old life is ignorant.
  4. Four, our hearts were hard.
  5. This is followed by callousness and the practice of every kind of impurity.
  6. Vs. 19. The word used for “callous” is rare and means “the ultimate in moral depravity, a lack of shame or guilt for any sin or vice.”[1]
  7. when there is no shame or guilt, there is no repentance.
  8. We do not repent of what we are proud of.
  9. Would it be safe to say that the world, apart from Jesus, lives and thinks in a way that is: futile, dark, excluded from real life, ignorant, and without shame?
  10. Paul’s definition of life apart from Jesus is just as accurate today as it was then.
  11. Often, we are shocked at how many people think and act the way they do.
  12. But I point you to the futility of their thinking.
  13. With Jesus, we think differently, see the world differently, and interact differently.

Next week, we will dig in further as Paul tells us to “put away” and take off our old ways of living and put on a new self.

3. What must we do to start walking differently?

  1. First, Repent of past ways and flare-ups.
  2. Let me repeat this:
  3. We do not repent of what we are proud of.
  4. The other day, one of our kids in children’s church used a bad word.
  5. He was pretty proud of it, but he didn’t know it was a bad word.
  6. Part of the parenting and leadership process is to inform the kid “that’s a bad word.”
  7. One of the teenagers dropped this wisdom:
  8. Under-exposure is just as bad as over-exposure.
  9. Could it be that we have God-loving people living in sin because no one has ever clearly taught them the Scriptures?
  10. But if he or she keeps saying it, then it goes from an accident to a willful sin.
  11. I believe the Lord has been dealing with many people in this room over the last few months.
  12. God is showing you that what was permissible as a new believer is not permissible now.
  13. God does not reveal our sin because He hates us, but because He loves us.
  14. As God shows us areas needing repentance, would you repent and then ask for His help to stop?
  15. B. Second, renew your mind daily.
  16. Most of us remember all our mistakes, and very few of our victories.
  17. “Our memories are only as good as our last mistake.”
  18. In 2018, the special assistant to the Air Force Surgeon General did research that says it takes 5                    positive comments to offset every one criticism.[2]
  19. Some of you Army and Marine guys think you didn’t hear 5 positive comments the whole time you were in the military.
  20. But it seems right: It only takes 1 negative to deflate a lot of good.
  21. This is where Satan wants you to live.
  22. Too many of us think about God for an hour on Sunday and believe it will offset the other 167 hours during the week.
  23. Did you notice that what Paul confronted about the Gentile way of life was mostly areas of thinking?
  24. First, our way of thinking was messed up: Futile and dark.
  25. Second, our default condition is excluded from the life of God.
  26. Three, The old life is ignorant.
  27. Four, our hearts were hard.
  28. Paul told the Romans, “be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
  29. Daily, I need to think about what Jesus has done and what He is calling me to.
  30. I’m not talking about placebos, or karma, or daily affirmations.
  31. I am talking about reminding myself that Jesus loves, me, I am forgiven, and I am empowered with the Holy Spirit.
  32. I don’t have to sin today; that power was broken years ago.
  33. Measure our life by the right standards.
  34. Did you ever correct one of your kids, and they tell you, “but so-so’s mom lets them do it?”
  35. As believers, the world is not your standard; Jesus is.
  36. Vs. 24 “We are to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
  37. In the beginning, we were created in the “image of God.”
  38. Sin marred the image and fastens us into the image of sin and the curse.
  39. But through Jesus, we are to put on a new life that looks like God’s righteousness, purity, and truth.

Closing/Prayer

Dedication, confession, repentance

[1] Bratcher, Robert G., and Eugene Albert Nida. 1993. A Handbook on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

[2] https://www.airforcemedicine.af.mil/News/Display/Article/1499653/51-feedback-improves-medical-care/#:~:text=The%205%3A1%20feedback%20ratio%20is%20an%20important%20Trusted%20Care,for%20every%20one%20criticism%20given.

[i] Eugene H. Peterson. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Kindle Locations 2190-2194). Kindle Edition.

 

February 12, 2023 Victorious Christ, His Gifts, and a Victorious Church Part 2

Click this link for a PDF copy of Pastor Paul’s notes or scroll below!

Message 14 The Victorious Jesus and His Gifts for a Victorious Church Part 2

 

The Victorious Jesus and His Gifts for a Victorious Church Part 2

2/12/22

Message 14

Ephesians 4:7–16 (CSB)

Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. For it says:

When he ascended on high,

he took the captives captive;

he gave gifts to people.,

But what does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth?, 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things. 11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. 16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Introduction. The Victorious Jesus gives gifts to His people.

  1. At Jesus’ ascension, Jesus sits on the throne of Heaven at the right hand of the Father.
  2. In celebration or commemoration, Jesus gives gifts.
  3. The gifts Paul mention are different than what I would expect.
  4. What Paul mentions are five gifts to the Church to ensure the Church will not falter or fail in her ministry
  5. These are not the only gifts Jesus gives.
  6. Paul mentions gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12.
  7. But Paul thought these were the gifts the believers in Ephesus needed to know about.
  8. Paul, however, does not describe them in detail.
  9. He assumes the congregation will be familiar with them because they have seen them in action.
  10. The best way to understand the gifts of Ephesians 4 are to see them for yourself.

1. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Oh, MY.

  1. The order of these gifts is not necessarily in the order of importance, but they do seem to be in the order of scarcity.
  2. There are many more teachers than there are people serving as pastors.
  3. There are more pastors than those serving as evangelists.
  4. There are fewer true prophets than evangelists.
  5. And fewer still true apostles.
  6. Just because a gifting is rare, or abused, does not mean that we may conclude they do not exist.
  7. Apostles: The word “apostle” means one sent as a messenger.
  8. The role of apostle is unique in the New Testament.
  9. The first apostles saw and knew Jesus personally.
  10. They also had an important function of starting new works in dark places.
  11. Wherever the Apostle Paul went, he planted churches leading people to Jesus, casting out demons, and healing the sick.
  12. Apostles also suffered greatly for their work.
  13. Paul, in the letter of 2 Corinthians, defends his Apostleship by appealing to both his success and his suffering.
  14. Apostles went to the hardest and darkest places, telling them about Jesus.
  15. But are apostles still for today?
  16. I’m going to disagree with most of my commentaries and bible studies by saying that I do believe there are modern-      day    apostles.
  17. Modern day apostles look different than what we see in the NT but the function is still there, and I don’t believe God has rescinded this gift to the church.
  18. I do not see evidence that there are a lot of apostles today, because there were not many in Paul’s day either.
  19. But isn’t God still calling people to go into the darkest, hardest places and make Jesus known with signs and wonders following?
  20. Beware of people who demand to be called “apostle.”
  21. A general rule of thumb: Beware of people who demand to be called by titles.
  22. Let their calling be confirmed by the saints and by the presence of God upon their lives.
  23. Watch them and weigh their work.
  24. And if someone insists on being called “apostle” or “prophet,” be careful.
  25. And read 2 Corinthians.
  26. Prophets: Revealers and Keepers of Covenant.
  27. The role of the prophet in the OT was to declare God’s word to the people and to enact the covenant.
  28. When Israel acted sinfully, a prophet would call out their sin, give them a chance for repentance, and then tell of the upcoming consequences.
  29. Prophets were messengers of God’s will to the nations and leaders.
  30. In the New Testament, the role of the prophet is a little different.
  31. Prophets “stand out clearly from the New Testament as people of inspired utterance, whose ministry of the word was of the utmost importance for the young church. On occasion they might foretell the future, as in Acts 11:28 and 21:9, 11, but like the Old Testament prophets their great work was to ‘forth-tell’ the word of God. This might be in bringing to light with convicting power people’s sins (1 Cor. 14:24–25), or in bringing new strength to the church by the word of exhortation.[1]
  32. New Testament prophets primarily function to reveal God, His Word, and His will to the people.
  33. A prophet might confront a spiritual leader over secret sin.
  34. A prophet could confirm God’s will for your life.
  35. A prophet may also help interpret a situation by revealing the spiritual environment.
  36. There is a lot of crazy stuff happening that people label “prophetic.”
  37. But don’t dismiss this gift to the Church just because some people are weird or wrong.
  38. God does still call people to the ministry of revealing.
  39. Evangelist: Ministers to the lost, outside the church.
  40. The real heart of an evangelist is to minister to people who are apart from Jesus and the Church.
  41. It is not someone who travels from church to church.
  42. That’s an important ministry, but the gifting of evangelist is to tell others about Jesus.
  43. Someone like a Billy Graham, Luis Palau, or Reinhard Bonnke were great evangelists who spoke to millions and                                 saw them come to Jesus.
  44. Their pulpits were rarely ever in a comfortable church.
  45. Instead, they preached in coliseums, stadiums, large tents or open fields.
  46. The greatest evangelist America never talked about was Reinhard Bonnke. His last crusade in                                            Africa in 2017 saw 1.7 million people attend in 5                                              days.[2] PICTURE
  47. Evangelists are gifted at introducing those outside the body of Christ to Christ and then connecting them to a local church.
  48. Pastors and teachers are ministers inside the church.
  49. If you think in terms of Emergency Medical Services, Evangelists are the paramedics and EMTs that stabilize and                     transport, doing what needs to be done where the people                              are.
  50. Pastors are the personnel in the hospital.
  51. BOTH roles are necessary.
  52. BOTH roles overlap.
  53. The arena evangelists work in looks different than the pastor.
  54. Some in this room are evangelists.
  55. I know this, because you always have new people with you.
  56. You are constantly having conversations with lost people, sharing love and hope, answering questions and                                    inviting to journey with you.
  57. Healthy churches HAVE TO HAVE evangelists.

 

  1. Pastor/Teacher: If you have ever been in a church, you have witnessed the gifts of pastors and teachers.
  2. I believe these gifts are distinct.
  3. Yes, pastors do teach, and teachers do shepherd/pastor people.
  4. But just because someone teaches, it does not mean they have the heart of a pastor.
  5. A big difference between pastoring and teaching is the weight burden/anointing. Let me describe this a bit:
  6. 3:40 am Monday morning found me awake. Upon my heart was the same thing that was on my heart when I went to sleep: YOU!
  7. By name.
  8. On Purpose.
  9. What keeps me up at night, what keeps me going and striving, are not buildings or projects or missions.
  10. For all my education and my love for teaching, I am not captivated by subjects, ideas, theory, or information.
  11. The Lord has given me a heart for you.
  12. When I go on vacation, I take you with me.
  13. The moment my car turns back towards Licking, I feel the weight of this community and her lostness and potential.
  14. The Lord reminded me early Monday morning that these feelings are not problems to overcome but a sign of the gifting as a pastor, and that is what it means to be a gift to         the Church.
  15. Julie shares calling and weight with me.
  16. The majority of our conversations in our home are not about our own families but yours.
  17. What saddens Julie and I most about this season we are in is that we look over this congregation and we DON’T know everyone here.
  18.                           Our Sunday afternoon conversation involves her                                        and I going over who wasn’t at church and                                                     wondering if they are ok.
  19. “What does the exalted Christ give to the Church? He gives people, these particular people who proclaim the word and lead.”[3]
  20. Of all the distinctions between these gifts, they all are involved with proclaiming the word and leading.
  21. According to Ephesians 4, they all assist in fulfilling God’s plan and purpose.
  22. 3. It seems from Scripture that the Church needs all the gifts in the right proportions.

 

2. What kind of gifts are these?

Ephesians 4:11–16 (CSB)

11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. 16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.

 

  1. A. Gifts of edification.
  2. I almost didn’t use that word because we don’t use it much.
  3. But it’s an appropriate word, so let me define it.
  4. To edify is “To instruct or improve someone.”
  5. These gifts are to equip the saints for ministry.
  6. Even though these gifts interact with the world and the lost, they are gifts to the church “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”
  7. Jesus gave the command: Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. Matt 28:18-10
  8. Jesus told His followers to lay hands upon the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.
  9. Jesus gave the saints the gifts of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers to equip the Church to do what He has asked.
  10. The ministry isn’t for a select few but for all the saints.
  11. Gifts of Growth.

Ephesians 4:13 (ESV)

13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,

  1. Christ gives these “gifts” to build up the body, “growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.”
  2. The ESV says “to mature manhood.”
  3. This is in contrast to verse 14, “no longer be children.”
  4. You do not begin this Christian life as a fully mature believer.
  5. Maturity takes time and intentionality.
  6. As we intentionally sit under the ministry of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, we embrace a process that results in Christian maturity.
  7. We ALL need help in our maturity.
  8. Because the goal is not to be bigger or better than each other but to measure up to Christ’s fullness.
  9. That’s why we need people gifted in drawing our eyes to Jesus.
  10. Our standard is Jesus, no one else.
  11. C. Gifts of protection. Vs. 14
  12. When the gifts are in proper order, they will protect believers from false doctrine and deceit.
  13. Just as children are prone to believe in fairytales, monsters under their beds, and other wrong ideas, maturing believers                       need others to guide them through the confusion caused by                          “every wind of teaching.”
  14. Just because something is convincing, it doesn’t mean it is true.
  15. True Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers bring clarity, not confusion.
  16. Gifts of Unity.
  17. Paul uses a verb here: “reach unity in the faith.”
  18. The Greek is a word used to describe arriving at a destination.
  19. Unity in the faith and knowledge of God’s Son is the destination.
  20. Unity is not peace at any cost: unity is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to bring disparate pieces into a beautiful whole.
  21. The Holy Spirit is making us into the Bride of Christ, not the Bride of Frankenstein.
  22. This is where many of us fail.
  23. Unity is a supernatural work, not a natural one.
  24. The first thing out of Adam’s mouth after giving in to sin was division: It was THIS woman YOU GAVE ME.
  25. If left to ourselves, we trend toward chaos and disfunction and not unity.
  26. But with the Gifts that Jesus has given and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, unity is possible.

Closing: Growing into the Likeness of Christ.

  1. Growing up involves the work of the Holy Spirit forming our born- again spirits into the likeness of Christ.[4]
  2. This morning, I want to lead this congregation in a time of prayer.
  3. It’s always appropriate to pray for healing, for your family, for provision and all those things.
  4. Today, I want to lead us in a time of prayer that declares, “I want to be like Jesus!”
  5. Many of us in this room are ready to draw closer to Jesus.
  6. We are ready to be free from the sin that so easily entangles and want to walk in the Freedom of the Spirit.
  7. We want our lives to reflect Jesus!
  8. The Good News is that Jesus has already done the impossible part.
  9. He has already provided forgiveness.
  10. He has already conquered the very powers that hold you captive.
  11. He has already sent His Spirit to dwell in you.
  12. Our part is to place our will and desires under the headship of Jesus.

Today, we pray: Jesus, I want to be like you!

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Foulkes, Francis. 1989. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] https://renewaljournal.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/reinhard-bonnkes-final-crusade-in-africa/

[3] Lincoln, Andrew T. 1990. Ephesians. Vol. 42. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[4] Eugene H. Peterson. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Kindle Location 65). Kindle Edition.

 

February 5, 2023 The Victorious Jesus and His Gifts for a Victorious Church Part 1

Click here for a PDF of Pastor Paul Richardson’s notes or follow below:

Message 13 The Victorious Jesus and His Gifts for a Victorious Church

The Victorious Jesus and His Gifts for a Victorious Church Part 1

Message 13

2.5.23

 

Introduction: Today’s passage is familiar to many of us.

  1. But I want to approach this passage over two weeks.
  2. Too often, we jump into the details of who these “gifts” or “offices” are.
  3. We want to debate about Apostles and prophets or the differences between a pastor and a teacher.
  4. We will do some of that next week.
  5. Paul’s attention here is clearly upon Jesus.
  6. When we put our eyes on the gifts instead of the gift giver, we become out of balance.
  7. A believer who is walking worthy of their calling stays focused upon Jesus.
  8. It’s not about the minister.
  9. It’s not about the person on the platform or on the screen.
  10. It’s all about Jesus.
  11. It is Jesus who has given gifts to His people.

Ephesians 4:7–16 (CSB)

Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. For it says:

When he ascended on high,

he took the captives captive;

he gave gifts to people.,

But what does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth?, 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things. 11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. 16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part.

1. Christ’s Victory brought us gifts.

  1. The Apostle draws the reader’s attention to what Jesus has done.
  2. Now Grace was given…
  3. Grace is a great word.
  4. Greek, it is Charis.
  5. It’s where we get our word “charismatic.”
  6. In its simplest form, Grace means a gift.
  7. Unmerited, undeserved favor.
  8. For us, Grace is not a salary or wage that we earn, but a gift that we must receive.
  9. With this definition in mind, notice again what Paul is saying:

Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

  1. The word translated as “gift” is a different word than Charis.
  2. But we could read this as “Now gifts were given to each according to the measure of Christ’s gifts.”
  3. That may feel confusing.
  4. But if I gave you a birthday present, what did you receive? A gift.

C “You got me a present!” “Thank you for the wonderful gift.”

  1. Before Paul describes what Jesus gives us, He tells us the measure or the size:
  2. According to the measure of Christ’s gift.
  3. This is a recurring theme in Ephesians:
  4. Not “from” but “according.”
  5. A hundred dollars from a millionaire is not according to their wealth but from their wealth.
  6. Jesus gives accordingly, which is with great abundance and grace.

2. Why is Jesus giving gifts?

  1. Conquering heroes and new kings often gave gifts to their subjects.
  2. The Roman emperors were great at this.
  3. After victories, they would throw feasts and give gifts to the people.
  4. The leader’s victory was shared with the subjects.
  5. Let’s be honest, American politicians do the same: reward those who got them elected lol.
  6. Paul has something similar in view here.
  7. Jesus, who had defeated death and ascended to the “throne,” celebrates by giving gifts to His people.
  8. This allows Jesus’ followers to participate in Jesus’ victory.
  9. But Paul also has a broader picture in mind.
  10. In our Bibles, verse 8 is in different formatting and may be in bold.
  11. This tells you this is a quotation from the Old Testament.
  12. When we read this, we should read the whole context.
  13. Most of your Bibles will include a little lettered footnote and a reference to Psalm 68.

 

Psalm 68:1–20 (CSB)

God arises. His enemies scatter,

and those who hate him flee from his presence.

As smoke is blown away,

so you blow them away.

As wax melts before the fire,

so the wicked are destroyed before God.

But the righteous are glad;

they rejoice before God and celebrate with joy.

Sing to God! Sing praises to his name.

Exalt him who rides on the clouds—

his name is the Lord—and celebrate before him.

God in his holy dwelling is

a father of the fatherless

and a champion of widows.

God provides homes for those who are deserted.

He leads out the prisoners to prosperity,

but the rebellious live in a scorched land.

God, when you went out before your people,

when you marched through the desert,

Selah

the earth trembled and the skies poured rain

before God, the God of Sinai,

before God, the God of Israel.

You, God, showered abundant rain;

you revived your inheritance when it languished.

10 Your people settled in it;

God, you provided for the poor by your goodness.

11 The Lord gave the command;

a great company of women brought the good news:

12 “The kings of the armies flee—they flee!”

She who stays at home divides the spoil.

13 While you lie among the sheep pens,

the wings of a dove are covered with silver,

and its feathers with glistening gold.

14 When the Almighty scattered kings in the land,

it snowed on Zalmon.,

15 Mount Bashan is God’s towering mountain;

Mount Bashan is a mountain of many peaks.

16 Why gaze with envy, you mountain peaks,

at the mountain God desired for his abode?

The Lord will dwell there forever!

17 God’s chariots are tens of thousands,

thousands and thousands;

the Lord is among them in the sanctuary

as he was at Sinai.

18 You ascended to the heights, taking away captives;

you received gifts from people,

even from the rebellious,

so that the Lord God might dwell there.,

19 Blessed be the Lord!

Day after day he bears our burdens;

God is our salvation.

Selah

20 Our God is a God of salvation,

and escape from death belongs to the Lord my Lord.

  1. The context of Psalm 68 celebrates Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai.
  2. God is depicted as leading his people out of slavery and bondage.
  3. Psalm 68 pictures Yahweh as a Divine Warrior descending from Mount Sinai, striding across the earth winning victory after victory for his people, and then ascending Mount Zion surrounded by an entourage of the heavenly host in order to establish his throne room (temple) there. It is the prayer of the psalm that this power of God be exercised once again to deliver his people.[1]
  4. In Psalm 68, God gave victory to Israel over the enemy.
  5. Paul now applies that the the believers in Ephesus.
  6. Now, it is Christ who conquered over the cosmic and spiritual powers, making an example of them.

Ephesians 1:20–22 (CSB)

20 He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21 far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given,, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he subjected everything under his feet, and appointed him as head over everything for the church,

  1. If you lived in a pagan city, with altars and shrines on every corner, wouldn’t you want to know that Jesus had defeated them too?

3. Paul reinterprets Psalm 68 with Jesus as the main figure.

For it says:

When he ascended on high,

he took the captives captive;

he gave gifts to people.,

But what does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth?, 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things.

  1. First, notice Paul adjusts the Psalm:
  2. In Psalm 68, the people gave gifts to God.
  3. Now, Jesus gives gifts to His people.
  4. Paul rereads Psalm 68 with Jesus at the center.
  5. Jesus descended to the Earth, born in human flesh.
  6. He descended to the Earth in the incarnation.
  7. And at His Ascension, when He returned to Heaven, He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father.

Matthew 26:64 (NLT)

64 Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

  1. In the process of descending and ascending is that Jesus’ resurrection and ascension is proof of Jesus’ power                                              over death, hell, and the grave.
  2. We make much of Jesus’ crucifixion and His resurrection, but the ascension is equally as important.
  3. Countless numbers of people have been crucified.
  4. Many have come back to life after being pronounced dead.
  5. But only Jesus has been crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven!
  6. At His ascension, Jesus took the captives captive!
  7. Who were the captives?
  8. All Those enslaved to sin.
  9. Just as God set the Israelites free from the bondage of slavery, Jesus set all who believe in Him free from the                               bondage of sin.

4. Now what?

  1. In light of this Scripture, what do I do next?
  2. I can’t shake the feeling that before we dive into the details of the gifts that Jesus has given the Church, we should focus on this great gift of freedom that Jesus has given us.
  3. What good is being able to describe the functions of an apostle, prophet, or pastor if you don’t enjoy the freedom Jesus has given us?
  4. Because Jesus “took captives captive”, and because Jesus has given good gifts, each one of us can come before God today and receive         what we need.

Matthew 7:7–11 (NLT)

Effective Prayer

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

 

  1. Jesus does not end verse 11 with a question, but a statement (there is a period, not a question mark.)
  2. Today, I want to invite all who are weary and heavy-laden to come and receive rest.
  3. Today, I invite all who desire freedom to come to Jesus and receive the freedom only the Holy Spirit can bring.
  4. Today, I invite all who are sick and hurting to come to Jesus for healing.
  5. Today, we are invited to benefit from the good gifts that God has given us through Jesus Christ!

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

1/29/23 Walk Worthy Ephesians 4:1-6

Sermon 12. Walking Worthy

 

 

Walking Worthy

1/29/22

Sermon 12

Ephesians Series

 

 

Ephesians 4:1–6 (CSB)

Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope, at your calling—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Introduction: Paul’s metaphor changes in Chapter 4.

  1. The first 3 chapters are connected with the theme of “Seated”.
  2. Paul writes often about Jesus, who is seated at the right hand of the Father.
  3. And because Christ is seated at the right hand, we, too, are seated with Christ in the heavenly realm.
  4. To “sit” is to be in a position of completion.
  5. The work is done.
  6. Now, it is time to enjoy and rest in what has been accomplished.
  7. However, it seems that this would be the last step for believers.
  8. For most of us, we sit at the end of the day or the task.
  9. But for believers, it is the first thing we learn to do.
  10. Until we can sit in the completed work of Christ, we are not ready to walk in our calling.
  11. Paul changes the dominant metaphor from “sit” to “walk.”
  12. Over and again, Paul describes how believers are to “walk” in this new position with Christ.
  13. In Christ’s Kingdom, being comes before doing.
  14. We sit in our position of Christ first, and then we walk in the calling we have received.

1. Paul knows whom he is walking with.

  1. “Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord….”
  2. Not “a prisoner of Rome”.
  3. Not “prisoner of circumstances.”
  4. But the prisoner in the Lord.

4.“…while Paul may be incarcerated by Rome, he has actually been captured by the Lord. Christ, not Rome, is truly in charge, and Paul belongs to him and has been incorporated into him.”[1]

  1. Knowing the who and the why of walking matters.
  2. In ancient contexts, prisoners walked differently than the victorious soldiers.
  3. Captured soldiers would often be led in a triumphal procession back to the capital city to be paraded, humiliated, and even executed.
  4. On the contrary, the victorious army marched with their heads held high.
  5. And the winning general rode on a white horse, paraded as the hero.
  6. Paul had no problem admitting that he was a prisoner.
  7. But he refused to give credit to Rome for his present situation.
  8. Instead, he saw his situation through a much larger lens.
  9. He wasn’t a victim to circumstances: he was instead walking out a plan that Jesus had for Him.
  10. And even though that plan was at times painful and difficult, it was God’s plan and purpose, and Paul was operating within that plan.
  11. Our culture spends too much time teaching people how to be better victims instead of people of God.
  12. Part of my calling is to bring a faith perspective.
  13. Most of us in this room are realists and practical.
  14. I do not have to convince you to see the difficulties, the problems, or what could go wrong.
  15. So part of what I’m called to do is remind us of the faith perspective.
  16. What does it mean to walk victoriously in Christ Jesus?
  17. What does it mean to walk by faith, not by sight?
  18. What if we talked more about what God can do than what we can’t do?
  19. Paul, although under arrest by Roman authorities, could look at his situation and declare: I’m a prisoner of the Lord.
  20. When we walk with Jesus, He sets the pace.
  21. Whom you walk with determines the pace.
  22. You walk differently with your great-grandma than you do with your grandkid.
  23. We walk differently in a uniform than we do wearing pajamas.
  24. When we live for Jesus, we walk according to His pace.
  25. We step when He steps.
  26. We pause when he pauses.
  27. We go where He leads us.

2. Walk Worthy of the calling you have received.

  1. The word Paul uses here is “axios”.
  2. Eugene Peterson helps explain this:

Axios is a word with a picture in it…An axios is a set of balancing scales, the kind of scales formed by a crossbeam balanced on a post, with pans suspended from each end of the beam. You place a lead weight of, say, one pound in one pan, and then measure out flour into the other pan until the two pans are in balance. Balance means to be in equilibrium. When the flour in one pan balances the one-pound lead weight in the other, you know you have one pound of flour. The unknown weight of what is being measured in one pan is equivalent to the known weight in the other. The two items, lead and flour, are axios – worthy. They have the same value, or, in this case, weight. They can be as different as lead and flour, but they “fit,” like a pair of shoes fits a man’s feet, like a dress fits a woman’s body, like a crescent wrench fits the head of a nut, like a wedding ring fits the finger of the beloved. The items balanced in the Ephesians scales are God’s calling and human living: “I beg you,” writes Paul, “to walk (peripateo) worthy of the calling to which you have been called (kaleo).” When our walking and God’s calling are in balance, we are whole; we are living maturely, living responsively to God’s calling, living congruent with the way God calls us into being. Axios, worthy – mature, healthy, robust.[i] (Peterson)

  1. To walk worthy of the calling is to be balanced in both our walk and our calling.
  2. So what is our calling?
  3. Paul said in Ephesians 1:18–19 (CSB)

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the mighty working of his strength.

  1. Your calling is not defined by what you do, but whom you are called to be.
  2. Your gifts are not the focus of your calling.
  3. The Giftings are expressions of our relationship to Jesus.
  4. To walk worthy is to be in balance with who we are in Christ and how we live for Christ.
  5. That is why we sit before we walk.
  6. “Christian belief comes before Christian living. The mindset must be changed before one’s conduct can follow suit.”[2]
  7. Who you are in Christ Jesus is more important than what you do for Jesus.
  8. That is why Jesus could say there will be people who cast out demons and heal the sick, and yet the Father rejects them.
  9. We must never divorce what we do for Jesus from who we are in Jesus.
  10. To walk worthy is to be in balance and maturity.
  11. It means I’m walking in my giftings and in a relationship with Jesus.
  12. And I’m not too heavy on one side or the other but in balance.
  13. What does that look like?

3. Characteristics of a Christian’s Walk.

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

  1. Interestingly, Paul doesn’t talk about productivity first.
  2. He talks about giftings in a minute.
  3. What Paul lists here is more like the fruit of the Holy Spirit than the fruit of human effort.
  4. I like to get stuff done, but that isn’t a priority.
  5. I like to be busy, but that isn’t a badge of Christian maturity.
  6. How do we walk worthy of the calling?
  7. We are to walk with Humility and Gentleness
  8. This is very different from the Roman ideal.
  9. Rome wasn’t known for humility or gentleness.
  10. But Jesus was.
  11. Isaiah prophesied, and Matthew 12:20 confirms, that Jesus would not break a bruised or damaged reed or put                              out a smoldering flax.
  12. Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 5 extol the peacemakers, the humble, and the meek.
  13. If people were to walk in your footsteps, would they see Jesus’ humility and gentleness in your life?
  14. I’m afraid that most of us would convince people that Jesus was mean, angry, and hostile instead of humble and gentle.
  15. Sure, Jesus is no wimp.
  16. We must not confuse humility and gentleness with weakness.
  17. Instead, show people how gentle and humble He has been to you.
  18. We are to walk in Patience.
  19. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit because we do not do it well on our own.
  20. Yet, to walk worthy of the calling we have received is to walk patiently.
  21. We cannot hurry God, and we cannot hurry others.
  22. But we live in a world that is harassed and harried, not patient.
  23. A grocery store chain in Holland is trying something unique:[ii]
  24. They have started “slow checkout lanes” where people who are not in a hurry and desire to socialize can choose to be instead of feeling like they are holding up the line.
  25. This was originally designed for senior citizens, many whom profess to loneliness.
  26. Whereas in America, we prize efficiency and many of us are happy to self-checkout to speed things up, parts of Europe are finding ways to slow down and accommodate people whose needs are better met when we slow down.
  27. Jesus ministered at the speed of a walk.
  28. 2-4 miles per hour was how fast Jesus traveled.
  29. At that speed:
  30. Jesus could see people as he walked by.
  31. People could catch Jesus as he walked by.
  32. Jesus had time to notice a man in a tree.
  33. Jesus had time to have a conversation with a woman at a well.
  34. c. To be like Jesus is to walk patiently, making time for people to be seen, heard, and discipled.
  35. We walk Lovingly Uplifting.
  36. “Bearing with one another in love.”
  37. I love this definition:

Bearing with one another in love allows one to negotiate the conflicts that inevitably emerge in relationships. It is enduring a behaviour and then working through it. Unity requires tolerance at a relational level without being indifferent to truth.[3]

  1. Another way to say this is we are to “suffer” with each other.
  2. When multiple people work together, there will be times when our togetherness is more like suffering than fun.
  3. But if we get mad and quit, or gossip, or slander each other, we are not “bearing with one another in love” we are instead being divisive.
  4. Every one of us are in the middle of our sanctification.
  5. Not one of us are perfect in every action or deed.
  6. We all have difficulties in our lives, and sometimes we let them out in the safety of church community.
  7. How can we expect Jesus to love us through our toughest moments and not extend that kind of love to others?
  8. Walk Intent on Unity
  9. Some people are divisive, no matter how you treat or love them.
  10. Paul told the pastor Titus to have nothing to do with them.
  11. Otherwise, we are to strive for unity.
  12. The Trinity is perfectly unified, although also distinct.
  13. What we are to strive for is a unity that reflects the nature of God.
  14. You cannot walk worthy of your calling if you constantly look for opportunities to divide.

Close: How we walk and live matters.

  1. The question today is: Are you walking worthy with Jesus?
  2. Are you so focused on what you are doing for Jesus and not being with Jesus?
  3. Are there elements in your walk that is putting you out of step with Him?
  4. Are you not patient?
  5. Are you not humble?
  6. Are you not gentle?
  7. Are you not loving?
  8. Today, I call us all to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how He wants us to walk and live.
  9. To bring us back into balance and in step with Jesus.
  10. May you walk worthy of the calling you have received.
  11. May we learn to sit with Jesus before we walk with Jesus.

 

[1] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Osborne, Grant R. 2017. Ephesians: Verse by Verse. Osborne New Testament Commentaries. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Bock, Darrell L. 2019. Ephesians: An Introduction and Commentary. Edited by Eckhard J. Schnabel. Vol. 10. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. London: Inter-Varsity Press.

[i] The rest of the quote is:

The balancing scales, the axios, centers the Ephesian letter. Everything thing in Paul’s letter is designed to keep God’s calling (chapters 1-3) and our walking (chapters 4-6) in equilibrium. We cannot measure ourselves by examining ourselves in terms of ourselves, by evaluating ourselves against a non-relational abstraction such as “human potential.” Nor can we abstract God into an impersonal “truth” apart from our hearing and responding to the words he uses to call us into life, into holiness, into relationship. We can understand neither God nor ourselves in any living, adequate, and mature way that is an impersonal, non-relational way. When God’s calling and our walking fit, we are growing up in Christ. God calls; we walk.

 

Eugene H. Peterson. Practice Resurrection: A Conversation on Growing Up in Christ (Kindle Locations 381-393). Kindle Edition.

 

[ii] https://www.thedailymeal.com/1172603/some-european-supermarkets-have-slow-checkout-lanes-for-chatty-shoppers/

January 22, 2023 ADOPTED

Click this link to open a PDF copy of Pastor Paul Richardson’s sermon notes or follow along below.

Adopted

 

 

 

Adopted

1/22/23

Sermon leading back into Ephesians 4

 

 

Galatians 4:4–7 (CSB)

When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

 

Ephesians 1:3–6 (CSB)

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him., He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.

 

Introduction: “Do you understand that if the court approves this adoption, then it will be, for all legal purposes, as if you are the natural father…”

  1. Some of my favorite moments of pastoring are attending adoption ceremonies.
  2. Tuesday, I was honored to witness John Blaylock’s adoption of Kaitlyn’s daughter Kora.
  3. I have permission to share this:
  4. It amazed me that at 10 am on Tuesday morning, John was Kaitlyn’s husband but not the legal father of Kora.
  5. By 10:15 am, John was Kaitlyn’s husband and Kora’s legal father.
  6. With just a word, the judge changed more than a name.
  7. Birth certificates, official documents, everything changes.
  8. It was amazing to see what one declaration of a judge can do.
  9. “Once the court completes the adoption, the spouse has all the same rights and responsibilities that the biological parent has towards the child.”
  10. If a judge has this much power in an earthly court, how much more power does God have within Creation?
  11. Today, I want to walk us through this concept of adoption.
  12. Because I don’t believe most of us grasp what it means to be adopted and part of the family of Christ, I want to take this opportunity to discuss this concept.
  13. Next week, we return to the Book of Ephesians.
  14. But this idea of adoption is central to the message of Ephesians.
  15. So what does Scripture say about this?

1. Scripture says we are adopted into Jesus’ family.

  1. The apostle Paul loves this theme.
  2. As he preached and ministered to non-Jewish people, he constantly reminded them of their relationship status.
  3. Status matters:
  4. In Paul’s world, there was a chasm between a citizen of Rome and a slave of Rome.
  5. In Paul’s world, Jewish men had access that Jewish women didn’t.
  6. And Jewish children had slightly more access than a slave or servants.
  7. Say what you want, but status matters in America too.
  8. There’s a significant difference in status between a homeowner and a homeless person.
  9. The 1% live lives the rest of us have no concept of.
  10. But the most important difference is the eternal difference between someone who has been saved and redeemed through the blood of Jesus and those who aren’t.
  11. The Apostle Paul gets it.
  12. He had it all:
  13. He was perhaps one of the most educated people of his day.
  14. He came from a middle-class family.
  15. He was a Roman citizen and one of the elites in the Jewish realm.
  16. Yet, God in his wonderful grace, sent Paul to those who were not originally part of the family of God.
  17. A Gentile in Ephesus or Galatia had no claim to the promises of God.
  18. What that person needed was for someone to adopt them into the family.
  19. The concept of adoption was foreign to Judaism.
  20. One of the most popular adoption stories in the Old Testament was of Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses.
  21. But this was not a Jew adopting an outsider.
  22. But an outsider adopting a Jew.
  23. In Paul’s day, the people who practiced adoption the best were the Romans and Greeks.[1]
  24. But nobody brings strangers into the family better than Jesus.

2. Characteristics of our adoption.

 

Galatians 4:4–7 (CSB)

When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

  1. First, our adoption was a deliberate action of God.
  2. How many in this room have participated in adoption?
  3. My sister and brother-in-law have adopted two girls.
  4. I can assure you that there was nothing accidental in their adoption.
  5. To adopt involves petitions, courts, lawyers, home studies, frustrations, tears, and so much more.
  6. Most adoptions are preceded by tragedy.
  7. Death in families.
  8. Unsafe situations.
  9. There was nothing accidental about God sending His son to this world.
  10. The Father knew our condition and our sin.
  11. Thus, The Father did not spare His Son from what we would have avoided.
  12. Second, our adoption had a price.
  13. Paul said that Jesus came to redeem those under the law.
  14. This does not refer only to Jews, although that applies.
  15. We were under the law of sin and death.
  16. Romans 8:2 (CSB)

because the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

  1. The price of our adoption was nothing less than the life of Jesus.
  2. Next week’s verse in Ephesians 4 will tell us to “walk in a worthy manner” because of God’s calling.
  3. Why?
  4. Because our adoption and redemption had a high price.
  5. And Because Jesus has a great name.
  6. How we live matters because our adoption was costly and Jesus has a great name.
  7. Third, the Spirit confirms our adoption.
  8. It’s one thing to say you are adopted.
  9. But legal adoptions require proof.
  10. For us, our proof is in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  11. How do I know God loves me?
  12. It’s in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
  13. Just because you don’t feel loved, that does not mean you are not loved.
  14. The presence of the Holy Spirit is more than an emotional response.
  15. An adopted child can go to the birth certificate, and it will reflect the NEW relationship.
  16. We, too, have proof that God, the Father, is indeed our father.
  17. So when you feel unloved and broken, when you feel like you are abandoned and forsaken, take more than a moment and call upon Jesus.
  18. Why is it that we spend hours and nights and years dwelling on how abandoned or unloved we feel, but will not stop, stare, and soak in this new reality:
  19. I am saved, I am redeemed, I am loved, I am adopted.
  20. Although I remember my old life, I choose to spend more time staring at my new birth certificate instead of my old one.
  21. D. Fourth, we are given new access.
  22. When you and I are introduced to people, it is proper to start with the formal before we move to the familiar.
  23. For example: When I meet a new pastor, I call them Pastor or Brother or an appropriate address first.
  24. Sometimes people will say, “please call me…” then, with that permission, I become informal.
  25. I can assure you that when we were in Judge Gaston’s courtroom this week, every adult in the room respected him.
  26. The only person who did not say “yes sir” or “your honor” was the 4-year-old.
  27. And with the judge, the kid had permissions that the adults did not.
  28. When the Spirit comes into our life, we are granted an intimacy that we do not have otherwise.
  29. Most scholars do not translate the word “abba” as daddy.
  30. That is too trivializing for that day and time.
  31. But Abba is an expression of intimacy and how Jesus talked to the “Father.”
  32. Someday, every person will bow their knee and confess Jesus is Lord.
  33. But we get the opportunity to call Him our Heavenly Father, our Abba.
  34. We have the opportunity for intimacy.
  35. Lastly, we are given new status.
  36. This is the kind of status that matters.
  37. Paul said that, since we are adopted, we are full-grown sons.
  38. And as full-grown sons, we have full rights.
  39. And thus, we are co-heirs with Christ.
  40. Co-heirs with Jesus: If ANYONE else had written this, I would call it heresy.
  41. Sons and daughters of the Father, and co-heirs with Christ Jesus.
  42. But here it is and it’s true.
  43. That’s the power of God’s declaration of adoption over us.
  44. With just a Word, we have been adopted into the Kingdom.
  45. With just a Word, our past is changed.
  46. Scripture says we used to be sons of the evil one (Matt 13:38)
  47. Scriptures says we used to be Sons of this world. (Luke 16:8)
  48. Ephesians 2:2 and 5:6 say we used to be sons of disobedience and rebellion.
  49. But through Jesus, we are sons of God!
  50. Romans 8:14 (CSB) 14 For all those led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons.
  51. Of all the verses we memorize, the verses on adoption may be the most important.

3. What do I do with this new reality?

  1. You can embrace this truth or reject it.
  2. You have the choice.
  3. The call to follow Jesus is a choice.
  4. But what happens if you reject this?
  5. What happens if you choose to live as if you still belong to Satan and this world instead of Jesus?
  6. What happens if you choose to not walk worthy of this calling?
  7. What does it mean to reject this truth?
  8. You live like nothing is different.
  9. You go about your days, never gazing into the most beautiful opportunity ever presented.
  10. So instead of your theme song sounding like this old hymn that says, “Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! Redeemed by His infinite mercy a child and forever I am…”
  11. Your theme song sounds more like:

So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year

  1. If your life with “Jesus” looks the same as it did before “Jesus,” then what you found was not Jesus; it was religion.
  2. To reject adoption is to walk outside the family of God.
  3. To be part of the family of God will change you.
  4. What happens if we embrace the new reality?
  5. Because we are sons and daughters of the Father, I will walk worthy of my new calling and life.
  6. Actions that were appropriate before I met Jesus are not appropriate now.
  7. The biblical term for this is sanctification.
  8. It seems like the Holy Spirit regularly asks me to reprioritize and crucify my desires.
  9. What was permissible in the early stages of my walk with Jesus may become hindrances in later stages.
  10. Because we are sons and daughters of the Father, I will put away all of those characteristics that defined my old life.
  11. What is permissible in some families is punishable in others.
  12. What was permissible when your father was the Devil is NOT permissible when your Father is the Heavenly Father.
  13. Because we are sons and daughters of the Father, I will not dwell on what used to be but give thanks for what is.
  14. Funny: I still remember many of the strikeouts and fielding errors I made in high school baseball.
  15. As a pastor, I have to write down most of the victorious because those I will forget: But I don’t write down the painful moments or my failures because they are etched     into my heart.
  16. For most of us here, we need not dwell on our past sins because God isn’t.
  17. What we need to dwell on is not the old certificate that tells of our brokenness and sin but the new certificate that tells of our new family, our new beginning, and God’s grace.
  18. Philippians 4:8 (CSB)

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—dwell on these things.

Thus sayeth the Lord.

 

Prayer!

 

 

 

[1] Since the institution of adoption was not Jewish but was widely known in Greek and especially Roman law, Paul most likely drew the term from the Hellenistic world; at the same time, “we should allow for the probability that in his mind it also had other associations”76—not least the Old Testament (cf., e.g., Ex. 4:22f.; Hos. 11:1) as its theological background. Fung, Ronald Y. K. 1988. The Epistle to the Galatians. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.