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Category Archives: Ministry of the Word

Category for posts offering reflections and comments on important Bible passages and how a Christian perspective informs a person’s view of current events.

Message Monday: Disciplines of Devotion – Discipline 3: Humble Witness

Originally Preached 07/02/17

Intro:

  • The ink was still drying on the Declaration of Independence as General Washington and the Continental Army entered into battle with the British in August of 1776.
  • The British had developed a superior battle plan trapping Washington and all of the 8000 Continental troops on Brooklyn Height, New York. Should they have pressed the battle into the evening the War would have been over.
  • With confidence and pride General Howe ordered a halt until the morning. After all the rebel army was trapped so that the British Navy would intercept them by sea and the British army would intercept them by land.
  • It was then that a near supernatural fog descended onto the Heights and the East River. So thick was the fog that through the night Washington was able to ferry the entire army across the river and to escape that they might fight another day.
  • Had it not been for that critically timed fog, the Battle of New York would have ended the revolution and today we would sing “God Save the Queen” rather than “God Bless America”

Hook:

  • I mention that miracle of the Revolution not to say that God chose sides in the Revolution, but to point out how even in our own Revolution there were those who sought and recognized God’s providential help in their personal lives.
  • For Washington this event, along with the numerous times that he would ride out of battle, inspect his cloak and discover bullet holes, as well as other critical events in the revolution cemented in his mind that the Hand of Providence which guided his steps.
  • Listen to these words from his first Inaugural Address, “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than the people of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency… We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
  • Not all of us can be a Washington or a Daniel, but all of us can display the humility and bold witness of these men.
  • My goal with today’s message is to show you how to be that kind of witness in a three simple points.

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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Disciplines of Devotion – Discipline 2: Principled Prayer

Intro:Image result for prayer

  • Just a few weeks ago a group of university students at Notre Dame University made headlines as they staged a walk out to their graduation ceremony during the address of the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence.
  • Around 100 graduates out of 3171 chose to walk out of the graduation ceremony in protest of Pence’s ideas and policy positions.
  • The move was unprecedented because Notre Dame is an institution committed to the free expression and exchange of ideas.
  • The graduate staged their protest to respond to Pence’s policy positions opposition to gay rights, refugee resettlement, sanctuary cities, and his support of President Trump’s travel ban.
  • Until this protest the graduates had little power to openly oppose these positions. The choice of Pence as graduation speaker gave these graduates the power to voice their disapproval.
  • One graduate said, “We are not protesting their choice of a commencement speaker. We are unwelcoming Mike Pence Back to Indiana with the idea that nobody knows Pence’s record as well as Hoosiers do.”
  • Speaking of powerless, one parent of the graduates said of the walkout, “we think it’s in poor taste. We think its disrespectful. It’s so unnecessary.”

Hook:

  • No matter how you feel about Pence’s policies or about this walkout, there is an important aspect of this story for us to realize.
  • We live in a nation where “freedom of speech” is enshrined as the first amendment to our Constitution. So both the graduates and the parents have a right to peacefully express their beliefs and ideas without recourse.
  • Because we have “freedom of speech,” anytime we as Americans feel powerless about something that our government or another group does, we can simply speak up and express our opinions and views.
  • But just imagine living even just a few hundred years ago around the time our nation was founded. For just speaking up against the government a person could be imprisoned or worse.
  • If we go back further in history rulers had even more absolute power and death could be commanded in an instant for any offense.
  • Powerlessness is a condition that has existed for millennia, causing frustration and despondency. After the founding of our nation people could respond as publicly and passionately as they desired, so long as it was peaceful.
  • Before we assume that believers should just speak up when we feel powerless, let’s look today at Daniel’s response to a precarious situation.

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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Disciplines of Devotion : Discipline 1 Resolute Faith

Intro:Related image

  • One of the most striking parts of the SBC Annual meeting that we attended was the commissioning service for IMB missionaries.
    • Since the IMB has come to the point where they can increase the number of missionaries we saw around twenty individuals be set apart for service on the mission field.
    • As each of the missionaries stood in front of the packed convention hall, they shared a brief testimony of how God clarified their calling and drew them onto the mission field.
    • Over half of them had to share their testimony in the shadows due to security concerns about the locations they would go to serve.
    • The convention, missionaries, and the IMB president David Platt all participated in a responsive reading.
    • That reading continue to bring up the fact that these missionaries were willing to give up their lives to share the gospel with the nations.
    • Then as a finale for the commissioning service each missionary follow a banner with their place of service listed into the audience. There we prayed for them.

Hook:

  • Our SBC missionaries are inspiring because they were so willing to give up their lives to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
  • Imagine just for a moment, instead of a stirring commissioning service held freely in a nation that protects and preserves our religious liberty, that you stand watching a commissioning of four missionaries to a nation that had imprisoned them a prison-like government barracks.
  • Far from the stirring rhetoric and moving symbols we saw at the SBC, these missionaries are retrained, renamed, all with the hope to replace their stubborn beliefs in the one true and living God.
  • If your nation had been defeated, if you had been taken captive, and if your captors were doing everything they could to eradicate your belief in God; what would your thoughts gravitate towards?
    • Would you set yourself apart to be a witness for your God?
    • Or would you under the tremendous pressure, choose to turn away from your God to serve the most convenient idol or king?
  • Today as we look at the first discipline of a devoted life, we will see Daniel and his friends be commissioned to be God’s witnesses in captivity.

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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Cradle Roll of Christ – Wonderful Counsleor

Intro:

  • Today we begin a brief series of messages that I pray will help us to see the Savior with new eyes during this Christmas season.
  • Think with me for just a moment of the excitement when you discovered that you or a close family member was expecting a baby.
  • One of the first questions always asked is what will you name the baby.
  • Lists of favorite names are compiled by parents as well as a list of never names.
  • Churches would also get involved in this name craze.
    • In Baptist churches years ago when they would know a new baby was on the way they would enroll the baby in the church.
    • Because they did not know the name by writing down “Baby” and the parents last name on the Cradle Roll.

 

Hook:

  • So imagine with me for just a moment that God was going to enroll the Christ Child into one of our churches.
    • There would be no last name because God needs no last name.
    • To enroll the child a name would be requires and so when asked what would God provide as a name?
    • In the book of Isaiah in at least two verses we receive God’s answer as to what name Jesus shall be called.
    • Today we begin by examining the first name in Isaiah 9:6.

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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: A Thanksgiving Meditation

Image result for christian thanksgivingIntro:

  • Just a few months ago I finished a counseling case that I thought would especially apply to our message today.
  • After talking with her and gaining her permission, let me share her case with you. I am going to call her Lisa, though that is not her real name.
  • In our first few sessions when Lisa entered the room it was evident that she was an emotional wreck. At times it was all she could do not to hold back tears. At other times she was livid.
  • For years her mother had berated her and put her down.
    • Lisa was told a number of times that she should have been aborted and that she owed her mother for deciding to have her.
    • She was berated for converting to Christ as a young lady, and for raising her family in church – even though the mother claimed to be a Christian.
    • She was also mercilessly criticized for taking in her sick father and caring for him because her mother and father were divorced.
  • Lisa had tried talking with her mother to let her know how much her words hurt, but Lisa’s mother only continue to berate for sharing such things.
  • At the same time when Lisa would try to distance herself from her mother, her mother would inevitably find a way to rope her back into her life – from fake illnesses to imaginary emergencies.
  • Lisa had recently begun to try to distance herself from her mother before we began counseling, but did not know if she was in God’s will.
  • As our counseling began, I wanted to share with Lisa the great joy she should have in trying to please Christ.
    • In our counseling I began to share with Lisa that she had followed the right process laid out in Matthew 18:15-20 by talking with her mother first and trying to get her to understand.
    • I also shared from Titus 3:10 that says after warning a divisive person twice that you have nothing else to do with the person because they are warped, sinful and self-condemned.
  • Towards the end of our counseling I began to share with Lisa one final challenge. You see, Lisa needed to have a forgiving attitude towards her mother – in spite of all the suffering she had been through.
    • Jesus commands us to forgive others that our trespasses may be forgiven by the Father in Matthew 6:14-15.
    • If Lisa’s mother was not able to ask for Lisa’s forgiveness, it was a pretty good indication that she had never experienced God’s forgiveness.
    • While Lisa’s mother may never ask for her forgiveness Eph. 4:32 says that she should have a forgiving attitude like the one Christ exhibited as He desired to forgive us.
  • We began to try to build this attitude of forgiveness by asking Lisa to put together a scrapbook of her life that she could give to her sons.
    • Instead of communicating all the pain, hurt, and disgust about her mom we asked her to write with the pictures the reasons she thanked God for her mother.
    • Lisa began this assignment with gusto – she was a scrap-booker. She gather the materials and all the special papers and pictures.
    • As she began to layout the pictures Lisa just could not bring herself to move forward because she could not think of anything for which she could give thanks to God.
    • This went on for several sessions and I encouraged her that even in spite of her suffering and trial God could take what was meant for evil and work good out of it (Gen. 50:20).
    • Soon thereafter she came in with the scrapbook and told us she had a breakthrough.
    • In the midst of all the suffering she found two main things for which to thank God.
      • First she thanked God that her mother had not aborted her.
      • Second she thanked God that at the birth of her sons years before, her mother had dropped everything to be there for her daughter.
      • Finally, she thanked God that through this trial with her mom that He had built her testimony to minister to others.
  • With this revelation, I encouraged Lisa to remind herself of those things as God’s way to work grace into her life in spite of her mother.
    • For the sake of God’s best in the relationship with her mother, I asked her begin to pray earnestly for her mother to have a changed heart and come asking for her forgiveness.
    • As she prayed I encouraged her to add more reasons to be thankful to God.
  • By the end of our counseling Lisa had the peace of Christ and was eager to share her experience with others who may have been suffering like her.

Hook:

  • Do you have situations in your life that keep you from being able to give thanks right now?
  • Is there suffering or some kind of hurt that will keep you away from family members or friends that you know you should gather together with at this special time?
  • Perhaps someone in your family has died, and it was their home where the family gathered. Now that is no longer an option.
  • The reason I wanted to share Lisa’s story with you is that her journey so well explains this passage.

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Posted by on November 22, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: The Joy of Becoming a Missional Church

Intro:

  • Paul says four times in the span of these eleven verses that he is sending someone to the Philippians (2:19,23,25,28).
  • Such mentions of sending associates normally occur at the end of an epistle like Romans 16:1-2.
  • When we see a word like send four times in such a small passage and it should make us ask why does Paul need to emphasize his desire to send so often.
  • In fact the Latin word that we get our word missions from is translated as send. So think of this passage in that light. Why does Paul say four times that Phillipi needs a missionary?
  • John Piper says in his famous book Let the Nations Be Glad “that missions exist because worship doesn’t.”
  • Can I suggest to you that Paul seek to send these individuals because he knows that he worship of the Philippian church is hindered?
  • If we genuinely believe that Christ deserves the worship of as many people as possible, then we are missional when we look for the places where Christ is not worshipped and send individuals to those places in order to give them every reason to worship Him.
  • The Village Church which has become a leading church in Texas and the SBC explains their commitment to missional living by saying that their members should… (http://thevillagechurch.net/mediafiles/uploaded/a/0e1135869_article-what-does-missional-mean.pdf)
    • Minister within the specific environment God has appointed them to live.
    • Minister using the distinct skill and giftedness God has granted you by being God-centered in your vocation.
    • Minister with radical purpose and intentionality, not for self but rather for the good of others and the glory of God.
    • Minister with the expectation that a lay person’s ministry is just as valuable as that of a vocational minister.
    • Minister to the whole person. We should meet physical needs as well as share the gospel to meet spiritual needs.
  • Missional Living is seeking to be sent where people need a reason to worship Jesus Christ.

Hook:

  • This brings up an interesting question for us.
  • If Paul is missional in trying to send individuals to Philippi, and missional living is trying to send believers into areas where people need a reason to worship Christ, are we missional?
  • How often do we as members of this church value the joy there is in being sent into places where Christ needs to be worshipped?
  • Today, as we look at Philippians 2:19-30 I hope to share with you three extremely important reasons that we should rejoice in being a missional church.

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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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Message Monday: Exercising a Dangerous Faith

Intro:Image result for dangerous faith

  • For the past few weeks Jack and I have been preparing the study guides for our next Sunday Night Bible Study.
  • The book we are using for the study seeks to describe the lives of missionaries with one key Scripture.
  • After preparing several of these study guides I am amazed at how great each of these missionaries lives impacted the world for Christ.
    • In the midst of great persecution and trials these missionaries did not relent.
    • The faith of these Christian missionaries seems unbelievable and heroic.
    • That faith propelled them into dangerous and difficult missionary assignments.
    • But in each one of the studies that we have prepared, the missionaries we studied would not have looked at themselves and seen heroic efforts.
  • For instance listen to a quote by Jim Elliot.
    • If you were not aware Jim Elliot is the missionary that the movie The End of the Spear depicts.
    • He went to Ecuador and tried to reach the Huaorani Indians and was martyred by them in the 1958.
    • He says in his journal, “Forgive me for being so ordinary while claiming to know so extraordinary a God.”

Hook:

  • If Jim Elliot’s faith was ordinary either I do not know the definition of ordinary or my faith is paltry in comparison.
  • How about you? How dangerous is your faith?
  • Could you say that you were thinking of souls as you were being prepared for surgery like one of our members was this week when I visited her?
  • As a church, where is the next Poland partnership or church that we feel led of God to support?
  • What ministries do you sense God leading you to participate in, and perhaps give your time and talents to start?
  • As our world and country become more hostile to Christianity, how long will you identify yourself openly as a believer.
  • This morning we will examine three exercises can begin to develop a more dangerous faith.

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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Ministry of the Word

 

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