SERMONS & TEACHING

Oct 21, 2018
Lessons from Foot Washing
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  • Oct 21, 2018Lessons from Foot Washing
    Oct 21, 2018
    Lessons from Foot Washing
  • Oct 14, 2018Enjoying God
    Oct 14, 2018
    Enjoying God
  • Oct 7, 2018Finishing Strong: The Power of Corporate Worship
    Oct 7, 2018
    Finishing Strong: The Power of Corporate Worship
  • Sep 30, 2018One of Many Biblical Treasures
    Sep 30, 2018
    One of Many Biblical Treasures
    One of Many Biblical Treasures
     
    John 3:10-18
    Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?
    Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
    If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?
    And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.
    And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
    That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
    He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
     
    Illustrations of God’s Love:

    I.              God’s Love flows form His own Nature.

    a.    Our love is discovery based on reaction.
    b.    God’s love is divine based on action.

    II.            God’s love is radical.

    a.    It pursues.
    b.    It gives.

    III.         God’s love breaks barriers.

    a.    Breaks hardness.
    b.    Breaks chains of sin.

    IV.          God’s love satisfies God’s wrath

    a.    God against man because of man
    b.    God for man because of man
     
     
     
     
  • Sep 23, 2018The Friendship of Jonathon and David
    Sep 23, 2018
    The Friendship of Jonathon and David
    The Friendship of Jonathon and David
     
    1st Samuel 23:13-18
    When David and his men, which were about six hundred, arose and departed out of Keilah, and went whithersoever they could go. And it was told Saul that David was escaped from Keilah; and he forbare to go forth.
    And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.
    And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.
    And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
    And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.
    And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.
     
    The Background of the Scripture:

    1st Samuel 17- David kills Goliath wins the kings daughter and heart of the nation

    1st Samuel 18- David and Jonathan for a powerful friendship, Saul’s fear and hatred for David grows as David succeeds in every mission given to him.

    1st Samuel 19- Saul plans to kill David, but Jonathan warns David of the plan. Another attempt to kill David is revealed to him by his wife and he escapes through a window. The chapter ends with David and Samuel living in Ramah together. Each time someone was sent to capture David the Spirit of the Lord overcame them and they could not help but prophesy.

    1st Samuel 20-David and Jonathan devise a plan to determine if David is welcome to return to his place at the king’s table. David goes on the run for Saul will hunt him down to kill him.

    1st Samuel 21- On the run David does what it takes to survive. He was once beloved by a nation and now on the run. He gets desperate and pretends to be a crazy hoping to have his life spared by the king Achish

    1st Samuel 22- David builds a small army of misfits in at the cave of Adullam. The priest and people of Nob provided for David. Provoking Saul to murder the priest and people of the city. The chapter closes with news coming to David of the massacre it was a dark time for David.

    Friend Day is next Sunday and I thought it a good idea to preach about friendship. Friendship is important to God. God being Triune in nature has been in relationship and fellowship with Himself for all eternity. The Trinitarian nature of God is the basis from which all relationships flow. God made man in His image and in the image of God man could not be alone. Man being alone in the image of God was not possible. God designed man and woman to procreate to populate the world with more images of Himself.
     
    Those made in the image of God would find wholeness in being like God in the fellowship found in the trinity. We can conclude we are made for God and each other. People are made to Love God and Love others. Sin broke the fellowship people were to have with God and each other. These broken relationships because of sin could only be restored by God and Man and since man was incapable of having any part of restoring what was broken God sent His Son in the form of man to restore the broken relationship between God and people. It is through Jesus we have fellowship with God and each other.
     
    Friendships begin and grow strong in Jesus Christ. Bethany we want to a group of God empowered people to form friendships with others. Friendships are important to our well-being and mission. Friendships could extend life. One study suggest a person with friends lives 22% longer than those who lack friends. Friends make you generally healthier. Friends help sharpen the mind. Friendships have influence and help direct life. We have friend day once a year to promote friendships.
     
    It is my hope that today you will see from scripture the importance of friendships and seek to have healthy friendships. It is also my hope you will use your influence as a friend to bring people to Jesus Christ. The bible has plenty to say about friendships and I feel any each of its teachings about the subject is sufficient However I selected the read text because of the unique flavor of reality it brings to the table of friendship. 
     
    What is Friendship?
    Friendship is a bonding of affection causing individuals to prize each other. 
    Aristotle "''A single soul dwelling in two bodies."
    Cicero- "A friend is, as it were, a second self."
     C.S. Lewis: "Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."
     
     
    1. David and Jonathan were as close as friends can get (1st Samuel 18:1)- Soon after David’s arrival to the Israelite army with supplies he discovers one massive warrior from the Philistine army caused great fear among the people of God. He then offers to fight the giant warrior giving testimony of God’s ability and grace in his young life. Goliath the giant warrior is killed in one on one battle with David. The sitting king of Israel (Saul) had a son Jonathan who became the closest of friends with David because of David’s believe in God and victory of Goliath. They stay knit together until Jonathan’s death (1st Samuel 31)
     
    2. There close friendship was managed well among conflicts (1st Samuel 23)- Jonathan’s father, who was also sitting king, hated David. He was jealous of David’s success and favor with the people. Saul attempted to kill David on several occasions and in the chapter we are studying Saul is actively pursuing David. David and Jonathan’s friendship blossom and grew in troubled waters. Jonathan managed to be a warrior, a good son to a bad father, and a dear friend to the chosen of God. Neither friend was pitted against each other in a fragile time. Their Friendship is a model of how to care for one another in complex and dangerous times. Jonathan was able to be a good son and friend when his father and friend were in conflict.

    3. There friendship was mutual each occupying a role that needed and trusted in the other (1st Samuel 18:1-5)- It appears that Jonathan initiated the friendship. He gave David his allegiance right away. Jonathan humbled himself before David and made a great friend. Jonathan found purpose in his relationship with David and David found comfort from Jonathan. Each friend had a role to play and each needed each other. The mutual care between the two is a great example of what biblical friendship is to be between two people.
     
    Jesus and Friendship
    Jesus taught in John 15 His disciples are His friends. Jesus' affection for His followers bound Him to them causing Him to prize them in a unique way. The eternal friendship between Jesus and His disciples has its foundation in the heart of God. 
     
    Friendships Under Attack
    Friendship for the developed world is under attack. Social media, a platform built on making friends, has turned out to make many friendless. It is becoming harder for young people to have dialogue, discern and express emotion, and engage in actions of friendships. 
     
    “Probably the most alarming phenomenon connected to the extensive use of social media services is the decrease in quality of interpersonal communication. One of the big problems in modern interpersonal communication is the lack of interest people have for face-to-face communication; even today, there are many people (especially millennials, or younger) who prefer to solve work or personal problems via social messaging systems. Approximately 93 percent of communication today is already nonverbal, and thus requires an additional means of helping people understand each other (such as smileys or emojis), since text does not convey the total palette of intonations or facial expressions. This brings up several problems; for example, without these means, it is often more difficult to understand another person in a messenger system (the classical “he/she did not insert smileys, so I thought he/she is mad at me”); or, in real life, it may become harder to differentiate and understand real emotions. According to some experts, even families prefer texting over face-to-face chat. All this leads to difficulties in professional and personal relationships (Rampages.us).”
     
    There are many other ways friendships are attacked. The polarizing political environment, the promoting of a sexual perverse agenda in society, the pressure to succeed, and the deterioration of community values all play roles in undermining friendships. I want to encourage you to engage in making friends and enjoy those friendships the way God intended. 
     
     
    What is learned from David and Jonathan's friendship?
     

    I. Friendships are building blocks to genuine faith in Christ

    God destined life to be lived out together. Every human being is here because two people. We were raised around family and friends. We went to school with others. We work with others. The Christian life cannot be lived outside of “us” ,the church the people of God. If you are here and believe you do not need friendships you have already been deceived by sin. Sin deceives people into loneness, depression, and death.  I am afraid there are many Christians who have believed a lie and exist in solitude missing the glorious blessing of life together.
     
    Take Hebrew 3:13 for example “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Without the exhorting of another an individual’s heart becomes heart. Without others Hebrews 3:13 can be scratched out of scriptures. Again observe with me Hebrews 10:22-25 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
     
    The scriptural vision of growing faith and God glorifying worship is in togetherness. We lift each other up, we come together to worship God together, and we provoke each other to love. Without the togetherness in the scripture you can dissolve all central doctrines of the Christian faith. Without togetherness the Thrice Holy God of Scripture can be removed, because the Father, Son, and Spirit cannot be separated. Creation, salvation, forgiveness, and the church all crumbles. Togetherness has brought all holy things to us. Friendships are building blocks for genuine faith in Christ. In friendships you love, forgive, encourage, correct, give, receive, mourn, rejoice, seek peace, and sacrifice. All of these things Christ like attributes and more are sharpened in friendships.
     
    II. Friendships are Intentional Exercises (16)

    Jonathan went to David in order to strengthen David in the Lord. Jonathan initiated the contact with David. He hazarded his own life to help David. Friendships require effort. Jonathan went to David with purpose to strengthen David in God. It is with this approach we approach are friends and family with an invitation to friend day. It is our main purpose to encourage them in the Lord. Our desire is for them to know God and experience God. We want them to rest in His purpose for their life.
     
    Friendships form and grow intentionally. Jonathan intentionally became friends with David in 1st Samuel 18. Making friend means being friendly. Jonathan initiated friendship with David then he went out of his way to maintain it because he loved David. Jonathan went to the wilderness of Ziph bringing to David assurance God had anointed Him King over Israel and all would be well. Jonathan believed God and wanted David to believe God. Friends know the pattern of other friends. We often see pitfalls for our friends, which we miss in ourselves. Jonathan knew David was in a position to doubt or forget God had anointed Him.
     
    It is easy to miss the connection between the defeat of a lion, a bear, and a giant. God provided victories for David in the past, but the enemy he faced now was bigger and more complex than past battles. He was up against a king, an army, and dark powers in high places. David's spirit was certainly overwhelmed and undermanned. Jonathan knowing the susceptibility of his friend approaches him with God centered counsel. 
     
    III. Friendships exist beyond time, place, and participation (18)
     
    Modern friendships same to be measured by how much time is spent together, where you go together, and what you do together. While these things do help grow friendships, they are not what hold friendships together. Jonathan goes to where David is because they are separate. The time they spend together was short, and then they went separate ways. Christian friendships exist in a deep way, rooted into the eternity and power of the Godhead. David and Jonathan teach us to measure our friendships based on the love and fellowship we have in God together.
  • Sep 16, 2018Embracing the Supreme Goodness of God
    Sep 16, 2018
    Embracing the Supreme Goodness of God
    Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God

    1st Peter 3:8-13
    Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
    Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
    For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
    Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
    For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
    And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
     
    On a daily basis we are reminded evil exist in our world. This past week two major news story centered on murder. These two murders are manifestations of evil that existed since birth in the hearts of the murders. These murders would have never occurred if the evil of lust was exposed in the heart and repentance was made toward God. A person who repents desires no ill will toward their neighbor. The gospel of Jesus Christ calls man to repentance to God because man is at odds with God to the evil that lurks in their hearts. No people group is immune to evil. It spreads out through the city, winds down through the country roads, snakes through the valley, climbs every mountain, and lurks within in the human soul at every breath.
     
    This is why the gospel is to be preached to every person. The Christian, through the Holy Scriptures and the Spirit of God, peers into the depths of evil in the human heart, beginning with their own, and evaluates evil on a different level than non-Christians. A redeemed mind has a keen sense of what evil is and refrains, at all cost from it, in order to embrace the supreme goodness found in God. Peter wants believers to see good days against the backdrop of a dark and evil world. Jesus taught His followers, including Peter, evil exist in each person.
     
    Evil comes out the mind, is acted on by the body, which makes a person dirty before God. Jeremiah tells us the heart is desperately wicked, while James tells us we are tempted and led astray by what’s within. The Psalmist tells us God hates evil and the New Testament exclaims through the suffering and death of Jesus that God hates evil and will stop at nothing to rid His people from it. Jesus came to redeem us from the evil of sin to the goodness of God. When a person says they are “saved” they are saying they are saved from the wrath God will pour out upon an evil world.
     

    What is Evil
    I believe it helpful to define and describe evil in order to get a grasp of its seriousness. St. Augustine saw evil as the absence of God. Peter used the Greek word “kakos” which means “inward malice, rotten. Inwardly foul” (Help Word-Studies). When a tree in rotting from the inside out it is good as dead unless something is performed to stop the rot. We are rotting away from the inside and without Jesus there is no cure. My definition is “Evil is the absence of good which exist in the human heart. The rot of life, that manifest itself in hideously atrocious acts”. These definitions are adequate, but here is an account to bring them to life.

    I recently read an excerpt from a book “When God was taken captive” which tells of a beautiful faced child who looked like an angel. After Tortured at a Nazi concentration camp he was condemned to be hung. The little angel faced child had a rope around his neck along with two adults. The little boy remained silent and the two adults cried out “long live liberty”. Then the bodies dropped the two adults died quickly but the beautiful child died very slowly suffering unbelievably over half an hour. (When God Was Taken Captive, W. Aldrich, Multnomah, 1989, pp. 39-41.)

    Although evil is deeper and darker than we can understand this description and these definitions have equipped us enough to continue forward.

    Peter’s View of God’s Supreme Goodness

    Now let us return to the text and jump into Peter’s shoes and see the world through Peter’s eyes. He knew evil existed he saw first hand the Lord being crucified at the hands of wicked men. Evil sprung from his very own heart after spending three years with the Lord. He had followed Jesus, cursed and denied Jesus, and been restored by Jesus. Peter was there the day the Holy Spirit indwelt the followers of Jesus for the first time. His life had been, for some years, infiltrated by the good work of the Holy Spirit. Peter viewed evil as God viewed it. He hated and desired to have nothing to do with it. Peter knew that in an evil world those that followed Jesus could embrace God’s supreme goodness. Peter’s audience lived in a hate filled world as we do. His audience could see evil working in their time as we see in ours, yet Peter’s message spoke of seeing good days against the back dropped of an evil world.
     
    Yes, evil is dark, hideous, and damning but it is not more powerful than God’s supreme goodness. Jesus came into the world as The Great Light in darkness. He plowed through on breakable evil on the cross, and burst the chains of evil forever in His resurrection proving in an evil world goodness can triumph! I want to embrace and experience the supreme goodness of God purchased for me by Jesus, don’t you?

    What is Good and What is Embracing and Experiencing God’s Supreme Goodness like?

    The Greek Word for “good” in 1st Peter 3:13 is “agathos” which means admirable, useful, agreeable, distinguished, or honorable (Summarized from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). It means to be desired or approved of, or to the Christian what God approves. God is good because God approves of Himself! I believe these definitions of good are correct for our study? But the question remains what is God’s goodness in an evil world like and why should we want it? I believe this story will help:

    “During the French war, a train carrying dispatches to the headquarters was compelled to go over sixty miles of very rough road, and reach its destination within an hour. The engineer was the bearer of the dispatches, and his wife and child were in the coach. Every moment threatened to pitch the train over the embankment or over a bridge, and, as it rolled from side to side, leaping at times almost in the air, rushing past stations, the few people inside held their breath and often cried out with terror as they sped along. There was one on that train who knew nothing of their fears and that was the child of the engineer. Happy as a bird, she laughed aloud when asked if she were not afraid, and looked up and answered, “Why, my father is at the engine.” A little later, the engineer came into the car to cheer up his wife and, as he wiped the great drops of sweat from his face, the child leaped into his arms and laid her head upon his bosom, as happy and peaceful as when at home. What a lesson for the children of the heavenly Father!” (https://www.ministry127.com/resources/illustration/her-father-was-at-the-engine)
     

    Embracing God’s Supreme Goodness leads to overpowering with joy, comfort, and assurance a situation which should produce the exact opposite! I believe we all can agree experiencing life with the same trust the little girl on the train had for her daddy is the goal!

    Travel with me now as we journey to embracing the supreme goodness of God in a presently evil world.

    The Foundation to Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God

    In my mind Peter pulls up a chair and puts pen to paper thinking of the Work of God the Father through the redemption of His Son Jesus, by the indwelling of His Spirit in His people. Peter’s message is a Trinitarian message of hope. If you begin to read 1st Peter pay close attention the first three verse of chapter one.
     
    There is no goodness outside the Trinity. It is only through the Trinity of God goodness prevails over evil. If Jesus is your Savior then and only then can you embrace and experience the supreme goodness of God. There is no other road you can travel to get to God and His supreme goodness other than Jesus Christ. You can experience evil without Jesus, you can even wish for good, but you cannot embrace and experience it for yourself. However, unto everyone who believes of Jesus He is Precious, He is Supreme, and He is a Giver of good gifts unto His people. The good gift we will unwrap is the gift of His supreme goodness.
     
    Experiencing and Embracing the Supreme Goodness of God through Obedience to the Scripture

    Those who have God as Father, through the drawing of the Spirit, by the work of Jesus on the cross; desire for themselves the Word of God. Peter thinks of a baby who is driven by natural instinct to its mother’s milk. I had the privilege of being with my wife during all of my sons’ births. I experienced first hand the desires of an infant four-fold. It is only a child of God who desires to hear and do the word of God, therefore it is only God’s child who can see good days in an evil world. How can a child of God experience God’s goodness?
     
    I. Behave as Christ would toward others (8-9)
     
    The mind of Jesus toward people is one of unity, compassion, love, tenderness of heart, and humility. Goodness is experienced when we look for common ground without compromise. There are many subjects which divide, but focus (if at all possible) on what unifies. Good experiences are linked to unity that is sought after.
     
    Goodness is experience when understanding and help is applied to a neighbor’s life. Goodness is discovered when hard hearts are relinquished and services is applied. Peter is echoing the teachings of Jesus and the Old Testament to love your neighbor. How do you behave toward another brother or sister in the church? How do you act toward your neighbor of another faith or lifestyle? If your behavior is a replica of Jesus then and only then can God’s supreme goodness be embraced and experienced. If the good work of God is lacking in your heart challenge your behavior.

    II. Speak as Christ would to the World (10)
     
    1st Peter 2:23 shows us Jesus did not fight with the weapons of the enemy. Our military has been in Afghanistan for many years. The rebels there use elementary weapons in their warfare compared to ours. Could you imagine a high-ranking general having a press conference announcing we would lay down our technology and advancements in warfare and fight with less effective weapons as the enemy does? Jesus fought the battle for our salvation with weaponry from another world! The Lord teaches by His life how to talk to the world.
     
    Verbal abuse is not the weaponry we employee in our warfare. If you are a social media junkie, maybe if you are not, you have seen those who claim Jesus abuse others with their words. It almost entices you to speak into the non-sense, but then you refraining knowing it will avail nothing. I wonder how many people lose sleep over how they have spoken to the world? I wonder how many people lose a sound-mind and precious time planning how they might abuse another with their words.
     
    Goodness certainly escapes those whose tongues speak word opposing the nature of Jesus. Those who battle the Holy Spirit to use their words for wounding only cannot have the supreme goodness of God. When you think to speak something improper for the time or unholy in nature refrain from such and experience and embrace the supreme Goodness of God! Are your words destroying your opportunity to have God’s goodness in evil days?
     
    III. Turn Away from Evil (11a)
     
    Evil must be turned from because it is there to turn from. If a man does not believe in evil or know what evil is, then he will perish from the evil he refuses to believe or does not know exist. What is the evil you need to turn from? Our desire to fall into temptation starts within (James 1:14). What your heart is prone to do could be different from what my heart is tempted to do.
     
    My battle to think or commit evil could be a harder battle for me, than yours is for you. I believe it is for this cause that Peter prefaces this section with our behavior toward each other. We need each other in the battle to turn from evil. The one nearest to God will turn from evil and have the deep desire to help others turn from evil in the manner Peter has described. Have you ever found goodness going toward or operating in evil? We often know to turn from evil, but need help doing it.
     
    Years ago, it was reported that a college football coach wanted to help his players stay away from the evil of drugs. He had a very special way of illustrating the evil of cocaine. “Few college football coaches have made a point against drugs as effectively as Erk Russell of Georgia Southern College. He arranged for a couple of good ol' country boys to burst into a routine team meeting and throw a writhing, hissing, six-foot-long rattlesnake onto a table in front of the squad. "Everyone screamed and scattered," Russell recalls. "I told them, 'When cocaine comes into a room, you're not nearly as apt to leave as when that rattlesnake comes in. But they'll both kill you!" (http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/sin.htm).
     
    Can you turn from evil on your own or do you need some help? Find friends who care enough about you to get you to God’s Supreme Goodness.

    IV. Do good, seek for peace, and work to maintain it (11b)
     
    God’s people were defeated, killed, abused, and captured by Babylon. The weak group of defeated aliens traveled hundreds of miles to reach Babylon. There in the city of people who funded, planned, and executed the slaughter of their family members and friends they were to live and according to Jeremiah they were to live a peace seeking life which would help them and their captors.
     
    Jeremiah 29:7 states “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” God promised peace to those who sought for peace and worked to maintain it. Our holy lives and message of the gospel is not to stoke the fires of hatred, although it may cause it. Our intentions are to be good intentions focused of God and others. Find someone to do good for who is not like you. Make peace with all people if all possible, and work to keep peace and you will have God’s supreme Goodness in a world full of evil!

     
     
  • Sep 9, 2018When the Chief Shepherd Shall Appear
    Sep 9, 2018
    When the Chief Shepherd Shall Appear
    When the Chief Shepherd Shall Appear

    1st Peter 5:1-7
    The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
    Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
    Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.
    And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
    Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
    Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
    Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

    Peter’s Audience
    Elders are very special to the local church. Men chosen by God, qualified by their own life, and confirmed by the church. Peter knew the life of an Elder because he was an elder. Elders, let it sink into your head and trickle down to your heart that you hold a title Peter and John once held. This text is directly aimed toward elders, but at the same time it is not limited to elders. This is a message Peter desired the whole church to understand. This message is toward members, elders, and volunteers of all ages on all spiritual levels. Supreme motivation is motivation generated in the heart of the believer by the Spirit of God. Supreme motivation (seeing Jesus as the grand prize by the inward dwelling of His Spirit) is the motivation Christians are to feed as they love God, love others, and serve both. Jesus has to be the “Why” I do behind the “what” I do.
     
    Motivation
    There are all types of motivation yet I have found inward motivation to be the best. Motivating others outwardly does matter and I am not against rewards to encourage doing what is right. But the “why” a person does something is in the heart. It is the inward being of the person that pushes the “what” a person does . As a child did your parents, teacher, or Sunday school leader ever give you candy for accomplishing a task?
     
    There is an account published in Parade magazine on February 11, 1962 about a youngster who attended his Sunday school in Russia where the priest gave out candy to the poor kids for a reward when the memorized scripture and attended church faithfully. One boy excelled greatly under such a reward system and soon memorized the four gospels and attended church faithfully. Later in life he still knew the scriptures he learned as a child, but did not use them for good. The young boy was Nikita Khrushchev. He was a Russian Czar who helped do many evils. The “why” or motivation behind the bible memorization of his youth was never founded on the truth, but on carnal desire.

    Nikita was constrained by his carnal appetite for candy to memorize scripture. The apostle here tells the leaders of the church to oversee see the church, but not by constraint. Simply put elders and members alike are to motivated in their task by Jesus. If there is any other motivation for serving Jesus than Jesus Himself then sooner or later your service will be found to be a lie.

    A church’s membership, volunteer leadership, and Elders are to be Christ centered and driven. A happy and healthy church culture always beholds the Lion and seeks to be like the Lamb of God in all aspects of living including motive. If I can motivate you it will be temporary at best, but if the Spirit of God, scriptures, and Jesus motivates you there is no limit to your strength, joy, and success. When Peter pens this portion of scripture he has his eyes on Elders. He is thinking of those who oversee the church with all the physical, spiritual, and mental trials they face. Constraint says serve because, you can fill in the blank. If we serve God because of the appearing of the risen Lord then nothing on this earth can shake our desire to serve. If we serve for something horizontal, that is to say worldly, then other horizontal things can compete for our affection and service.
     
    Sooner or later applause, money, position, or good emotions are not enough to keep an Elder leading the flock of God because greater pain mentally, spiritually, and physically will arise which offsets any good horizontal thing. Constraint can not be the motivation to serve God. Being asked to serve God is a great honor. Psalm 84:10 says it is greater to keep the doors in the House of God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked. The motivation to follow and serve God for every Christian is to be Jesus Christ who is seated above in heavenly places. When our affections are set above where Christ is seated then earthly happenings will be able to shake our motive. What motivates you to serve and worship God?
     

    What Operation under Supreme Motivation Looks Like

    I. Feeding of a Local Congregation (v:1)

    I am a visual person. I like to see the thing we are describing so it’s there I know its there and when it is missing I know it is missing. When a Christian or church is operating under Supreme motivation, that is to say motivated by God, His word is presently being heard and attempts are made to obey the word. When a church is all about something outside of God’s word it is not healthy. A word fed Church is a church with marks of Supreme motivation. The word is to be the leading thing in a church. Life groups, worship ministry, Children’s ministry, and all other ministries of a local of church are to be centered on feeding people with the healthy and holy word of God. This week I met with some of our men to discuss life groups, which are really doing well, I truly believe our church benefits from coming together in small groups where there is prayer, God’s word, and good discussion centered on the word of God. It is the duty of every life group leader, to lead their group in God’s word. It is in life groups that we cultivate a culture of God centeredness. The time together must be led wisely around God’s word so the whole church may gain supreme motivation for everything we do. Paul teaches us to do all things unto the Lord.

    C.S. Lewis writes in his book “The Weight of Glory”

    The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord." This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow. 

    Bethany let us do all things in our lives public and personal as unto the Lord!

    II. Unforced Spiritual Management of a Local Congregation (v:2)

    We have established that a church who is committed to make the word of God priority is under Supreme motivation. Expect Bethany Baptist church to be a church about the word. Yet there is another sign of Supreme motivation Peter points out and it is leading without force. Peter wants Elders to care for the people of God without being prompted by outside sources. An elder who only pastors for the money will leave for the money, or they will weigh the suffering in life by a dollar amount and will not suffer as Christ has intended.
     
    A volunteer who volunteers only to fill a spot will soon remove themselves from serving. Honestly the calling of God is without repentance. Success for a member, volunteer, or elder comes from the call of God inside the heart. I heard a pastor once say he had to work to support his preaching habit. As I am writing this I think of Tara’s full commitment to the call of God on our lives to pastor a local church. Her job, management of her house, her time, vacations, and time spent seeing her family is all measured by our inward call. She has been relentless to pursue God through our call at any cost. I believe she is more called than me at the moment!
     
    Nothing has been placed before us in the call of God that she has scoffed at. Nothing from the outside world, and trust me there are many temptations, has led her from the mission of God for us to pastor Bethany Baptist Church. Peter thought of all the pressures and temptations elders of his day were under. He thought of those who could motivated by the title, privilege, or religious applause and lifted Jesus high up saying “be an elder knowing the Chief Shepherd will soon appear to reward you.”
     
    Be a children’s teacher knowing Jesus is coming to reward you, be a life group leader knowing God will reward you, give in the offering knowing God is supreme in all things, stay pure as a single person knowing God is the rewarder of your obedience! I tell you today Jesus will appear and there are great rewards waiting for those who love Him and do not hold their own life dear in comparison to His supreme value!

    III. A Mind and Heart Prepared by Scripture, Prayer, and Holy Counsel. (2b)

    Revival services are just around the corner. Are you preparing your mind? Peter said elders motivated by the supreme nature of God in them would have a ready mind. Are you battling against dark thoughts daily? Are you thinking highly of your husband and wife? Are you parenting your children after the desires of God? A church motivated by the supreme value of God has a mind which is ready to receive and do whatever God commands. The ready mind Peter is writing about is a mind ready to work for loves sake. A mind that has adopted to itself love for its neighbor because of God’s love toward them. This mind ready to serve for loves sake is the mind of the Lamb of God with expectations of the return of the Lion of God. This ready mind comes from knowing God through the scriptures, prayer, and holy counsel found among the people of God. Are you readying your mind? Is the supreme supernatural motivation of the Spirit of God seen in your preparing your mind?

    IV. Being an Example of Christ who leads without Abuse (3)

    Elders are to lead with humility, love, and authority, but never by abuse. Abuse is not biblical correction, Abuse is not passionate preaching, abuse is not holding members accountable for their actions. Abuse is using biblical knowledge to get the upper hand on someone for carnal gain. Abuse is the pride of the devil being exerted on the congregation. A church motivated by the supremacy of the great shepherd leads others without abuse. In today’s culture holy correction can be labeled religious abuse, but we do not measure affection and abuse by society’s ever-changing standard. We measure what is just and holy by biblical measures. Elders and members alike who lead others through pitfalls of life in humility and love are motivated by Jesus. This vision is a church wide vision beginning with the Elders and moving through the church. Guiding, teaching, correcting, forgiving, and enduring with each other for the cause of Christ and no other motive is a glorious spectacle to the world.

    V. A People with an Upward Look (4)

    Supreme motivation looks like leaders who are concerned with the return of Jesus. It looks like member who do good with the mind of pleasing the Lord and getting no earthly gain. This does not mean earthly gain will not come to those who serve God with Him as the motive. It does mean the church is more concerned with the reward Jesus brings with Him when He returns to all those that love Him. Are motivated to live for Jesus because you know He is alive and will return?
     
    VI. A people Robed in Humility through Submission (5)

    Peter paints an image of submission in the church. He calls the church to be “clothed” in humility. He had in mind the outer cape worn by a slave. Peter wants us to be known by our submission to each other. We belong to Jesus and are a gift to each other. We are to wear our humility as a badge that says we belong to a heavenly King and are destiny for His eternal kingdom. When Christians in the church submit to the elders of the church and care for one another it is evident such action is driven by the supreme motivation of God’s inward dwelling Spirit. Such humility leads to a life God exalts. Exaltation begins with humiliation.

    VII. A people trusting God through all anxieties of Life (7)

    Supreme motivation looks like a group of believers placing all worry and care of life before God in prayer. Such prayer is driven from the motivation of scripture that promises Jesus cares for us. People who lack supreme motivation lack motivation to pray. Today let us show all those around us that our motivation to love God, love others, and serve both comes from the indwelling Spirit of God who teaches us to value God over all things.
     
  • Sep 2, 2018The Glorious Mind of Jesus Christ
    Sep 2, 2018
    The Glorious Mind of Jesus Christ
    The Glorious Mind of Jesus Christ

    1st Peter 4:1-5
    Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
    That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
    For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
    Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:
    Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

    Philippians 2:5-8
    Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
    Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
    But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
    And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

    Romans 12:1-2
    I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
     
    Many Authors would end their work on a climatic note and a sentence of closure. Peter’s strategy is certainly different than most authors. Listen to what he wrote at the end of chapter 3, not as a closing statement, but as a launching statement for deeper teaching. “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.” (1st Peter 3:22). Jesus is risen, ascended to heaven, where He has all honor, glory, and power! What a wonderful picture to close a chapter, yet Peter continues writing and noticeably his message takes a big shift as he walks us backwards to the cross of Christ and the suffering of the Lamb of God. We got a glimpse of the Lion and now he returns us to the Lamb.

    I believe he makes this seismic shift from conquering Lion to suffering Lamb because we are not yet glorified. Jesus is the Lion we Love and the Lamb we look to as we walk in this world. Our suffering is not yet complete. Looking to the Lion we know suffering has its end, and looking to the Lamb we know how to suffer until its end. The suffering of the Lamb teaches us suffering has a large role to play in our life and development as a Christian. This is why I believe Peter turns us around and points us to the cross and the Lamb which was slain upon it. We are sheep in a frightful world of wolves and a very great weapon God has given us in this sinister world is our minds. God wants to win our minds over to Him for His glory and our benefit.
     
    Peter says the mind can be armed or resolved to think and act like Christ did as He suffered in this world. A Christ mind responds to evil in a precise and holy manner. This precise manner of suffering in the face of evil puts us at rest in a sin-filled world. The mind of Jesus welcomes suffering and death. The mind of Christ in us welcomes death as an exit to the weight and burden to repetitious evil. Christ dead and risen suffers no more. There is an end to suffering. In a way suffering kills itself, in eventually killings its victims it kills itself in its victims making them free. In our suffering we die to the will of the flesh. I believe suffering causes the Christians to lose its taste for the world. Delight in this world dims and the brightness of Christ glory arises in the believers’ heart through suffering. During this study I hope to lead us to key points which cause us to pursue the knowledge of God through His word.
     
    The Problem with the Mind
    Peter and Paul are certainly on the same page when it comes to the mind. Paul says it needs to be transformed in order to prove the excellent pleasing will of God in your life. He also writes that the same mentality of Christ should be ours. If Christ mind is not infiltrating your mind then your mind belongs to the will of the flesh and society operating in the vain imagination of the heart living a repetitious world which lacks the grand glory of Christ (Romans 1:21). Our minds, when unaltered by the knowledge of God, drinks sips of sins until it has drunk the full of God’s wrath. According to Paul the number one reason people are turned over to a reprobate mind is not retaining God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28). Spiraling down into sin becomes with unreceptiveness to the knowledge of God. Our minds are darkened and need renewing. Mental renewal comes through the Word of God. The glorious power of the resurrection of Jesus is stolen if we do not retain the knowledge of the slain Lamb of God. The knowledge of God frees the mind it is the mind of Christ which we pursue today.
     
    Why embrace the Suffering mind of Christ?

    I. There is Rest for the Soul Weary of Sin! (1st Peter 1:1-3)

    Jesus suffered massively to save His people from SIN. Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil (1st John 3:8). Paul speaks of our baptism as death to sin and life toward God (Romans 6:3-7). The will of God is for us to live sin free, and if we sin God tells us to confess our sins because He is faithful and Just to forgive our sins (1st John 1:9). We hate sin because it is evil. We see the evil we hate manifest itself in the suffering of our Lord. When we do what we hate forgiveness is available through the suffering of our Lord. Therefore, in fleeing sin and confessing sin we behold the Lamb of God who took away our sins in His suffering death!
     
    This mind, this remember, this beholding of the suffering Lamb of God leads us to cease (rest) from sin! For all that mourn their sin and feel the weight of it there is a Lamb! Sin runs the believer ragged, it toys with mind, it blinds the eyes, deafens the ears, numbs the body, and empties of JOY! Do you hate your sin? If you wish to rest from your sin turn to the Lamb, examine His cross, explore His forgiveness, and embrace His sufferings till you become of a like mind with Him. Peter wanted those who believe in Jesus to combat the dead weight of sin in their lives by fixing their minds of the Lamb.

    I cannot go further without talking to about those who love their sins. It maybe you I am talking to and it is my hope you will listen. If you are presenting loving your sin and have no remorse or mourning about it, then you are in much danger. If you are a professed Christian and cuddle with your sin, protect your sin, obey your sin, and run to your sin when problems come then it appears your sin is your God and you are not what you claim. If you claim you know Jesus and find your heart hard against God and open to sin begin to pray right now that God would open your mind to the truth of His word and cause you to hate with extreme hatred your sin and love with great love His Son,
    Do you want to rest from sin? Pursue Jesus in His Word relentlessly and let your mind be renewed day by day.

    II. It embraces Suffering to Glory

    The mind of Christ sees worldly suffering for what it is, and asset to growth. If we suffer with Jesus we will reign with Him (2nd Timothy 2:12). Suffering is not divorced from glory but connected to it. Embracing suffering in this world like Jesus makes suffering beneficial to the Christian and while suffering is painful hope in God makes it bearable. Looking to the Lamb we embrace the promise of the Lion who is one and the same. We look for glory in our suffering making our suffering glorious because glory is greater than our suffering (Romans 8:18). Suffering apart from hope in God is most miserable. Knowing Jesus and His suffering and being made conformable to His death is purposeful. Let us pursue God in His Word and find strength to embrace our suffering with glory in view!

    III. It Witnesses to those you love that Jesus is Supreme in Value (1st Peter 4:4)

    Do you love your friends? Do you want them to see the value of Jesus in your life? Then forsaking sin is the greatest act of love you can display to them. When your life is removed from sin it will remove you to some degree from the life of friends you once had, but it is not out of hate you remove yourself, but love. You are now in love with Jesus and obeying Him is the best thing for you and your friends. You will become a talking point and a spectacle. Unkind words may be spoken of you for your departure of sin, yet through all of that Jesus will be glorified amongst them. Jesus will become to them the Strong One who stole their friend away. Jesus will be the One who took you from the events and acts which held you together with them.
     
    He will be view as the One you value the most. He will be glorified in their lives against their will. It will be the great disconnect between you and them which will witness to them the reality of salvation. Many of come to Jesus because a friend sold out to God. Church and Jesus became a talk in our house when friends and family began to distant themselves from drinking and hangouts at the house. It was not all positive talk, but it got the conversation going in the direction of Jesus. It could be you are here today because a friend quit doing things you were doing and it slowly reeled you in to see what Jesus was all about.
     
    You may be the one feeling lonely because you have left off sins of your past, take heart the mind of Christ in you is drawing someone else to Jesus as we speak. Remember those in the church are your friends pray God will give you connection with new friends in the local church. It is not God’s plan for you to experience life alone. The will of God for your life is with the people of God.
     
    IV. You Will have comfort in the Day of Judgement (1st Peter 4:5)

    When your mind is saturate with the thoughts of Jesus and your body is under the direction of the Spirit of God the day of judgment will be a day of comfort. Those who have had their pleasure in sin will one day meet Jesus face to face and the outcome will not be good. Those who hate sin and love righteousness will find themselves in Christ and those who loved sin will find themselves alienated from the grace of God no matter how they labeled themselves in this life. Those who have been-self labeled as Christians will not stand in the day of judgement. Assurance on the day of Judgment belong to them who have armed themselves with the mind of Christ!
  • Aug 26, 2018Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God
    Aug 26, 2018
    Embracing and Experiencing the Supreme Goodness of God
  • Aug 19, 2018Following Jesus During Grief
    Aug 19, 2018
    Following Jesus During Grief