Philippians 4:2-9 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 channel.

Gentle and Lowly

Philippians 4:2-9 (571)

Intro:

-It’s hard to believe 9/11 was 20 years ago. I still remember the clothes I was wearing that day! I saw a couple FB posts yesterday that talked about wishing we could go back to how unifying September 12, 2001 was.

-The reality is, we’re in a VERY different cultural moment than we were in 2001. (not just in the clothes people are wearing!) We, as Christians, need to take some to evaluate where we’re putting our stock, because there’s some things that we need to be ALL IN on, and others that we need to let go of completely.

-Listening to a podcast on Monday that struck me like a load of bricks: we as Christians are called to be gentle.  

READ/PRAY

-Theme of the letter in 1:25-26 “Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,”

-Today, we would call this a “missionary letter,” Paul helped plant the church, they sent him to continue planting churches, he writes to inform them how he’s doing, how he’s still praying for them, and remind them of the truth of the gospel and the implications of that Good News.

-Quick primer if you haven’t been here, the gospel is what compels everything we do. In 1 Cor. 15 Paul calls the gospel that which is of “first importance,” but the gospel also compels us to live in certain ways. The gospel is the means by which we are saved, and the means by which we are sanctified (DEFINE)

-If you’ve here and you’ve never heard the gospel before, 4 words: God, man, Christ, response.

2 Cor. 5:14 says it this way “the love of Christ controls/compels us.” The gospel, as demonstrated in Christ’s love, compels us to live in some specific ways that are contrary to our human/sinful nature.

2 Cor. 5 is also one of Pastor Bruce’s favorite passages to talk about growing like Christ – it goes on to talk about the need for reconciliation. 

-One of the implications of that reconciliation to God is it compels us to reconciliation with each other, which is exactly what Paul talks about in the first 2 verses of this section.

  1. Reconciliation (2-3)

-One quick note before we dig in:

-First, these letters were read in the corporate gathering of the church! And Paul had the audacity to call out 2 people by name! How would you feel if in the middle of the church service, I get up and start talking about a conflict you’re having with someone else?

-First thing to note is how little information Paul gives us. Apparently this conflict was a big enough deal that everyone knew what he was talking about.

-Can’t be doctrinal (look at the end of vs. 3)

-Notice how gently Paul asks: doesn’t shame them (apart from having their names read in the whole church), doesn’t call down his apostolic authority, doesn’t demean them “entreats” them. Think of Proverbs 15:1 “a gentle answer turns away wrath.” We’ll look at that a little more in the next section.

-Paul doesn’t even give much help, just “agree in the Lord.” Isn’t that overly simplistic? But sometimes, just an urge to “agree in the Lord” isn’t enough.

-Look at vs. 3

-When, in the midst of conflict, it can be nearly impossible to push through it on your own. That’s where bringing a 3rd party in can help both sides start to see/hear the other sides’ perspective. 

-It often seems that, in conflict/disagreements, we neglect the Bible’s command: be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1:19). 

-This is also a time where we need to remember Jesus’ commands in Matt. 18 – if you’re brother/sister in Christ has sinned against you, GO TO THEM! Then, if after going to them, bring someone else along, then if that doesn’t work, bring 1 or 2 other people along, then if that doesn’t work, go to the leadership of the church, but it BEGINS with 1 on 1, not quitting, not giving up, not gossiping or getting other people involved. GO TO THEM.

-This is true in churches too. There are legitimate reasons to leave a church, I’ve heard some doozie! But most of the time it’s because we’re not being obedient to the biblical command to “live at peace with everyone.” (Rom. 12:18)

-A couple other notes about this: 

-Reconciliation is not just “get over it” and pretend as if nothing happened. It’s talking, sharing your hurts and difficulties and doing your best to understand where the other person is coming from. It’s not jumping to conclusions based on what you heard! A pastor friend who works for a peace making ministry said we need to “listen to understand.” 

-Reconciliation is not done at the expense of the truth. There are legitimate times to divide from people who are preaching/living in ways that run contrary to the gospel. But notice the orientation of this agreeing: IN THE LORD. So important to have a theological triage. CS Lewis had a great analogy about this in Mere Christianity: orthodox Christianity brings you into a Great Hall which has various side rooms for the differing denominations/theological traditions, fun places to go sit in for a bit, have a chat, then come back to the feast in the great hall! When we come back to the Lord as the foundation for everything else, all these other issues seem trivial. He who has been forgiven much forgives much. 

-Lastly, the verb Paul uses here “agree” appears back in Philippians 2:5. Paul is pointing Euodia and Syntyche to “agree” about the mind of Christ.

-Because of that we are to:

-Not look at ourselves as having a high station

-Empty/humble ourselves

-We don’t get exaltation without humiliation

-Carson, “Personal differences should never become an occasion for advancing your party, for stroking bruised egos, for resorting to cheap triumphalism, for trimming the gospel by appealing to pragmatics. Focus on what unites you: the gospel, the gospel, the gospel.” (129)

-When we have reconciliation, it is going to look like us living/operating in some specific ways:

  • The Heart of Christ (4-7)

-This section is a list of characteristics that should be true in the life of every believer.

  1. Rejoice

-Because of the reconciliation that is found in Christ, we can rejoice, when? ALWAYS. So important that he says it twice! Again, doesn’t that feel kind of naïve? 

-Feels like he’s asking us to be Pollyana, running around acting as if everything is always 100%, no issues, no problems, I’m just happy all the time. Like the Pharrell Williams song “Because I’m happy: Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.” No matter what I’ll be happy and clappy with a smile 24/7. You almost want to say that’s cute Paul, but have you seen my life?
-But Paul doesn’t just say “rejoice” and then leave us to figure it out – our rejoicing has an orientation: IN THE LORD. Church, you and I are blood bought precious saints in the sight of the Lord. God brought us from death to life, God has seated us in the heavenlies with Him! If you can’t hear those truths and rejoice somethings wrong!

-D.A. Carson Basics for Believers: “If we fail to respond with joy and gratitude when we are reminded of these things, it is either because we have not properly grasped the depth of the abyss of our own sinful natures and of the curse from which we have been freed by Jesus or because we have not adequately surveyed the splendor of the heights to which we have been raised.” (130)

-When Paul came to Philippi to plant the church, do you remember what happened? He and Silas are jailed, chained to the wall, and they SING! That’s someone who is filled with joy! 

-That’s where Paul can say “To live is Christ, to die is gain.” When he’s thrown in prison he sings and then leads the jailer to the Lord! How frustrating was Paul to the works of Satan? How frustrating to Satan is your joy?

  • Gentleness

-I have no clue why, but this verse had never stuck out to me before! This is where I love reading the Bible over and over again, it will always meet you where you’re at and then work to conform/change you to become more like Christ.

-This word translated “reasonableness” is somewhat difficult to translate, includes things such as: non-insistence, yielding, kind, courteous, tolerant, clemency. This difficulty can be seen in the way the various translations state this phrase.

-One quick note: we NEVER tolerate/are gently with sin! What we are to tolerate is people who are “working out their salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12) John Owen: “be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”

-What are you known for? Your position at work? The car you drive? Your kids? What are people’s first description when they hear your name? In Acts 4:36, there’s a guy named Joseph, who was so encouraging, he was given the nickname Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” What we as Christians, and as a whole church are meant to be known as is: gentle. When you are wronged, respond with gentleness. When you are frustrated, respond with gentleness. When you are angry, respond with gentleness. When you are happy (or joyful), respond with gentleness. 

-Do you think when the world looks at the church their first thought is gentleness? Google search: “what is the most judgmental religion.” 

-I’ll confess, the world seems to be getting crazier and crazier. Saw a post this week that said “do you like post-apocalyptic movies? Well you’re in one now!” Talked to someone this week who said they felt like it the world was coming to an end, and how should we as Christians respond? With gentleness. 

-I’m not saying don’t have convictions, but keep them in their proper order. Politics is dominating so many conversations today, and I’ll be honest, it feels like both the Right and the Left are going crazy! There are people in this room that vote differently than me, every election cycle I pray their candidate loses! But those are issues for outside of here, here inside the church we need to leave the crazy at the door, and come in here to be reminded to be gentle toward each other. The gospel means I need to move toward, not away from, someone who disagrees with me. That’s what Jesus did! Have you ever looked at Jesus’ list of disciples? This astonishes me! In the same group of 12 he had: Simon the zealot, and Matthew the tax collector. The zealots viewed it as their job to kill anyone who was colluding with the enemy, AKA a tax collector! Now I don’t think most people on either side of the political aisle today have gone THAT far! But when the love of Christ compels us, political ideologies fall away compared the beauty of the gospel! Have those conversations and LISTEN TO UNDERSTAND with GENTLENESS.

-Screwtape Letters, #7: “I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them. Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the “Cause” is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy’s own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. The Church herself is, of course, heavily defended and we have never yet quite succeeded in giving her all  the characteristics of a faction; but subordinate factions within her have often produced admirable results, from the parties of Paul and of Apollos at Corinth down to the High and Low parties in the Church of England.”

-Extremism to anything other than Christ is a lie from the pit of hell that we need to repent of in order to pursue Jesus’ heart towards us: gently and lowly.

-I LOVE theology, a love a good theological debate/discussion, I have at times made my theology my god, and it makes a bad god: let’s go back to God, how He’s revealed Himself in His Word, and live in the community he’s called us to. We do not fight against flesh and blood.

-1 person I was listening to about this idea this week said “The news feed of heaven is very different from the news feed of earth.” What makes the headlines of heaven? When someone moves from death into life, when you grow in gentleness.

-What would it look like for us to take this command seriously and work to grow in gentleness in every one of our responses? Paul actually tells us how we can do that!

-It begins by this throwaway comment: the Lord is at hand. God is near! That’s why we let our gentleness be seen by everyone, it’s not our gentleness, it’s God’s gentleness being demonstrated THROUGH us. “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)

  • Do not be anxious

-Do you ever get anxious about what’s going on around us? I was at a conference Indianapolis in April when most Twin City suburbs were put under a curfew. I couldn’t head home to make sure my family was safe, I was anxious! Goodness, just scrolling through FB or a news feed is enough these days to make me anxious! Once again, it feels like Paul is being unreasonable. Have you seen the world? Is this even possible?

  • Pray to God

-This is how we’re not anxious, when we start to worry/fret/become despondent, we bring it all to God.

-I’ve shared this before, but your knee jerk reaction as a Christian is supposed to be to pray! This is especially true when you start to feel anxious. 

-It’s not just suck it up, it’s not pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s not squelch your emotions, it’s casting them on the Lord, because He cares for you. Martin Luther: “pray and let God worry.”

-This means of dealing with anxiety leads us to:

  • Eternal peace

-I’ve often heard this verse used without the context to tell people to just chill out. You’ll have the peace of God, so you don’t need to worry! But the only way we get to this peace is by crying out to God, because He cares for us! 

-This peace comes only by living out and believing the truths from the rest of this section. We rejoice all the time, we always respond in gentleness, when we start to feel anxious/worried we cry out to God, then we will be peace filled people.

-I want you to notice 1 thing about this list: compare it to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. Joy, peace, gentleness, kindness between Euodia and Syntyche 

-These fruit are not meant to be understood in isolation from each other. Fruit is singular: we are supposed to demonstrate each one of these characteristics. None are optional!

-The last thing about this peace is that it’s what guards our hearts and minds. Even the way we think is meant to be gentle.

  • Dwell on This (8-9)

-Look at this laundry list: true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellence, worthy of praise. Are those the things you are thinking about/dwelling on daily?

-Let’s flip it, do you instead dwell on things that are untrue, dishonoring, unjust, impure, unlovely, not commendable, wallowing in mediocrity, worthy of criticism.

-When you have nothing else to do/focus on, where does your mind go?

-God loves you so much, he even cares about your thought life. I think of Col. 3:16 “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There is nothing better than dwelling on the Word of Christ! I gave the overseers some new homework this week: Bible memorization, next month we’re going to be reciting Phil. 4:4-7 to each other. Ask us how we’re doing with it! Join us in soaking/meditating/dwelling on these words!

-That’s actually what Paul says in vs. 9. You have people in leadership here to set an example for you. What you have learned from us, received from us, and then heard and seen, practice them. Get busy rejoicing, being gently, praying, and dwelling on the things of Christ.

-This is the kind of church I want to be a part of! Because we are commanded to be gentle, one person described the church as shock absorbers. As new people/unbelievers come in here who are stirred up/agitated about the state of our world, can you be gentle enough to absorb them into our midst and help them grow in gentleness? This is what Christ calls us to as a church! Putting on the mind of Christ, and responding with gentleness and lowliness. Today is September 12, but it’s 2021, not 2001, and the only way for us to see the same sense of comradery that we want to see again is by growing in gentleness. This is what Christ died for us to do: to demonstrate Him to everyone around us. Let’s roll towards that goal in all of our lives!

Psalm 10 – 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 channel.

Where Did You Go?

Psalm 10

Intro:

-Major theme we’ve seen through these first 10 Psalms is there’s 2 ways to live: for/against the Lord.

-Way of the wicked/way of the blessed – Psalm 1

-way of the world/the way of the Lord – Psalm 2

-Today we’re going to be looking at that exact same theme: the way of the wicked or the way of those who are blessed/following God

READ

PRAY

  1. The Distance of God (1)

-Anyone who has been a Christian for a decent amount of time has gone through a season of questioning where God is.

-Pastor Bruce (and now Micah!) and I have been talking a lot recently about this “deconstruction” idea that seems to be running rampant in the church right now.

-Each generation, it seems, has a time period in which people start leaving the faith claiming that God isn’t real, that God doesn’t work in their lives, that they “tried” God out and he didn’t come through

-Augustine/Anselm of Centerbury “believe so that you may understand.” 

-What can the unbeliever know about God? Some things (common grace, the created order) but what I want to keep saying to those I read who are “deconstructing” is: have you actually been trusting in the one true God, or have you been looking at him as a way to get what you want? 

-Think of the parable of the sower that Jesus tells in Matt. 13, seed scattered on: path, rocky ground, thorns, good soil. Rocky ground is described as “this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” So why are we surprised when we see things taking place around us that Jesus told us would happen?

-This distance idea is a real thing! God at times will feel far away, even David, the man after God’s own heart struggled with feelings of isolation. 

-Brother/sister: when you feel like God has abandoned you, the first thing to remember is that is normal! Every relationship has ups/downs, seasons of closeness/intimacy and seasons of distance/indifference.

-One big difference though is in our relationship with God, one of those 2 people is perfect, which is why one of the things I first learned about God as a kid is God will never leave you or forsake you. (Deut. 31:6) or what we’re trying to teach our kids: when I am afraid I will trust in God. (Psalm 56:3)

-We also need to remember: theologically, one of the first things we learn, God is omnipresent (omnis are some of the basic ways to remember the incommunicable attributes of God, we are all finite, God is infinite)

-Grudem “The doctrine that God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with his whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”

-God’s manifest presence vs. omnipresence

-Distance is acutely felt in the “valley of the shadow of death” or “dark night of the soul” but in those seasons we need to think back to what we know to be true about God. 

-Reading a book about discipleship this week, “We shout doctrine in the light so that we can whisper it in the dark.”

-This is getting to what I talked about last week on the need for discipleship: 2 tracks of our “train” in growing as a Christian: life and doctrine. Need both! 

-Think back to what I’ve shared about a see-saw in relation to doctrine. If you emphasize only life you end up with a bunch of Christians who love their neighbor but don’t love God, if you emphasize only doctrine you end up with a bunch of people who love God but neglect to love their neighbor. It’s not either/or, it’s both/and. Need doctrine to preach to ourselves, but we need to live out the doctrine we believe so the world can see that we’re different! 

-That’s the only way we will survive when the difficulties/struggles of life come our way, and they are guaranteed to come! I’ve shared this quote a couple times, but I still think it bears repeating: D.A. Carson How Long, O Lord? “The truth of the matter is that all we have to do is live long enough, and we will suffer.” In those times/seasons, push into your family, the church, come and be reminded that Jesus comes to walk with us in the midst of those difficulties, that Jesus came to bear our sorrows, lay them at HIS feet, because He cares for you.

-Think about this truth from Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heave laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yolk upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

-Only place in all 4 Gospels where Jesus reveals his heart, his innermost self, and we could spend, we WILL spend eternity plumbing the depths of that idea!

-Brother/sister WHEN you are struggling, WHEN you are heavy laden, WHEN you world feels like it is falling apart, come to Jesus, he’ll take the burden and give you a light one because he is gentle and lowly in heart.

-But what do we do when it seems like those not following Jesus are flourishing?

  • The Depravity of the Wicked (2-11)

-There are 5 characteristics David gives us on the depravity of the wicked: arrogance, wealth, longevity, sinful speech, and violence. We’ll work through them one by one.

-It’s important to remember that these descriptions are from an earthly/human perspective, but that doesn’t always reflect the greater spiritual reality. Often a tendency for us to focus exclusively on how it affects the physical reality, and neglect to remember there’s a greater reality going on around us.

-Think of a passage like Eph. 6:12 “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So as we read these items, this is how it appears to us in our natural human state. 

-First, arrogance (2-4)

-Notice who is the object of this arrogant spirit: the poor. The marginalized, those who have no voice to fight for themselves. Throughout history, those who most often bear the brunt of the sin of a culture, people group are the poor. 

-Lady at my first church (Cheyenne) who is now with the Lord, who was on welfare. Worked at a gas station making minimum wage, ministry of sending cards. One Christmas season she found some supplemental income doing seasonal work, showed up on her taxes and she lost her low-income housing, only house she could afford. Someone at church bought her a little house and rented it to her for the same price she was paying for her low income house, but she’d never have to move or worry about how much money she was bringing in. That was really eye opening to me! Yes, always people who are scamming the system, but there’s also those that are dependent on “the system” to survive, and for those of us who are in Christ, we’re called to love and care for those people who are in our midst. Acts 2 reminds us that in the early church there were no needy people. None. I get to see some of the ways this happens in our church! Benevolence fund, rides for people who need it, sharing medical equipment with others who can’t buy it. That’s a marker of someone who is not arrogant! 

-Now, notice the implication of how this arrogant, wicked person lives in vs. 3 by pursuing this sinful way of life, he renounces the Lord, he lives as an atheist proclaiming “there is no God.”

-That’s just the first marker! 

-Second, wealth (5)

-Again, remember this is merely from a humanistic perspective. From all external appearances, everything he does is prospering.

-Compare this with Psalm 1, describing the blessed man who obeys God. So which is it? Is the wicked prospering at all times, or is the blessed one who is obeying God? Spiritually, the blessed one is prospering all the time. 

-The underground church is Kabul was martyred last week. From all earthly/worldly appearances the blessed ones are not prospering and the wicked seem to have the upper hand.

-In the midst of this complaint, David remembered that God is the one true judge. God’s judgments are on a completely different level than the wicked, the wicked can’t even begin to grasp it! That gives us comfort, even in the midst of persecution/suffering! God and the wicked aren’t even playing the same game! God’s playing chess while the wicked think they’re winning by playing checkers

-As if that’s not enough, while he’s stuck playing checkers, he says that he has:

-Third, Longevity (6)

-Let’s be honest here, how many generations does it often take for people to forget your name? 2? Now maybe there are some people that change the course of human history (Jesus, Nero, Napoleon, Hitler come to mind) but for most of us, our life is a vapor and we’re forgotten shortly after we die. And even those names that I mentioned, how many of them built a kingdom that is still lasting? 1. So we know that’s not true! 

-Fourth, Sinful speech (7)

-Look at all these things that come out from him! This language demonstrates what is in his heart (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” Matt. 12:34) we also know from James 3 that the tongue is powerful. How many of you have lasting wounds because of a single sentence someone said to you?

-Paul even picks up this language in Rom. 3 to talk about the evidences for no one being righteous. Do your words reveal you to be the blessed one, or the wicked one?

-Last, violence (8-11)

-Look at all the ways he looks to pursue violence. He intentionally targets the poor and helpless. This is the antithesis of God who intentionally seeks to raise the poor/helpless. Think of that video I showed a few weeks back on the biblical concept of “justice.” What we seek to do with our positions of influence is lower ourselves to someone else, so that we can then build them back in Christ. 

-This is where the gospel intersects with these ideas. Jesus condescended to our level. Jesus came from the highest level possible (heaven/perfection) and lowered himself to our level so that we could be raised with him to the highest level possible. 

-Look at how this section ends in vs. 11 “He will never see it.” God sees everything. Every pain you feel, every misspoken word against you, every time you’re mistreated, God sees every single moment of every single day, and his heart toward you is gently and lowly. 

-That’s where this Psalm doesn’t end with the focus on the wicked, no, the wicked are nothing compared to God!

  • The Response of God (12-18)

-Because God sees everything, David (and we too!) can call on God to arise and deal with the injustice and brokenness we see around us. 

-David calls on God to bring about in the physical realm the spiritual realities that are happening around us. (14) God sees it so that he can take matters into his own hands, the helpless are to commit themselves to God (14), God will help the fatherless, and ultimately break the arm of the wicked (that is to take away their power)

-We today can pray that the wicked and evildoers come to an end. Even if we don’t see the implications of their wickedness on earth, we know that they will be punished for their sins.

-David ends on a high note here: where the wicked think they will have an everlasting reign, God really does reign as king forever and ever. Everyone else will perish, but God won’t.

-Because God is a sovereign (and perfect) king, he’ll hear and strengthen the afflicted, he will enact lasting, perfect justice as opposed to the “mere people” of earth

-What are we supposed to do when we’re in exile as the people of God? When it seems like the wicked are thriving and we’re not?

Jeremiah 29:4-9 

-Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat their produce.

-You’re going to be there for a while (how long does it take to build a house?) 

-Gardens take at least 4 months to bear produce, and then to do that annually means it’s something to dig into and look for ways to flourish where you are.

-Seek to grow your families. One of the easiest ways for a community to grow is to have kids. Spend time with your family! I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the fact that my kids will have various teachers, friends, influencers in their lives, but I’m the only dad they’ve got. Parents: we have a job to do! But even if you’re not a parent, the other parents here need your help! We can’t do it alone!

-Seek the welfare of the city where I HAVE SENT YOU.

-Do you view your vocation as a place God has sent you? Do you view your house as a place God has sent you? Do you view your recreation as a place God has sent you? Schooling, shopping, eating, walking, working out. Every place you go you’re there for a reason. Salt and light.

-This is one of the primary ways we can stand strong against injustice and the feeling that God has abandoned us, by crying out to God, pushing into our church family that God has called us to, and working to see the flourishing where God has sent us. We know that the wicked won’t last forever!

-But until the wicked are dealt with, we still live on this earth. Until the wicked have their arms broken, we will still face difficulties, struggles, and maybe even persecution.

-There’s times in all of our lives where we are the wicked ones! So how do we respond when we realize that? Repent, cry out to God for help, push back into the church family God has given you, and get to work! 

-All of this serves as a picture of communion, because all of us are at times the wicked ones. We’re slow to seek God, we’re slow to seek justice, and we often act as if there is no God. But God doesn’t give up on any of us! He relentlessly pursues, continually loves, and continues working in our lives to draw us to Himself. That’s why we take communion – to remember that this world is not our home, that God dwells in all of us who are walking with the Lord.

Psalm 6 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 channel.

Be Gracious To Me

Psalm 6 (pg. 255)

-NIVAC: Student keeping a prayer journal reading through these Psalms: “What is it with these psalmists anyway? They’re such a bunch of whiners!”

-Could you imagine singing these songs day in and day out? Definitely in the minor key!

-Another theme popping up in these Psalms, while we begin in sorrow/mourning, we don’t stay there long when we look up to God

-As we’ll see through this Psalm, there may be extended seasons of mourning, one’s entire life may be marked by mourning, but we can know and trust that God is still working

-2 notes for us today as we work our way through this Psalm:

-Window – look at it, or look through it? The Bible serves as a window, gives a framework for viewing all of life. Not bad to look at the window AT TIMES 

-A couple BAD examples: counting up the number of verse to figure out when Jesus will return. Magic 8 ball pick and choose random verses.

-A couple good examples: soaking, marinating, meditating on the Bible both big and small sections at a time. Using the Bible as a template for prayers.

-Seasons of life – your life will have seasons of wobble. Need to know which season you’re in and be strategic about what you’re devoting yourself too. What do you do when nothing seems to work?

-Dark night of the soul – nothing wrong with emotions, but being completely dependent on emotions is a problem. Many church services today tend to be centered on an emotional experience. Even seen some people have weekly “how was your worship EXPERIENCE this week?” Need an anchor for our soul (Heb. 6:14), that will keep us planted, focused, in place in the midst of life’s trials/difficulties 

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PRAY

  1. My Mourning (1-7)

-Vs. 0 – choirmaster, played with string instruments, Sheminith (lit. “the 8th) leading to people thinking it should be song an octave lower, or a different tuning of the instrument, sung in the minor key.

  1. Greatly Troubled (1-3)

-As we read, you can see this is another moment of desperation for David

-Almost as if David lived by the mantra: life’s hard, and then you die

-But life doesn’t have to be ONLY hard, there can be lasting joy in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in

-Many scholars think this situation is referring directly to some sin David was caught in (if so, similar to Psalm 51 where David’s murder and adultery come to light) leading to a sickness 

-Based on the use of “rebuke me not” and “discipline” not a stretch to believe it’s in response to David’s sin

-“Heal me” in vs. 2 would point to sickness, in ANE sin and sickness were connected

-These 2 words have some interesting connotations:

-Rebuke – referring to legal argumentation, therefore tied closely to the concept of righteousness, or being in right standing. David is asking God to allow him to remain in right relationship and standing with God and others

-Discipline – refers to education and training. If you’ve got a dog you discipline them to get them potty trained, or if you’ve had kids you know you need to teach and train/discipline them to get them to figure out what’s wrong. Now there’s times/moments where you probably get angry with the lack of obedience/response – that’s the situation David is in now. He’s begging God to not respond to Him in anger or wrath

-We need to have a good understanding of God’s discipline in our lives. It is educational/equipping for a life of holiness. It seems that there’s a tendency to view God as wrathful/vengeful. Some have even accused God of being an egotistical maniac. God’s overarching desire is for everyone to be in right relationship with Him and others, and He will discipline to draw people to Himself. It’s not out of spite, it’s out of love. This is where we need to remember God is a good, kind, loving, caring Father, I’m guessing everyone here who had a dad (anyone not have one) was disciplined in some capacity.

-After dealing with the justice & righteousness of God, David shifts to other attributes of God: his gracious and healing nature.

-Be gracious – means “show favor” Despite being sick and caught in sin, David has the fortitude to STILL ask for God’s favor. Do you? The reality is: even when we’re sick, even when we’re in sin, God’s favor is still showered upon those of us who are in Christ. 

-David needs this favor because he is week, feeble, languishing on his own, desperate for some breakthrough

-Then he asks for his real need: healing.

-He says he needs healing for his bones are in trouble, he is too weak. Other places in the OT this phrase is translated “terrified out of one’s senses.”

-These bones are referring to the innermost physical self, but things could get even worse.

-His soul also is greatly troubled. NIV – “my soul is in deep anguish.”

-David’s entire world feels like it’s falling apart, but instead of running away from God, it’s spurring him to run TOWARD God

-Remember: read all these Psalms as a window through which we view the world around us, so when we feel desperate, like our world is utterly falling apart, we can still boldly come before God.

-Last thing we see in this section is a final cry of anguish: HOW LONG?

-Begins addressing God again, but can’t contain his exasperation 

-One thing we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that God invites us to beg Him, plead with Him, repeat the same requests to Him, and while that’s true, I don’t think the same is true of us! It seems that many of us get tired of continually asking God for help, pleading and begging the same things over and over and over until the only prayer we have left is: how long?

-Part of the reason God allows times like this is to strip away our self-reliant tendencies. 

-When things are going well in our lives, we have a tendency to not give a second thought to God. We know God created us, saved us, but that was in the past, it’s up to me to get through today.

-Cannot fully appreciate/comprehend normal life until going through difficulty. One of the most striking examples of this in my lifetime was the difference between September 10 & 11 of 2001. From “normal” to “where was God?”

-Last thing from this section is from James Montgomery Boice:

-“Have you noticed how often in this psalm, even in the midst of his great anguish, David calls upon God? Five times in the first four verses. That is, once or more than once in each verse! And the name he uses for God is Jehovah, which characterizes God particularly as our Redeemer or Deliverer.”

-Movie Silence

  • Deliver Me (4-5)

-David shifts in this section to bartering with God (not the best idea, but when you’re desperate I supposed anything will do!)

-Longing for deliverance, for salvation. From desperation He realizes the only way He can be saved is through the grace of God

-And that remains true today as well! Even though we have a better understanding of germ theory, medicines, the way the body works, it is no less miraculous when God allows our bodies to be healed than it was 3,000 years ago.

-Notice how David approaches this plea: 

-Asking for deliverance because of the character of God: his steadfast love. That theme KEEPS popping up in the verses! Hebrew word chesed (חֶסֶד): covenant, lasting loving faithfulness that God extends to His people

-Then David gets to his bartering in vs. 5

-Once someone dies, David reminds God that they can no longer praise Him. And it’s true! Those who didn’t praise/worship God on this side of eternity will also not be praising God on that side of eternity. Brothers and sisters, what we’re doing right here and right now is meant to be a dress rehearsal for the final play: living in the new heavens and the new earth in perfect relationship with God and each other. But if there’s no one left on earth to praise Him, how will anyone else see or be made aware of these greater spiritual realities? 

-This is pointing us to the fact that God always has and always will have his chosen people who are specifically sent to represent Him to the rest of the world. I don’t know if David thought of this passage, but it reminded me of Moses’ encounter with God where the 10 commandments were delivered (The 1st time)

-Moses pleading with God in Ex. 32:7-14.

-Make a great nation out of you: don’t you think that would sound tempting? 

-Just as David does in this Psalm, Moses barters with God by pleading with Him regarding his character. Asks God what the world would think if Israel was spared from Egypt just to be destroyed in the desert.

-Same argument David is making here – appeals to God’s ultimate glory. If everyone is dead, no one will be left to praise Him. 

-Isn’t done because God is egotistical, isn’t done for spite, it’s done because God alone is worthy of our praise, He alone is the one to whom we should be orienting our entire lives towards, He alone is the one who can ultimately heal us. (soli deo gloria)

-The last section here David brings the focus back on himself because he is exhausted.

  • Exhaustion (6-7)

-This feeling is far beyond what a simple nap would cover. The Hebrew expression is David is swimming in his tears in his bed. His tears have cried tears, and those tears have their own set of tears. The guy is crying 24/7: where he sits during the day is drenched in tears, and where his bed has become a pool.

-I think at times we tend to treat these Psalms like the melancholy, depressed friend no one ever invites over. David is the Eeyore of his friend group here! And because these Psalms don’t hide behind facades, or safe language, we can at times wrestle with reading them. 

-Feel like you should tell him to “Man up! Dudes don’t cry!” But David doesn’t care, he’s letting it all out here!

-This is a good description of the “dark night of the soul.” The point at which you need to look back and remember how God has provided in the past because sometimes your history is all you’ve got. 

-Luther: “pray and let God worry” easier said than done!

-Another theme we’ve seen throughout these Psalms is that we need to be completely transparent before God. We can’t hide from Him, we can’t trick Him, so just let it all out!

-In vs. 7 David uses a weird (to us) phrase: singular: my eye wastes away.

-Way of referring to his physical health. Someone’s eyesight is still strong, they’re still full of life. As someone’s eyes for bad their health will go with it.

-Don’t know who his foes are, could just be from his physical sickness.

-The last thing to note about David’s exhaustion is that it demonstrates David’s trust in God:

-Luther: “no one who has not been profoundly terrified and forsaken and prays profoundly.”

-To say it another way, it takes trail and tribulation to learn to pray profound prayers, and we know this is true, because of the last characteristic about God:

  • The Lord Hears (8-10)

-Feels like David is bipolar, stark contrast between vs. 7-8.

-Whatever affliction David is walking through, in spite of swimming in his own tears, he knows God has heard and will respond.

-Still has the courage to demand anyone who does evil to leave him alone

-The reason David has this courage is rooted in God’s nature. Remember what David reminded himself of back in vs. 4: God’s steadfast love. His loving kindness extended to us! 

-Because of that loving kindness, God will answer & hear our plea, God will accept our prayers, because of the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit made possible by the atoning work of the Son to the glory of the Father.

-Remember, we saw last week that the Spirit will intercede for us even when we don’t have the words to say.

-Finally, we see that while David was initially ashamed and greatly trouble, his enemies will ultimately be the ones afflicted. 

-Since David is on God’s side, his enemies are God’s enemies, so lasting justice for all of them is what David’s asking for.

-Another way of saying this is: David is pleading for shalom, for true and lasting justice and peace.

-The “hello” of the Jewish people (even today) is the Hebrew word “shalom” which means everything is in its’ proper place and order. Just that first part is enough to want me to wish for it: everything is in its’ proper place. Anyone else ever lose their keys? 

-The difficult part is that won’t actually happen until Jesus returns, so until that day there will be times, seasons where we’re swimming in our own tears. So what do we do until Jesus comes back?

-We remember the man of sorrows who was languishing, the man whose bones and soul was greatly troubled. Who asked the Lord to deliver his life and was told no. Who sweat drops of blood when He looked at the suffering He was going to be experiencing. This Psalm is a description of what Jesus experienced in our place. We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus weeps with us. We can view our suffering and struggles through the window of Jesus, who uses our suffering to refine us and make us more like Him, for His own glory. That’s where we can have hope that Jesus hasn’t given up on us yet, and here’s the best part: He never will! Church, make sure you’re looking at your suffering through the right window!

Psalm 5 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 channel.

Listen To My Prayer

Psalm 5 (pg. 255)

-Chronicles of Narnia: “Is he safe? Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

-Some people who use Exclusive Psalmnody argue for accapela only singing in church, what do you do with this prescript? Or last week “with stringed instruments”

  1. Plea to God (1-6)

-Sounds very similar to the beginning of Psalm 4

-For some reason, we have these repeated examples of the need to remind God to listen to us, to pay attention to us, to answer us when we come before Him

-We know that God already knows all these things, but we can still plead with Him 

-Remember from last week, we need to approach God honestly in our prayers. Since God already knows everything about us, we can’t keep things hidden from Him.

Preach the Word “People who don’t know God well think they have to pray with special words. Their prayers sound like a formula with set words and phrases.”

-Think of how other religions form their prayers. You’re trained in what you say, how you say it, sometimes you have to face a VERY specific direction and if you miss by a degree it’s heresy. God invites us to come with all that we are, with all that we’ve got, and to be bold in our approach to Him.

-These first verses could be considered the prelude to prayer

  1. Preparation to Pray (1-3)

-I onetime read that someone said “The most difficult thing in the world to do is to pray. The second most difficult thing in the world to do is to stop praying.”

George Muller “after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.” He kept a prayer journal, contained 50,000 answered prayers, 30,000 were answered within the first day, some within an hour. Ran an orphanage where he cared for more than 10,000 children during his life

-If someone like Muller, who had a prayer book of 50K answered prayers can struggle to actually pray, so can David, and so can you

-St Anthony of Egypt “If you know that you’re praying, you’re really not.”

-Look at how David begins: give ear, consider, give attention.

-Again, remember that God already sees, knows, is aware of everything that is going on. God doesn’t need the reminder because God doesn’t change. He can only be true to Himself. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself here! We’ll pick up that idea in vs. 4

-Asks God to listen to his words, his groanings, and his cries

-Once again, it sounds like David’s in a rough spot! 

-Ever have one of those nerve tests on your knee? Part of what we’re seeing here is: what is your knee-jerk reaction when situations arise in your life? When you’re struggling, what do you do? When you’re thrilled over some exciting news, what do you do? When you’ve had a totally normal/average day, what do you do? I’ve got a proposal: you pray! THAT is how you “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:16)

-Because this is in the midst of struggling, what does it look like when you don’t even have any words to say? Have you ever found yourself in a moment like that? It’s guaranteed that at SOME point in your life, you will suffer. It may be vicariously through someone else’s struggle, it may affect you, but you will suffer. Where do you/have you turned in those times of your life?

-I think of some of my friends who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death – one friend whose first wife faced cancer head on within a year of getting married and lost. Do you think that’s what they were planning on when they celebrated their marriage? Or another friend whose wife carried their first daughter to full term, only to have her die in the womb at 9 months and one day. How did they process delivering a baby whose cry they would never hear? 

-It’s one thing to deal with the philosophical “problem of evil” in the theoretical, it’s an entirely different game when the problem of evil decides to plant its’ roots within your life. What do you do when your prayers are nothing more than groans? Do you know that’s enough for God?

-Charles Spurgeon – battled crippling depression much of his life “Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.”

-This theme is picked up again in Rom. 8 where we finally see any answer to the “problem of evil.” 

-Vs. 18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

-Vs. 22 “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

-Vs. 23 “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

-Vs. 26 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

-God Himself, through the indwelling Holy Spirit prays on our behalf. When you don’t have the words, when your world is falling apart, when you don’t know which end is up, you’re not alone.

-There’s a second piece to this from this first section: in the morning I watch

-Some have argued (even Spurgeon) that an hour in prayer in the morning is better than 2 hours in prayer at night. Really??? 

-Better way to think about this is calling out to God first thing when you wake up! That’s a wonderful habit to have and get into. It reminds us of our complete dependence on Him, our need for Him to lead us and guide us, and (as Jesus commanded us) the reminder to daily take up our cross and follow Him.

Watch: do you expect an answer to your prayers? Or do you act as if they hit the ceiling? The word “watch” has a connotation of eagerly anticipating. I had a couple people tell me last week the quote “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening” really impacted them last week, and this is a similar idea. When you finish your prayer, do you start watching, or do just go back to how you were before, and act as if nothing has changed? 

-One author “If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God will answer your prayer because he cannot deny himself.”

-This is where we can then get into the prayer itself. Because the answering is dependent on the character of God, it leads David to pray:

  • The Prayer (4-6)

-This feels like a weird place to go when you’re crying out or groaning to God. After you’ve just asked God to listen to what you have to say, shouldn’t you get to what you want to say instead of reminding Him what He likes? 

-Last week I used an analogy of a coach bringing a team together and saying “listen up!” To expand that this week, imagine the next thing he says is: “You guys really like in-n-out, and you hate Whataburger because it tastes like more expensive McDonalds” 

-The reason God answers prayer is because of who He is, and specifically, the needs David has in front of him run contrary to God’s very nature of being holy.

-How do we read something like “you hate all evildoers.” How does that square with John 3:16?

-This is where theology matters greatly. “God hates sin but loves the sinner,” that’s not what this says here! 

-We have a skewed version of love today. Driving around you’ll see bumper stickers or yard signs “Love is love.” That makes absolutely no sense! What I was ALWAYS told was you can’t use the word in the definition. So how do we square the fact that God is love with the fact that God hates all evildoers? A few thoughts for us:

-First, we cannot divide God into his various attributes/characteristics. His attributes literally describe who He is. God is love, God is holy, God is wrathful toward evil. So we look at a situation and say God was acting in wrath there. God is always acting with all his attributes at the same time, not picking and choosing based on the situation.

-Second, we know that God does not want anyone to perish, but earnestly desires that everyone repent and turn to Him. (2 Peter 3:9) what’s crazy about that is God has chosen us as his emissaries to call people to turn to Him in repentance. That’s where I said last week YOU are the outreach strategy of this church.

-Third, no one wants a God who only fits within our current culture’s definition of love (being complete acceptance). What do you do with someone like Hitler? How do you handle the “cancel culture”? Every culture, country, person has an idea of who the “evildoers” are (article on adultery vs. tattoos)

-Fourth, God ultimately dealt with sin, death, and evildoers when He sent His one and only son to the cross. The cross is where the penalty for evildoers is paid in full, which leads to:
-Fifth, and finally, the reality of what the Bible says is the evildoer is me.

  • Plea for Myself (7-12)

-Because you and me, every single person who has ever lived is a sinner by nature and by choice (with the exception of 1 perfect person) we are all dependent on God’s mercy and grace. So notice how David talks about himself:

  1. I Will Worship (7-8)

-David excludes himself from the company of evildoers, BUT it’s only because God is abundant in “steadfast love.”

-This idea of “steadfast love” first appears in Ex. 34 when Moses asks God to reveal Himself, and listen to how God describes himself in vs. 6-7

-Notice the inequality between God’s steadfast love, and the iniquity. Spurgeon “God’s judgments are all numbered, but his mercies are innumerable.” Inherent to God’s very being is this abounding in steadfast love.

-Because that is who God is, we can then come before him, we can enter his house, we can worship Him, it is through obedience to Him that we can remain faithful, even as we are tempted, tried, and discouraged by enemies on every side

-David asks God to lead him in righteousness, because his enemies will not, he needs God to lead him and make the right path to take straight. 

-David’s enemies are those who refuse to worship God

  • My Enemies Will Not (9-10)

-The enemies will do everything they can to lead others away from God. Notice all the ways they work:

-Their mouth reveals that their inmost self is destruction

-They use their mouth, throat, leading to their innermost self of destruction

-A good way to think about this is like a black hole, consuming everything around it. Nothing and no one is safe from their grasp! This is why David is pleading with God to lead him on straight paths, he doesn’t want to get sucked into the ways of the evildoers.

-Paul picks up this idea and quotes this Psalm in Rom. 3 to make that point that no one is righteous. 

-That’s the natural way of all of us! We need to be born a second time to become truly righteous.

-Vs. 10 is a little difficult for us to swallow. Can we call down curses on our enemies? How do we reconcile a verse like this with Jesus’ command to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”?

-We’re going to come across what are known as “imprecatory Psalms” which is calling down curses/condemnation on your enemies. This isn’t even as graphic as some of the Psalms in the future!

-In this in between time of Christ’s first and second comings, we don’t live in a theocracy. Things would be FAR better if we all lived under Christ’s perfect rule, but we don’t. We’re not trying to take over lands by force, or threaten to kill people who don’t convert. These Psalms need to be read in light of the era of human history we find ourselves in.

-Now, we realize that God will bring about His perfect judgment at some point in the future. That’s part of what we’re asking when we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

-So we can read these realizing that it’s a just punishment for any/everyone who has sinned against the holy, righteous and perfect creator God, which is all of us. That makes it all the more important for us to tell any/everyone about who Jesus is. The one who came to take the penalty/judgment in our place.

-NIVAC: “the psalmist’s words call us to remember that Jesus was never afraid to call evil what it was or to take a firm stance of condemnation against all its forms. We too must take evil seriously, aligning ourselves with God’s essential character of holiness.”

-That’s where the word “rebelled” is so potent! Any sinful act is an act of rebellion against God. These people are merely following their own advice, which leads them to death. They will follow their own throats to their open grave.

-But not those who realize/acknowledge their need of a Savior!

  • The Righteous Ones (11-12)

-“But” is one of the most significant words in the English language. David used in back in vs. 7. I got in a car accident, but I’m completely fine. The doctor found cancer, but it’s easily removeable. 

-Paul writes about this in Eph. 2. We were once dead, BUT GOD. Comparing is a beautiful thing when one way leads to death and the other to life.

-Our refuge is found only in Jesus. Last week He was described as a shield, this week He is a refuge.

-Scene in the Hobbit when the company is traveling the mountains, middle of a huge rainstorm, mountain giants start fighting, they find refuge.

-If/when you’re struggling, remember that God is your refuge. This is what allows David to rejoice even when your discouraged or persecuted. This is where Paul can remind us in 1 Thess. 5 not just pray without ceasing, but also to rejoice always. BECAUSE

-God blesses the righteous, because of his steadfast love. This gives us the hope we need.

-NIVAC: “Perhaps the most important lesson contemporary humans can take from this psalm is that human hope is grounded in the essential character of God—a character that is constant and does not change regardless of the ebb and flow of human circumstances. The righteous—those who take refuge in God—find hope in God’s holiness both because he is incompatible with evil and because he is relentlessly good”

-He’s not safe, but he’s good!

Psalm 4 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 channel.

Trust in God

Psalm 4

-Book of Psalms cover the gamut of human experiences/emotions 

-Has a prescript, just like the previous one, but doesn’t list a specific time

-Some believe Psalm 3 & 4 are connected to the same experience (with Absalom)

-David says distress, mocked, time of wanting

-Nothing in the text specifically ties it to that

-Others have called Psalm 3 the morning Psalm (vs. 5 “I woke again) then Psalm 4 becomes the evening Psalm (vs. 8 “I will lie down and sleep). Even became an evening prayer in the synagogue.

-Others have tried connecting it to a different time in Israel’s history, a time of famine like 2 Sam 21 “Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year. And David sought the face of the Lord.”

-Somewhat getting into the weeds, but based off some of the word choices in vs. 2 that lead scholars to believe the Israelites were pursuing Baal and other fertile/agrarian gods as their support instead of trusting in Yahweh.

-Where last week’s theme was physical persecution, the emphasis/focus this week is on verbal/emotional persecution.

-Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

READ
PRAY

-3 primary groups/people addressed in this Psalm: God, enemies, myself.

-The need to preach to ourselves instead of listening to ourselves

-This will then lead us to more boldly and freely preach to others

  1. To God (1)

-David comes out swinging! “Answer me” 

-How many of you are that bold in your prayers?

-The reality is God already knows what’s in our hearts, he knows our thoughts before they enter our minds, before we speak he knows what we’re going to say, we can’t run away from him, we can’t hide from him, there’s nowhere we can go where he isn’t already there (yes, double negative, learned in music theory, you learn all the rules so you can break them)

-This reality is (to me) one of the craziest things about praying – God already knows it, so why do we try to hide when we talk with him?

-Spurgeon: “It is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’”

-We can always expect an answer from God, here’s the crazy thing: God doesn’t ever get tired of answering our prayers. Article this week: “I may get tired of being needy, but God doesn’t get tired of providing for his children.

I may get tired of always asking, but God doesn’t get tired of answering his children.

Just like he loves making another few trillion daffodils every spring, and providing food for billions of birds every winter, he continues to love answering the prayers of all his needy children, over and over and over again. My need for him never ends—and he’s okay with that. In fact, he tells me to come, every day, for my daily needs like my daily bread and his forgiveness and strength to forgive others and to see his kingdom established in the world in righteousness and peace and justice—and every burden of every kind, big or small; as Peter says, “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.””

-Do you ever feel like God gets tired of hearing from you? Think of the examples Jesus gives of prayer: persistent widow, persistent friend after the Lord’s prayer

-God invites us, encourages us, and models for us remaining persistent in prayer 

Podcast today: “When I stop praying, coincidences stop happening.”

-How does David refer to God in this situation?

-When things aren’t going well, when people are opposed to him, he reminds himself where his help, support and strength come from: “O God of my righteousness.” CSB “O God who vindicates me.”

-Think of Psalm 121:1 “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

-Righteousness a big theme in Romans, righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Rom. 3:22) that is, the only way we can call God the God of my righteousness if by putting your faith in Jesus Christ and believing in Him. It is this belief that leads to a reminder:

-Because David has put his hope, trust, confidence in God, he can then look back on previous problems without worry. 

-Notice the tense: You HAVE given

-Anytime David starts to worry about what God’s doing he reminds himself how God has worked in the past

-ESV SB “Past experience emboldens the faithful to confident prayer.”

-It’s almost as if David can’t get too far complaining before he realizes what he’s doing and pulls himself back.

-So because of the previous ways God has worked in his life, it emboldens David to ask:

-Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

-The word “hear” is used as a way to emphasize, draw attention to. Someone telling you “listen up!” 

– William Carey: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”

-Do you boldly come before God, asking him to listen up and answer you? Because we can! We’re invited, encouraged, exhorted to!

-After first bringing his plea to God, David then turns to his enemies:

  • To My Enemies (2-5)

-Spurgeon: “Observe, that David speaks first to God and then to men. Surely we should all speak the more boldly to men if we had more constant converse with God. He who dares to face his Maker will not tremble before the sons of men.”

-Word translated “O men” isn’t the normal phrase, refers to men of renown/good standing in the community

-Isn’t some random dude complaining, this is like someone from Congress or the Senate bad mouthing you. How would you respond? David responds by asking some questions:

-How long will my honor be turned to shame?

-This refers to the way these men are speaking ill of David

-How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

-David calls out their own sins, instead of slandering David they’re revealing what’s in their hearts.

-Where I think many of us would be prone to give in, worry, complain, stress, David begins with God, then goes directly to his accusers

-Some translators translate the lies to “false gods” which is another way of saying lies! Satan is referred to as the father of lies, and when people put other things in God’s place they are lying. This is why I’m so passionate about rightly ordered and directed worship. If we worship anything other than God we are making committing idolatry, which is lying against God. 

-How often is that the temptation for all of us when things aren’t going the way we want them/expect them to? Instead of coming to God when people are complaining about us we run away from God, blame Him, look to other comforts

-Then it’s as if David realizes what he’s saying and who he’s talking to, but before we get to that, one word: selah

-Vs. 3

-After reminding them that they’re a bunch of dirty scoundrels, David compares himself to them and is reminded he’s not them! He doesn’t need to stoop to their level, play their game, or give into the same things they’re pursuing

-God has set apart, another way of thinking of this is sanctified/made holy. God has always had a group that is “set apart” from the rest of the world, first referred to the way Israel is “set apart” from Egypt. Today those who are “set apart” is called “the church, Christ’s body, Christ’s bride” that’s us – the people David is talking to would know about the history of Israel being “set apart” from Egypt

-One translator translates godly here as committed, another translates it as “faithful.” Those who are “set apart” are whomever is being faithful to obey God.

-Because David is one of those who is “set apart” God hears when he calls – implied is that God doesn’t hear when the other guys call out to him. Also points to the reality to the access those “set apart” ones have before God – kid walking up to me at Calvin’s swim lesson, not my kid, wet knee, unhappy me!

-Vs. 4 is difficult to translate well, partly because of the way Eph. 4:26 picks up this verse. 

-Hebrew -> LXX -> Latin -> English

Eph. 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.”

-Better translation of the Hebrew is “tremble” which better fits the context (Greek went with “be angry”) David had just called out his enemies for idolatry, this would then pick up that theme, need to tremble before God. How many times do people reverse these ideas: sin, and do not tremble

-David is giving us a 4-fold response when we’re being ridiculed. First, tremble. That is, ensure your worship is right. Getting to Heb. 12:28 approach God with reverence and awe, acceptable worship.

-Second is a good life rule: do not sin. Instead of lashing out at other people who may hurt you with words, or using it as an opportunity to complain to God, don’t give in, don’t sin. Instead:

-Third, ponder in your own hearts. Take time to assess where you’re at, how you have been wrong, how someone else can be used to sanctify/refine you, use your pillow as your sounding board/counselor

-Fourth: be silent. Stop talking! People fear silence today. Selah.

-4 things isn’t enough to do, David adds 2 more in vs. 5

-Instead of seeking after lies/false gods, they are to “offer right sacrifices.” Similar to trembling above, begin by getting worship right. One can guess that after the exhortation of vs. 4 the hearers were like the people who heard the 12 apostles in Jerusalem at the day of Pentecost: “What must I do to be saved?” 

-Most of the time we get into difficult situations we are prone to turn our gaze off God and onto something else. When you’re discouraged, what do you turn to? Favorite food, TV show, working out, working. What we need to do is turn to God, worship Him first, come before Him first, and then we can respond rightly to whichever situations we’re in, which is what David says next:

-When we focus on God, it reminds us that we can put our trust in Him! Pointing back to vs. 1, when has God failed you in the past? That gives us confidence for the future! 

-Think of what Jesus said about worry. Which of you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?

-David then changes the focus one more time in this Psalm – first to God, then his enemies, lastly to himself.

  • To Myself (6-8)

-This theme of “many” we saw last week. Comparing himself to those around him

-They want prosperity (remember that, theme in vs. too)

-Isn’t that human nature? Always wanting more. Dream of achieving something, then the goal moves. That’s basically our celebrity culture! Never satisfied.

-Then we demand God bend to our wills/whims and ask him to look upon our sinful request with blessing

-This “light of your face upon us” is picking up the idea of the Aaronic blessing in Num. 6:24 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance [face] upon you and give you peace.” These “many” people are twisting and distorting God’s Words against Him! (just as the tempter did the Jesus in the wilderness)

-But David remembers, and reminds himself the truth of Psalm 84:10 “a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.” A second with God is better than living in incredible wealth and prosperity. 

-David is comparing those who demand God give material blessing to the reality that all those blessings are just meant to point us to the reality that this world is not our home. But how fickle are humans, how easily contented to sit in the mediocrity of the world when God is offering us himself.

-God’s gift of himself leads to more joy/happiness/contentedness than when “grain and wine abound.” But aren’t grain and wine abounding how our world views success? We, as Christians, aren’t supposed to be content with just the grain and the wine, in fact the grain and wine are supposed to point us forward to a time when true, lasting prosperity will last forever. So as Christians, we’re to use/steward these good gifts of God

-This is one of the primary ways we differ from the world: we need to view the good gifts of God as good gifts, not worshipping them, not idolizing them, not pursuing them for themselves, but realizing they’re gifts from a good God who loves us and allows us to do everything to his glory

-Someone recently asked me what the outreach strategy is for the church: you. Jesus started with 12 people that he poured himself into, loved, served.

-What’s extraordinary about the gospel is it uses our ordinary lives as a testimony and witness of God’s unbelievable grace

-When we are faithfully following God (whether or not the grain or wine abound) God will use us, that will allow us to have peace – both vertically and horizontally

JI Packer: “Congregations in every age must see themselves as learning communities in which gospel truth has to be taught, defended, and vindicated against corruptions of it and alternatives to it. Being alert to all aspects of the difference between true and false teaching, and of behavior that expresses the truth as distinct from obscuring it, is vital to the church’s health.”

-Sundays are to remind us who/whose we are, to be equipped to go into the rest of our lives remembering that we live for God alone – compared to this Psalm: we gather weekly to be reminded that God answers us, then we can boldly proclaim the Word to the watching world. We are the a worshipping church both when we gather and scatter.

-Even when David is mocked and people speak poorly against him, David can still lie down and sleep, because God has made him to dwell in safety.

-That’s the case with all of us! We can lie down and sleep contentedly because we’re never safer than when we’re walking with God. This will allow us to have peace even when sticks and stones are thrown at us, and words do hurt us. Instead of saying ‘Yeah, right.” We can trust ourselves to the perfect judge who has faithfully walked with us every step of the way.

Psalm 3 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 channel.

The King

Psalm 3

-Picking up in a series Pastor Bruce started the beginning of June

-The Psalms have served an interesting purpose in the life of the church, but how do we/should we use them today?

-gamut of human emotions (emotions aren’t bad, being ruled by emotions is)

-model of prayers/request to God

-songs (with musical accompaniment notes) (leading to some people holding to “exclusive Psalmnody”) Psalm literally means “accompanying song/melody”

-compiled together with a purpose (5 books)

-3 things to be looking for as we dig into these for a number of weeks together:

-Any editorial notes we should be aware of (Psalm 3:0)

-How these situations can and do apply to us today, but before we jump to that we need to do the historical work of understanding how it applied to the nation of Israel at this time. (1st rule of biblical interpretation: text cannot mean today what it didn’t mean back then. We can apply it differently, or see it more fully fleshed out, but ALWAYS begin with the author’s and hearer’s original intent) 

-Psalm vs PsalmS 

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PRAY

-Book 1 of the Psalms begins with a prelude (1-2)

-The king is a BIG deal in Israel, as the king goes, so goes the nation

-Quick overview of the first 2 Psalms, as I realize we studied those over a month ago!

-Most scholars think Psalm 1 & 2 were initially combined into 1 Psalm, lots of similar themes and ideas in both of these Psalms:

-Blessing vs wickedness. How are we blessed? By obeying God’s law.

Deut. 17:18 ““And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,”

Psalm 1 walks, stands, sits. 

Psalm 2 is what it looks like for when people pursue wickedness. 

-“Against the Lord” can’t stand against the Lord 

-“Anointed” need to read the Psalms through the lens of Christ

-Nothing can stand against/thwart God’s plans

-vs. 9 points back to 1:6

-David serves as one of the primary examples of the king all other kings should aspire to be, a model that is eventually fulfilled in Jesus

-First 2 Psalms communicate the point that we need to be obedient to God’s law, the rest of the Psalms communicate what that looks like in the midst of a wide assortment of life experiences 

-First Psalm with a pre-verse, subscript, title with historical context. Vs. 0

“A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.” 

-These are a part of the text (may be scribal comments later on, may be original, since we don’t have the first copy we can’t be 100% sure where they originated, but we can trust them to help us understand/communicate something from God)

-Because these are a part of the text, it helps us to look back at the story being mentioned to have a more complete history of what led to the events of these Psalms being written.

-Absalom’s rebellion is found in 2 Sam 15-17

-If you’ve never read the story of David, it’s a fascinating look at the life of someone who is “a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14

-David is Israel’s second king (most people know the story of his upbringing being the giant slayer)

-What’s crazy, is despite being an example, leading to the time period in which Israel will always look back on fondly, he wasn’t someone we would hold up as an example of holiness:

-multiple wives, census, stole Uriah’s wife, can infer from stories like what happened with Absalom that he wasn’t a great dad

-Absalom’s story is full of intrigue/espionage/betrayal. I keep waiting for someone like Zak Snyder to read the story of David and turn it into a big budget film

-Starts back when Absalom’s sister is taken advantage of by another one of their brothers, harbors a grudge and 2 years later kills the brother, flees to another country for safety, eventually David pardons him and allows him back into Jerusalem, Absalom starts to point out his father David’s deficiencies and builds up a following 15:6 “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.” Followers continue increasing to the point where he’s a threat to David’s rule. David flees Jerusalem, is mocked along the way by one of Saul’s descendants “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! The LORD has avenged on you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the LORD has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” After fleeing, losing Jerusalem to Absalom, David fortifies his troops and fights against Absalom, Absalom’s luscious locks trap him in a tree and he is killed by one of David’s warriors, thus ends the rein of Absalom. 

-Imagine the betrayal David is feeling as he flees from one of his sons. The nation that he loved and led had turned against him. His army was divided, his city was on the verge of destruction, and he takes time to pen these words.

  1. The Foes (1-2)

-If you’re anything like me, negative comments or experiences tend to weigh more heavily on my mind than positive

A study found a 5:1 ratio

-How do you process negative comments aimed your way? 

-In this case, David still had a large group of people following him, on his side, according to 2 Sam 18:7, the battle is so large 20K men die. So David clearly still has a following! Yet what is David fixated on? “how MANY are my foes” “Many are rising” “Many are saying” How many is it?

-IDK about you, but as I said, negative comments weigh me down. I talk fast, when I first started preaching I talked faster! I’d seriously have 10 people tell me what they appreciated about my preaching, then have 1 negative comment about it being too fast, and I would beat myself up about it for the next week. Maybe you have had similar things happen to you! Presentation at work going well, 6 people tell you it was great, 1 person complains. Project you worked forever on, 3 people tell you it was great 1 complains. Cook a meal, 2 of your 3 kids complain.

-Elijah had a similar complaint in 1 Kings 19. Right after the confrontation on Mt Carmel, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” God “I have 7,000 others”

-Despite David being surrounded by supporters, he is fixated on the few who are opposed to him. 

-I don’t think many people here have been betrayed by a child (maybe you have!), but I think part of living in a fallen world means we all at some point will experience betrayal. Could be from a child, like David here, could be a spouse, a coworker, a sibling, even a parent, but you will experience some kind of rift in some relationship at some point.

-How often do we then run to God and blame him for not automatically fixing the problem? How often do we think God is the problem, instead of looking to Him as the solution? 

-There’s a level of honesty and transparency that is helpful in these verses, demonstrates how we should come before God, but there’s also the need to preach to yourself, which David does in the next section.

“But it is the most powerful form of prayer just to set our case before God, just to lay bare all our sorrow and all our needs and then say ‘Lord, there it is.’”

-C. H. Spurgeon

-But before we get there: selah. Babylon Bee: “Ancient Documents Confirm ‘Selah’ Best Translated ‘Extended Guitar Solo’

-Most scholars believe it was some sort of musical note, or musical interlude, but they’re meant to be places where you pause and reflect on what was just said

-Take 60 sec to think and ponder about people being against you

-David spends the first 2 verses bemoaning the state he finds himself in, but then quickly shifts his gaze from himself up to God.

  • The Reminder (3-6)

-How often are you your own worst enemy? One of my favorite authors says it this way “No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself.”

-We are commanded to take every thought captive to Christ, but how often do your thoughts control you instead of you controlling them? How often do the worries/fears of this world consume you instead of looking to the only person who faced every worry/fear and took the penalty in our place.

-Instead of listening to yourself you need to preach the gospel to yourself. Every day.

-In the midst of whatever challenges thrown your way, the Lord is a shield

-Something weird about the shield: AROUND me

-Psalms use poetic elements to make points, in this case a full shield surrounding David, but not just surrounding him, his glory and lifter of his head

-Source of everything, David is nothing without God

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.” God lifts David’s head in the midst of his struggling/mourning 

-David shifts tense in vs. 4

-Recounting some time in the past where God answered David’s prayer

-Part of the reason we need to recount and remember how God works in our past, because past evidences point to future realities 

-Look where God answers from: his holy hill. Pointing to a Messianic reality from 2:6 “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

-So where at first David was despondent, he then takes time to remind himself of some truths about God, and then we have another “extended guitar solo.” 

-Take 60 sec to think/pray about how you may need to preach to yourself

-Continuing on in this theme of moving on from despondency, despite of his fear, his uncertainty about his future and lineage, David is still able to rest, and sleep, which even that is a gift from God.

-Do you ever think about the fact that you and I are able to rest/sleep because God doesn’t? God sustains us through each day, each night, and everything in between

-Do you ever find yourself unable to sleep when you’re discouraged or feeling beat down? DA Carson: “Sometimes the godliest thing you can do in the universe is get a good night’s sleep—not pray all night, but sleep. I’m certainly not denying that there may be a place for praying all night; I’m merely insisting that in the normal course of things, spiritual discipline obligates you get the sleep your body need.”

-Look at the shift from the beginning of the Psalm to vs. 6. He goes from all these foes to “I won’t be afraid”

-Sometimes sleep is all you need!

-Even when David is completely surrounded (look back vs 3), he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of

-Even when it seems to you like all hope is lost, we have nothing to be afraid of! This confidence leads us to ask God:

  • The Plea (7-8)

-David wraps up this Psalm by bringing in some previous theme into his request of God:

-Arise O lord (look at vs. 1)

-Save me (look at vs. 2)

-David is no longer afraid, because he knows God will come to his aide!

-God will deal with David’s enemies – striking on the cheek is publicly disgracing (just like David was publicly disgraced in the account of Absalom)

-Break the teeth, 2 options: first is a hard punch, second is think of an animal who has prey in its mouth (alligator ate a dog in FL), if the alligator is holding the animal in its teeth and the teeth are broken, the prey is saved!

-Finally, everything concludes with this last reminder: salvation is up to God. Even when “many are saying” to David that he there is no salvation for him, they have no control over it, it’s up to God. That’s how we can find blessing even in the midst of persecution and suffering.

-What does this mean for us? Look at this Psalm Christ-o-centrically.

Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

-Salvation belongs to the Lord, but that salvation was won because Jesus is the greater David

2 Samuel 15:30 “But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered.

-Who else do you know who went up to the Mount of Olives weeping? (Luke 22)

-This is part of the reason we celebrate communion, it reminds us who is our shield around us. It reminds us that salvation is found in no one else. It reminds us that God sustains us. We ask God to continue saving us (and remember how he always has!) Through the cup and the wine we can say “salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people!” And what’s the last word? Selah 

Breaking of Bread Sermon Manuscript

NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, please listen to the message on our YouTube channel to hear the whole sermon.

Breaking of Bread

1 Cor. 11:17-34

Acts 2:42 – we’re commanded to meet, the gospel is first, 

-Seesaw 

            -“Healthy tensions”

-2 ordinances given to us from the Lord: baptism and communion 

-Talked about baptism a couple times before – it’s one of the easiest commands given for us to obey

-If you are a believer, if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and you have not been baptized, what’s stopping you? What’s holding you back?

-Baptism serves as entry point or the beginning. Signifies our new life that is found in Christ, so just as he was laid down in the grave and then came out alive, so we are laid down into the water, and then coming up clean and new, washing away our old sinful selves and putting on our new perfected selves (early church literally gave new clothes to those baptized)

-As baptism serves as beginning, communion serves as the regular reminder. So we are baptized once, we celebrate communion regularly for the rest of our lives.

EFCA SOF Article 7 on The Church

READ

PRAY

-Before we walk through this text, we need to have some historical background understanding of what led to communion.

-Anyone have any family traditions that take place regularly? We’re coming up to the 4th of July, some families make that a really big deal. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthday, graduation

-Our culture doesn’t always do celebrations/remembrances well. Other cultures have different rhythms/patterns that help denote significant milestones in people’s lives. Quinceañera, bar mitzvah (bat mitzvah)

-Regular habits, routines, practices that help shape/form the culture.

-All of us have these habits, some of the habits are better than others! One of the habits/routines we have is the 5 day, 40 hour work week. Then you end up with songs like “Working for the weekend,” or people anxiously awaiting Friday to finally come and dreading Monday. Some routines are even built into the creation order – in 6 days God created the world, and on the 7th He rested – serving as a template for us to follow.

-The Jewish people are MASTERS of these rhythms/routines. (so is God)

-Shabbat – sabbath rest weekly

-Rosh Hashanah – Jewish new year

-Yom Kippur – Jewish day of atonement

-Sukkot – fall harvest, celebrating time in the wilderness

-Shemini Atzeret – end of Sukkot prayer for rain

-Hanukkah – festival celebrating freedom from oppression, freedom of worship, finding light in the darkest times

-Purim – celebrating saving of the Jews from Haman

-Shavuot – AKA “Festival of First Fruits” 

-Passover – freedom from Egyptian slavery

-Passover is the Jewish celebration that Jesus uses to point to the reality of that first Passover only being the shadow, but himself being the substance.

-Shadow vs. substance. Moses, David, Melchizedek, tabernacle, sacrificial system 

-Living on this side of the cross means that we now celebrate the substance of Jesus Christ instead of living in the shadows that pointed to the coming of the Messiah. So everything we do has to be viewed from the Christo-centric lens – including and especially communion, as you’ll see by the end of our time together!

-If you don’t know the history of Passover – nation of Israel spent 430 years enslaved in Egypt. Genesisfocuses on the beginning in the first 11 chapters, then in 12 shifts to 1 person and his family: Abraham, who fathers Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who has 12 sons that set the stage for the 12 tribes of Israel. Jacob’s 12 sons weren’t BFFs, sold Joseph (father’s favorite) to slavery, through his slavery and imprisonment eventually ends up as 2nd in command of Egypt, spares the nation (and surrounding nations) from famine, whole family moves down to Egypt and is given land to settle in (not the Promised Land). Exodus begins by saying a new king came into power in Egypt who did not know/remember Joseph, and viewed the Israelites as a threat to his rule so he enslaved them. Eventually, God raises up Moses to serve as His mouthpiece to His people and lead them out of their slavery and into the Promised Land. Moses goes to Pharoah and demands He let God’s people go, Pharoah refuses culminating in a great showdown between the gods of Egypt and the one true God: spoiler alert, God wins. But the culmination of this showdown is a 10th and final plague where the firstborn is killed, except for those who put blood on the doorframe of their houses, where the angel of death will “pass over” those homes (where the name Passover comes from). 

-God commanded his people to commemorate and celebrate Passover every year as a reminder of how God rescued and redeemed his people, first from certain death and then from slavery.

-When Jesus came he also celebrated communion, but 1 communion in particular he changed the focus and the meaning of.

Matt. 26:26-29, Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:14-20

-While John doesn’t have the introduction of the elements, it contains a much fuller explanation of what Jesus did and said during this last supper in John 13-17.

-All the Gospel accounts record that the events of the Last Supper took place in the midst of the Passover meal

-Jesus took the shadow, shared how it pointed to the substance (Himself) and then gave it a new meaning for his disciples.

  1. Horizontal Communion (17-22)

-Paul is writing to the church in Corinth, full of issues! 

-But even this church has practices that are commendable! Unfortunately, their practice of communion was NOT done correctly.

-So what am I talking about when I talk about horizontal communion?

-Look how many times Paul uses the phrase “When you come together.”

-There are all sorts of debates throughout church history about the size of the “together” here. Paul seems to be talking about the church gathered in this section, so that’s what I go with.

-The best description I’ve ever heard of communion is a family meal. It’s a time for us as a family to connect, engage, remind ourselves what we’re about, catch up, breathe!

-Unfortunately for Corinth, something is off with the way they’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

  1. Divisions (17-19)

-The church is dividing among themselves. Early church often faced dividing issues – slave vs free, men vs women, knowledge vs lack of knowledge, Jews vs Greeks. What was amazing about the church was that they all came together!

-When the church gathers there are not supposed to be any divisions. No matter the size of our bank account, the car we drive, the color of our skin, our gender, our genealogy, we are commanded to be one in Christ

-But there’s a sanctifying component to divisions, according to vs. 19.

-Divisions lead to that recognition of that which is true. If/when there is conflict among people, it should lead to the truth coming out.

-So what is it that’s leading to these division?

  • The Haves and the Have-Nots (20-22)

-Where the church is meant to break down any divides that the world tries to force on us, the church at Corinth was carrying the worldly traditions into their worship.

-Since they were continuing their worldly influenced traditions, Paul says it’s not the Lord’s Supper that they’re celebrating. Meaning the first thing to remember about communion is it’s meant to be a unifying thing. 

-In John’s account, Jesus even prays specifically for us as his future followers, that we would be 1 – perfectly unified together. That’s where the description of the church being a body is so helpful.

-Social standing mattered a great deal in the 1st Century. Every century, if you think about it. That’s where the church is such a counter-cultural idea! The church is the place where natural enemies become family.

-Craig Blomberg “The minority of well-to-do believers (1:26), including the major financial supporters and owners of the homes in which the believers met, would have had the leisure-time and resources to arrive earlier and bring larger quantities and finer food than the rest of the congregation. Following the practice of hosting festive gatherings in ancient Corinth, they would have quickly filled the small private dining room. Latecomers (the majority, who probably had to finish work before coming on Saturday or Sunday evening—there was as of yet no legalized day off in the Roman empire) would be seated separately in the adjacent atrium or courtyard. Those that could not afford to bring a full meal, or a very good one, did not have the opportunity to share with the rest in the way that Christian unity demanded. (NIVAC, 196)

-One goes hungry, another goes drunk. This is pointing to the whole meal (food & drink)

-Say it again – the primary point of this section is communion is meant to be unifying, a place where we all demonstrate our family meal, our unity in Christ

-A couple things to notice – Paul doesn’t say eating this food is wrong (socialism), Paul is saying the Lord’s Supper, the focal point of the gathering of God’s people, is meant to level the playing field so we all participate in the same things. Acts 2:44 “All who believed were together and had all things in common.”

-But that’s not the only component to communion, as we see in this next section. Remember the see saw?

  • Vertical Communion (23-26)

-Just as Paul emphasized the need for unity between each other in communion, now he’s going to demonstrate the need for us to be unified to God in communion.

-2 components that Paul mentions: looking back, and looking forward.

  1. Looking Back (23-25)

-Received and delivered: “The verbs “received” and “passed on,” which occur again in combination later in the letter (15:3), are technical terms from Paul’s Jewish heritage for the transmission of religious instruction.” (Fee, NICNT, 607)

-Sounds very similar to what we have in the Gospel accounts – Jesus in the midst of the Passover celebration reinterpreted elements of the Passover (shadow) to point to the reality (substance) of himself

“On the night when he was betrayed”

-This is the darkest night that has ever happened. The one perfect person to ever exist, God incarnate, was betrayed by 1 of the 12 disciples that he poured his life into for his entire earthly ministry 
-And Jesus calls for unity even with the one who betrayed Him, that means that we as God’s people today, can also be united even when someone betrays us

-Also points us back to a specific time and a specific place. Jesus – God became man, was a real person who lived in a real place, had skin and bones (just like us) but unlike us, He didn’t sin.

-This points us to the need for us to remember back to the reality that Jesus Himself was betrayed and bore the penalty for our sins when He willingly went to the cross.

-Somber reflection

-inaugurating a new covenant

-Done “in remembrance of”

-Just as His body was broken the bread is broken, just as his blood was shed so we see the symbol of His blood in our hands

-But it’s not ONLY somber, remember that seesaw, and look at vs. 26

  • Looking Forward (26)

-The 2 elements serve to remind us of the gospel that saves us, but the gospel that saves us isn’t restricted to the here and now – it urges us to long for the coming day when Jesus will return and right every wrong.

“as often”

-Meant to be done with regularity and repeatedly. We can have fun discussions/debates about how often we should celebrate communion (full disclosure I would prefer to celebrate communion as the culmination of every weekly service, but that’s a 3rd order issue)

-Whatever the frequency, every time we participate together, it’s mean to:

“proclaim the Lord’s death”

-We are and always will be gospel people. One of my favorite descriptions of a worship service is very simple: “read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances).”

-Reminder of the cross centered nature of our faith (first the call to come and die, second the implication that both our faith compels us to both vertical and horizontal relationships)

“until he comes”

-communion is only celebrated in the in between time – between Christ’s 2 comings

-Each time we celebrate communion, it’s a reminder that this world is not our home, we’re foreigners here who are awaiting our King to return 

-Also reminds us (as Jesus says in the Gospels Matt. 26:29 “I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”) that only sinners are welcomed to the table, perfect people need not participate! When Jesus returns, we will sit down to the final communion – the wedding supper with the Lamb!

-This demonstrates that this should be a joyous celebration! Our sin is paid for, the tomb is empty, we will never die! 

-Communion is meant to be BOTH somber realization that we are sinners, AND a joyous celebration because we a no longer slaves to sin. What does that look like?

  • Horizontal and Vertical Judgment (27-34)

“an unworthy manner”

-people have taken this text and made it hyper individualistic to the point where we just need my “me time” each time we celebrate communion to ensure everything is right between me and God. But what is the focus in this whole section? Communal, we, us, our.

“Let a person examine himself then”

-How are you treating the body? Are you caring for others more than yourself? Are you actively pursuing unity and fighting against discord/division? Are you using your gifts to serve the greater body? 1 Cor. 12-14 go on to talk about the necessity of all of us using our gifts for the good of the whole church.

“without discerning the body”

-Take this “body” to refer to 2 things

-first the body of Jesus. Then Jesus’ earthly body which is? The church, the community, us gathering together. 

-then the body of the church

“judged ourselves truly”

-stop using the world’s standards! We judge ourselves according to God’s standards. We all messed up, we all sinned, we all need grace, that’s why we need to be serious about killing our own indwelling sin, and do our best to love and honor each other over ourselves. 

“we are disciplined”

-God judges everyone, either toward eternal condemnation or toward disciple/correction

“wait for one another”

-one last communal reminder. We’re supposed to do this TOGETHER. Be serious about dealing with your own sin, so that when we gather as the church we can be serious about loving each other, caring for each other, honoring each other better than we honor ourselves, and demonstrating that “each other-ness” by celebrating communion with EACH OTHER.

-If you have unresolved sin, you are welcome here, in fact it’s ONLY people who have unresolved sin that are welcome here, perfect people don’t need the church or communion! 

So what?

-We are table people – both THE table and OUR tables, be hospitable (this ties into fellowship)

-We saw this in Heb. 13:1-2 “let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.” The Gospel Comes with a House Key

-It’s nearly impossible to remain angry at someone when you’re breaking bread with them. 

-Communion is meant to serve as a visible reminder of: 

-the gospel (vertical)

-our unity in and through the gospel (horizontal)

We’re Commanded To – Sermon Manuscript

We’re Commanded To

Acts 2:42-47, Hebrews 10:19-25

NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from on Sunday morning. If you want to listen to the sermon to get a better context, please visit our YouTube page.

-Coming out of a unique season of life for many of us. COVID interrupted our routines, our jobs, our churches, our friendships. In short, the past year has taught a completely new way of life for many of us!

-While I’m super thankful for the online technology that has allowed us to “meet” it’s not quite the same

-Time at TGC a few weeks ago

-The past 14 months have brought up a bunch of questions about the church, the purpose of meeting, what we emphasize, what we focus on, HOW we go about our corporate worship gatherings, what is important/essential

-This is really getting to the question of: what is the purpose of the church? Why are we here? Everyone’s got thoughts/opinions/ideas, but doesn’t the Bible tell us some things we should be doing/participating in?

-Add in that almost all of us have previous experience at churches, here, growing up, college. We all walk in the doors every week with a certain list of expectations, and those expectations aren’t always met.

-Church hunters “We’re more looking for the humor of Andy Stanley with the body of Stephen Furtick”

“it was like we left there feeling convicted, like ugh” “We’re looking for more of a Tony Robins type sermon” “Like inspirational, like a TED talk with a Bible verse”

-There’s a tendency to treat church like consumers, and let’s be honest, many of us are conditioned to think that way! If we don’t like the coffee at one coffee shop, don’t worry, there’s a different one just down the street! 

-Introduction from The Church, An Introduction by Gregg Allison 

-The Bible even uses various metaphors to describe the church. The church is a: family, the bride of Christ, branches on a vine, an olive tree, a field of crops, a building, a new temple, a harvest, God’s house, a pillar and buttress of truth, and the body of Christ.

-We’re getting to that idea of what the church is. Wayne Grudem defines the church as “the community of all true believers for all time.” Gregg Allison defines the church as “the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit.”

-Now we’re getting to the difference between the catholic (universal) church, and the local church!

-Reformers said there is a church anytime the sacraments are faithfully performed

-People today often refer to church as just a building. 

-And if you’re not confused yet, we haven’t even gotten to what a church does

-Here’s the reality – Jesus himself established the church.

Matt. 16:16-19 “Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

-Church’s primary mission is to hold fast and proclaim this reality, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

-On the rock of Peter’s confession (who is Jesus himself) the church will be built. This is one of those areas where we would disagree with Roman Catholics, they built a whole papal order out of this 1 verse!

-There is a heavenly authority that comes with the church. The church today serves as an outpost of Jesus’ kingdom. Us gathering is meant to give everyone watching a little picture of what heaven will look like! Does our church give that glimpse? 

-This series will be based on the early church, as demonstrated in Acts 2.

-I’ve talked to a number of people who say “If only we could get back to the New Testament church” Don’t forget it wasn’t all daisies and roses back then either! In fact, until Jesus comes back, the church is guaranteed to have issues! And if you ever find a church that doesn’t have issues, the moment you (as a sinner) walk in the door, you’re bringing issues with you.

-We need to distinguish between that which is DEscriptive and that which is PREscriptive.

-Descriptive: describes events taking place, not necessarily applicable to every time & place

-Prescriptive: things that should be true in every time & place

-quick example, Rom. 16:16 “greet one another with a holy kiss.” 

READ

PRAY

  1. The First Church (Acts 2)

-There’s a lot for us to unpack in these few verses! So much so that we’ll take a week on each characteristic in turn. Today is just a broad overview of what characterized the early church.

-Always difficult to drop into a book (like we’ll be doing in this series) because we miss the bigger context and picture the author is painting.

-Acts is the 2 of a 2 part series (beginning with Luke’s Gospel) written by the same guy, this would be considered the sequel (The Empire Strikes Back)

1:1 “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach,”

-This book picks up where Luke left off. After Jesus rose from the grave, what happened? How did his message spread? How did his disciples respond?

-Quick synopsis of the first 2 chapters: Jesus ascends into heaven, disciples select a new “12th” disciple

-Worth mentioning, more than 12 people had been following Jesus during his earthly life, I tend to forget that because the 12 received most of his attention, but men & women were a part of this rag tag group of people. Actually 10x the 12, Acts 1:15 says there were 120 disciples.

-Then in Acts 2 everything changes. Pentecost comes and the disciples are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. (Don’t have time to dig into this, but if you want to see what Jesus said about the coming of the HS read John 16-17)

-In response to this, the early church is given a new confidence to begin sharing what Jesus meant with everyone they could. Peter preaches the most impactful sermon in recorded history. Look at vs. 41. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” 

-I’m still waiting for my 3,000 soul sermon! Actually, every Pastor I know is!

-So what characterized this early church? How did they manage adding 3,000 new converts to this fledgling faith?

-Honestly, not super well, because just 4 chapters later there’s a pretty big disagreement that comes up because racism is rampant in this early church (again, don’t have time for that one)

-There are 4 primary things that this early church devoted themselves to in vs. 42: the apostles teaching, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers. Let’s walk through those 4 things:

  1. Apostles’ Teaching

-Here’s the fascinating thing. What you’re holding in your hand (or reading on your device) didn’t exist at the time. They didn’t have the 4 Gospel accounts, didn’t have Paul’s, Peter’s, James’ letters. They had their experience and time with Jesus, and the OT. 

-And that was enough! The word “devoted” connotes the idea of continually, constantly. They were continually devoted to these 4 primary things, so they were constantly listening to the apostles teaching.

-Kent Hughes “Where the Spirit reigns, a love for God’s Word reigns.” This is why sermons take up the bulk of our weekly worship.

-Look at this in more detail next week.

  • Breaking of Bread

-2 aspects to this one: regular table time together at people’s homes, and the penultimate breaking of bread in communion. One of John Calvin’s requirements for a true church was anywhere the sacraments were truly practiced. 

-Communion is 1 of 2 sacraments Christ commanded his church to practice, the other being baptism. Look at this more in 2 weeks!

  • Fellowship

-This is one of the most misunderstood words used in the church today!

-Sitting in a deacon meeting, someone talking about making some meals for shut-ins and then “we’ll have a little fellowship”

-This is the first time this word appears in the NT, denotes something in common, which didn’t happen before the HS indwelt them.

  • Prayers

-THE prayers. While this was still a Jewish sect, they were still following a lot of the customs/traditions they had been following. 

-But also regularly praying for each other.

-What was the implication of these 4 things? Look at vs. 43-47

-The common aspect of fellowship was lived out in the lives of the believers. No one had any needs, and if they did other’s helped take care of them. Doesn’t that sound awesome? This is the radical generosity piece we saw in our Amos series on justice! Willingly disadvantaging yourself for the advantage of others.

-There’s a “day by day” aspect to this. There’s large gathering in the temple, small gathering in the homes (church gathered vs church scattered)

-Having favor with all the people. Do you think the world looks at the church favorably today? Headlines: “Here’s why a New Bedford church is suing Gov. Charlie Baker” “Former New Orleans Church Official Sentenced for Wire Fraud” “Congregation or Cult? Former members accuse Kansas City church of abuse.”

-Yes, I realize we should expect persecution, but is “favor” because of our good deeds an honest marker of our church, or not?

-What do you think people who aren’t believers, who have never set foot inside a church expect when they walk into a church building? There was a movie that came out a few years ago Resurrection of Gavin Stone about a Hollywood actor who’s forced to do community service at a local church (you can probably guess the rest of the movie) But 1 scene stood out to me when I first watched it where he gets ready to go to church.

-If you want to watch it, it’s on Netflix!

-Lastly, the Lord added to their number day by day. The early church was intentional about evangelism. They were always looking for ways to share the good news of what Jesus had done with any/everyone they came into contact with. And their living matched their preaching! They legitimately loved one another.

-Let’s jump ahead now a few decades to look at Hebrews.

-Hebrews is thought to be a manuscript of a sermon.

  • Encouraging (Hebrews 10)

-Again, we’re dropping right in the middle of the book here! Really easy to summarize the entire argument leading up to here with 1 phrase: Jesus is better. Better than what? Yes. 

-First 2 chapters are Jesus is better than angels

3-10:18 Jesus is better than the Mosaic Law

-Then after this rich, deep theology of the supremacy of Jesus, the author turns to the application. All theology is practical and meant to be lived out. Because Jesus is the superior high priest and at the same time the superior sacrifice, we then haver confidence.

  1. Through Jesus

-I love the way this book starts “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our father by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” Jesus even has the final word!

-Just as theology is applicable, we begin with the theology of the cross and Jesus’ atoning death.

-Used to only enter the holy place 1 a year, and only 1 person with fear and trepidation because Heb. 12:29 “Our God is a consuming fire.” 

-Church, because Jesus has died on our behalf we can have confidence, or boldness to enter into the very presence of God.

-There used to be a curtain separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. That curtain was torn in 2 when Jesus died. That means through Jesus blood covering us, we can draw near to God. 

-One way of putting the whole Bible together is God dwelling with His people. Gen. 1-2 is God perfectly dwelling with Adam & Eve, Gen 3 is so devastating because that dwelling is broken, rest of the Bible is how we can try dwelling again with God. Then God takes on flesh and dwells with us bodily, allowing us sinful people to dwell eternally with God. According to Eph. 2:6 we are already seated with Christ in heaven.

-Because Jesus has sanctified us, we then move on to holding fast.

  • Holding Fast

-what do we hold fast to? “the confession of our hope.”

-This is the same idea we saw earlier where Jesus promises to build His church on Peter’s confession. We have to do the exact same thing as Peter and confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. We can’t waver, we can’t look to the right or left, we need to hold fast to this confession.

-We also have the same idea we saw in Amos 9 that we’re supposed to hold on to hope. Our hope is in Jesus himself, so that hope will allow us to endure, or as the text says “he who promised is faithful.” 

-Thankfully our holding fast isn’t up to us! It’s God who remains faithful despite our unfaithfulness.

-After the vertical relationship is dealt with, then we move on to the horizontal relationship. (explain)

  • Together

-In addition to holding fast to our confession, we’re commanded to consider how to stir up (or encourage) one another to love and good works. And how do we do that? By not neglecting to meet together.

-I don’t know if you’ve been feeling this – but I got so tired of worshipping online. Not seeing people’s faces, not talking as we walk in. Not seeing people sing together! 

-Introducing Not For A Moment “You were reaching through the storm Walking on the water even when I could not see in the middle of it all when I thought You were a thousand miles away not for a moment did You forsake me 

After all You are constant After all You are only good After all You are sovereign Not for a moment will You forsake me

-If we hadn’t been meeting together as a group, we wouldn’t have been able to encourage those who were struggling

-We are dependent on each other. There are no lone rangers in Christianity. Rugged individualism (expressive individualism)

-Friend who wanted to go be a hermit. Where is the church?

-The way we encourage each other is by meeting together. Meeting tighter LEADS to encouraging. Think of communion – 1 Cor. 11:17 “WHEN you come together as a church.” 

-I get that this is a weird time to have a sermon about the need to gather, when we’ve been scattered for over a year, some people are still watching online! This is a time where we as the church NEED to be the church. 

-One thing that has fascinated me about the pandemic is every other major disruption in American history, people have turned to the church (attendance swelled after 9/11) This time, people turned to Netflix.

 –Article from Carl Trueman “That’s where community comes in: churches need to build community around clear Christian teaching, serious Christian worship, and practical Christian love.  Done well, those things can grip the imagination because they offer a vision of something better than the thin communities and shallow satisfactions of consumerism. Telling people that the way they live is wrong has no plausibility unless it is set against the background of a vision of something better.”

-South Suburban – we have something better to offer the world – and it begins by us not neglecting to meet together, but instead encouraging each other to live out love and good works. Our gathering is not meant to be a tack on, an addition if you’ve got time that weekend. Our lives are supposed to be lived out, bled out by encouraging each other each and every day until “THE day.”

April 10 Devotional

Today is generally referred to as Good Friday in the church calendar, and the reason it’s good is because our sins were paid for! We no long need to bear the penalty for them. I’ll be working on editing a Good Friday video that Pastor Jeff and I recorded yesterday, so that will be going live on our website at 6 PM tonight, you’ll be able to watch it on the front page of our WEBSITE.
 
Today we’re going to be reading from Romans 5:6-11:
 
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
 
This is a beautiful picture of what Christ has accomplished for us in His death on the cross. Paul begins by calling all of us weak. So weak that in other places of the Bible we’re referred to as dead! (See Ezekiel 37 for the most graphic depiction of this) Yet even when we were at our weakest point, God considered that the be the right time. Have you ever had a conversation with someone where they said the right thing but at completely the wrong time? Or maybe you’ve been in that situation: you ask someone how they are, they say they’re good and how are you, and you reply I’m good how are you again? You’re saying the socially acceptable thing, but you said it at the wrong time! What this text is telling us is God sent Jesus to die for us in the right way at exactly the right time! And not only were we weak and helpless, God did this while we were still at enmity with Him. Opposed to everything He stands for. Disobeying Him in thought, word, and in deed. So because of our disobedience and sin, Jesus had to die for us. Can you imagine the weight that Jesus felt as He was carrying His cross? Yes, the physical weight of the cross itself, but the spiritual and emotional weight of dying for those who were in the process of killing them. And then in the midst of his suffering and grief, He shouts to His Father: “Forgive them! For they know not what they do!” Even in His death He was looking for the interests of others.
 
But that’s not all! Paul goes on to remind us that not only did Jesus die in our place, but now because of that we have an even better reason to hope and rejoice: we have now been saved from God’s wrath. Instead of His wrath being poured out on us, He poured it out on His Son on the cross. And what that means is God has reconciled His enemies to himself. He has brought everyone He’s saved into eternal life with Him! So because of that, as Paul says, we now can rejoice! We can celebrate! We can dance! John Stott, a pastor and theologian who lived last century said, “We should be the most positive people in the world. We cannot mooch round the place with a dropping, hang-dog expression. We cannot drag our way through life, moaning and groaning. We cannot always be looking on the dark side of everything, as negative prophets of doom. No, “we exult in God.” Then every part of our life becomes suffused with glory. Christian worship becomes a joyful celebration of God and Christian living a joyful service of God. So come, let us exult in God together!
SONG:
Today’s song is titled ‘Magnificent, Marvelous, Matchless Love’ by the Gettys. You can listen to it on YOUTUBEor SPOTIFY. And don’t forget! I’ve still been updating the playlist including all the songs I’ve sent out! You can listen to it HERE.

March 29 Devotional

Don’t forget to log on to YOUTUBE this morning at 10 AM to watch our livestream!
Today we’ll be reading from Acts 2:42-47:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This is one of my favorite passages in the New Testament that describes what the early church looked like. And in this case it’s the EARLY EARLY church! The Holy Spirit had just come down like fire and rested upon the apostles, Peter preached his first sermon, and the response was 3,000 new believers in response to just 1 message! The church quickly went from 120 people in the upper room, many of whom had spent years with Jesus, to 3,120 who were now committing to following Christ!
Part of the reason I like this so much is it boils down the essentials of what a church service looks like to 4 piece. We begin with teaching. The verbal structure of this signifies that they continually devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching. That is they were hungry to hear from God. They needed the growth that comes from spending time in God’s Word, and before they had a full Bible like we do, they had the apostles, who had lived life with Jesus, being trained by him.
Next is the fellowship. Fellowship is often misunderstood today, as it’s not a wing of a church building! As the passage goes on to signify, fellowship involves sacrificial giving, either of your time or your possessions. Fellowship must go much deeper than simply spending time together, as it means knowing what is going on in each other’s lives. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. This one if somewhat hard for us right now, as it’s nearly impossible to spend time together in fellowship, so remember this feeling right now, and don’t forget to be intentional about fellowship when we can finally meet again!
Thirdly is the breaking of bread and prayers. Because they talk about the food they were eating later, I think this is referring to the regular practice of the Lord’s Supper (which is why I prefer to celebrate the Lord’s Supper weekly, but that’s a different discussion!). Both of these things signify crucial matters to the gathering of God’s people: prayer and communion. If everything we do is not girded in prayer, then we’re wasting time! And if we’re not obeying our Lord who commanded us to remember his death, burial, and resurrection, then we’re sinning.
The last part is the last verse, the outward reach and evangelism that was taking place because of their love for each other. The previous verse says they have favor with all the people (we know it’s not everyone, because just a few chapters later Stephen is killed). But in response to their faithful living and witness, people were continually putting their hope and faith in Christ. This is a great reminder for us to live different lives in the world around us. Lives that are marked by love, compassion, and generosity and lives that look for ways to share the good news of what Jesus has done with others. 
 
SONG:
Today’s song is titled ‘My Worth Is Not in What I Own’ and has a line in the 5th verse that strikes me to the heart every time I hear it: “Two wonders here that I confess, my worth and my unworthiness.” What a beautiful way to describe the current tension we feel in our lives! You can listen to it on YOUTUBE or SPOTIFY.