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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.

Message Points:

  • So let’s turn our attention to Daniel’s story and draw from it the three principles that will allow us to have a humble witness.
  • Remember that Daniel already has already displayed a resolute faith and the willingness to offer practical prayers to God about his immediate needs.
  • Before anyone might accuse Daniel of seeking his own advancement, notice the stark contrast between Daniel and Arioch.
    • Daniel goes to the king with these words in verse 24, “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon… I will show the king the interpretation”.
    • Arioch goes into the king in verse 25 claiming that he found among the exiles from Judah one who knew the interpretation.
    • Daniel went with humility to rescue others while Arioch went with pride to propel himself.
  • But also notice that when the kings asks Daniel if he can tell the dream and interpretation Daniel is not afraid to declare the truth to the kings.
    • In verse 27-28 as well as verse 30 Daniel tells the king that the dream and its interpretation is not accessible through human power and wisdom.
    • Verse 28 especially points this out to the king when Daniel boldly witnesses by saying,
      • “But there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries and has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”
  • This reveals our 1ST point: A believer is humble about his abilities but bold to witness about God’s ability. (2:24-30)
    • Can I ask you a question believer?
      • When you pay your bills each month and put food on your table, do you credit yourself as the provider of these things?
      • Consider at the degrees on your wall or the achievements hanging in your office. Who receives the credit for these things?
      • Even think about your family and friends in this church, do you somehow take credit for having children or friends that follow Christ?
      • Be careful believer! The Bible tells us that pride comes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)
      • Further Jesus repeatedly warned rich believers because their pride kept them from being humble. Listen to these words as he explained the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:22 “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful.”
      • All of us have abilities that we do better than others. Even as a pastor it is extremely difficult not to think that the power of my preaching comes from my cleverness of my words.
      • Remember Daniel’s words in 2:30 when you are tempted to credit yourself, “This mystery has been revealed to me, not because of any wisdom that I have more than all the living, but in order that the interpretation may be known.”
      • Believers we have a mystery revealed to us in Christ, not because we are better than anyone else, but because he wants us to make know His saving grace.
      • One of the best ways that you can combat the pride-seeking temptation to take credit is to boldly witness about God’s unique ability to save.
      • Believer, would you be willing to make a commitment this morning to combat pride in your life by being a humble witness?
        • Commit to pray for opportunities to have a Gospel Conversation.
        • A gospel conversation is simply a chance to share how Christ makes the difference in your life. So…
          • Pray that someone would compliment you.
          • Pray that you could start a conversation in the elevator or in the check out line.
          • Pray that you would be able to visit with your neighbors and family.
        • Then at the right moment boldly tell them that you are who you are because Jesus saved you.
        • Especially for those of you going on Mfuge pray even now that as you serve in different areas this week that someone would ask you about why you came to Kentucky. Then share that it is because Jesus loved us enough to leave Heaven and come to Earth.
  • The largest part of this passage is the middle section. While we could go into detail trying to understand every angle of this this prophecy, we must be careful not to distract from the purpose of this prophecy.
  • Nebuchadnezzar had conquered every kingdom that anyone knew of in the world. He thought that he had near absolute power.
  • The word used in verse 31 about the “image” is not the normal word for an idol. Rather it is the image or carving of a person or a statue. Thus the statue may have had feature that Nebuchadnezzar recognized as his own features.
  • The statue was divided into sections, more precious to least precious. With each section Daniel gave an explanation.
    • It began at its head with gold. This is Nebuchadnezzar’s kingdom.
    • Then its chest was silver. This is the kingdom after the current kingdom. Presumably this is the Medes and the Persians.
    • Its thighs were bronze. This is yet another kingdom. Presumably this is Alexander’s Greek Empire and its remnants.
    • Finally its legs and feet were iron mixed with clay. This is the last major kingdom or empire. Presumably this is Rome, strong yet brittle.
  • But let us focus on a few key verses. Look with me at verse 2:37-38 and 44-45.
    • Notice that Daniel uses the kings title as king of kings and yet God in heaven is the one who gave him his power and rule over the sons of men.
    • Now remember the head, chest, thighs, legs and feet all fell when struck by the great stone that filled the earth. God is making sure the king knows that no matter how great he is, he will fall and fail. When he does God will still be on the throne.
    • Especially notice the correlation between God setting up a kingdom that will never fail and the stone that breaks the other kingdoms of the earth.
    • The coming kingdom will never be destroyed and the kingdom will not pass from person to person. In other words it will be an eternal kingdom.
  • In this dream and its interpretation I believe that God was revealing through Daniel the need for Nebuchadnezzar and all of us to humble ourselves as we witness the greatness God.
  • That is our 2ND point: When we witness the greatness of God, all of us should humble ourselves (2:30-45).
    • Friends this is the gospel in a nutshell. Think about the five key points that make up the gospel.
      • God Created – All that we see testifies to the greatness of God. He gave humanity everything, even one simple rule.
      • Humanity Rebels – At the fall humanity rebelled against God’s one rule. In pride we all think that we control our own destiny like Nebuchadnezzar. Even so, we control our own destiny like a fugitive surrounded on all sides by the police. God is infinite, so the penalty for sin is infinite. No mere man can pay that penalty.
      • Christ Offers Redemption – God in his greatness created a plan of salvation that allows as many as would trust in Christ’s payment for sin to be saved. Since Christ is infinite, he alone could make an infinite payment for sin.
      • Humanity Responds – People can humble themselves, repent and trust Christ for salvation and the future or they can continue in their rebellion.
      • God Judges – Eventually God will come and judge every rebel for their crimes against his rule. Only those who humbled themselves and trusted Christ’s payment will be saved.
    • That is why I say that trying to understand every angle of this prophecy can obscure its meaning.
      • This dream of Nebuchadnezzar is a dream specifically speaking to his situation as king over the first great empire.
      • That said, the dream of Nebuchadnezzar reminds all of us that our labors and life’s work will not give us greater consideration on judgment day.
      • Even the scope of our lives teaches this truth. We do not go from lesser strength and power to greater strength and power forever. We will eventually begin to grow fragile.
      • Only humbling ourselves and trusting Christ’s payment will save us.
    • Friends if you are here today and have not humbled yourself and trusted Christ as your Savior, you do not have to leave here today troubled by the greatness of God over against the fragility of your life.
    • All you must do is humbly come, confess your sin, and trust Christ as Savior and Lord.
      • As I finish the message consider making that humble decision.
      • If you desire to make that kind of decision come and talk with me during the invitation or after the service today.
  • Finally then today, notice that Daniel did not pressure or force the king’s respond. Look with me at verses 2:46-49
    • The king on his own bowed to Daniel.
    • He praised Daniel’s God as the God of gods, Lord of kings, and revealer of mysteries.
    • Then the king promoted Daniel over the wise men of Babylon.
    • He also granted Daniel’s request to promote his friends.
  • While all of these moves were good for Daniel and his friends, in the end they did not show the kind of devotion that allows us to say that Nebuchadnezzar truly humbled himself before God.
    • As commentator Joyce Baldwin says, “Nebuchadnezzar’s intention may well have been to honor Daniel’s God by honoring his servant.”
    • Further Baldwin says, “As a polytheist [Nebuchadnezzar] can always add another to the deities he worships.”
    • We can see this in the way that the king says that Daniel’s God is the God of gods. He adds to his pantheon rather than single out worship of the true and living God.
  • Why is this important?
    • It was Daniel’s job as it is ours to be that humble witness.
    • It is not our job to force or pressure someone to convert.
  • That is our 3RD point: A witness shows humility when he or she trusts the Holy Spirit to convert someone (2:46-49).
    • Conversion is not in the cleverness of words, so do not think you cannot witness if you do not think you have the right answers.
    • Conversion is not built upon the power or persuasiveness of people, so do not think you cannot witness if you are shy, quiet, or plain-spoken.
    • Conversion is not even in the perfection of our character, so do not think you cannot witness if you do not have a perfect life.
    • CONVERSION IS GOD’S DOING! He thought of it. Jesus died for it. The Holy Spirit convinces us of it. We show our humility when we simply say, I am different today because of God’s work in me.

Conclusion:

  • Are we a people as Washington said, “bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men.”
  • Do you know a great God?
    • Have you told someone about Him?
  • Have you experienced Christ’s saving power in your life?
    • Do others know about it?
  • Is the Holy Spirit working in your life right now, urging you to trust Christ and follow him?
    • Will you respond to that urging today?
  • You show that you are a humble witness today when you acknowledge and tell others that you trust a great and mighty God, Jesus Christ.

 

 
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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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