May 27, 2018
The Gospel for Imperfect People: Church Members
The Gospel for Imperfect People
“Imperfect Church Members”
John 16

A Word to All of Us
I am happy to pastor this church. I love each one of you dearly. When I say I look forward to worshiping with you I do not say that to sound pastoral, I say that because it is truth. I know that being faithful to church is a struggle to some, giving hard for others, serving consistently is a heavy burden at times. I do not expect any of us to get it all right all the time. I simply love you and want you to stay. I want you to keep trying, keep praying, keep struggling, keep trusting God. I care for you when you give or do not, I will preach to the church when it is easy or hard, if you are late or on time, when your family is strong and when it is weak, through all seasons I want to be with you. All I ask is you stick it out and trust in Jesus through the good and bad of life. Church life isn’t easy, but we are in it together.
 
Jesus’s Imperfect Group
When we come to John 16 we can learn a lot from the many implications in the text. When I say implications I simply mean the things we as a church know because we have the full revelation of scripture. For instance, we know that the audience that Jesus was addressing in John 16 was an imperfect group for the scriptures state we are all sinners, including Jesus’s own group. The text is not written to say: “Hear thou me you group of damned sinners”. Yet we know what they were, for scripture tells us what we all are. So here we have a group of imperfect people that Jesus loves. A group that will soon abandon Him in His darkest hour (32). Jesus knew every squabble that would arise among them, every failure that would weigh heavy on them, the struggle of the mind that would always be at war in them and still He spoke to them and gave them words of truth, hope, and joy. This is the message I hope to give to the group of Jesus’ imperfect people today.
 
The Words of Jesus a Real Comfort (1-4)
This chapter opens with Jesus revealing why He is speaking to them with such simple but rich words. His goal is to equip them with knowledge so His group of imperfect people will not abandon their faith. Jesus knew hard times were upon His imperfect group and the inner urge to abandon their faith would be great. Noble ideas would call them away, Storage love (love for family) would seek to elevate itself above Jesus (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), fear would impose itself on the weak group, physical pain and alienation (which is loneliness) had them in its crosshairs, and self-gratifying pleasure of the world would soon be undressing herself to lure the group away. The disciples were in a dangerous place and Jesus knew it. We are in the same dangerous place and Jesus knows it. Later on, in the pages of scripture as the Christian church was developing and expanding we read that Paul had friends in the faith that abandoned him because they loved the world “Demas has forsaken me loving this present world” 2nd Timothy 4:10. It was from the backdrop of temptation and danger that Jesus spoke to His group and the words He spoke them brings the same comfort to us today that it brought to His original group of followers many years ago. Jesus has a word for every fear and danger in your life.
 
Each imperfect church member today can have the truth, hope, and joy needed to survive and thrive as a follower of Jesus, by believing the following implications in John 16:
 

I. Though Imperfect You are Important (5-7)
 
The first implication we observe is that Jesus planned to return to the Father. Jesus was not talking about taking a vacation but suffering and death. The disciples did not like the sound of that. He tells them, and us, that going to the cross is a plus for us. Embracing the cross and becoming a curse is how He planned to show us our worth. You are very important to this local body of believers because of Jesus.

a. A Word of Hope
 
As a church member your importance is measured by what Jesus has said about you and accomplished for you. It is easy and also dangers to measure your value in a local body of believers by any other factor than Jesus’s teaching and cross. Our self-worth as an individual, or church, is not wrapped up in self, but the Savior, we are valuable because Jesus is valuable. Very valuable people have walked in and out of these doors because they were measuring themselves with another metric. You matter to me, you matter to this church, but most of all you matter to Jesus. Your many imperfections do not make you worthless. It is what God has declared about you in His Son the makes you an in-expendable commodity in His Kingdom.
 
In a large vast kingdom filled with riches and power was the most noble and handsome prince. Living outside his kingdom was the most hideous people. Tattered clothes that reeked of rot, breath ridden with the worse kind of halitosis, and absent of all manners of good will and politeness. One day the Prince set out on a ride to see the farthest corners of his kingdom and beyond. When he crossed over the border and came to the hideous people he encounters a lady most hideous to the 5 senses and decided to love her. He wrapped her in a royal robe placed her on his very horse and took her to the palace where he made her his princess. Not a beautiful sight even cleaned up and clothed right, not educated, not connected, yet she sits in the palace robed in valuable glory. Where did she get such worth? Simply from the indwelling love of the prince for her. We are like the hideous lady who has immense value because Jesus loves us!
 
Do you rejoice in the value Jesus has given you? Do you attend this church because of how Jesus has valued you?
 
II. Though Imperfect You are Gifted (13-15)
 
Jesus was headed to the cross to make a worthless group eternally valuable to God, and at the same time looking beyond the horrific suffering to the coming of the Spirit of God into the lives of His imperfect followers. Jesus going away (resurrection from the dead and accession into heaven) would be beneficial to His group because of the coming of the Holy Spirit to teach, direct, and empower His Church of imperfect people. This second great implication from our text reminds the church how important each member truly is.
 
The Spirit of God is in each believer knitting us together, directing our steps, and gifting us in various ways for the glory of God and sake of man makes each gifted member a link in an unbreakable chain. It is this very chain that you are a link in that pulls others out of the fiery pits of hell. You are gloriously gifted and the people seated all around you need that gift. It is important for you to stay faithful to this local church because we need you.
 
We need you to grow, groom, and exercise your spiritual gifting right here with us. My gift of teaching is valuable to the church, your gift of mercy, giving, or hospitality is just as important to the church. Jesus died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Spirit of God in order for you to be gifted for where you are now. I encourage you to do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The highest-ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their graduation, they planned to practice law together. (Gary Inrig, Life in His Body)

The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa -- the city of his birth -- but only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an unfortunate condition, for it is a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is discarded, it begins to decay. The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from all service to others loses its meaning. (Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.)

We need to be put to use for the glory of God and sake of man. It was for this purpose that Jesus died, rose again, and sent the Holy Spirit. To do anything less is to make the work of Christ of none effect in our lives.

Will you stay and use the gift God has given you for His glory and our sake?
 
III. Though Imperfect You are Responsible (31-33)
 
The third implication is both a warning and encouragement. Jesus has died, rose again, ascended into heaven, and given gifts to men. We as Jesus’ imperfect group are now valuable, gifted, and accountable to God for how we respond to these truths. Jesus taught the disciples in parables about being responsible with what God has given. Each person here today will be accountable to God for how they utilized their redemption and gifting. Being imperfect does not excuse you from accountability.
 
On the day of judgment, we can say, the church you gave me was a bore, the preacher was not well spoken, the programs were outdated or far-fetched, or use the famous “I wasn’t getting spiritually fed” (says the conservative Christian that doesn’t believe in government handouts). Whatever excuse you can think of to avoid your responsibility as a saved gifted imperfect person before God will not be accepted. Jesus said the perfect words to imperfect people and then the responsibility to obey is on us. His disciples scattered on their own by no fault of Jesus. If you chose to scattered it is on you, and no one else. Today I want to encourage you to remain faithful and serve in all your imperfections because it is the will of God for your life. Jesus redeemed and gifted you that you may stand before Him accountable on the day of judgment awaiting great reward.
 
Will you serve God and be faithful in your imperfections as a church member?
 
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  • May 27, 2018The Gospel for Imperfect People: Church Members
    May 27, 2018
    The Gospel for Imperfect People: Church Members
    The Gospel for Imperfect People
    “Imperfect Church Members”
    John 16

    A Word to All of Us
    I am happy to pastor this church. I love each one of you dearly. When I say I look forward to worshiping with you I do not say that to sound pastoral, I say that because it is truth. I know that being faithful to church is a struggle to some, giving hard for others, serving consistently is a heavy burden at times. I do not expect any of us to get it all right all the time. I simply love you and want you to stay. I want you to keep trying, keep praying, keep struggling, keep trusting God. I care for you when you give or do not, I will preach to the church when it is easy or hard, if you are late or on time, when your family is strong and when it is weak, through all seasons I want to be with you. All I ask is you stick it out and trust in Jesus through the good and bad of life. Church life isn’t easy, but we are in it together.
     
    Jesus’s Imperfect Group
    When we come to John 16 we can learn a lot from the many implications in the text. When I say implications I simply mean the things we as a church know because we have the full revelation of scripture. For instance, we know that the audience that Jesus was addressing in John 16 was an imperfect group for the scriptures state we are all sinners, including Jesus’s own group. The text is not written to say: “Hear thou me you group of damned sinners”. Yet we know what they were, for scripture tells us what we all are. So here we have a group of imperfect people that Jesus loves. A group that will soon abandon Him in His darkest hour (32). Jesus knew every squabble that would arise among them, every failure that would weigh heavy on them, the struggle of the mind that would always be at war in them and still He spoke to them and gave them words of truth, hope, and joy. This is the message I hope to give to the group of Jesus’ imperfect people today.
     
    The Words of Jesus a Real Comfort (1-4)
    This chapter opens with Jesus revealing why He is speaking to them with such simple but rich words. His goal is to equip them with knowledge so His group of imperfect people will not abandon their faith. Jesus knew hard times were upon His imperfect group and the inner urge to abandon their faith would be great. Noble ideas would call them away, Storage love (love for family) would seek to elevate itself above Jesus (Matthew 10:37; Luke 14:26), fear would impose itself on the weak group, physical pain and alienation (which is loneliness) had them in its crosshairs, and self-gratifying pleasure of the world would soon be undressing herself to lure the group away. The disciples were in a dangerous place and Jesus knew it. We are in the same dangerous place and Jesus knows it. Later on, in the pages of scripture as the Christian church was developing and expanding we read that Paul had friends in the faith that abandoned him because they loved the world “Demas has forsaken me loving this present world” 2nd Timothy 4:10. It was from the backdrop of temptation and danger that Jesus spoke to His group and the words He spoke them brings the same comfort to us today that it brought to His original group of followers many years ago. Jesus has a word for every fear and danger in your life.
     
    Each imperfect church member today can have the truth, hope, and joy needed to survive and thrive as a follower of Jesus, by believing the following implications in John 16:
     

    I. Though Imperfect You are Important (5-7)
     
    The first implication we observe is that Jesus planned to return to the Father. Jesus was not talking about taking a vacation but suffering and death. The disciples did not like the sound of that. He tells them, and us, that going to the cross is a plus for us. Embracing the cross and becoming a curse is how He planned to show us our worth. You are very important to this local body of believers because of Jesus.

    a. A Word of Hope
     
    As a church member your importance is measured by what Jesus has said about you and accomplished for you. It is easy and also dangers to measure your value in a local body of believers by any other factor than Jesus’s teaching and cross. Our self-worth as an individual, or church, is not wrapped up in self, but the Savior, we are valuable because Jesus is valuable. Very valuable people have walked in and out of these doors because they were measuring themselves with another metric. You matter to me, you matter to this church, but most of all you matter to Jesus. Your many imperfections do not make you worthless. It is what God has declared about you in His Son the makes you an in-expendable commodity in His Kingdom.
     
    In a large vast kingdom filled with riches and power was the most noble and handsome prince. Living outside his kingdom was the most hideous people. Tattered clothes that reeked of rot, breath ridden with the worse kind of halitosis, and absent of all manners of good will and politeness. One day the Prince set out on a ride to see the farthest corners of his kingdom and beyond. When he crossed over the border and came to the hideous people he encounters a lady most hideous to the 5 senses and decided to love her. He wrapped her in a royal robe placed her on his very horse and took her to the palace where he made her his princess. Not a beautiful sight even cleaned up and clothed right, not educated, not connected, yet she sits in the palace robed in valuable glory. Where did she get such worth? Simply from the indwelling love of the prince for her. We are like the hideous lady who has immense value because Jesus loves us!
     
    Do you rejoice in the value Jesus has given you? Do you attend this church because of how Jesus has valued you?
     
    II. Though Imperfect You are Gifted (13-15)
     
    Jesus was headed to the cross to make a worthless group eternally valuable to God, and at the same time looking beyond the horrific suffering to the coming of the Spirit of God into the lives of His imperfect followers. Jesus going away (resurrection from the dead and accession into heaven) would be beneficial to His group because of the coming of the Holy Spirit to teach, direct, and empower His Church of imperfect people. This second great implication from our text reminds the church how important each member truly is.
     
    The Spirit of God is in each believer knitting us together, directing our steps, and gifting us in various ways for the glory of God and sake of man makes each gifted member a link in an unbreakable chain. It is this very chain that you are a link in that pulls others out of the fiery pits of hell. You are gloriously gifted and the people seated all around you need that gift. It is important for you to stay faithful to this local church because we need you.
     
    We need you to grow, groom, and exercise your spiritual gifting right here with us. My gift of teaching is valuable to the church, your gift of mercy, giving, or hospitality is just as important to the church. Jesus died, rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent the Spirit of God in order for you to be gifted for where you are now. I encourage you to do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

    Several years ago, two students graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The highest-ranking student in the class was a blind man named Overton and when he received his honor, he insisted that half the credit should go to his friend, Kaspryzak. They had met one another in school when the armless Mr. Kaspryzak had guided the blind Mr. Overton down a flight of stairs. This acquaintance ripened into friendship and a beautiful example of interdependence. The blind man carried the books which the armless man read aloud in their common study, and thus the individual deficiency of each was compensated for by the other. After their graduation, they planned to practice law together. (Gary Inrig, Life in His Body)

    The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to Genoa -- the city of his birth -- but only on condition that the instrument never be played upon. It was an unfortunate condition, for it is a peculiarity of wood that as long as it is used and handled, it shows little wear. As soon as it is discarded, it begins to decay. The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from all service to others loses its meaning. (Bits & Pieces, June 25, 1992.)

    We need to be put to use for the glory of God and sake of man. It was for this purpose that Jesus died, rose again, and sent the Holy Spirit. To do anything less is to make the work of Christ of none effect in our lives.

    Will you stay and use the gift God has given you for His glory and our sake?
     
    III. Though Imperfect You are Responsible (31-33)
     
    The third implication is both a warning and encouragement. Jesus has died, rose again, ascended into heaven, and given gifts to men. We as Jesus’ imperfect group are now valuable, gifted, and accountable to God for how we respond to these truths. Jesus taught the disciples in parables about being responsible with what God has given. Each person here today will be accountable to God for how they utilized their redemption and gifting. Being imperfect does not excuse you from accountability.
     
    On the day of judgment, we can say, the church you gave me was a bore, the preacher was not well spoken, the programs were outdated or far-fetched, or use the famous “I wasn’t getting spiritually fed” (says the conservative Christian that doesn’t believe in government handouts). Whatever excuse you can think of to avoid your responsibility as a saved gifted imperfect person before God will not be accepted. Jesus said the perfect words to imperfect people and then the responsibility to obey is on us. His disciples scattered on their own by no fault of Jesus. If you chose to scattered it is on you, and no one else. Today I want to encourage you to remain faithful and serve in all your imperfections because it is the will of God for your life. Jesus redeemed and gifted you that you may stand before Him accountable on the day of judgment awaiting great reward.
     
    Will you serve God and be faithful in your imperfections as a church member?
     
  • May 20, 2018The Gospel for Imperfect People: Family
    May 20, 2018
    The Gospel for Imperfect People: Family
    The Gospel for Imperfect People
    The Imperfect Family

    Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
    Genesis 17:4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
    Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
     
    Our Imperfect Families

    There has always been pressure on families to be near perfect. Husbands feel it, wives feel it, children feel it, and the family unit as a whole sense it together. There are two ways I have observed families handling the unseen pressure to get it all right.

    1. The family unit embraces it and attempts to get it all right when they see they cannot it turns into a show where outside the home they uphold an image and inside the home things get rough.
    2. The family unit rejects the notion in an unhealthy way by being so “genuine” they lose themselves or at least their testimony for Christ. It is the we are failures and will embrace our failures by living in and being controlled by them.

    The answer for the imperfect family is the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a lamb for your imperfections that teaches you to be forgiven and to move on repenting and rejecting sin while rejoicing in Jesus.
    To help us get a clearer view of imperfect families and the gospel we will study the life of Abraham.
     
    Abraham a Friend of God

    James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”

    Abraham or Abram is mentioned over 300 times in the bible making him one of the most talked about people in the scripture. He is given the famous title “the Friend of God”. He is the man God chose to be the vessel from which His chosen people, and very Son would be born from. By the time Jesus came into His ministry nearly 2000 years ago Abraham was elevated to a very high position in the minds of the religious leaders and people of the day. Jesus was once asked are you greater than our father Abraham (John 8:53) revealing that Abraham was an adored man. We, as people, have a way of elevating each other higher than what ought to be and then watching each other crash and burn from expectations that have been set. These expectations that we have for ourselves or our families are often unbiblical. We do not expect to be forgiven, we often see ourselves as the forgivers and not the forgiven. I am sure this view is taken for a multitude of reasons. One reason we like to be viewed as the forgivers and not the forgiven is that forgiven people have to admit they are wrong, imperfect, fragile people, that want to get it all right but have failed in that endeavor. Yet the gospel is for those who are broken, willing to repent, and follow God. There is great reward in being forgiven.
     
    What does this have to do with Abraham?

    Abraham is truly a friend of God. Yet, it may come to a surprise that Abraham was not a friend of God because he was perfect. Abraham was a friend of God because God loved him, made him righteous, and accepted him. When you read the opening verses of this message you can read it in a proud righteous voice beaming with zealousness that such a noble man was selected to be the father of many nations. But if you read these verses rightly you will read them with awe and wonder that God chose such a sinner as Abraham. Surrounding all these great promises of God are accounts of Abraham being a liar, doubter, and for lack of a better word adulterer.
     
    There is also an account of his lovely wife encouraging him to engage in a sexual relationship with a servant girl in order for them to fulfil the promise of God. Then we have the running off of the servant girl and the distancing of Abraham’s son Ishmael. Finally, to top it all off Abraham’s descendants who would become kings and priest to God also had messed up families. I am not here to promote imperfection, but reality. The reality is Jesus is of immense eternal value to every imperfect person and family. The perfect gospel is preached in a setting of imperfections; hence we call it the “good news” of Jesus. Jesus is the prize of eternity.
     
    I do not invite you to Jesus in order to get to heaven, I invite you to love, trust, and serve Jesus because He is the greatest prize of heaven! And to preach Jesus rightly I must tell you we are messed up people destined for hell without Him as our Lord. When you have Jesus as Lord you have everything. You can grow and flourish in unimaginable ways.
     
    What does the Gospel of Jesus mean to Abraham and our imperfect Christians families?

    Let’s look at a list of a few of the Abrahamic families:

    Isaac’s Family
    The two sons were always at each other taking advantage of each other, stealing from each other, and Esau wanted to kill Jacob. Mom and Dad had favorites and this made the matters worse as Mom helped trick Dad to get her favorite son the blessing of the family.

    Jacob’s Family
    Had twelve sons, two wives, and two concubines. Most of his children plotted to kill Joseph, decided to sell him into slavery, and lied to their father about all of it.

    King David’s Family
    David had an affair, some tend to believe it could have been rape or at least sexual assault, had a child that died because of the affair, some of his children hated each other and sought to kill one another. Absalom kicked his father off the throne for a while and was killed in a battle.

    Solomon’s Family
    Solomon had a palace full of wives. Need I say more?

    Jesus’s Family
    Joseph and Mary left Jesus, The Son of God, in Jerusalem and made it a long way before the realized they had lost Jesus. His siblings thought he was a bit looney and did not believe on him at first.

    What we see time and time again is imperfect families that God loves and redeems for His glory. These reveal:

    I. Imperfect Families can Believe God (Genesis 15:6)
     
    Abraham’s flawed life was not his legacy. His legacy was “he believed God”. Your dark spots do not have to be the highlight of your life. You can believe what God has said about you today and be recognized as a believer. What did Abraham believe about God?

    a. He believed in the Heir God Promised (Genesis 15:4)
     
    Abraham longed for a son and the time of life to have children had passed by him. Yet God said there would be an heir that will come from your own body. Abraham believed God more than he believed biology.

    b. He Believed in the Future God Promised (Genesis 15:5)
     
    There would not be just one heir, but many heirs produced through Abraham. Abraham’s future looked bright when his present was bleak. I believe in the heir of Abraham, His name is Jesus. I believe in the future God has promised, that Jesus will return with all the “dead” heirs of Abraham to reign on the earth.

    Imperfect people can believe God. Look around today at how many imperfect families have believed God by assembling with other believers, singing, praying, giving, and serving. We are imperfect people that believe God. This is only possible through the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the gospel of Jesus the compels us to believe.

    II. Imperfect Families can get it Wrong and God is Still Faithful (Genesis 17:4)
     
    I want to be very clear on this point. Abraham and Sara missed God’s will by a long shot. They were not even on the same continent as God’s plan, yet God stayed faithful to them. He did not throw them away. He understood they were just dust and had divine compassion on them. We should take note that their sin cost them greatly and the consequences of their sin still ripple through the world today. There is a long history of conflict between Isaac and Ishmael the two sons of Abraham. Ishmael, Abraham’s illegitimate son, is the father of the Arabic people and Isaac the legitimate son brought forth the nation of Israel. Still God passed over Abraham and Sara’s sin in order to keep His promise. The promise God made to Abraham was not contingent on Abraham, but on God alone. When God chose to save us through Jesus Christ He did it solely based on the merit of Jesus. He did not look at me and say “Robert thou son of Robert art holy, and I thy God shall save thee.” No, that is not how it happened at all. God has said “Robert you are a filthy sinner deserving of the darkest hottest hell but by my Son’s life, death, and resurrection I will make you what you are not, righteous”.

    a. What Does This Mean for Imperfect Christian Families
     
    It means you miss family devotion and God is still faithful. Your family struggles to do right under pressure and God is still faithful. Our everyday failures as families always has the presence of God’s faithfulness. Knowing this encourages me to serve, pray, study, give, and obey. Even when my family gets it wrong God is faithful to forgive and that truth gives me great courage to continue.
    Recently I visited an elderly couple that does not attend this church. I have made trips to their home before and knew that the trip would be pleasant. I know the older man has a great testimony and we talk about it nearly every time I visit. Years ago, when he and his wife had 4 small children he was over at a friend’s house drinking and arguing the bible.
     
    When it was time to go home his wife got in the driver’s seat with her drunk husband in the passenger seat and 4 children in the back and that is when it happened. He said something, Someone, fell across him. His wife could see in his face something was wrong with him. He says that the alcohol had surrendered its influence and the Holy Spirit was arresting him. He asked to be taken to the church that night where they had revival. His wife felt that everyone would be gone home, he didn’t care he would go to the house of the Sunday School Teacher or the Pastor if need be. To keep the story short, he ended up at the altar of the church asking Jesus to forgive and save him. He stood up completely sober and began serving God from that day till now. His testimony is God was and is faithful to him no matter how many times he has failed God has never failed.
     
    Does God’s faithfulness amaze you to the point you serve Him in spite of imperfections?

    III. Imperfect Families can Leave a Lasting Story of Brokenness, Forgiveness, and God’s Grace (Galatians 3:8)
     
    Abraham and his imperfect family had the gospel preached unto them. The promised Seed would come and stand in the stead of Isaac and his descendants. You see God used Isaac as a lesson when He asked Abraham to sacrifice him. If Isaac would have been killed the people of God would have died that day. The death of Isaac would have been well deserved because he was a sinner and would pass on the sin nature to a nation he was to father. Yet, God intervened and showed Abraham what was to come in order to save His people. One would be substituted for the sake of Isaac and many other sinners from many nations.
     
    God’s people would be spared because God would provide a Lamb. Each time a sin would happen Abraham could say “There is a Lamb for that” in brokenness Abraham could say “there is a Lamb for that”. Every time we ask forgiveness we are reminded there is a Lamb for that! We press on because there is a Lamb for our sins. We have hope because there is a Lamb that gives hope! Our story only magnifies the Story of the Lamb of God. Our story is His story of Grace. At the end of the age our failures will simply be megaphones that shout “the Lamb of God is supreme and we mere trophies of His sufficiency”. Worship God today because there is a Lamb for all your imperfections!

    Will you point your imperfect family to the Lamb of God in every situation?
     
  • May 13, 2018The Gospel for Imperfect People: Mother’s Day
    May 13, 2018
    The Gospel for Imperfect People: Mother’s Day
    The Gospel for Imperfect People
    Acts 16:1; 2nd Timothy 1:5; 2nd Timothy 3:15; 1st Timothy 2:15
     
    Mother’s Day
    Mother’s Day is a reminder of the curse of sin and God’s grace (Genesis 3:16). Children are born in much pain, sorrow, and the promise of death to come because of sin. At the same time God ordained motherhood to bring forth His Son who would suffer much labor pain, sorrow, and death of every man in order to save man from sin. Mother’s Day reminds me both of sin’s curse and man’s redemption born through the vessel of women (Genesis 3:15 and Galatians 4:4).
    Mother’s Day also reminds me that we have assembled here today not to receive honor but to give honor, and that goes for mothers as well as all others. We have come to honor God and mother’s and since each has a mother none has come to receive honor but to give honor to God and mom. I am reminded that a person who gives honor has honor to give and that in itself is a great gift from God. We have honor from God to share with God and man. The honor we give others is only the honor God has bestowed upon us.
    Mother’s Day also reminds me of my wife, mother, grandmothers, and great grandmother. I have known all of them for some period of time in my life. Each one of them are, and were, exceptional women.
    My great-grandmother was an older lady that I remember as pleasant. She was never mean to me in any way. She leaves me with the memory of my first death. I stayed with my cousin Janet (who is now with the Lord), while my family went to my great grandmother’s wake. I have a memory of sitting in Janet’s lap while she told me great granny went to heaven to live with Jesus.
    My mother’s mother, whom we called granny, was always kind and could cook. I loved her macaroni and cheese. She left me with the memories of suffering. I stayed with her one Christmas night. I remember going in her bedroom as she laid in the bed reading the book of James (My grandfather’s name). She told me it was her favorite book because of the name it bears. My Granddaddy whom she loved dearly was named after the Lord’s half-brother James. She never got over my granddaddy’s death, and the lesson of suffering has stuck with me. I never told her but watching her struggle the last few years of her life was the greatest gift she gave me.
    My “mammy” was a stern woman that instilled in me reality that most children today miss out on. “Work wins” is the great lesson she taught me. Work wins you peace and prosperity at the end of the day. Peace knowing you did what you were supposed to do, and prosperity in that your hands provided for your mouth.
    Then there is my mother. She sowed the seeds of my faith in Jesus Christ in my life at young age. I am a preacher of God’s Word, husband, and Father, because she took me to church. I remember mom taking my brothers and I to church, reading her bible (I always like to hear the pages of her bible turn), and writing checks of $25.00 to the church (we were poor and I knew that was a lot of money to her). Come to think of it my family’s success financially may be in those little checks of faith. She was my biggest supporter when I started Bible College. She always helped me with any ministry event I ask her to be involved with. The greatest impact she made on me was loving my dad, not that he was unlovable, but that she was a biblical woman. She has always loved, supported, and submitted to my dad and all of us boys know it.
    And finally, the woman I met later in my life than any of the rest is my beautiful wife. She is a devout wife and mother. She loves her boys and spends herself everyday for the glory of God and sake of men, mostly for the 5 men that live with her, our 4 sons and me. She is special in every way and I love and respect her greatly. Tara is a treasure from God and I am glad to be her husband and have her as the mother of my 4 sons.
     
    These things are snapshots of what Mother’s Day means to me.
     
    More than a definition:
    I can describe the emotions, thoughts, and meaning of Mother’s Day, but we did not assemble just to do that. We have come to Embrace, Encourage, and Entice Mothers to do their God given calling with all their might. The message today is not limited to mothers alone, for it is the calling of every believer to influence others to follow Jesus.
     
    Meet Eunice:
    Eunice was the mother of Paul’s son in the faith, Timothy who influenced her son to trust God and was the wife of an unknown Greek man. She taught her son the faith she had from his earliest years of life instilling in him the seeds of truth that would turn into radical faith. Her great purpose in life was to invest in her son Timothy. What made Timothy a great man of God?
     
    His Mom was a Believer (Acts 16:1)
     
    Every believing mom is a great blessing to her children. Scripture mentions Timothy as a disciple and points quickly to his believing mother. Her believe was not without some difficulties at home. Her husband was not a believer and Timothy, although half Jewish had never been circumcised. Scripture states him as a Greek and later Paul would address Timothy as his son in the faith. It is very possible that Timothy’s father was dead by this time and Paul took on the role as a father figure. What we do know is Timothy’s belief in God was fashioned after his mother’s and for this the whole Christian world is thankful.
     
    His mom’s faith was unwavering (2nd Timothy 2:5)
     
    Timothy was solid in his faith. Hard circumstances had come that made others that followed Paul abandon him, but Timothy was still around and serving God and hearing Paul like a son hears a father. Paul accredits that to the unwavering faith of two prominent women in Timothy’s life. Again, it is no accident that Paul brings up mom and grandma. These women must have preserved obvious hardships that caught the attention of Paul and taught young Timothy how to act in hours of darkness. The secret they shared with Timothy is stay the course. Mom’s, whatever visible trouble you are going through, stay the course and serve God. Your children will reap the rewards of your efforts.
     
    His mom taught the Scriptures (2nd Timothy 3:15)
     
    Timothy’s training to be a great man of God began as a young boy. His mom did not know what he would be, but she know he would be great if he knew and acted on the wisdom from the scripture. Our children do not become great men and women over night. They become great people overtime spent in secret and public prayer, through memory verse at the kitchen table, bible truths while lying in bed, church services where God’s word is honored, and preserving the anxiety of life to keep the word in front of them when there is so much that can distract us from them. Phones, tablets, movies, sports, piano lessons, nor the boy scouts can make your child wise to salvation, but God’s word can. Are we teaching our kids to keep their eye on Jesus or eyes somewhere else? Hitting a ball, calling a play, doing a stunt, and being valedictorian of his or her class are things we want our children to experience, but nothing, hear me on this, nothing is more important than them hearing God’s word. Timothy did not get in the right stance to hit a ball when persecution came, he didn’t do the stunt he learned at cheerleading camp, he didn’t call out an audible from a high school football huddle, he didn’t right a thesis on the psychology of suffering, but he did cling to God’s word and it gave him direction, determination, and comfort. Read your children the scriptures at the youngest age possible.
     
    His mom allowed her labor pain to be her greatest joy (1st Timothy 2:15)- God destined motherhood to bring salvation to the world. The pain and suffering of child birth can leave a mother physically and emotionally scarred. There are women who many years after child birth battle depression and anxiety. There are others who have physical issues from a hard labor, especially in other countries where there is little medical treatment available. Mother’s have a chance to influence their children to redemption. They have primary influence over younger children and it would be a waste of all the pain and suffering to bring them into the world if labor is not put forth to save them from the world. Timothy’s mom was not an elder. She did not occupy some CEO role in the church and thank God she didn’t. Her time instead was focused on her son who became a great Christian and the letters written to him concerning his call still teach us today. Do not misplace your pain and suffering as a mother.
  • May 6, 2018The Gospel for Imperfect People: Marriage
    May 6, 2018
    The Gospel for Imperfect People: Marriage
    The Gospel for Imperfect People
    “Marriage”
    Genesis 2
    Genesis 3
     
    The Gospel from the Perfect Not for the Perfect

    I believe it is important to make two points and then read three statements from the Gospel authors.

    1. It is okay not to be okay. - There certainly are some holds in this statement but the idea is that Jesus died for those not okay therefore it is okay not to be okay. Jesus cannot be your Savior if you do not need salvation.
    2. The only thing you bring to the table of salvation is the sin you need to be saved from. - Each believer must totally depend on Jesus Christ to be made righteous before God. Jesus is the hope for all “not okay” people; therefore, it is only okay not be okay if you totally rely on Jesus.

    These two points lead us directly to the records of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Matthew, Mark, and Luke clarify as follows:
     
    Matthew 9:12-13
    Mark 2:17
    Luke 5:31
     
    Did you note that? Jesus came for the sick, broken, and unrighteous people. Why did He come for people like us? He did so to purchase us for God and cure us from sick, broken, unholy lives. I like what C.S. Lewis wrote about one of his obnoxious characters, Eustace, when he met Aslan, (the Jesus-like character in the Chronicles of Narnia) “It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that ‘from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.’ To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.” (The Chronicles of Narna Series: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). We are completely saved to Christ and this salvation here on Earth looks like a progressive sanctification.
     
    I say these things to begin our series on “The Gospel for Imperfect People” because I want our congregation to see that Jesus loves people and you do not have to meet a quota of “perfection” before you hear what Jesus has to say. Perfection is not a requirement for singing to God, repenting to God, praying, or reading the Bible. In fact, built into the Lord’s prayer is “forgive us” and “lead us not into temptation” meaning it is not a prayer for people that think themselves perfect. You do not have it all together, and neither do I, and that is why we are here. We are not here because we are the “haves” but because we are the “have not’s.” Our marriages, children, jobs, and lives are “have not perfection.” In Jesus we find sanctification, fulfillment, and direction. We are not here to blow our trumpet of “got it all togetherness,” but to worship God for His love toward broken people like us.
     
    Christian Marriages are not Christian Marriage Blog Posts

    The scripture we read starts with a perfect couple in a perfect place called Eden and ends in exile. Not even the perfect couple was perfect. Your marriage is blessed but it is not without some dark spots that weigh heavy on your heart. I have read blogs on marriages and while some are good, others reek of a better than the perfect Disney movie relationship. The wife sounds like the perfect well-dressed, house-in-order, work-out driven, church servant, supermom out of a dreamland and the husband is the suit-and-tie, kind, understanding, fighting against social injustice, patient, perfect dad. Couples like this do not go to this church, live in this town, or exist in the world we call “reality.” There are well-rounded Christian couples, but they did not get that way without trials and they do not stay that way without trials.
     
    What Christian Marriages need to Embrace in Order to be Sanctified:

    We have not come today to be less “perfect,” for sure, but we have come for the “better.” We have come to hear a better word, become better people, and take steps toward better marriages. We will do this by embracing the following truths about our marriages and then apply them from this point forward.
     
    I. The Atmosphere “We aren’t in Eden anymore” (2:21-25)

    a. Eden
     
    God created man and woman then placed them in the Garden of Eden. Eden was the perfect atmosphere for marriage. A man would perfectly leave father and mother and be attached to his wife perfectly. They would enjoy each other fully without stress. They would be naked and unashamed of their physical state. No beauty salons, tanning beds, make-up, clothing stores, gyms, or marriage counselors were needed in Eden. Eden was a place where all needs were met for the couple because they were in perfect harmony with God and each other.

    b. Exile (3:23-24)
     
    One day Eve made her way to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She was convinced it was food for thought, disobeyed God, and Adam followed along. Sin had now entered the Eden. Their marriage and relationship with God suffered a major blow.

    i. They were ashamed of their bodies before each other (3:7) - At this point they stood awkwardly before each other and blushing. Intimacy was attacked from that point forward.

    ii. They began a work not fit for the garden (3:7b) - The perfect place of fellowship between God and man was no longer a place of rest and enjoyment but of labor. Adam and Eve began to labor to be accepted by each other and God.

    iii. What was open now was closed (3:8) - An open relationship between God and man was now closed. Man looked at the trees of blessing and saw a use he never saw before, a hiding spot from God. It was not God hiding from man, but man hiding from God and God pursuing man in their sin. God still seeks man and man still attempts to hide from God. Today, bring your life and marriage out of hiding and come to Jesus.

    iv. Fear (3:10) - Adam was afraid before God because he had become ashamed of himself. Adam had a sense he was alienated from God and that God was displeased. He was right.

    v. Blame (3:12-13) - Eve had never heard Adam blame her before. I am sure that stuck with Eve the rest of her long life. Eve took a page out of Adam’s playbook and blamed the serpent.

    vi. Judgment (3:16-24)- A harsh environment, harsh childbirth, exile from the perfect atmosphere, and death was the reward of Adam and Eve’s sin. Verse 16 points toward the conflict within marriage. The woman will fail to be submissive and the man will fail to lead with complete compassion.
     
    What this Means for our Marriages:

    We are not in Eden and the circumstances surrounding our marriages are difficult. We live in a sin-cursed world and should not expect life without conflict. The atmosphere we came together in is beyond our control. Trust God and expect life’s atmosphere to present difficult challenges.
     
    Do you hold onto each other in an environment that is rough? Do you prize God above all circumstances in your marriage?
     
     
    II. The Anatomy: “We are sinners married to each other” (3:11-12)
     
    The atmosphere in which we are married is beyond our control. The world is sin cursed and all the harsh things that come along with sin weigh on our marriages, but that is not the only obstacle we are up against. We are sinners married to sinners. I recently challenged our youth to make a list of what they wanted in a spouse. When we were finished talking about what each looked for in a spouse they had nobly described Jesus. Each student wanted their future spouse to be perfect. I reminded them that wanting a spouse like Jesus is great, but their spouse won’t be Jesus and neither will they. We demonstrate love to one another in marriage when we overlook shortcomings and hold our spouse in honor. Adam and Eve taught us something about being sinners married to sinners.

    a. Stay Together
     
    Adam and Eve stayed together. With all the judgment and failure upon them they stayed together. They shared life and intimacy and held to each other in the hardest times of life. Jesus taught that God placed man and wife together for life. There are few exceptions where man and wife should part from one another. The preferred resolution for marital conflict is to forgive and forbear one another.

    b. Serve God
     
    Adam and Eve proved imperfect people in an imperfect world can still serve God. They left Eden together and they stayed together. Two imperfect people in an imperfect world destined for their fallen marriage to be the ground from which redemption would grow. Do you ever argue with your spouse before church? Do you ever push your spouse’s buttons before you do a service for the church together? Do you ever show up to church or some other social event feeling guilt ridden for acting like a child in your marriage? I encourage you today never view your God-given marriage as obsolete. The first couple messed up big time and yet, they still served God in His great plan to redeem the world. You and your spouse do the same this morning.
     
    Will you serve God in your marriage no matter how low and dark it seems at times?
     
     
    III. The Answer “God is willing and Faithful” (Genesis 3:15)
     
    Often the work of God seems to get overshadowed when rehearsing the Eden exile in scripture. It seems God gets viewed as the Judge that did the exiling and we overlook that He is the God who, knowing Adam’s sin, went to the Garden to search for Him. We also forget that God presiding over the first trial found all parties guilty yet amid the sentencing looked at Eve and promised her she would give birth to the Messiah and told Satan that Eve’s son would crush his snake’s skull. The entire gospel narrative unfolds around this promise. God was willing in the Garden of Eden to save man and He has been faithful to fulfill that promise to Adam and Eve. He has formed and destroyed nations, set up and thrown down kings, sent prophets to remind His people He had not forgotten them and would save them, exiled His chosen people, sent His Son to die the death of the cross, and empowered the church with His message all to keep one promise! Today you can be sure that God is willing and faithful in His promises to you. Adam and Eve’s marriage, tattered to the point of near brokenness, found hope in who God was. Your marriage can grow and flourish on the promise of who God is. God alone is the answer for your marriage. He alone is the centerpiece that holds together fellowship between husband and wife. Our good life together is not found holding each other, but God holding us! Today trust in Jesus as the Savior of your marriage. Embrace the perfect God in your imperfections and know that His message of hope, love, forgiveness, and purpose is directly mailed to the addresses of imperfect people like us!
     
    Will you pray with your spouse and family this morning, thanking God for His sure promises, faithfulness to keep them, and His love for imperfect people?