Ephesians 1:1-15 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-If you didn’t know, I love to read, I have for years! I used to sneak books into my bed and stay up late just trying to get through as many books as I could. My favorite books when I was in elementary school were mysteries. Read every Hardy Boys, The Happy Hollisters, slowly moved my way up to reading all of the Sherlock Holmes books, and Father Brown by GK Chesterton (also a BBC series that was wonderful). I think part of the reason mysteries are always an enjoyable read is they provide clear explanations for events, and we like certainty! 

-Think about being a kid, the most frustrating thing to be told is “because I said so!” and we all swear we won’t say it to our kids, and then we have kids! We all want to know with certainty how things work. We invest in the stock market because we know it’s going to work. We go to our jobs because we know we’re going to be paid. But what about things you don’t completely understand? 

-Did you know we understand and have studied more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the ocean? We have found creatures thought to be extinct for millions of years in fishing expeditions. Even the new James Webb space telescope is revealing things that scientists are now being forced to change their thoughts about how the known world came into existence.

-We love certainty about things, but we worship a God that we can’t fully understand. Since we’ve been taught to figure out how everything works (including unsolvable mysteries) we tend to approach God the same way. We’re going to spend some time today plumbing the depths of God’s mysterious plan from all eternity past. And we’ll walk out of here reminded that when we come to something we can’t understand, it’s our cue to fall on our face and worship.

READ/PRAY

  1. Introduction (1-2)

-Start right out of the gate listing who wrote this letter.  Now there has been some debate in the past 2 centuries about whether or not Paul actually wrote it (some unique words compared to his other letters, and a quarter of it is nearly verbatim re-recorded in Colossians). I don’t find those arguments convincing (and neither should you!), because wouldn’t you use similar language on a regular basis, and at the same time, don’t you try to accommodate your message to the people you’re talking to? Not saying you change the truth, but you do use different language based on the group.

-Apostle. 1st century, limited to those who had seen the risen Christ. Literally refers to a messenger, in the NT generally refers to someone sent by God to spread the gospel message. Who is he an apostle/messenger of?

-Jesus Christ. The whole Bible is about God’s revelation through Christ Jesus, Paul in this letter explains the reality of Christ Jesus being the focus of our entire lives. Keep that theme in mind throughout the next 3 months through this book!

-“Will of God.” Paul didn’t come up with this call or commission from his own desire or gifting, this comes straight from God. This theme will also carry throughout the book, God’s will from eternity past has been to unity a people to Himself for His glory. God’s sovereignty (power and authority) over everything in creation is where Paul begins this letter and sets the stage for the implications of that in the rest of the letter.

-“Saints” or lit. “holy ones” Often when we read something like this we think of those who have been “sainted” by RCC, but throughout the NT anyone who is “In Christ” are saints! 

-“in Ephesus” At the time, 3rd biggest city in the Roman Empire, strategically placed as the intersection of 4 main roads, and a port city. This means it was incredibly wealthy and a center of commerce and influence in the rest of the world. A couple notes about it.

-Had a huge temple, one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, to Artemis/Diana, was 4 times the size of the Parthenon! While Diana was the most prevalent, she wasn’t the only god worshipped. Lots of magic and cultic ideas pervaded Ephesus. Not dissimilar to a major city today! Think of a New York or Hong Kong.

-Also knows as the “mother of Asia” as Ephesus served as the entry point to the rest of the continent. Most scholars believe this was meant to serve as a circular letter, since Ephesus was the entry point, word would travel from there to the rest of Asia. 

-Typical Pauline greeting: grace (Greek) peace (Jewish).

  • Chosen by the Father (3-6)

-These verses (3-14) are the longest run-on sentence we’ve found in any ancient Greek literature. This means all these verses are connected together, for Paul there’s no distinction in how all 3 persons of the Godhead are involved in salvation. 

-“Blessed be.” This is a Jewish custom called berekah, Hebrew word for blessed be. In the first century, Jews had 18 different “blessed be’s” they would recite throughout the day.

-Notice the repetition here: blessed be God, blessed us, with spiritual blessings. We bless God, because He first blessed us with specific blessings. Even the worship and praise of God originates with Him. We can’t bless God unless He first blesses us, which has happened through Jesus. 

-And how many spiritual blessings? Every single one. I think we are at times tempted to view God like Scrooge from “A Christmas Story,” counting every penny and ensuring no one gets too much. Instead, the picture we’re seeing here is of a God who’s throwing out blessing like it’s running out of style! Or like Oprah, you get a blessing, you get a blessing, blessings for everyone! There is nothing held back, nothing kept in reserves, God is all in on his blessings. But where are these blessings? I look at my life and I don’t always feel like it’s overflowing with blessings, still sickness, people dying, wars.

-“Heavenly places” The first century readers would have understood there’s more to the world than we can see with our 2 eyes. There’s a greater reality taking place around us all the time that we are often oblivious to.

-Think of it like the radio waves. Everywhere we walk there are radio waves that are passing through us, but we can’t hear them. But if we got a radio and turned it on, then tuned it to a specific frequency we would be able to listen to music, talk radio, etc. Is that too dated of a reference now? Cell phones! 

-How do we tune to the right station, or make sure our cell phone is connected to the right network? Spiritually, we need to be “in Christ.” That theme is the connective tissue throughout this section. Paul repeats “In him/Christ” 11 times in these first 14 verses! “The ley for understanding this letter is recognizing that all believers have a new identity in Christ.” (ECNT, 79)

-When did this being “In Christ” begin? When God chose us “before the foundation of the world.”

-From eternity past, God had a perfect plan that included the salvation of His people. But notice as well that there is a point to this choosing: to be holy and blameless before Him. Do not get that order reversed! God didn’t choose us because we were holy and blameless, or because of anything we’d done that merited His favor, we were chosen only because of His grace. Then because of that grace we can now be holy and blameless before Him.

-This isn’t a new reality, this has been God’s plan literally forever. That’s why we seen glimpses of this even in the OT. Abraham wasn’t chosen because he was richer, smarter or better, the nation of Israel wasn’t chosen because of anything they did (in fact God said they were the smallest and weakest nation!) it’s only because of God’s love and mercy that anyone is chosen.

-Next, we see a word that has caused all sorts of discussions over the past 2 millennia: predestination! I’ve even been told from some people that predestination is unbiblical! Not sure what Bible they were reading, but it wasn’t this one! Predestination is a wonderfully biblical and comforting doctrine! But before you jump to any conclusions on this, let’s look at the what the Bible actually says about it. 

-First, what are last 2 words of vs. 4? “In love.” This predestination isn’t (as I’ve heard some people describe) God playing a cosmic game of duck, duck, grey duck where people are randomly condemned to hell for eternity. Instead, since God is love (1 John 4:8) everything He does is an act of love. We need to tremble with fear as we come into discissions about God because we need to admit we’ll never fully comprehend Him (if we could, He wouldn’t be a God worth worshipping). 

-AW Tozer Knowledge of the Holy If we get God wrong, we’ll be conforming our lives to the wrong standard and aiming in the completely wrong direction. 

-Additionally, because we’re not God, we have a “mystery” card to play! But don’t play it too soon, wrestle with everything God has said and revealed, but then when you come the point of mystery, fall on your face and worship Him because “his ways are not your ways, and His thoughts are not your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9)

-Predestination (προορίζω) lit. translated “to foreordain or predestine.” Evangelical Dictionary of Theologydefines it as ““God’s predetermination of persons to a specific end…an aspect of God’s rule over all that he created and sustains.” (693) It’s only used 6 times in the NT, let’s look at all of them to see what it means.

Acts 4:27-28

Prayer of the believers asking for boldness to continue preaching. Begins “Sovereign Lord…” quotes Psalm 2, then goes here. This tells us that even worldly events happen according to God’s predetermination.

Romans 8:28-30 The Golden Chain of salvation!

-In salvation, we are predestined individually, notice the purpose to which we are predestined (to be conformed, aka “In Christ”). Predestination is just 1 part of the chain that culminates in glorification. This passage tells us that salvation comes about because of God’s predetermination.

1 Cor 2:7

-Paul here is talking about Christ being the power and wisdom of God, which according to worldly standards is foolish. Here we see that salvation through the cross was God’s plan before history was written. The only other passage is Eph. 1 where it occurs twice.

What we see throughout Scripture is 2 things: 1 – God is completely sovereign, in control of everything that happens. 2 – humans are completely responsible for their actions. How does this work in God’s economy? Mystery! We must only go as far as the Bible explicitly speaks, and no further! 

-I think this is most evidenced in: Acts 13:48. Somehow and some way humans are responsible for their belief, and God is sovereignly orchestrating all things. Think of the end of Joseph’s story: Genesis 50 – You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.

-All that to say, when we read “predestined” in our Bibles, it’s meant to comfort us. It’s supposed to be a pillow, not a sledge hammer. Since God is in control we can actually sleep at night! Not worry and fret about whether or not we’re “predestined.”

-Charles Spurgeon was asked how to reconcile God’s sovereignty and human’s responsibility, and he replied, “I never reconcile two friends.” Another pastor was asked about this “problem” and he replied, “That’s not my problem. That’s God’s problem. And for God, it’s not a problem.”

-Where does predestination lead? “To adoption as sons”

-Adoption is a beautiful reality throughout the Bible. It means we have all the rights and privileges of being in God’s family. Maybe you have friends who have adopted, they see a cute little baby who needs a home and brings them in. However, spiritual adoption isn’t quite like that, because God adopts us when we’re enemies who are opposed to Him. There’s nothing cute or lovely about us, we’re literally at war with Him, but in spite of that God still chooses us.

-Sons doesn’t mean women are left out. But we need to understand the context this is written in. In the 1st century women weren’t included in a family inheritance. I’m not saying that’s right, that was just what happened! Throughout the NT, when adoption or an inheritance comes up it will say something like this “as sons” which would have been revolutionary, since it included men and women! In God’s family, we’re all considered “sons” or worthy or receiving the family inheritance.

-And all of this is done according to “His will” and leads to his glory. Certainly more that could be said, but we’ve got more to cover! In the next section Paul shows us how we saved.

  • Redeemed by the Son (7-12)

-“In Him” again, we have redemption. 

-Comes “through His blood”, leads to “forgiveness,” comes about because of “the riches of his grace.” 

-This redemption is meant to remind the readers of the redemption that God had done for his people historically. Just as God had redeemed his people from slavery in Egypt, today God has redeemed his people from the slavery to sin. But redemption only comes about if we are “In Christ” if his blood has covered us and paid the penalty for our sin. This is known as grace, which has been:

-“lavished upon us.” (8) Once again, God isn’t stingy! We see this in John 1 through God we receive “grace upon grace” God starts with grace and ends with grace, everything we have is a gift of God’s grace to us.

-This grace is how God has revealed to us the “mystery of his will.” 

-Magic and the occult was a big part of the Ephesian culture. Trying to understand the mysteries of the gods, how to appease them, how to use them to get what you wanted and need from them when you needed it, never quite knowing if you were in the right place or doing the right thing. Yet when you’re “in Christ” you’re now a part of that mystery, which is no longer a mystery! God’s mysterious plan has already taken place! That’s part of the joy of living on this side of the cross! We can look back and see how it is that God accomplished his eternal plan by sending His one and only Son to bear the penalty for the sins of the world, and “unite all things in Him.” That is to have Jesus be the ultimate King over any other supposed ruler or king that people were tempted to worship.

-Notice that there is nothing left out from His rule: heaven and earth. Another reminder that what we taste, see, smell isn’t all there is.

-“In Him” we also have an inheritance! All of us, sons and daughters, because we’re in Christ no one is left out of this blessing, this grace upon grace where God gives us everything He has created.

-Again, there’s the predestination that serves to remind us that God is in control, so we don’t need to be afraid. To God, nothing is a mystery! And finally, we see the aim of Jesus’ redemption: “to the praise of His glory.” We are saved to bring honor and glory to God. Everything in salvation is meant to lead us to respond to God with praise, or blessing. We see this throughout the Psalms (including the one we read as the call to worship), “Bless the Lord”

-I titled this message “Trinitarian worship” We’ve seen that we should bless God the Father because He chose us before anything was created, He accomplished this choosing through the Son’s redemption, and we know this is guaranteed to happen because we have been sealed by the Spirit.

  • Sealed by the Sprit (13-14)

-Are you starting to see the theme I mentioned earlier? “In him.” WHEN you heard…and believed. The exact moment when you respond to the truth of the gospel message and believe “in him,” you are given the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead living in you.

-Because God now lives within us “in Christ,” Jesus even said during His earthly ministry that it was better for Him to leave so that we could have the Spirit in us. In salvation, the Spirit serves as the “seal” or “guarantee” During the NT, a seal was used to make ownership. Animals would be “sealed” (think of brand on some cattle you may have seen today) It served as an identification, so if someone else tried to come take it they wouldn’t be able to! The Holy Spirit in us identifies us as God’s chosen ones.

-This seal serves as the starting point, the taste, of everything that will be fully realized when Jesus finally comes back. We haven’t yet completely acquired everything God has promised, we see glimpses of it, but it’s not quite there yet. John Stott compares this to a down payment on a house. You scrimp and save for years to get that down payment, which then serves as the guarantee that you’re invested, but it’s also the first payment of the loan. Similarly, the Holy Spirit serves as the down payment of our future inheritance.

-“to the praise of His glory.” All of life is meant to be lived as worship to God. Plumbing the depths of God’s eternal plan is worthless unless it leads to greater appreciation and worship of God, who predetermined from eternity past to choose in, redeem us, and seal us by His Spirit. Yet that doesn’t leave us off the hook for the choices we make. Every person has a choice to make: when will you bow the knee to Christ as the Savior and King of the universe? Will it be before you die, when that means you’ll be sealed by the Spirit and be adopted into God’s family, or will it be after you die when it will be too late, and you’ll be separated from God forever? 

-In Christ:

-Each of us must make the decision about whether or not we will be in Christ. Don’t let this opportunity pass by you! Realize that God’s mysterious plan has been revealed, and you can be a part of it! You don’t have to know the mystery, you have the trust in the God to whom nothing is a mystery.

Psalm 18 – Sermon Manuscript

-I think a fascinating thing to study is music, especially church music. Why were songs written the way they were, what was the inspiration for the words, who wrote them? One theme in songs (and you can trace it in the Bible as well) is God being our rock! We sang the refrain from one song about that this morning “On Christ the solid rock I stand” but that’s not the one! One of the most well-known songs in church history is “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” Written by Augustus Toplady in 1776, the song was inspired by one of his travels. He got caught in a heavy storm and found shelter in the cleft of a rock, inspiring Him to pen the now well-known words to the hymn: “rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” This song deals with the exact same themes we’ll be looking at in Psalm 18 today.

-The 4th longest Psalm in the book, if you need to sit down at some point, please do.

READ/PRAY

  1. I Love You Lord (1-3)

-Repeated almost word for word in 2 Samuel 22, which comes right before “the last words of David” in 2 Sam. 23. This tells us it was toward the end of David’s life as he looks back and reflects on God’s protection and preservation throughout his life.

-I have noticed that as people get older there tends to be some sentimentality and almost looking back over life with rose tinted glasses. As we read through this Psalm there will be some of those moments! But there’s also ways in which the Holy Spirit used these words to point to great David’s greater Son!

-David doesn’t begin where I would think he should begin, with thanksgiving. If the point is to be grateful to God for his protection, wouldn’t the right instinct be to give thanks? Instead, he says “I love you, O Lord.”

-I think this tells us just how much we need to be reminded of the gospel message: that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death we deserved to die so that we could not be declared righteous instead of sinful. And how often do we then stop in response at thanks, instead of moving to the next step of love? Giving thanks is right, and we should, but we can’t just stay there, because it’s meant to lead us to that next step of being in a close relationship with God.

-Think of how you receive a compliment, don’t you at first just feel awkward? I feel awkward when people say “great sermon pastor” “thanks?” We often don’t know how to respond. When we read that God saved us, that He loves us, that He wants to spend time with you, do you actually believe that, and respond by engaging with Him as He has called us to do, or do you just feel awkward? This first phrase, I think, should be a bigger focus in our lives than we tend to make it! You can love and enjoy a relationship with God, He invites you to!

-We have seen throughout these 10 Psalms this summer a lot of rocky themes. God is a rock, a fortress, a protection. All of these are meant to serve as a reminder that God will protect and preserve His people. Don’t be afraid, don’t be alarmed, entrust yourself to our good God. Therefore, we call on Him and He will save us, which is what David elaborates on in this next section:

  • God’s Power in Salvation (4-19)

-There were numerous occasions where David was on the verge of death! Saul wanted him dead, the Philistines wanted him dead, his son tried to usurp his throne, even God one time threatened him because of a sin he committed! It’s a tough job to be the king! I highly doubt any of us have ever faced the same kinds of imminent threat David faced on a daily basis! 

-The chapter after this song in 2 Sam recounts “David’s mighty men” All these crazy guys who fought for/with David, basically the Navy Seals of Israel. I remember reading that chapter in high school after the movie 300 came out, and I thought “When is someone going to make a movie like that on the life of David?” He was crazy! Yet even all these mighty men aren’t enough to save David from death. Whether we realize it or not, all of us are 1 step, 1 phone call, one missed heartbeat away from your life completely changing. Nothing is guaranteed! But look at vs. 6: the thing that is guaranteed is God will respond when we cry out to Him! We’ve seen this idea repeatedly over the summer too, He will hear us! And look how God responds here:

-This language is what is called a “theophany” a visible manifestation of God. A couple notes on these:

-First, I think we tend to forget about God in the midst of the world continuing to move. We have a tendency to act (as we saw in Psalm 14) as atheists, that God isn’t still actively involved in our day to day lives, even in the weather! We see earthquakes as merely tectonic plates shifting, we see rain as the descent of evaporated water, wind as the effect of high and low pressure systems. Yet who is the one who created and continues to sustain them? God!

-Second, and more immediate to this text, but we don’t have any examples of David seeing any of these things take place! As far as we know from David’s life in the Bible, he never saw God shake a mountain, or hailstorms and coals of fire come from him, or turning over the seas in his pursuit of His enemies. But there are places in Scripture where these events do happen!

-Think of when Moses recorded the 10 commandments, after 40 days on the mountain with God. The people were told to stay away from the mountain, to not touch it because if they did they would die! There was a cloud, they saw fire. The earth would have reeled and rocked! Or when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by hail and coals of fire. Or when God’s people walked across the dry ground to escape from the pursuing Egyptians as they walked across the Red Sea.

-David wasn’t alive in any of these stories, but He knew them! His job as the King was to be so immersed in God’s Word that it felt like His story. In Deut. 17 we see the king’s primary job to be knowing, reading, and studying God’s Word, because the king is meant to serve as the example to the rest of kingdom of what a faithful follower of God looks like. He is to submit his whole life to God’s Word.

-This also shows that David is aligning himself with God’s people throughout history. Just as God protected and provided for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, just as God protected and provided for Moses, God protected and provided for David! And that is also true for us today! We read, study and immerse ourselves in God’s Word so that we can readily call to mind these stories of how God has protected and provided for His people throughout history, and will continue to do the same thing into the future.

-The last thing David mentions is the individual preservation the Lord provided Him (19). David was nothing by Himself, but God supported Him. David was in a tight spot, surrounded by many enemies and certain death, but God brought him to “a broad place” because God delighted in David. There’s that same idea! We have meant to have a delightful relationship with God, He loves you, that’s why He saved you!

  • How We Can Be Saved (20-29)

-Then David turns to another section that feels off with both this Psalm and the rest of the Bible! Notice all the personal pronouns in vss. 20-24: my righteousness, my hands, I have kept, all his rules before me, I did not put away, I was blameless, I kept myself, my righteousness, cleanness of my hands. Is David suddenly slipping into his latent narcissistic tendencies?

-This is where we need to keep this Psalm in the context of the whole book! If you flip over to Psalm 51it feels like a completely different person: “have mercy on me! Wash me from my iniquity, my sin is ever before me.” It’s almost like David was a real person experiencing real, human emotions through every stage of his life, and then recorded them (with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) for followers of God throughout the rest of human history. 

-We also need to read this in context with the next section, don’t just lift up 1 verse here, then run to a conclusion based on that 1 verse.

-David is demonstrating how God (generally) deals with people.

-One of the things I’ve started sharing with people who want to talk about exceptions to rules is: there are always exceptions to the rule, but the exceptions don’t make good rules! So you start talking about how smoking kills, and then someone says “I know someone who smoked a pack a day until they died of old age at 88.” Good for them! I still wouldn’t recommend anyone pick up smoking! As a general rule of life: if you are obedient to how God commands us to live and operate, you are more likely to live a long life. That’s true throughout all of human history! Always exceptions to the rule (Job specifically comes to mind, as does Jesus, but that’s again a later conversation!)

-There was even a Jewish tradition that said this was true even as Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years. Remember how God miraculously provided manna and quail for them? “The Jewish tradition was that the manna tasted according to each man’s mouth; certainly God shows himself to each individual according to his character.” (Spurgeon, Treasury of David) AKA you reap what you sow! Do you want God to be merciful to you? Live a merciful life! Do you want God to be loving to you? Live a loving life! 

-One last note about this section that I don’t want you to miss: you can never out-sin the grace of God. As David is looking back over his life, he can say he has been righteous and obedient to God’s rules and statutes, but we know he wasn’t always faithful! God has cast our sin as far as the east it from the west (eternal) but that doesn’t mean we just continue in sin. That means in our fight against sin, we don’t give up, we keep going, and we keep trusting ourselves to our merciful God. There is nothing you can do that will separate you from God’s love, for those of you who have been saved! (we’ll get to that in Ephesians this Fall!)

-David begins applying these truths to his life, then applies them more broadly in vs. 25-29 before going back to recount the ways God provides for His people in their salvation.

  • God’s Provision in Salvation (30-45)

-Start to see some repetition here, but please note that repetition isn’t always bad! In the 2nd section David recounted God’s marvelous power in salvation, which leads to the means by which God has provided for His people through salvation.

-Remember, this is what David was pointing to in the previous section! Where does our righteousness come from? It’s not inherent in us! Where does the strength to endure under suffering come from? Not from us! Our righteousness is an alien righteousness, foreign to us coming only from God, made possible by and through Him.

-This section begins with David reminding us that there is no one like God. His way is the only way, thus it is perfect. His word always is proven true, as David just demonstrated by recounting how God worked in human history, and finally he reminds everyone that God is a shield (35), protecting His people if they “take refuge” (30) or place their faith in Him. You may then ask, what does that look like?

-A long list of things here! I think it can be broken up into 2 areas: God sustains David with everything he needs, and then through God, David’s enemies are defeated. First the provision: Notice that God’s equipping with strength is what leads to a blameless way. Brother or sister, now that we have died, and are raised in a new life with Christ we have the strength to say no to sin! We have the God-given ability to put to death the sinful tendencies we have in our lives. He will make us as fast as a deer, and give us the insight to see the world for what it really is. He gives us the tools and weapons we need to fight spiritually (again, we’ll look at that in more detail this Fall!). 

-We also have “a wide place for my steps.” (36) Think of how tricky it is to walk on a balance beam. We took our kids to an open gym this past Spring, and Ellie tried her hand at walking all the way across the balance beam. Look at the focus and determination to get across! If it were 4’ wide, how much easier would it be? By obeying God, fighting with His strength in us, walking through life is like walking through a wide-open field, no tripping or stumbling through it, it becomes easy.

-The second focus is the defeat of David’s enemies. God went before David even in the defeat of His enemies (ties into the wide place for his steps). As David was writing this his livelihood literally depended on his defeating his enemies! If his enemies won, he was out of a job (and most likely out of a life!). Yet as he looks back over his life, he’s seen God’s provision to never let him be completely defeated.  

-That gets us back to where David begins, and an appropriate ending place after recounting all the ways God has provided for David in his salvation:

  • Praise to God (46-50)

-The right and proper response to God working in your life is to praise and worship Him. Which means our whole lives should be responding to the reality that God has saved us! This is why it’s so important to me that we have a call to worship every time we gather, it helps us to remember and reorient our thinking to what God has done, and then our proper response is to join together in praising Him!

-“The Lord lives” He will never die, He will never get tired, He will never stop loving and being a kind and caring Father. Therefore we will bless and exalt Him. Just as David said at the beginning, he says at the end that God is our rock. 

-Anytime you see God described as a rock, think of one of the parables Jesus told: of the man who built his house on the rock. If God is our rock, the place we’re building the foundation of our life upon, then nothing will shake us. The storms can come, the creek can rise, the wind can blow, but the house of our life will stand firm. 

-Then we’re finally at the last verse! Whew! Lots to cover in this Psalm! This last verse confirms for us something that I’ve been alluding to throughout this whole message: this Psalm points us ultimately to great David’s greater son: Jesus.

-In order to understand how we see Jesus throughout a section like this, we need to understand a theological concept known as typology. Since all of history is a story of God working, He sovereignly ordained from the dawn of creation how the story would be written. Therefore, He used people in history to point to the greatest reality ever: that God would dwell with His people forever. We see throughout the Gospels how Jesus fulfilled the promises to his people. We see in Rom. 5 that where Adam failed, Jesus was victorious. We see in Moses a glimpse of the perfect prophet to come who would speak perfectly on behalf of his people. We see in David the glimpse of the perfect king who would come to rule forever. This is where I’ve repeatedly said we need to read the entire Bible through the lens of Jesus Christ. The whole thing is about Him! 

-It is because of Jesus that David can say “the Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness.” Look back at vs. 20-24. Who is the only person to live who fulfilled this description? And then look at vs. 25-29, and to whom was this rule not true? Jesus! Despite being merciful was given wrath, despite being blameless was blamed, despite being pure was made sin, despite being perfectly straight was given torture.

-And now, because of Christ, these descriptions can be true of us today! Jesus has saved us from our enemies! Sin, Satan, and death no longer have any power over us. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we have the weapons and strength we need to fight against any temptation we would face to deny or give up on faithfully following God with our whole lives. None of this is because of anything we’ve done or can do, but because of what God has done in us.

-Therefore, we can join together in remembering and celebrating this reality in the Lord’s Supper. Each time we celebrate this, we are commanded to remember our salvation. The body that was broken for us, the blood that was shed for us, the connection back to the Passover where God has worked in human history to bring about His perfect plan. Each time we take and eat we are joining with God’s people starting all the way back in Eden to say “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” We are joining with God’s people to say no to sin, and yes to Christ, to praise God for the salvation freely given to all who receive Him. 

-I was reminded recently of Psalm 116:13 in connection to communion where the author states “I will life up the cup of my salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” Just as we saw in Psalm 18 that David praises God for his salvation, we too need to praise God for our salvation. 

Psalm 19 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-As we begin today’s message, I need everyone in here to pretend that they’re kids again, we’re going to play some games with our imaginations.

-First: I want you to think about your favorite place in the world that you’ve ever been to. Could be a cabin in the woods, a beach you visited, Lebanon hills, the mountains, Disney World.

-Now I want you to think about your favorite dessert, the best you’ve ever had. Over summer my mind often goes to a perfectly browned marshmallow (don’t you dare burn them!) with either Reese’s or Hershey’s on graham crackers! Maybe you love a good piece of pie, a piece of cake, a scoop of ice cream. Personally, I’m a sucker for crème brulee. Cara and I spent our honeymoon on the Big Island of Hawaii and I had the best crème brulee I’ve ever had! I’ve been looking everywhere I can to try to find a piece of that crème brulee, but none have yet come close to replicating it!

-Isn’t some of what makes your favorite place in the world and your favorite dessert the rarity of it? If I ate that crème brulee everyday accompanying every meal I would eventually grow tired of it. Or if you lived in your favorite place in the world, mine is Colorado. Got to live there for 5 years, and much to my dismay, there were some days that I forgot to look at the mountains. 

-So often we miss or neglect to enjoy the things that are right around us that were given for our joy. All these little things are supposed to be gifts from God that point us to Him! Today’s Psalm is a reminder that God’s fingerprints are all around us, if we take the time to stop and notice, to pay careful attention to how He has chosen to reveal Himself to us.

READ/PRAY. How do you find Psalm 19? Why do we stand? Neh. 8:5Luke 4:16

  1. Creation – General Revelation (1-6)

-This Psalm begins looking at one way God reveals Himself to us: through the created order. There are 2 primary ways God has chosen to reveal Himself to His creation: the rest of creation, and His Word. Theologians refer to these as general and special revelation. General being something everyone can see, special being a unique separate revelation. General revelation/creation points to Him as the Creator, but a knowledge of God as the Creator doesn’t save someone, which is why He also gave us a special revelation: His Word, and ultimately His Word made flesh: Jesus. We’ll get to the special revelation in a bit, the first section is an extended meditation on creation.

-The heavens and the sky are serving a purpose. Skies bring forth rain, seasons, sustaining of life. But looking up at the skies, do you ever feel small? Every time you walk outside and look up you’re staring at a place where you could most likely fly in a straight line and hit nothing for lightyears.

-You can see another example of this if you ever walk into an old historic cathedral. Those buildings are awe-inspiring (intentionally so!) what do people do the instant they walk into a building like that? Silence, look up. This is meant to communicate the bigness of God (transcendence)

-Heard one pastor say no one walks up to the edge of the Grand Canyon and brags how smart they are. If you saw someone do that, wouldn’t you look at them like they’re crazy? Dude, you’re missing something amazing if you’d get over yourself!

-Now look at the verbs connected to the skies and the heavens: declare and proclaim. Has anyone ever heard the sky talking? We know this isn’t literal! But they do declare and proclaim some truth: the glory of God, and the work of his hands. There’s a couple reasons for this speaking.

-The first, as we’ve seen, is to remind us of the bigness of God. He is so far beyond anything we could ever figure out on our own!

-The second reason is a reminder that the creation is not God. The weather is one of the few places today humans are still reminded that we’re not God! We’ve sent people to space, we’ve learned much about sicknesses and disease, we’ve mapped the entire human genome, but we have yet to prevent rain, turn the tides, or even prevent a tiny little coronavirus from circling the planet! Everything that exists was created by God, yet is not god. That’s a vital distinction for us to remember! When David was writing this, most other cultures nearby worshipped the creation, they would have a sun god, a moon god, star gods. This is David saying none of those created things are meant to be worshipped!

-This declaration and proclamation that the heavens and skies are doing occur day after day and night after night. This tells us the purpose of all creation: to point to the Creator God. But let’s ask that question again: have you ever heard the sky talk? Vs. 3 says that exact same thing!

-CSB: “There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard.” However, it almost feels like David is VERY forgetful, because look at vs. 4

-Despite the reality that creation doesn’t speak audibly, nothing can stop them from continually pointing to the creator, screaming out the reality of God! I can’t remember where I heard this (I’ve tried looking it up since) so it was probably Spurgeon that said it! But some well-known preacher one time said: a dog worships God by acting like a dog. Barking, wagging his tail, chasing his tail. Similarly with the skies, they worship God by acting within their nature: the sun worships by continually burning, the Earth worships by continually spinning, the moon worships by reflecting the sun. They can’t help but continually worship and praise their Creator. So David talks about the sun continually worshipping:

-In the sky, we see the sun rising and the sun setting day after day after day. Remember we saw in Psalm 15that David questioned who could sojourn in God’s holy tent referring to the dwelling place of God. Similarly here, God has created the space for the sun to live and move, and in the sun’s obedience to worshipping and living as God has commanded him (her?), the sun never runs out of energy.

-David compares the sun to a bridegroom running out on his wedding day. I don’t know about anyone else when they got married, but I couldn’t wait for that day! I even woke up super early for Cara and I to get a cup of coffee together and chat about the day before we got busy with the rest of our preparation!

-The other comparison is like an Olympic athlete who shoots off their starting blocks and chases down the gold medal. I care about running about once every 4 years (which coincidentally coincides with the Olympics!). Let me clarify, I like watching the 100m race, the one that’s over in 10 sec. I remember watching Usain Bolt back in 2016 glance over and smile at a camera DURING THE RACE! How frustrating would it be to race against that guy? Do you think he has joy when he’s running? Or maybe you’ve seen the classic movie “Chariots of Fire” based on the life of Eric Liddell. When talking to his sister about pursuing his dream of running in the Olympics, Eric says “God made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.” Because the sun was made to shine into the darkness of the galaxy, it continues burning with exuberance, like Usain Bolt or Eric Liddell running with joy!

-Lastly, notice the expanse of the sun: it covers everything we can see, and shines even into the darkness so nothing and no one can be hidden from it. This is here to remind us that God sees everything, nothing can be hidden from his sight, which is what David will go on to say in the next section:

  • The Word – Special Revelation (7-9)

-What does general revelation refer to? Right, creation. Now David turns to special revelation, and what makes it special is that it explicitly tells everything we need to know about God. In this section, David seems to be stuck in a rut. He keeps repeating the same phrasing throughout this section. So I figured I would break it down a little bit like a math problem.

-Notice all the ways David describes God’s Word: law, testimony, precepts, commandment, rules (fear is slightly different). 

-If you’re anything like me, when I was growing up, anytime people started talking about the Bible as laws, commandments, rules my eyes started glossing over and I thought suddenly everything turned into adult time. Rules sucked the joy out of life and were meant to be broken. Why would God stoop to making all these rules if he knew we had not chance of keeping them? But just you wait before you go assuming these are rules that are meant to be broken!

-Have you ever read a fantasy book, about a far-off land where things are different than what you see around you? Maybe Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia or one of my new favorites The Wingfeather Saga. Whether you like to admit it or not, even those places have certain rules that everyone is supposed to follow. Generally, the story gets good because the main character refuses to follow an unjust law, but that just tells us there are some laws that are right and should be followed! And who is the one who wrote all these laws? God is! The thing is, God wants us to grow in satisfaction and enjoyment of what He has given to us, so even His laws and rules are in place to help us enjoy everything He made.

-Let’s look at the effects of God’s Word in our lives. 

-First, it revives the soul. If you’ve ever done any kind of manual labor, there come points where you would do anything to be revived! My first “grown up” job was out of high school where I did painting and remodeling to help pay for college. I’ll be honest, my favorite days were the days when it rained! It meant I got to sleep in and have a day off! I’m currently doing some work on the floors of the main level of our house, and my back and legs would LOVE to have some way of being revived every day! Spending time in God’s Word allows your innermost being to be revived, giving life back to you.

-Next it’s good for making wise the simple. Paul says the same thing in 1 Cor. 1:20-21 “Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” True, everlasting wisdom is found in God, not in the way the world likes to measure wisdom (things like ACT scores, GPA, always a number)

-Then it rejoices the heart. It brings joy that won’t every fade, despite what’s going on in your life. Even when you’re sick, even when your friends betray you, you can still have joy. One of the songs I learned when I was growing up: “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where?”

-Then it enlightens the eyes, which connects to God’s commandments being radiant, thus it brings light to the eyes. If you’re like me, you don’t like being in dark places. If you want to ensure that you can have lights to understand what’s taking place in your life, look to God’s Word! I don’t even like going down into my basement without a light on, imagine trying to live your whole life in the darkness, how easy would it be to get around? God’s Word gives us a light so we can see everything going on around us!

-Finally we see how it affects us, fearing God the means by which we endure forever. God hasn’t left us in doubt about how we should live, He’s told us everything we need! So we need to respond in fear, reverence and awe.

-The last reminder: true and righteous. In a world where the standard seems to be changing from day to day, God never changes, and His standards have been the exact same since the world was created!

  • Our Response to God’s Revelation (10-14)

-David writes similar thoughts to this Psalm in Psalm 8, but in that case asks the question: “what is man that you are mindful of him?” Then recounts how God created everything, but the pinnacle of the creation is humans who are given dominion over the creation. Unlike the previous Psalm, this time David has just finished the second revelation of God: His Word. So what is the proper response to God’s two revelations?

-First is we should want them more than anything else in the world. The older I get, the more security seems to be talked about more often. In my 20s I didn’t care about a life insurance policy, but TBH I also felt like I was invincible! Boundless energy, more time than I knew what to do with, and then I hit 30 and everything changed (and I’ve heard 40 is even worse!) But all the security in the world, the best 401K, the paid off house can’t change the fact that the mortality rate still sits right at 100%. So where are you placing your security? Because even your 401K has an expiration date! God’s Word lasts forever.

-Kids, how many of you like eating dessert? One piece of advice for you, because nothing in life is guaranteed, it’s best to start eating dessert, and then get on to the rest of the meal! My son loves dessert, I feel like he asks for dessert after every meal we have at home. Did you know that David says that spending time in God’s Word is even yummier than eating your favorite dessert? It’s true! And just like dessert, it makes you want to keep eating more and more, the more you spend time in God’s Word the more you’ll want to keep spending more and more time in it!

-By listening and obeying God’s Word it helps us know which rules we’re supposed to follow and which ones we’re not supposed to follow, and it also means that by obeying God’s rules we will win the race of life we’re running, we’ll have “great reward.” (11)

-I’m not sure where this idea that “everyone’s a winner” came in, because when you do that everyone is still keeping score and knows who won! It’s the same thing with God’s law – He’s told us what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to live, and if you faithfully follow after Him you will have a great reward!

-The text then takes a bit of a weird turn after this, David realizes He can’t obey all God’s rules. He can’t discern all the ways He continues to sin, no one can! One translation translates vs. 12 as “Who perceives his unintentional sin?” (CSB). 

-Many of us worry about the sins we commit (which David talks about in vs. 13) but we very rarely think of the sins we don’t commit, but God cares about both! Maybe you didn’t help your brother or sister when they fell down, maybe you didn’t share your snack with a friend who forgot theirs. The sins of things we forget to do could probably go on forever, but how often do we think about them? David here is reminding us to confess the sins that we’ve done, and the sin we’ve committed by leaving things undone. My goodness, who could ever measure up? This is why we need Jesus to come in our place, to allow us to actually desire the right things, to do the right things, to obey the right things.

-David ends in the same place he began, but we need to pay careful attention to understand how. Remember he began this Psalm talking about how the heavens declare God’s glory, we see in vs. 14 that we’re supposed to do the same! 

-In the Gospels, a similar story is told: during the triumphal entry, the Pharisees were upset that people were praising God because of Jesus Luke 19:40 “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Here’s the crazy thing, THEY ARE! The stones, like the rest of creation, can’t help but cry out in praise to God!

-Just like the heavens declare the glory of God, God made us to declare His glory with our entire lives. 2 ways we do that: 

-Every time we see creation doing what it’s supposed to do we glorify the God who made that creation. Marvel when you see a tree waving in the wind, give thanks when you’re out mowing your lawn cultivating your little section of the garden God created, praise God because the sun allows you to see the beauty of the world around you, give thanks when you see the colors of the setting or rising sun.

-The second way is to be savoring God’s Word. Treat it like you would your favorite dessert or favorite place. Soak and saturate yourself in it! To remind you to savor God’s Word I got honey packets for you all to pick up on your way out (parents be careful to not let your kids spill!) 

Psalm 15 – Sermon Manuscript

-Series on the Psalms, Psalm 15 serves as the antithesis to Psalm 14. Last week we saw the fool who denies God exists either by what they believe or how they live. This week we’re going to be looking at what a superhero looks like!

-Who is your favorite superhero? Micah, Elizabeth, Cara and I saw the new Thor this weekend and enjoyed seeing the next installment of Marvel movies! But even if you don’t like superheroes, you have to admit they have a cultural influence right now! I remember the first time I saw X-Men at a sleepover, got blown away seeing blades come out of Wolverine’s hands. Or when the first Spider-Man came out in 2002, and then seeing Iron Man in 2008. These heroes, normal looking people who are asked to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, wrestling with emotions, friends, high school, being outcasts, yet staying true to their morals (even when they have misguided or broken morals). 

-We’re not the first generation to be obsessed with this! The Epic of Gilgamesh (2000 BC), The Greek pantheon of gods, Roman pantheon of gods. We love hearing stories of people who look like us, but are so much better than us.

-This Psalm shows us God’s measurement of a superhero, it can be summarized by the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

READ/PRAY

  1. 2 Questions (1)

-One of the most fascinating things I learned during Seminary is how the Lord accommodated Himself to His people.

-Even the fact that God speaks words to us is His accommodating us. Onetime heard a theologian say that any talk to us is like baby talk to God (how I talk to Lucy)  

-Ancient tabernacle is built similarly to other ANE religions. Notice: similarly. Some huge differences and distinctions too that demonstrate why God is different than the other gods people worship

-Other religions would begin by asking the penitent pilgrim a question about why they should be given access to the god they’re seeking, often it’s done by a certain ritual, specific actions done in just the right way

-Isn’t that an interesting marker of man-made religions? In order to gain access or approval from the supreme being, one must clean themselves up, or do specific actions, or say specific phrases. But how can one ever know if they’ve done it correctly? Mormons have to order their entire life around this pursuit, spend a year on mission in order to be right. Roman Catholics have to go to confession, say hail marys, be baptized a specific way. Muslims have to pray a VERY specific direction, otherwise it’s blasphemy. 

-Martin Luther climbing the Scala Sancta in 1510, 28 marble steps that Jesus climbed on his way to Pontius Pilate, repeated the ‘Our Father’ at each step, got to the top and still wasn’t sure if it was sufficient.

-Maybe you’ve done something similar: you snap at your wife so you find some way to self-flagellate yourself by skipping a meal or getting up extra early to read your Bible for the next week. You’re short with your kids so you vow to spend more time with them doing their favorite activity for the next 3 days. There’s an innate desire to be proven adequate, to measure up, isn’t there?

-Some scholars think these opening questions were meant to serve as a call to worship, an entrance point to the tabernacle.

-Verbs here: sojourn, dwell refer to temporary lodging. Not permanent. Referring to some relationship with God, but not something that would be eternal (yet!)

-God’s manifest presence in the OT was situational and locational. This is why the Israelites built the whole tabernacle system – their tents were gathered around the tabernacle, God was literally the centering point around which their entire lives existed. We could learn something from that today! Do we, do YOU operate you’re whole life with God as the centering point, or do you try to keep him on the periphery? 

-Because the reality is: God’s manifest presence today has no constraints! There is literally no place where we can’t worship God (I realize that’s a double negative) There are no longer constraints on where we’re supposed to worship God. God’s intent from the dawn of creation was to have the whole world full of people imaging (representing) Him to the rest of creation, worshipping Him completely and fully. 

-I was listening to a podcast this week that got into a discussion on why they don’t like referring to this room as a “sanctuary” that I thought was fascinating! Throughout the Bible, the sanctuary refers to the place where God’s manifest presence dwells. Now that’s in each of us, it’s not supposed to be contained by a building. I had a similar issue at the church I previously served, when I got there it was called “the worship center.” In John 4, Jesus tells the woman at the well that that day the worship of God was no longer constrained by a place. Now, I get the desire to create sacred spaces, mark this as different, but what we need to remember is what’s different about this is the fact that we’re all together. Young, old, tall, short, people from every nation, tribe and tongue gathered here together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, remembering what He did on our behalf. That can happen in this room, outside, in a hut in the jungle, in a cathedral, in a house, anywhere in the world! Now we have a permanent tent, and we can permanently dwell in God’s holy hill!

-When David wrote this, God’s people would go to Jerusalem 3 times a year, Passover, Firstfruits, Booths where they were encouraged to examine themselves and as they grew closer to the holy hill, Jerusalem. We don’t have to wait to get somewhere to come before God with prayer or confession, we can do it anywhere in the world.

  • The Answer (2-5)

-As David moves to the answer to these questions, what you should notice is how dissimilar this would have been to any other religion.

-Are any of these descriptions religious rituals? Doesn’t it seem to be more descriptive of a moral, upright person than someone who follows every piece of religious observance?

-List is not exhaustive (similar to the “gifts” lists in the NT), look at a couple other places: Psalm 24Isaiah 33

-Psalm 24: clean hands and a pure heart, religious observances! Imaging God.

Isaiah 33: MUCH more religious rules: righteously (in right, good, perfect standing before God), then goes on to the application, or someone who is morally upright. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Similar to what we see in Psalm 15!

  1. Character (2a)

-Walks blamelessly: refers to the whole orientation of someone’s life. The way they operate is: whole, sound, complete. Connects to shalom, everything in this person’s life is properly ordered. No one can find any fault.

-Right: other translations translate this as righteous, which then connects to justice. Everything done is morally true and pure, brings about shalom or lasting justice. 

-We’re reading a new kid’s Bible with our kids at night, last night we read a story from Amos 5:24 “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Preached through Amos last Spring, was struck by these phrases again. God’s people are meant to let justice roll down like waters. Some of the rain we got this week – drenched the ground, water pouring out of your gutters, that’s how we’re supposed to cover the earth with lasting justice. And righteousness will have NO end! And this is who can boldly come before God.

  • Speech (2b-3a)

-Remember last week, the description of the fool who says in his heart there is no god, contrasted to that is this person who speaks only truth in his heart. Can you imagine someone like that? No deception whatsoever, not even to himself! One of my favorite preachers loves saying “no one lies to you more than yourself” and it’s true! 

-I am NOT a morning person! So if you ever ask to meet me early in the morning and I do, know that I love you and am sacrificing greatly to be there. But I have tried to become a morning person my entire adult life: go to bed early, set 5 alarms, I have lost track of the number of alarms I’ve slept through, but each night I still promise myself that I’m going to become a morning person. Hopefully someday! But the point remains, I still lie to myself more than anyone else in the world (and so do you!) We are far less rational than we would like to admit, and far more driven by our deepest emotions and desires.

-Jesus in Matt. 12:34 “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” The Bible has a lot to say about the words we use. 

-Who can tame their tongue? 

James 3: like an inferno, rudder, horse bit

-Do you want to see what’s really in someone’s heart, look how they talk. 

-Best analogy I heard of this, if I am walking around with a cup of coffee and someone bumps into me, what’s going to come out? Hopefully coffee! If something else comes out, we’re in trouble! When someone “bumps” into you, what comes out of your mouth? Anger? Bitterness? Love?

  • Conduct (3b-5)

-Does no evil to neighbor

-Do those who live closest to you view you through an encouraging light? Talking to my neighbor behind the fence shortly after we moved in about who the good vs. bad neighbors are. Eye opening!

-Reproach against his friend. Lit. “he does not lift up an insult against one who is near to him.”

-The wicked (saw last week!) don’t even care about God, much less their friends and neighbors. 

-Gossiping/slandering hurts the cause of Christ in your life. DO NOT gossip! 

-Friend who wrote the book ‘Resisting Gossip’, anytime someone makes a comment about his book, he gets all serious and says “what have you heard, give me the scoop!” Gossip tears down someone who is made in the very image of God, which is why Jesus told us in Matt. 18 how we’re supposed to go about confronting someone who has wronged us. Follow that! It’s in the Bible for a reason!

-Vile person

-Just as the Lord looked down literally and metaphorically, so the righteous one looks down on the vile

-Fears the Lord

-Doesn’t try puff themselves up (1 Cor. 8:1), humbly supports and encourages those who are obeying the Lord, will fight for them

-read this week a commentary on this Psalm that said this text also refers to the unborn, which I thought was timely! Do we care for the most marginalized, those who have yet to even enter our world.

-Swear to own hurt

-The righteous one follows through on what he says. Doesn’t speak out of turn, but when they do speak, they will follow through everything they say. 

Hook (1991) “my word is my bond”

-Jesus in Matt. 5:33-37 “Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’” If you’re a righteous person that’s all that would be needed. You should be trustworthy!

-Handling of money

-Does not charge interest. Is all interest bad? 

Deut. 23:20 “You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest.” 

-Are you ridiculously generous? Some people are given a gift at making money or being successful in their vocation, pursue those things! Use your gifts! And then be a righteous person with them! You’re going to spend that money very differently than the world would!

-No bribe, care for the marginalized (just like the Lord last week toward the poor)

-Never be moved

-Building a house upon the solid foundation of God 

-Matt. 7:24-27 “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who build his house in the rock”

  • Can This Be Done?

-As we were going through all these characteristics of the righteous one, did anyone come to mind who exemplifies these things? 

-I was out right away! I don’t live blamelessly, I don’t even always speak truth in my heart! I’m prone to deception, to lying to myself and others, to harboring bitterness. I haven’t perfectly perfected the use of my tongue yet, I wish I had! And I haven’t met anyone yet who would claim to perfectly embody this list?

  1. No!

-Remember last week’s message: there is no one who does good. 

-Pure religiosity will never fully achieve this. That’s why Jesus says “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees” Matt. 5:20. These were the people who tithed off their salt and pepper! They were SO CAREFUL with their possessions that every little piece was accounted for and given it’s proper due to the Lord.

-Maybe you’ve tried to do that! You think if you just buckle down and get to work you’ll be able to reach this perfect level that God has placed. 

Rom. 3:20 “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” 

-We’re not under the law anymore! Someone came to earth who walked blamelessly, who spoke not a careless word, who only loved and cared for his neighbors and friends, who looked down on the religiosity of the day but with care and compassion toward the disenfranchised, and did not love money but instead gave freely to all. 1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

-Even focus on the last line of vs. 4: Jesus came because God made a commitment to the human race, a covenant with Adam, then Abraham that He would provide a way for them to be made whole again. The Bible is the repeated story of God swearing to His own hurt, bearing the brunt of His people’s sins, yet not backing down.

  • But Yes!

Psalm 5:7 “but I through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness.”

-If you have chosen to say no to the ways of this world, and have instead said yes to Jesus, you now have the privilege and responsibility of starting to live like someone who is described in this Psalm. But you can’t do it by yourself! You need to become more and more dependent on Jesus working in you. If you don’t live this way, you will be cut off. Jesus talks about this in John 15

John 15:10 we can now obey and live righteous lives because we are abiding, rooted, planted, growing in God. Notice the word IF. Obedience and love are not 2 disconnected ideas, if you want God’s love to be manifest in your life, then obey! If you want to be someone who lives out these descriptions, give up trying to do it in your own strength and power, and remember that it is Christ working in you to bring about His perfect plan. This is how God says we can live forever with Him. That is the kind of superhero God is, and calls us to pursue being.

Psalm 12 Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Psalm vs. Psalms

-The expression of human emotion. Listened to a podcast this week: Luther called the Psalms “the little Bible” meaning if you prayed through the Psalms you would pray everything in Scripture Calvin “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.”

-The Psalms give us language and prayers to use in the midst of whatever is going on in our lives. God was intentional about including a book of songs that give us language to process every emotion in our lives.

-Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Scottish pastor died at 29, compiled what may be the most used Bible reading plan where you go through the OT once, NT and Psalms twice, viewed the Psalms as just as important as the NT!

-Similarly, Thomas Cranmer (anyone heard of him) wrote the Book of Common Prayer still in use today, he viewed the Psalms as so important, the church read through all of them every single month!

-Nice thing about the Psalms, can be read through every month! Pick which ever day it is, multiply by 5, read through the next 5 Psalms, you’ll get through them every month!

-The hard part is preaching them! Many of these Psalms sound VERY similar, and they can end up running together! Still God’s Word, still applicable to us, still beneficial for growth in godliness, and above all these things it’s the songbook Jesus grew up singing. It’s not a coincidence that on the cross, Jesus’ last words were quoting the Psalms. The Psalms have given voice to God’s people for centuries, so I think we can be benefitted by learning God’s way of processing emotions too!

-One note: I don’t think it’s a coincidence that in God’s divinely inspired hymnal doesn’t contain musical notes. The emotions expressed in these songs can be adapted to any cultural context and any style of music. We don’t even know what the musical notes mean!

-Summary: share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

READ/PRAY (257) 

  1. Wicked Words (1-4)

-This Psalm feels very applicable for today! Doesn’t it feel like there’s no more godly people involved in the public square? 

-Some of that is natural, life is all about our interpretation of our experiences. My sister and I largely lived the same life, but we are radically different people and even interpret our growing up through VERY different lenses. Same thing with Cara and I, can sit through the same conversation and have 2 very different interpretations of what happened! (She’s right, I’m wrong)

-The description of what’s going on is most explicit in vs. 2.

-“Everyone utters lies to his neighbor”

-Breaking the 9th commandment, remember we looked at this 2 weeks ago with Gospel Rooted Growth: when we lie we act as if our external image is more important than someone else. But what about an entire community marked by lying? How would anyone ever trust another? 

-Do you really think EVERYONE has turned into a liar? Using hyperbole to make a point, but I’m guessing at times it feels that way, doesn’t it? Have you ever felt like you’re the only person around you who’s trying to faithfully follow after God?

-Not just lying (as if that weren’t enough!), flattering lips and double heart.

-Flattering lips is buttering up unnecessarily, a corollary of lying. Keeps speaking super highly, yet you know they just keep digging themselves into a bigger hole because there’s no way you’re as great as they’re making you out to be.

-And finally, double heart. Lit. “they speak with a heart and a heart.” Talking out of both sides of their mouth.

-I think the best example of this is in politics. People only listen enough to condemn and villainize their opponents. I remember listening to a comedian onetime who picked up this idea, smear campaign against an opponent accused him of wanting to legalize shooting against children. The guy gets up and says “I was thinking of situations where a child gets a hold of a weapon and we need to do anything to prevent worse problems” The other guy responds “he wants to kill children!” WHAT?

-And it’s worse when the news sources get a hold of it! Look at these headlines referring to the same story (don’t read anything beyond the difference of opinions into this, not making a political statement right now, just showing competing interpretations). One of them is true, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to know which one it is.

-At times, doesn’t it feel like our entire world is just crazy, and there’s only a few sane people left? 

-The Bible actually has a wonderful example of this idea of feeling all alone in the stand for what is right and good and true: Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10

-The story of Elijah is, I think fascinating, but what’s most fascinating about this instance is he’s coming off one of the biggest and most successful stories in his life. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenges 850 false prophets to a showdown on Mt. Carmel to determine who the true God was. After spending the day dancing and begging, nothing happens to Baal’s offering. Elijah prays a simple prayer and Yahweh’s offering is consumed by fire. Instead of living on cloud 9, Elijah runs away and hides from Jezebel, the king’s wife. And out of that hiding comes this passage where God asks why Elijah is hiding. 

-Do you think Elijah is really the only one in the whole country who hasn’t followed Baal? Absolutely not! Does that negate the way Elijah feels? Absolutely not! I can guarantee, if you remain faithful in your pursuit of the Lord, there will be times and seasons where you will feel completely alone in that pursuit! But don’t forget, you’re not! 

-I had a season in high school where I felt this way! God really captured my heart between my Jr/Sr years and it started to feel like high school was just a waste of time. I complained to my dad about it, and he took me to the 1 Kings passage and said “even when it feels like it, you’re never alone.” Once again, this is why we need to meet together like we are today! If you’re feeling alone, please reach out to someone sitting nearby you, and remember, you’re not alone!

-But it’s also important to note, what is your response when you start to feel like you’re all alone, the only one who’s following after God with all your heart? 

-Do you tend to withdraw, run away to cave and sulk? Do you tend to act like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings and grumble and complain about how difficult your life is and how nobody knows the trouble you’ve seen? Let’s look back at vs. 1 to see what our response SHOULD be.

-“Save, O Lord” When you feel isolated, alone, don’t forget that even if that were true, God is still with you. One of the first promises my parents taught me as I was growing up was in Deut 31:6 “He will never leave you or forsake you.” Do you believe that? And not only was that true in the OT, it’s doubly true now that God literally lives IN you! We are invited to bring our requests, cares, and concerns to God! We saw this back when we studied 1 Peter 5:7 “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” When you feel all alone, bring it to the Lord. 

-The way this verse starts demonstrates to us that David has the right orientation toward God. He knows this true, he trusts that God will take care of Him, so instead of grumbling and complaining, he cries out to God! 

-Look at what David asks God to do. This is a request for God to enact judgment, there are numerous Psalms that are called “imprecatory Psalms,” asking God to curse or bring evil upon someone. 

-Note here, David is essentially asking God to prevent the evil from continuing to spread. It’s “an eye for an eye” so he’s not going way beyond what the people are committing. It’s also interesting that these are God’s Words in the Bible, how do we process them, especially in light of Jesus’ new commands to bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute us. How are we supposed to process these ideas? Much bigger than I can fully devote time to, briefly: be slow to adopt them, but what other words would we have in times of mass genocide like we’ve seen a few times in the past century? How do we process the atrocities of places like the concentration camps of the Third Reich? Or the shooting of little children in school? Or the attempts to kill the entire Uighur population in China right now? Or the straight land grab currently taking place in Ukraine? You ask for God to save the person, but don’t you also say: do whatever it takes to stop these evils! Honestly, I really wish I could be a pacifist, and at times I think it does a better job with Jesus’ ethics, but then I think back to the Russian gulags, or the German concentration camps, and then I pray for God to enact perfect, lasting justice. This is also something we pray for (or should pray for) more often than we realize. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we are praying imprecatory things, when we ask for His kingdom to come and His will to be done we are asking for him to bring about perfect, lasting justice, to vanquish His enemies and correct the sinful ways of people. 

-Yet another reason I’m a Christian: it gives voice to the evils in the world. It doesn’t skirt around them, doesn’t try to minimize them, doesn’t bury its head in the sand and pretend they don’t exist, it faces it head on and gives language to process through it. More to come as we come across more imprecatory Psalms! 

-But I also want to approach this idea from a personal perspective. I think of the old hymn “Come Thou Fount” where we sing “prone to wander, Lord I feel it prone to leave the God I love.” What do we do when we’re the one that need our flattering lips and boastful tongues cut off? What do we do when we come face to face with our sinful tendencies?

Matt. 18:7-9. We tend to read this and jump to hyperbole, but don’t just jump there too quickly, I think Jesus has a real point here. 

-Jake’s snake story.

-We tend to treat our sin as a little pet that we can keep in its’ container and pull it out to play with it every once in a while, but by doing that we’re only playing with our certain doom. That’s where Jesus says it’s better for you to cut off limbs to ensure your holiness than play with your sin and die.

-Smooth talker: can sell a cup of water to someone drowning, sell an umbrella to someone in the Sahara during the dry season. This is someone who’s so confident in their ability to talk their way out of any situation that they’re confident they’ll never truly be found out. Intentionally deceiving others and being disobedient to God. 

-All that, and we’re only 4 verses in! But don’t worry, there’s only 4 more verses!

-This first section we saw to bring your requests to God, let Him know when you’re feeling alone and struggling.

  • Holy Words (5-8)
    • God’s Words (5-6)

-God responds, but what is it exactly that God is responding to? 

-to the poor and the needy One of the theological issues Jeramy and I discussed this past Spring was the burden of being wealthy. Most of the time we’re not even aware of the spiritual weight having money is to us. That’s why Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich person to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 19:24). That was a joke to make a point. How well would a camel fit through a needle? 

-Similarly, I read an article this week titled “True religion” The title is taken from James 1:27. The article said that unless your discipleship leads you to take better care of “orphans and widows” then you’re not growing as a disciple.

-Another situation I think fleshes this out: Jesus’ first public sermon (and description of His ministry) in (Luke 4:18-19). God cares about the marginalized in the world, it is when the marginalized are mistreated and abused that God responds. It should cause us to ask: do I care about the marginalized that I see around me? Who are the marginalized? Anyone that has a need (spiritually, mentally, emotionally, materially)

-This also gets us back to the imprecatory Psalms: we, today, are meant to be a visible demonstration of God’s lasting justice, that is care for the poor and oppressed looking for ways to care for them like God would care for them. 

-Look at what God will do, He won’t remove them from the situation, but will bring safety. God doesn’t promise us a carefree life, God promises to be with us the midst of whatever situations come our way.

-Compare the description of God’s words to the liar. Pure vs. impure. There is no double speak, no mocking, no flattering, no boasting, just pure honest words. What God says is true. Think about that, because God doesn’t change, the things He said here 3,000 years ago are just as true today as they were back then. They are more pure than the most refined precious metals in the world. 

-So for us, how do we treat/view God’s Word? Do you view it as pure? Do you meditate on it, soak in it, saturate our lives with it, or is it a nice treat on the side? Do you treat it as the main course or the dessert (eat sparingly). Jesus tells a story of how we should treat His Words: a man find a jewel in a field, sells everything to buy the field and gets the priceless jewel. Do we honor God’s Word as more valuable than a priceless gem/heirloom? 

-We need to be in God’s word to listen to what God says

  • Our Words (7-8)

-How does David respond to God’s promise to respond to the call of the poor and needy? 

-He extrapolates on the promises of God. God will keep the people He has promised to, nothing will be able to stand against Him and His ways. 

-Even if (unlike Elijah) you were literally the only child of God left on the earth, God would continue guarding and protecting you. 

-At the beginning of this Psalm, it seemed like the worldly generation would inevitably win, there’s no one godly left, but God will still protect and preserve, despite the evil walking right next to you.

-Keep to the straight and narrow, keep to faithfully following God’s Word, since the wicked prowl beside, but as long as we are being faithful and obedient to His ways, we continue taking one step forward as we seek to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth just like it is in heaven.

-Preach to yourself: who is God, what is He like?

-So what do we do when we feel like we’re completely alone in the world? Share your burden, listen to what God says, remind yourself who God is

Gospel Rooted Growth – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

James 4:1-10

-Finally reached the end of this series! I hope it’s been encouraging to you, and a helpful reminder as far as what is it we need to focus on as a church, the non-negotiables that need to determine what we spend our time and money towards, and how we’re going to be moving forward together as a church. 

-Started with the mission of making and maturing disciples of Jesus. This is what sets the church apart from every other group, organization, or entity in the world. There are lots of other organizations doing lots of great work, but there’s only 1 group called to make disciples. That must be at the forefront of everything we do!

-Then we saw the need to by glorifying God. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism begins: What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We are created to glorify someone/something, if we glorify something other than God it’s idolatry and leads to death.

-This need to glorify God means we need to lead the gospel permeate into everything we do, so we looked at gospel centered worship. All of our lives are meant to worship God, so the gospel needs to be both explicit and implicit in our lives, and in our gathered worship.

-We also need to be a gospel shaped community, we looked at Gal. 5 with the need to lovingly care for each other and live out the fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh.

-This idea continues as we join with God’s mission to seek and save the lost. The church needs to embrace being the church and allow the gospel to shape both our gathering and our scattering. But the ultimate goal has never changed: God’s people in God’s place serving under God’s perfect rule and reign. Right now we already serve as an embassy where we serve a different king than the world. We do our best to represent that king and kingdom. Read this this week: 

-“The ambassador represents the message of the King, the methods of the King, and the character of the King.” (accelerate, 14)

-Let’s think about this for a minute. That ambassador language is taken from 2 Cor. 5 “we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 

3 aspects: message, methods, character. The message is the gospel, the good news of what Christ has done by entering into human history, dying on the cross, then rising again on the third day which changes everything about our future. That needs to be on the tip of our tongues and forefront of our minds for our whole lives.

-The methods are what I love describing as the “upside down way.” Acts 17:6 the early church is accused of “turning the world upside down.” Isn’t that exactly what Jesus coming does? Instead of being served we’re to serve others, instead of lording over people our status, we’re to act humbly. In our culture humility is a virtue, in the 1st century it’s a vice! God’s ways look counterintuitive to our fleshly human minds, but they’re the only way to find true, lasting life.

-The character. Brothers and sisters, we are literally commanded to look like God. “Be holy as I am holy.” (Lev. 19:2, 1 Peter 1:16) Have you ever thought of what that looks like? Being just as perfect as God? Don’t just run to “I’m not God” actually think about that for a minute.

-One characteristic about God I’ve been trying to meditate on recently is “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” When I am confronted with a sinful situation in my life or heart, I’m supposed to use that to run TO God not AWAY from God. So if we’re supposed to act like God, shouldn’t we be a welcome place for someone to run to when they’re confronted with their sin? Why do we act surprised when sinners sin? 

-Religion: “I messed up. Dad’s gonna kill me!” Gospel: “I messed up. I need to call Dad.”

READ/PRAY (pg. 587)

-Different message, intentionally today! I don’t like using a text as a springboard, but I think James lays a great foundation to talk through what I mean when I talk about gospel rooted growth, but then I’m going to spend the bulk of today on how to apply these truths using 2 of the most helpful books on sanctification (becoming holy) I’ve found: Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands and How People Change. The first is in the library, the second will be there tomorrow.

  1. The Tensions of This World (1-4)

-The first step in any hope for growth is recognizing there is a problem! 

-I don’t know if any of you had this experience, but I had no clue how truly selfish I was until I got married! I thought I was a fairly patient, understanding person until I actually had to be accountable to someone for money, time, location!

-The problem for all of us is we are sinners, which means we are far far worse than we would ever imagine! We are sinners down to our core. This is why we need the gospel message, which means because of Christ we are far more loved than we could ever dream.

-James says even our passions are suspect! What is it that you most deeply think you want? Because if it’s anything other than life with Christ, you’re going to be severely disappointed. Think of the last time you got a new (at least to you) vehicle. You promise yourself that it will be different this time – cleaned every week, meticulously maintained, then what happens? Lasts for maybe a month! You can’t change you!

-Because of sin, we are our own worst enemy, and by giving in to the way the world operates, we put ourselves at war with God. Every time we sin we are breaking at least 2 commandments: the 1st one (no other gods) and then whichever of the next commandments we also broke. This is why worship is so important: we all worship someone or something, and sin has misplaced our worship. 1-3: no other gods, no other images, God’s name in vain (dishonor Him)

-4 Sabbath – my time is more important than God’s time, and I have no limits

-5 honor parents – my will is higher than God’s, and I don’t need authority in my life

-6 Do not murder – others exist for me, if I am not treated as the highest authority, I will seek revenge

-7 No adultery – my pleasure are more important than others, even God’s law

-8 Do not steal – I need more things to be satisfied instead of God

-9 No lying – my image is more important than someone else’s image

-10 do not covet – I similar to 7, my needs/desires are more important than others and I can’t celebrate when someone else is blessed.

-Prayer can help you do this! ACTS: by the time you get to “supplication” you’ll actually start to be praying for those needs according to God’s will.

-We need to treat sin as it really is: a cancer that spreads into our whole bodies affecting everything we do. John Owen: be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.

-So what do we do about that? This is where How People Change is so helpful! 

-Using Jer. 17:5-10 as a picture: heat, thorns, cross, fruit. I’ll let you go read the passage on your own time, but I’ll walk through this illustration to help you think through what this looks like in your life.

-Heat: situations that God brings into your life, all of us have things that happen to us each and every day. The way God works in us is our responses to the “heat” that comes into our lives. The Bible is full of examples of this! The Israelites, the kings, the prophets, the apostles. The Bible accounts how people responded to many of these situations! The way we respond to these situations reveal exactly what’s in our heart! Initially, our fleshly response leads to thorns.

-Thorns: these would be responses that manifest our sinful tendencies, and what kinds of things have you seen that come out when you respond to situations sinfully? These thorns are areas that God allows for us to see the ways our sin so easily entangles us.

-The authors have a list of typical ways people respond with thorns, I’ll just pick a couple and let you go read the rest.

Deny, avoid, escape: how many of us refuse to admit where we’re struggling or hurting? We put on the “good Christian” face, but inside we’re scared to admit we’re struggling to keep our head above water. Or maybe you’ve found ways to numb the difficulties you’re feeling, either with working too many hours, or eating too much food, or drinking too much. Whatever it is, it allows you to run from facing your thorns head on. 

Magnify, expand, catastrophize: maybe you view your entire life through a negative lens. No one else could ever truly understand your difficulties, no one else carries the same burden you carry, nor do you believe anyone else would truly care enough to let them in. Maybe it’s even giving into 1 story that has shaped the way you view literally everything!

Self-excusing self-righteousness: instead of actively killing our sin, we see our sin, but then blame other people for it and refuse to acknowledge it. This is most often manifested as children start to grow up and become independent. Your parent’s end up becoming the punching bag for all your issues because they clearly didn’t understand you as well as they should have. I could go on with these ideas, but you get the point! The thing to remember is: God will allow thorns to expose our sin.

-So what do we do? We run to God!

  • The Grace of God (5-6)

-God’s grace is sufficient. Grace is described as “the thick rod of rebar that courses through the concrete of the biblical story.” (Instruments, 32)

-The very moment where we’re tempted to turn around and run away from God, the moment when we feel most distant, most disconnected, most afraid of Him, is the moment where He is most near. It’s at that moment when we finally start to realize that we need His grace. Lewis: “pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Spurgeon: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

-Leads us back to the need to bring everything to the cross.

-Cross:

-The cross means we have a brand new way of living (because of God’s grace) that wasn’t available to us before God saved us. This idea is most clearly demonstrated in:

-Gal. 2:20 This new life is signified with baptism, we die as our old selves and rise as Christ. Not an improved person, a brand new one! I have been crucified (saved) Christ lives in me (present tense) The life I live in the body (ability to live a new life daily)

-This is how we now have the ability to live a changed life! All the excuses we once had are now pointless and useless. Because of the cross, we can own up to the times we fall short, which leads instead of thorns to:

-Fruit: lasting heart change instead of merely external obedience is only possible because the gospel is taking root in our lives.

-ILLUS: staple an apple to a dead branch. Does this apple have any hope of continuing to grow? This is what happens when we try to force obedience without a transformed heart. With my kids! Until God saves them, this is what I’m going to be doing (doesn’t mean it’s bad for parenting, but as they grow I need to continue going for the heart, not the externals)

-This is where we all have the need to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. You need God’s grace today just as much as you did yesterday, and you’ll need God’s grace tomorrow just as much as you’ll need it today.

-However, we often forget that we need the gospel in our lives today. We have a tendency to view the gospel past tense (were saved) and future tense (will be glorified) but the gospel is also the means by which we can have lasting fruit. And once again, we need to remember this needs to be done in the context of the church. James is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Galatians is written to a church to help them live out these truths. Actually the NT is written FOR THE CHURCH to live out and embody gospel rooted growth.

-So how do we do that together? I’m glad you asked!

  • Humble Repentance (7-10)

-Submit to God: don’t puff yourself up, allow Him to work in you.

-Resist the devil: we can actually do that now! Before we had no hope of defeating his temptations, but now we can!

-Watch your life and belief: life: “cleanse your hands” belief: “purify your hearts”

9 – how do you respond when you’re made aware of thorns in your life?

-“God uses the instrument of His Word, delivered by human preachers and applied by the Spirit, to call his people to repentance.” ESV Expositors

-Every revival in church history began with repentance!

-How do we seek repentance together? First we need each other!

-Heb. 3:12-13. Love, know, speak, do from Instruments

  1. Love

-Christ’s love in us, which compels us as believers (2 Cor. 5:14-15), we have a new way of treating others, we are actually called to love them, even our enemies! That’s where love is described by Jesus as the last apologetic, the way the world knows if we’re Christians. 

-“If there had been no fall, if we had never sinned, we would still need help because we are human.” (Instruments, 41)

-Get up in each other’s business! We act as if we can’t have deep, lasting relationships, but that’s exactly what we need! If we are only known 99% we’re not actually known! This leads us to:

  • Know

-Ask questions, don’t assume you know everything that’s going on.

-Need honesty, both sides: look in the mirror before the other (log vs. speck)

-Try to actually understand the other person. How many arguments take place because you don’t actually understand what the other person is saying?

-Or let’s think about this another way, go to the Dr but you’re dishonest about your symptoms, will the medicine he prescribes be effective? In order to deal with the cancerous sin, we need to use the right medicine, it is the gospel, but it’s applied in different ways.

  • Speak

-Speak the truth in love. What do we speak? “The word of Christ” (Col. 3:16)

-Don’t just confront your preferences, confront where someone is out of line with what the Bible commands! AKA, extend grace to others and assume the best. Even in confronting, you can do it in a way that honors and assumes the best of someone else! 

-Podcast this week, “I heard you saw ____ this week and I’m just wondering if you meant that, why you said that, and how that aligns with Scripture?”

  • Do

-Continue living in relationship with them. This is going to need to happen again and again until Christ returns.

-Accountability. Do people know what’s really going on in your heart? When you are demonstrating thorns instead of fruit, who will tell you?

-Long term hope for us: 

-a healthy church that intentionally looks to welcome people in 

-disciples them on what a healthy church looks like and how it operates (steeped in God’s grace)

-and sends them out, every week, but also:

-Church planting. I found documents from 2008 when I got here that said “South Suburban needs to remain committed to church planting,” and I completely agree!

-Church revitalization. Until Christ returns, church’s are going to need help to get healthy. How can we help other churches be healthy? When one church catches fire for the Lord, it raises the temperature of every other church around them.

-Pastoral training. Because of my commitment to the local church, I’m convinced the best place to train pastors is, guess where? Partner with seminaries to help train new pastors.

-Today is multiplication Sunday in our district. We have an EFCA church plant coming into Eagan, Lord willing this fall! What can we do to help them be a healthy church that’s pursuing God’s kingdom together?

Gospel Driven Mission – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Continuing sermon series: making & maturing disciples of Jesus, we seek to do that as a transformed people who are glorifying God through gospel centered worship, gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, leading to gospel rooted growth.

-Started preparing this week, then realized what I wanted to say was essentially the storyline of Scripture.

-The gospel is the story of the Bible: God, man, Christ, response. Spurgeon, all roads in England lead back to London, all passages of Scripture lead back to Christ

-Just as the gospel, and all of Scripture center around Christ, so does the outworking of God’s mission. Think of a passage like Luke 19:10 “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Because people are lost, they must be found, rescued, saved, which is only possible because of Jesus. 

-What is/should be the mission of the church?

-“Mission” has come under scrutiny in recent years, since I moved here Bruce and I have been having a dialogue about how to define “missions,” what is included in it, what drives it, and even what is a “missionary”

-When we talk about this, you may have even heard the idea “all of us are missionaries!” and I always want to stop and ask: is that true? 

-One of the best movies to come out of the early 2000s is a classic Pixar movie called The Incredibles. It’s about a family of superheroes who have the profound misfortune of living during a time when being a superhero is outlawed. Yet they’re trying to raise their family (who are all superheroes, except for Jack Jack until the end of the movie, spoiler alert!) keeping their super powers under wraps. The big bad guy is a non-superhero who creates machines to become super, and then captures “The Incredibles” family. “And when everyone’s super, no one will be.” I feel that way with missionaries! If everyone’s missionaries, then no one will be.

-Some of this, I realize is semantics, but since God revealed Himself through words I think I’m ok to care about them! There are some people who are called to leave their community, family, home and go to a new community, culture, country to preach the gospel until the whole earth is filled by God’s glory! That’s a different burden than we have/experience here! I married into a family of missionaries, they have a different burden than I do! 

-We’ll get to all of these issues in this message (again, I’ll do my best to be brief!) but this is such a massive topic, God literally takes the whole Bible to talk about His mission

READ/PRAY (Matt. 5:13-16)

  1. God’s Mission: The Whole Earth (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 12:1-3, Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, Phil. 2:12-18, Matt. 5:13-16)

Psalm 19, Isaiah 6 – purpose of every created thing is to glorify God. How does that happen?

-The idea of peace (shalom) permeates everything. Everything is properly ordered, functioning correctly, everything is worshipping God.

Luke 19:40 “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” THEY ARE! Humans are the only part of creation that willfully choose to disobey. This is why God has invited His people from creation until He returns to join with Him in bringing his glory to the ends of the earth!

Gen. 1:28 “Fill the earth and subdue it” Because humans are created to image God, we’re created to reflect His glory throughout the creation. One of the ways the world is full of His glory is by humans filling and subduing the earth. 

-Had some fun debates at seminary about creation care, because that’s a section of this, but the garden of Eden was meant to continue spreading out until it contained the whole earth: continue cultivating, nurturing, expanding God’s reach throughout the earth.

-Gen. 12:1-3 “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

-Ultimate fulfillment in Abraham’s greatest son, Jesus

-What is the reach of Abraham’s blessing? ALL the families.

-This theme continues through Israel as God’s chosen people, meant to be a light shining into the world, an example. This is why the Chosen Land was smack dab in the middle of the known world. Every other nation sprang up around them, watched them, saw what it meant to obey Yahweh. Their unique way of living served as a visible demonstration that obeying God leads to flourishing, disobeying God leads to death.

-The problem was the eventually, God’s chosen people were the ones who disobeyed, and lead to the diaspora, sent out into the world.

-However, even their disobedience and destruction didn’t thwart God’s plans. I think we have a tendency to view God’s mission as completely dependent on us. God chooses to use us, God commands us to be faithful, but if God’s ultimate mission were dependent on fickle, forgetful us, what kind of a God would he be? 

-A corollary to that is it’s never too late to join in with what God’s doing! Today can be the time where you start working with God instead of against Him!

-This is signified by later on in Gen. 15 when God’s covenant is enacted with Abram (to be a blessing to the world) by taking the penalty for breaking the covenant on Himself, leading to the need to send Jesus to bear that penalty.

-Yet even in the diaspora, God was still using his people to point to Him!

Isaiah 42:6, 49:6

-Even as God’s people are scattered across the globe, sent off into exile, what do they still do? The shine as lights in the darkness, so that God’s salvation will be demonstrated to the end of the earth. 

-This isn’t Plan B, this wasn’t a shift, God doesn’t change, He has no need to change, and nothing catches Him by surprise. God’s mission since Genesis 1 has been: God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.

-This idea that God’s people are a light to the world isn’t only found in the OT

Matt. 5:13-16

-Salt was used primarily for preserving and purifying. Didn’t have refrigerators, so they used salt to slow down the decay of meats. But salt also must remain pure. Unlike our labs that can use salt water, they had to use marshes, so much of their salt was pretty gross! The point is we need to preserve what God’s mission is meant to look like (living out the kingdom ethics Jesus preaches here), and by living a gospel shaped life (pure) we will help preserve the way God wants humans to live.

-Similarly, we are to be examples as light. Think about this, how do we see literally everything. With light! Either sun or artificial light. We, as Christians, are here to shine as light in the world, which means we live different lives than the world lives. We have different priorities, we spend our money differently, we work differently, we love differently. Remember that quote from the second century last week on no one being able to find any reason to hate Christians? We’re not supposed to withdraw and isolate ourselves, we’re supposed to go out into the entire world so people can see!

-But note: what’s the end goal: give glory to your Father. We don’t join in God’s mission to feel good/look good to other people, we do it because we’re to be faithful & obedient to God.

Phil. 2:12-18

-Paul expands on this idea in Philippians. Coming right after the command to have the same mind of Christ, but a couple things to note about how Paul expands the idea.

-“work out your own salvation” 

-Live out, apply your own salvation. You are already saved, Eph. Says you’re right now seated in the heavenlies with Christ, but we don’t see all the implications of that yet. We live in a time between Christ’s 2 comings, so we have been saved from our sins, but we don’t yet see the full completion of that salvation, so Paul is saying you have access to die to your sin, so live like that!

-It is God who works

-All of this obedience isn’t a white knuckle, pull yourself up by your bootstraps sucking it up, it begins and ends with God. Even your desires to be obedient don’t come from yourself, it comes from God in you! But what does that look like?

-I owe Micah thanks for showing me this one. Notice how difficult the burden we have to live is in vs. 14-15.

-End result is 15: so that we may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the world.

-That comes about by: not grumbling or complaining. That’s it! So simple, but have you ever realized how unique this is? Yet how rare is it that this isn’t happening. If you read through the wilderness wanderings before entering the Promised Land, do you know what God’s people were repeatedly accused of? Grumbling and complaining. What tends to happen when people gather together? Grumbling and complaining! “I didn’t like the music today, I didn’t like the preaching today, I didn’t like his clothes, that didn’t speak to me” Yet what are we called to not do? Grumble or complain.

-That is how we shine as lights in the world! Don’t complain about your job, give thanks! Don’t grumble about your house, give thanks! Don’t complain about where you are in your life, give thanks! Don’t grumble about how someone else hurt you, give thanks that God saved you!

-God’s mission is to have a transformed people who live completely different than the world continues to want us to live. This lets us shine as light in the world bringing glory to God.  But we can’t do this alone! So we next need to look at God’s method to bring about this mission

  • God’s Method: The Church (Matt. 16:13-20)

-A very misunderstood passage! One that the RCC has misunderstood profoundly. 

-What does Jesus say the gates of hell will not prevail against? The church. The church is the means by which God’s mission is carried out and demonstrated in the world today. That’s where the church has the ability to denote what takes place in heaven. Do you think the church matters?

-Lots of debate about what constitutes a church! I’ve shared this before, but I remember being told from people in college that their “church” was at Starbucks Sunday morning (but don’t worry, they still skipped that too!)

-I know some people that just say it’s the “called out ones” (literal translation of the NT ekklesia), so it’s people, WE are the church. I had one friend tell me this week who was trying to plant a church, that someone told him his mistake was that he tried having everyone meet together. Everything I read about the church in the NT is meeting together. 

-Even reading through Acts can be tough: is it prescriptive for all eternity, or is it merely descriptive of an event that took place?

-What is the church? Belgic Confession

-Gospel is preached, sacraments are celebrated, practices church discipline 

-“In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head.”

-Now, that doesn’t mean we cease to be the church when we walk out of our gathering, there are 2 aspects to us being the church: gathered and scattered. There’s a tendency for us to swing between 2 extremes, spend a season over emphasizing the church gathered, respond by over emphasizing the church scattered.

-As I was thinking about this idea this week, I started thinking about the way we breathe. Which would you say is more important, inhaling, or exhaling? 

-You don’t live unless you have both! The church doesn’t live unless we have both gathering and scattering. Only gathering is a cult, only scattering is a random smattering of people. 

-The church, gathered and scattered, is God’s chosen means of carrying out his mission to the world, unlike every other group or organization on the planet!

-Who makes up the church? Each one of us.

  • God’s Messenger: ME! (Matt. 20:25-28, 2 Cor. 5, 1 Thess. 1:5-6)

-When I was in high school, we had a substitute named Dr. G who would begin every class having us repeat his mantra: I will behave. If you say it 3 times you start to believe it, so we would repeat his phrases 3x. Didn’t matter how many times you’d had him before, same routine every, single, time. 

-I am God’s chosen messenger to tell the world who He is, to glorify Him

Matt. 20

-Think of the upside down way Jesus commanded us to live. Where does it make sense to willingly become a slave? 

-The way we are God’s messenger is by representing him to everyone. Could also say we need to be like Jesus. Look for ways we can serve those around us, that’s what God has called us to do! Not a doormat, but actively looking for ways to honor others better than ourselves.

2 Cor. 5

-We’ve talked about this passage a lot, for a reason! Because of the gospel shaped community we aspire to be, reconciliation comes between us and God, and then we now have the job of carrying out reconciliation. We’re now ambassadors. That means we represent someone else! We can’t claim to speak on our own behalf, we can’t claim to live on our own behalf, everything we are and do is meant to represent God in the world!

-Look at this phrase: “God making his appeal through us” Today we speak on behalf of God!

-How do we do that? Think back to breathing again! We need to breath in God’s Word (Col. 3:16), then breathe out God’s Word in our interactions with other. We need to let God’s Word, the gospel message, saturate all our conversations. There is no difference in the core message when we’re doing: evangelism, missions, or discipleship. Let God’s Word come out in all your conversations, then trust God with the rest. Like the parable of the sower, we speak the gospel everywhere we go!

-1 Thess. 1

-Lastly, “You know what kind of men we proved to be among you.”

-Our walk needs to match our talk. We can’t merely preach the gospel, we need to LIVE the gospel! That’s how we join in God’s mission to let his glory fill the earth. 

John 20:21 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.””

EFCA: We believe that God’s justifying grace must not be separated from His sanctifying power and purpose. God commands us to love Him supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed. With God’s Word, the Spirit’s power, and fervent prayer in Christ’s name, we are to combat the spiritual forces of evil. In obedience to Christ’s commission, we are to make disciples among all people, always bearing witness to the gospel in word and deed.

Gospel Shaped Community – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Working our way through our new mission/vision

-Nothing new, but reminds us the fundamentals of our faith, things that have been true since our founding in 1978.

-If you played sports growing up, you had drills you had to practice. Basketball: dribbling, triple threat stance, defensive stance, shooting form (follow through). I remember going to watch Kevin Garnett growing up, saw his pregame routine, was the exact same thing we did at high school, but unlike us, he didn’t miss! 

-We saw last week the story of the gospel, leading to the need to have gospel centered worship shape everything we do (so we had some people eat Snickers for us, and yes we did have Snickers in our new members class)

-Today we’re going to look at farming. Before my family moved to MN, we lived in ND. Both families were farmers, so when we’d go to family get togethers we’d spend hours driving through the ND farmland (most of the state) Always amazed me, my parents knew exactly what each field contained by a quick glance. My plant identification skills still leave my dad in awe of my ignorance! (when we first moved here my dad asked me what kind of trees we have in our backyard) Whether we realize it or not, all of us are farmers. Our habits, routines, practices are all planting seeds that will someday sprout in our lives and demonstrate what kind of seed has been planted in our lives. 

READ/PRAY (pg. 567)

-Galatians is written to a group of churches who have been inundated with false teachers who wanted to add to the gospel message. If you’ve read through the NT before, you’ve seen the way most of the Epistles are written is half theology, half implementation of the previous theology. Galatians is no exception! Paul expounds the realities of the gospel message

-By adding man-made rules, the false teachers were enslaving a people who had been set free. But this freedom is very different than the way we often view freedom today! Remember, the same guy who wrote this freedom idea in Galatians also wrote Romans! 

Rom. 6

-Everyone is a slave to something: what are you a slave to, sin or righteousness? Both have demands, both have expectations, both have masters that you’re serving, but one leads to life.

-That’s where back in Gal. 5, Paul will talk about freedom with ethical implications to it. When we think of freedom, we have a tendency to think (philosophically) libertarianism. Most often hear that word in connection to politics today, politics is named for the philosophical idea that every person is an autonomous free will agent. That’s not what Paul has in mind when he uses freedom (which we associate with the American way). 

-The Christian’s freedom is the joy to lovingly serve each other, the horizonal dimension to our faith. (cross shaped, quoting Jesus from Matt. 22 greatest commandment)

-The natural state of a human is conflict/war. You see that with kids! It takes time and effort to train them to stop thinking only about themselves, and it’s hard! Adults are similar, we just hide it better.

-Yet becoming a gospel shaped community means we don’t “bit and devour one another.” It means we honor others above ourselves, and it means even our so called “freedom” is meant to be a way to die to ourselves. All that to get to: 

  1. Lives in Step With the Spirit (5:16-26)

-Paul is expounding here what it means to love our neighbor as ourself, and it begins with walking by the Spirit. 

-Notice that the theme of the Spirit permeates this whole section, and there’s some important verbs connected to the Spirit: walk (16), led (18) live (25) keep in step (25) for now just note that, we’ll get to what that means as we walk through.

-Walking refers to your entire orientation, the way you go about your life. 

-Remember, building up to this point Paul had quoted Jesus’ greatest commandment, Jesus was quoting from Deut. 6, which has been memorized, studied, lived out by the Jewish people for 3,000 years. Another way of saying “walk by the Spirit” is remembering God first and foremost. Look at this.

-Statement of who God is, followed by a command for us to follow. God’s commands are to be written on our hearts. We say this last week “let the word of Christ dwell in you.” Meditate, think on these things. But these things aren’t meant to be done in isolation!

-Teach them to your children! When? House, travel outside your house, going to bed, wake up in the morning. If it’s in your heart, that’s what will naturally come out as you’re doing your normal daily things.

-Should become so soaked into who you are that it’s like they’re written on your hand and placed in between your eyes. Should permeate everything you do that your front door is marked by the implications of God’s Word, and your gates will be obedient to God’s commands.

-Everything I’m talking about with our new vision can be found here. Worship in vs. 5, community with children and your house (7, 9), mission in 78, 9 and growth back in 5

-This is what a life walking by the Spirit will look like: it will drive us to worship, community, mission (worship, we witness) and it all centers around the Word of Christ (the gospel!)

-Back to Galatians, living this way means we stop catering to our fleshly impulses. 

-Notice the constant battle going on in our lives: flesh vs. the spirit. When you find yourself giving in to the same old sin it’s your flesh winning the war. When you find yourself becoming more patient in responding to your spouse, it’s the Spirit winning the war. This is the process of sanctification, and all of us are in different places spiritually.

-We will get to the community part in chapter 6, but we need to begin with this, since Paul is talking about the way individuals will act in this new body/community that we’re called to. 

-This leads us to some lists. First, a list of the works of the flesh. 

-Notice the plural behind this workS. Then 15 things that seem to not have a lot in common with each other. Loosely follow: sexual sins, spiritual sins, communal sins, excess, but then we see it’s not exhausting: “things like these.” Almost as if Paul gets too tired of listing them “you know I could go on forever, but we’ll stop there.” I find relief in this list, there’s nothing new! These things still crop up in the church today! How often in the church (sometimes even here) do we see strife, dissensions and divisions? Every church I’ve ever been to has the battle scars to prove that these have come up before. Just so we’re on the same page here, is this evidences of the Spirit, or flesh? When you see these characteristics coming up, RUN AWAY! Instead, what we need to demonstrate and look for is:

-Singular fruit. None is optional. 3 groups of 3. God, others, ourselves.

-If we are in Christ we have the freedom to demonstrate this fruit instead of the works of flesh! We’ve killed that flesh, but the flesh keeps fighting back!

-live by the Spirit (only way TO live) keep in step (who’s setting the pace? Hank Griffith finally keeping up with Donna since she had her gall bladder removed!)

-If we all individually are living out this fruit, it will allow us to have gospel shaped community where we will not be opposed to each other.

  • Bears Each Other Burdens (6:1-5)

-All that previous stuff we saw is the characteristics, traits required of all of us individually to allow us to now live out these truths in this section. It turns us into:

-Brothers – we are now a family

-Listening to a podcast yesterday on the invention of the nuclear family. When the Bible talks about family it’s far bigger than we tend to think today. We’re far too nearsighted when we think about family today.

-Diognetus: 130-200 AD.

-“follow the customs of natives” in but not of the world

-have no home, living for another world

-“do not destroy their offspring” true Christians have been against abortion since the 2nd century. It’s purely a modern idea that “Christians” would support the killing of the unborn. Pray for Roe to be overturned, but that’s the end of the beginning, because it will essentially not change anything.

-“common table, not common bed.” Share meals together, but not sleeping together. What a wild idea!

-“surpass the laws by their lives” often too independent today to do this!

-“unable to assign any reason” brothers and sisters this could hardly even describe those in the church today, much less the way we treat those outside our body. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a group of people who exemplified this reality? We can! That’s why it’s a part of our vision, this is something we aspire to

-Caught

-traps, snares. World, the flesh, the devil. How often do you find yourself giving into sinful temptations, or living out the fleshly works instead of the fruit

-Who are spiritual, opposed to fleshly

-Those who are living the fruit of the Spirit, should be most of us! 

-I was tempted to preach on 1 Cor. 5 where Paul tells us to judge those inside the church, or follow Jesus’ command in Matt. 18. Church discipline is a beautiful thing, and most of the time we’re not even aware of when it’s taking place since it starts 1 on 1. And the end goal of church disciple, or judging those inside the church is:

-Restore – set a broken bone, fix what was broken. Ultimate goal is restoration or reconciliation. Yet when we do that:

-don’t fall into the same temptation. Be aware of your own personal temptations, and don’t get caught by the same sins.

-And notice how we approach this restoration process: with gentleness. How often do we just condemn, and not use gentleness? Not shying away from the truth, but speaking the truth IN LOVE. Gentleness isn’t weakness, it’s a mark of keeping in step with the Spirit, being led by the Spirit. 

-Bear each other’s burdens

-Did some drywall yesterday, have any idea how tough that is to move by yourself? I heard sounds coming out I didn’t even know I could make! Having a second person makes it infinitely easier. Similarly, we’re not meant to carry our spiritual burdens alone. 

-Song “Christ has no body now but yours” some issues, Jesus still has a body

-What is the law of Christ? John 13 love. The way we demonstrate our love is by not letting our family carry their burdens alone. We just read this description from the second century of the church living this out.

-While we’re commanded to love each other, our brothers and sisters will not bear the penalty for our sins when we stand before God.

-We will be culpable for how we love our church family, we’ll be held responsible for whether or not we carried their burdens, but the reverse is not true. We cannot be like our first father Adam and blame anyone else for our sin.

-The fact that we need others should lead us to gospel rooted humility, there is no such thing as gospel rooted pride! The gospel will rip the roots of pride right out of your life, it will force you to take the attention off yourself the put it on Christ, and then care for others’ interests even higher than your own.

-Listened to a podcast that was titled “Will the real adults please stand up?” Just waiting for someone else to do it. All of us need to say it starts with me. 

-I think of the verse I’ve seen in SO many houses growing up (my mom had it in the bathroom my sister and I shared) Joshua 24:15 “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Do you have that attitude? I don’t care what everyone else does, we’re different. 

  • Does Good (6:6-10)

-Share with the teacher (6)

-People generally take this to refer to paying pastors, and that’s part of it (so thank you for allowing me to spend time studying God’s Word each week! I don’t take that lightly, and consider it a privilege)

-But also, this is where as we’ve gotten to the end of sermon series, I’ve asked to share where you’ve been encouraged, challenged, or learned something new. Not just for me, tell Tami, Micah, Jeramy, Bruce, Sabrina. If something comes up, please share! I’m not always aware of what is effective and what isn’t. Plus, we’re supposed to be encouraging toward each other anyway! 

-Sowing and reaping (7-8)

-If you didn’t know, Spring finally came this week, at least for a couple days! With Spring comes planting time. Cara has high hopes for what plants will eventually be growing in our backyard, and guys I’m trying to pretend to care! But even I know how this works, so if Cara tells me she’s planted some lettuce seeds, what’s (barring famine, neglect, or insect) going to grow? If she tells me she’s planted some cucumber seed, I should be expecting what to grow? Everyone knows how this work, it’s not rocket science!

-Paul takes that idea and asks: spiritually, what kind of fruit are you going to bear? You’ve got 2 places to sow seed: flesh or Spirit.

-Remember the previous section Paul compared works of the flesh vs. the fruit of the Spirit. But one thing about fruit is it’s a byproduct of the work. The plant can’t help it, it’s the natural overflow of what it does. In our lives, the natural byproduct of planting Spirit filled things will be the fruit of the Spirit. When we try to do it in our own comfort or strength we’ll end up doing it in the flesh/works. 

-True individually and corporately. Are the ministries, works, seeds we’re trying to scatter in the Spirit or the flesh? Are you praying regularly for the seed that is sown here, both individually and corporately to be leading to fruit? This means we need to do regular evaluation of what’s bearing fruit, if something we’re spending a lot of time and money on isn’t bearing fruit, we either need to change it or get rid of it! We only have so many resources to give, we need to ensure we’re being faithful to what God has called us to do! Make disciples. 

-If you are ever discouraged by what feels like unfruitful work, go read Gal. 6:9. Sometimes I feel like it’s the only thing that keeps me going!

-Life on this side of heaven is hard! In the most difficult season of ministry I experienced this verse was a lifeline for me because of the last line: “if we do not give up.” In the midst of my struggle there were many days when I woke up and wanted to give up, to go work somewhere else, but this reminded me to continue putting 1 foot in front of the other, keep moving forward. 

-But it also means we need to ask the question: what season are we currently in? Are we in a planting season? Are we in a pruning season? Are we in a fruitful season? One thing remains constant through every season: do good.

-When we’re mocked, do good. When we’re upset, do good. When we’re belittled, do good. When we’re depressed, do good. Come what may, we do good. The reality is, God will bring us opportunities to do good, the question is are you ready for them?

-Notice vs. 10, generally, do good to all, but there is a unique burden to do good to those who are believers, the burden of love! We’re now family, which means we need to treat each other like it, far more than just casual acquaintances.

-Made a joke to Cara yesterday that I was triaging my parenting, one child was being very disobedient so they were getting all my focus. Another one tried to get me to do something else but I couldn’t get away to help the other child. Then we practiced actual triage when someone wiped out on his bike! We have the burden of caring for those in our body who can’t go on by themselves. 

-The gospel calls us into a community, the gospel then embeds itself in our community and transforms us, planting seeds in us to bear the fruit of the Spirit, the question for all of us is: what field are you planting in, the flesh or the Spirit? 

Gospel Centered Worship – Sermon Manuscript

-New mission/vision: making and maturing disciples of Jesus, last week glorifying God, this week gospel centered worship, then gospel shaped community, gospel driven mission, which culminates in gospel rooted growth. The gospel is at the core of everything we do.

-Really briefly, if you haven’t been here for long, the gospel is taken from the Greek word “euongelion” which literally means “good news” The good news is that our sin has been dealt with once and for all by God Himself, who came to earth 2,000 years ago, lived a perfect life and taught how to become a part of this new kingdom that is upside down to the way the world teaches us to operate. Then Jesus validated everything he had taught by rising from the dead. Because the tomb is empty, we need to respond to Jesus call to repent and believe in Him. Then, once you believe in Him your journey is just starting, because you need to daily choose to become more and more like Him obeying him more and more fully. You can summarize everything I just said in 4 words: God, man, Christ, response. And that last word (response) will take eternity to fully grasp! So you may as well get started today! 

-So when I say we need to have gospel centered worship, what am I talking about?

-Volunteers: gospel centered worship through eating a snickers bar.

-First, there is an orientation to our worship. Our whole lives are lived coram deo before the face of God. That’s why we started with glorifying God last week, everything we do and say is meant to glorify Him, point to Him, even image Him.

-Second, there will be a lot of things that compete for our worship, so we need to regularly remind ourselves of and brings ourselves back to the fundamentals: the gospel, so then everything else will fall into proper place. Think of 1 Cor. 15 Paul delivered the gospel, which is of first importance. We need to keep the gospel in the place it deserves: the first place! Only when we have that first can we get to properly ordering other things in our lives.

-Third, we need to think about how we approach the worship of God. I’ve shared before one of the words that drives my nuts that people use connected to worship is “authentic.” What does that even mean?

-Most people use that to talk about only doing what I feel like or want to

-What I prefer to use is from Heb. 12 acceptable. Believe it or not, God cares how we worship Him, and sometimes His people need to repent of worshiping Him unacceptably, which we’ll see in Isaiah

-We’ll be looking at 3 texts today to see what it means to have gospel centered worship, which means we need to do the right things (right action) and it needs to come from the right desire (right motives)

READ/PRAY 

  1. Right Action, Wrong Motive (Isaiah 1) pg. 327

-Last Spring we studied Amos together, fascinating book, and one I mentioned last week from Amos 5 where God tells his people he hates their acts of worship. God says something similar here in Isaiah, and remember this is the first chapter of the book! God comes out swinging! 

-Word of the Lord

-Isn’t made up by the prophet, must pay attention to this!

-There are other places where the Word of the Lord has come, think of the part of the Bible where you quit doing your daily Bible reading every year: Leviticus. God gave explicit commands to his people in how they were to worship Him. Do you remember what they were? Sacrifices, offerings, blood!

-Some scholars argue that these people were quick to jump to excessive offerings given in service of the Lord. You see this in vs. 12-13 trampling done by the running of bringing so many offerings in, and all the people coming, and vain offerings are pointless/useless

-God says all the external obedience in the world is pointless. Look at what He says in 14 that their external piety has become a burden to God. When Jesus comes, He referred to people who act like this as “whitewashed tombs” we may call it “putting lipstick on a pig.” Later on in Isaiah 29, God says “this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.” 

-So what is acceptable worship in God’s eyes? All these things they were doing were the right things to do! The things God Himself had commanded! But God won’t look or listen to them.

-Think of the story of Elijah vs the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Do you remember how it went down? Showdown of the gods, they had 450 prophets vs 1 prophet of the one true God, and Elijah spends the day mocking them, saying their god is indisposed, or sleeping, or on a trip, but the one true God will always listen. Unless your worship is unacceptable. 

-Lots of verbs: wash, make, remove, cease, learn, seek, correct, bring justice, plead. Acceptable worship of God will be evident in your response to “the least of these” Another way of thinking about that today would be your life outside of these walls must represent the God we claim to worship on Sunday.

-Then God says, alright let’s talk! 

-A verse many of us know! If they address their unacceptable worship, do all the action points listed above, then this is how God will respond to their sin.

-Notice the two IFs here. The people have a choice! If they obey God they will eat well, if they disobey God, they will be eaten. Those are their options! God says go ahead and choose! He’s put all his cards on the table!

-This also says the primary problem is human stubbornness. We’re unwilling to look at things from someone else’s perspective, even God’s! 

-Where do you see this kind of misplaced/misguided or unacceptable worship today? 

-Politics. How many of the political conversations taking place today are rising to the level of the single most important thing in the world? Where these conversations have devolved is to demonize anyone who disagrees with any finer point of the political agenda. In so doing, you come to the conclusion that the if only everyone would vote or agree with your political agenda, the entire world would be saved. Let me ask: what is the only way to be saved?

-Sunday mornings So often we see socio-economic divides guiding our gatherings, we see racial divides guiding our gatherings, we use secondary theological issues to divide our gatherings. We’ll separate based on musical preferences, clothing styles, kids ministry, youth ministry, all because of something we like or don’t like (preference based instead of dying to self)

-Neighborhoods how many of us are trying to keep up with the Jones’? I was told they don’t know what they’re doing either! 

-Theological conversations – I’m as guilty of this as anyone, but how often are we (similar to politics) dissecting every word and phrase to ensure 100% alignment instead of loving each other unconditionally?

-That’s the first instance where we need to ensure that our whole life is lived in a way that brings honor to God. Up next we’ll see where we need to orient our worship

  • Wrong Action, Right Motive (Colossians 1) pg. 572

-Paul begins this chapter by giving thanks for what God has done in the church at Colossae, then focuses on what Christ accomplished on the cross, and then uses what many people believe is an early church hymn of praise for who Jesus is.

-“He is the image”

-We’ve studied this idea quite a bit together! Where we reflect the image of God poorly, Jesus reflects the image of God perfectly.

-Firstborn

-Jehovah’s Witness use this to say SEE, Jesus was the first created being. Unfortunately for them, it can also mean the pinnacle or highest person. And if you look at vs. 18 it uses the same phrase, but He had raised other people, so within the context it would make more sense that this is the pinnacle, because that also fits the next verse:

-Why would He be created if everything was created BY Him? Doesn’t work!

-Nothing is outside of His creative control: heaven and earth, visible and invisible, people that appear powerful on earth. Everything that exists was created to point to Him. This is another way of saying that our worship must change our orientation to be Christ focused! He must be the focus of our worship!

-The second half of this section focuses on Jesus’ role in the church, of which He is the head.

-He not only imaged God perfectly, He is God perfectly 19

-Then finally, after all these wonderful words about who Jesus is, does the attention finally turn to us. Jesus’ work on the cross brings about reconciliation. Church, at the heart of the gospel is a reconciling God! First he reconciles us to Himself, and then gives us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5)

-But God didn’t save us when we were lovely, Paul goes on to say we were alienated (far away) hostile (fighting against) doing evil deeds (antithetical to God’s very nature). These behaviors are the wrong actions, yet before God saves us we assume, act, and operate as if they’re the right things! We don’t know any better!

-I’ve got young kids, do you know how hard it is to teach someone to share? And the reason they don’t like to share is because their orientation is focused on themselves instead of toward Jesus, who I try to keep reminding them told us to treat others the way we would like to be treated.

-This orientation toward Christ could also be described in vs. 23 the hope of the gospel. We need that regular gospel reminder in our lives! Part of the reason we need that reminder is because we tend to forget, maybe you have a better memory than I do, but I forget what it means to keep Jesus as the focus of my life on a regular basis. This is part of where it’s SO important for us to have these regular patterns of gathering with fellow believers for encouragement, edification, and reminding us what’s really real. To remind us to place our hope in the truth of the gospel. That means what we do on Sunday has a specific purpose.

-One of the things I love learning/studying about is the liturgy of the church. What is the order of our worship services, and why do we do it that way? I was listening to a podcast this past week that talked about the liturgies of God’s people through history. One of my favorite books on this topic is Christ-Centered Worship by Bryan Chapell. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to get an understanding of what should be a part of our corporate gathering. 

  • Right Action, Right Motive (Colossians 3) pg. 573

-Summary: our gatherings are meant to reflect the realities of the gospel, both implicitly and explicitly. One author has said when we gather we’re supposed to “Read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Paul tells us in this passage how we are supposed to operate now that we’re a part of the body of Christ. 

-Earlier in this section he said we need to put to death or put away the earthly way of living, so stop with the wrong actions we say back in Isaiah. Instead of that, we’re supposed to put on some things: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Do you see any of those things in our current cultural climate? What we’re called to is radically different to the natural way people want to operate. 

-On top of all those things, we’re supposed to bear with each other. Life is way too hard to do it by yourself.

-This means being real, open, and honest with people. Instead of being “MN nice” and not wanting to burden anyone you actually have to put yourself out there! 

-I just need to tell you, if anyone ever wants to talk to me, you’re NOT being a burden, nuisance, or interruption. I don’t remember where I read it, but I remember reading one time that ministry is the interruptions. If I don’t have interruptions then I’m not ministering! I’ve had overseers tell me they felt bad for taking my time! Please don’t ever apologize! We all need each other! But it’s also contingent on the next part of this verse:

-If someone wrongs you (including me!) please don’t assign nefarious intentions. Remember, that’s the way the world teaches us to think: distrust and suspicion. But we cannot operate that way in the church! Look at the bar Paul sets for us: forgiving like who? The Lord! And what did He forgive? Everything, 

-If only he stopped at forgive! He goes on to add love, which he defines in 1 Cor. 13. The nice thing is, the call he’s giving us is merely very hard (just mostly dead). Jesus already did the impossible by creating a way for us to come to Him through His death on the cross! That death leads to peace! Reconciliation leads to peace, true lasting peace. Then as a throwaway comment: be thankful. A mark of a Christian is thankfulness, it will come up again.

-Then we get to the main point: what should we let dwell in us? The word of Christ.

-Remember back in Col. 1 we saw that the fullness of God dwelled bodily in Christ. Now we today have the same command, but we’re to let the word of Christ dwell in us. This is why we spend SO much time in God’s Word together each week. And what do we do with God’s Word?

-Teach and admonish.

-Positive instruction and negative correction. I was texting another pastor friend this week about the need to allow the Word to do the work. By myself I’ve got nothing to give you guys! What I do have is God’s Word which is living and effective, that will never return void, that has everything we need to grow more like Christ. But this isn’t just my job, this is the job of all of us! Keep giving the Word to each other because if we don’t we don’t have anything!

-Notice a way we can teach and admonish: singing. Have you ever viewed singing as a way to teach each other? This is why we’re SO careful about the songs we sing! They’re meant to be used to teach and admonish each other. Which also means you should probably sing, because otherwise you won’t be able to teach those around you. 

-Story of ‘Not for a Moment’ 

-Notice even singing is meant to be connected to thankfulness.

-Then, to wrap up this whole section, Paul throws in not just singing, but anything else you do too! 

-What you say, what actions come out in your life are meant to be done to point to Jesus Christ, in other words they’re meant to be gospel centered. 

-And this gospel saves us, sanctifies us, makes us new creatures, brings us together, allows us to become one body and should create in us a thankful spirit. Each time we leave our corporate gatherings we should be giving thanks to God for the blessing of His people in our lives.

-Let me simplify everything I’ve said: we start with God, God has revealed Himself to us in His Word, His Word tells us the Good News (gospel) about Jesus, and we respond by living a transformed (worshipping) life that reflects the gospel message we believe. 

-I’ve been thinking about this reality for a while now. Why is it that we are so often exactly the same as our neighbors and culture that we live in? This is the 3rd state I’ve served as a pastor in, and there are some unique things in each of those places! Gives you some perspective/understanding, appreciation and frustration of each of them! 1 thing is true: people are sinners! 

-How do we live a life that is gospel centered? It’s doing everything you already do with a new/distinct outlook or motivation to it.  

-Eating a Snickers bar (imagine your favorite meal untainted by our sinful taste buds. These are meant to give us a tiny taste of eternity)

-Mowing my lawn (be patient with my kids!)

-Reading on our front deck (we need more front decks!)

-Helping my neighbor move his new skateboard ramp to his backyard

-Working

-Driving

-Resting or Playing (re-creation) How many struggle taking time off? Productivity has become such an idol for so many of us. 

-All these things must be rooted in the Word “have the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5) we look down to bring our gaze back up in awe of God. Every day is practice for THAT day when we’ll finally be unencumbered by sin, our flesh, and the devil. 

Making & Maturing Disciples of Jesus – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Much of what I’ve been preaching and talking about since I got here has been building up to this point! 

-If you can remember all the way back to when I candidated (almost 2 years, and 1 less kid ago) for those of you who were here then, my candidating message was on the great commission in Matthew 28. When I moved here I met with a friend who said “Welcome to finding new ways to say the same thing over and over again.”

-Mission tends to drift over time, other things become the focus, new ideas come up, new trends emerge. Think of how you dressed in the 80s. What about that thought you looked good? Don’t worry, my generation wasn’t any better! This is also true in the church. A dear pastor in the EFCA is preaching his last sermon today after 36 years of faithful ministry in the same church. He recently shared how discouraging pastors conferences were as he was starting out in the 90s because the entire focus was on how to become a megachurch and church growth (not inherently bad, but took the focus off the primary thing). How many of you, when you’re craving a juicy lucy would go to Chick-fil-a? Or vice versa, if you’re really wanting a chicken sandwich, who’s going to Five Guys? This is where it’s vital to remember what our primary mission is. Why are we here? What are we aiming for?

– I only have 1 life to pull from for illustrations, so I’m going to be repeating myself regularly! Similarly, we stand in a church tradition that traces its lineage all the way back to the first disciples. Have you ever thought of that? People have become obsessed lately with genealogies (I found my great grandma’s signature when she came through Ellis Island in middle school). If you trace the lineage of your faith to its origination point, it’s the first 12 disciples. They were faithful in their mission of making disciples, who trained the next generation to faithful disciple making, and so on through millennia until we’re her today.

-Since Jesus gave every faithful church a mission, I literally don’t think I could improve on what the Son of God gave us! So to that end, I present our new mission, which is the same mission Jesus gave us 2,000 years ago: (drum roll please) making and maturing disciples of Jesus.

-We’re going to look at a few different passages today that talk about this idea, but it’s going to be grounded in the great commission again. So if you weren’t here when I candidated, this will be new! If you were, I’m guessing many of you can’t remember what you had for breakfast, so I think it’s always helpful to be reminded!

READ/PRAY

  1. We Are Commanding to Make Disciples

-Where does he begin? With one of the most important phrases in the Bible.

         -“All authority”

-Doesn’t this strike you as a bit odd? Hasn’t he already HAD all authority? D.A. Carson in his commentary states “It is not Jesus’ authority per se that becomes more absolute. Rather, the spheres in which he now exercise absolute authority are enlarged to include all heaven and earth, i.e., the universe.” (594)

-While He has been authoritative up until this point, we see the domain under his authority has expanded to include EVERYTHING. Col. 1, by him and through him and for him all things were created.

-This is the foundation for everything that comes after it. If Jesus isn’t in charge we have no chance of ever bringing his commands to fruition

-With that foundation, we then get into the command, the great mission, the goal, the focus of every Christian since Christ ascended into heaven.

-In this section, 3 participles, 1 imperative verb. 

         -Don’t fall asleep here! Grammar has a tendency to do that to me too!

-Emphasis is placed on the imperative, that’s the primary focus of this entire section, it’s the phrase: (literally) discipling (1 word in Greek) 

-We tend to place the emphasis at the beginning or end, Greek didn’t always do that! But if we were, it would be something like: DISCIPLING, as you’re going, baptizing and teaching. Everything else is subservient to the discipling.

-So if that’s the emphasis, we should know what discipling is, shouldn’t we? That means we have to ask the question: what is a disciple?

-Google: a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher, 

         -So in this case, the most basic idea behind this is a follower or student of Jesus

-Someone who has surrendered to Jesus and is growing in theology & worship (or in doctrine & devotion)

-Jesus doesn’t say “make converts”

         -This is part of what makes Christianity unique & attractive

         -Muslims look to coerce or force people to convert “convert or die!”

-Christians set an example and invite, there’s pleading, begging, exhorting, not coercion. Christianity is not married to any singular culture.

-This is where we now get to the first word in verse 19: Go. Everyone is called to make disciples. Everyone goes somewhere at some point in your life. This isn’t talking about going from sitting to standing in the pews! Nor is it talking about walking from the sanctuary to the foyer for a cup of coffee. This is going into the world. “Worship through Witness” 

-This is also the first time in this Gospel the disciples have been commanded to go all the places. Matthew 10:5 “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans.” 

         -Jesus is going global!

-Tim Keller describes this as the centrifugal force of the gospel message. I’m not a scientist so I have to make sure I get this right. Centripetal force is a pull to the center. That’s the tendency of any group: pull to the center. 

-The example of asking a group of people to stand in a circle and hold hands. Every time you ask a group to do that which way do you think they’ll face? Toward each other! We, as God’s people, have to be intentional to not just look inward.

-The Great Commission here is God’s command for us to become a centrifugalforce, going OUT into ALL the world

-This gets us to a second point here, notice some of the limits Jesus places on this commission: ALL authority, ALL nations, teaching them to observe ALL that I have commanded, he is with us always or ALL the days. So what limit is there on any of this? None. That’s a comfort! We’re faithful, we go, we do our best to make disciples, so how do we make disciples?
-Jesus tells us 2 things: baptizing and teaching.  

-First, baptism. As far as the clear commands in the Bible go, this might be the easiest one in there! How many of you love God perfectly with all your heart, mind, soul & strength? How about the next great command, how many of you perfectly love your neighbor just like you love yourself? 

         -As far as difficulty goes, this might be the easiest command in the whole Bible!

-Let’s note here, this is not salvific. Romans 10:9 “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Baptism is not salvific, but baptism is the first step of obedience

-Carson “The NT can scarcely conceive of a disciple who is not baptized or is not instructed.” So I’d urge you, if you have not been baptized, do it! We’re having a baptism service in just a couple weeks!

-But as that Carson quote just said, there’s a second piece: instruction.

  • We Are Commanded to Mature Disciples 

-To grow as a disciple means to watch your life and doctrine. (1 Tim. 4:16)

-Cannot grow unless you have training, cannot grow unless instructed, cannot grow unless you’re equipped. 

-Tendency to equate discipleship as head knowledge. 

-Jesus doesn’t just say “teach” he says teach “to observe” something, put it into practice

-Theology & Doxology. 

James 2:19 even the demons believe, they’ve got better theology than most of us! Deficient in their doxology.

-So what are we teaching? ALL that Jesus commanded! We’re teaching people how to worship Jesus in and through every area of their life. Worship at home, worship in your car, worship in your sleep, at your work, as you walk, as you run, as you drink coffee, as you eat food. Everything we do is an opportunity to worship God as the creator and sustainer of the universe. And out of the overflow of that worship comes witness to others. 

-This is quite the command/commission you’ve given us Jesus! This feels insurmountable and impossible

-In our own strength, it is. The sooner you realize that the better off you’ll be. 

-We need to remember we don’t go in our own power or strength, it is through Jesus being with us that allows us to work with people to grow as a disciple.

-This is what Paul talks about in our second text, 2 Timothy 2

-Paul writing to Timothy, his protégé who was pastoring in Ephesus (don’t worry, we’ll complete this by looking at Ephesians next!) 

-Second and last letter to Timothy

-Also the text for the first sermon I ever preached! (Don’t worry, I went and checked and it was a live 1 time event with no recordings available) The only thing I know is it was NOT a great sermon!

-First thing we see is something done to us: be strengthened.

-Other places where we see how we’re supposed to work, but in this case we can’t do it. The Holy Spirit working in us is the one who strengthens and allows us to remain faithful. I shared this example before, but I think it bears repeating (only have 1 life, sorry!) I used to “help” my dad mow the lawn when I was little. How much work do you think I did? How much work do you think my dad did? Don’t worry, it wasn’t slave labor! Phil. 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 

-Then we see what we’re strengthened IN: grace that is in Christ Jesus.

-Grace is the starting point of our faith. We saw that in the opening chapters of 2 Peter: grace and peace. Grace is the undeserved gift we’ve been given through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It’s the foundation by which we’re able to grow from. If we don’t have grace, we can’t be a disciple. 

-In addition to grace strengthening us, vs. 2 says what we have heard can strengthen. What does that mean?

-Christianity is a word-based faith. Actually until very recently, words had always been used to describe reality. What were the things that Paul would have shared with Timothy? If you go back to Matt. 28 the things Jesus commanded. 

-Saw this last week in 2 Peter too: what Peter said is what Paul said is what Jesus said. Here we see that what Timothy says is what Paul says is what Jesus said. All discipling is meant to be transitional.

-Jesus trained/discipled the first disciples. They lived together, ate together, traveled together, went about their daily lives together. But Jesus was planning for His transition where he wouldn’t be living bodily with them anymore.

-Then the early disciples started spreading out: “Jerusalem, all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) and they started transition plans where they were discipling people to grow and then would go to a new place and start discipling new people and continue doing this in perpetuity. 

-Paul discipled Timothy the way Jesus said to in Matt. 28, and here reminds Timothy to continue passing that on – and Paul is thinking 4 generations away. From me – you have heard – faithful men – teach others also. This is meant to continue passing on, we’re all meant to serve as transitional pieces in discipleship. But we also see that we need to be looking beyond just us! We need to grow/mature as disciples in order to continue passing that down to others! That’s true individually, but it’s also true corporately, we as a church need to ensure that what we do today lays the foundation for continued gospel faithfulness generations from today.

-I ran into my preaching mentor at a conference in February. He served as the professor of homiletics (preaching) at TEDS for almost 20 years. He shared that he loved coming to this conference because it was a picture of this text! He looks back fondly at his preaching mentor, then he became a preacher for almost 20 years, then he taught faithful men in seminary for 20 years, who are now training others! We all are supposed to do this, continue looking for ways to train others.

-Paul goes on to give us 3 pictures of what this looks like, but the connective tissue is vs. 3: share in suffering. This is the only thing Jesus guaranteed would happen to us (John 16:33). What does it look like to share in the sufferings?

-First like a soldier. Soldiers give up their entire lives to devote to their country. 1st century Rome, sometimes soldiers enlisted for 25 years, vowing to not get married and have 1 focus. If they were divided in what they were doing they wouldn’t last! Everything they do and at times even their very survival is mandated by not losing their focus. Everything they do is meant to be obedient to their superior officer. Think of the infamous Benedict Arnold! That’s NOT a good soldier! Similarly, in faith we’re meant to have the singular focus of obeying Christ. Don’t let anything distract you from that! The church has been guilty of missing this mission, of worrying too much about what the world thinks or using worldly metrics (building, budget butts). What we’re called to is being faithful, the fruit is up to God.

-Second is like an athlete. In order to win, there are specific rules you need to follow. Think of the shame of the steroid scandal in baseball. Cheating to get to the top is shameful! In faith, we need to be obedient to everything God has commanded us to do (teaching them to observe everything).

-Lastly: a hard-working farmer. I don’t know if you know any farmers, but there are times of the year where you won’t see them! Working before the sun is up to after the sun is down. In faith, we need to not rest on our laurels, but instead work diligently in our pursuit of Christ-likeness. 

-Summary: singular focus, obedient, diligent. 

-Last text: Eph. 4 I promise, we’ll get through it quickly!

-God gives everyone a unique gift that is meant to be used for the equipping of the body. We’ll be studying this text in more detail in the Fall, so don’t worry about all the details now! But every role is meant to: equip the saints. We all have a job to do if we want to be a faithful church. No JV, no bench warmers, we’re all in.

-Until: maturity. Won’t completely happen until Christ returns, but that means we continue to have a job to do.

-Finally, this is done to build each other up in love. Assume the best about each other! So much of our world today trains us to be inherently skeptical toward others. That’s the opposite of what’s supposed to happen in the church! As we use our gifts, we bless each other, encourage each other to keep this singular focus in all our lives.

-Everything we do as a church is meant to either make or mature disciples of Jesus. Nothing new! It’s what the church has been doing for 2,000 years! But sometimes we need the reminder!

-One of the ways we’re obedient to everything Jesus commanded us to do is through the celebration of the 2 ordinances, which visibly and tangibly express the gospel message. We saw baptism today, which is a 1 time demonstration of our new life, but then we also are to celebrate communion which is an ongoing reminder of our dependency on the gospel for growth. We’re going to sing a couple songs together, and use them as an opportunity to prepare your heart for this celebratory remembrance of our dependence on Jesus. Bible tells us if you are a faithful believer you are welcome to celebrate with us, but to examine your heart. I’d like to encourage you especially today, to take some time to confess if you’ve experienced “mission drift” away from what Jesus has explicitly commanded us to do.