Chardon church of Christ

Sermons from the Chardon church of Christ

Father’s Day

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Father’s Day – Joseph As An Example
Matthew 1:18-25

Someone noticed that the word "father" appears in the dictionary ... just before the word ... "fatigued" ...and just after the word ... "fathead."
So, ... to all us fatigued, ... fathead fathers, ......Happy Father's Day!
One night a wife found her husband standing over their newborn baby’s crib. Silently she watched him. As he stood looking down at the sleeping infant, she saw on his face a mixture of emotions: disbelief, doubt, delight, amazement, enchantment, skepticism. He would stand back, shake his head and say, "Amazing," while smiling from ear to ear.
Touched by his unusual display and the deep emotions it aroused, her eyes glistened as she slipped her arms around him. "A penny for your thoughts," she whispered in his ear.
"Isn’t it amazing!" he replied. "When you take the time and really look close, how can anyone make a crib like that for only $95.99!"

ILL.- Someone wrote a list of words that most dads have said at some time or another to their children.
- This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.
- Quiet. I’m watching the ball game.
- Bring back all the change.
- How should I know? Ask your mother.
- I’m not made out of money!
- When I was your age I walked 5 miles to and from school each day and it was uphill both ways.
- You are going and you will have fun!
- If you break your leg don’t come running to me.
- Get down before you hurt yourself. On second thought, go ahead.
- Be quiet! Can’t you see I’m trying to think!
- Why? Because I said so!
- You better get that junk picked up before your mother comes in here.
- Just wait till you have kids of your own.
- I was not asleep. I was just resting my eyes.
Brethren, I suppose we who are fathers could probably add a couple of quotes to this list.
Being a parent and a father can be an interesting and trying experience.

Today is known as Father's Day, & the honor of this special day began back in 1910 in Spokane, WA. Necktie & shirt manufacturers have rejoiced ever since.
ILL. Then a few years later, a group in Wilkinsburg, PA, declared the dandelion the official Father's Day flower because, they said, "The more it is trampled on, the better it grows."
ILL. Something that Erma Bombeck wrote seems to express the sentiments of Father's Day better than most. Here is an excerpt:
"When I was a little girl, a father was like the light in the refrigerator every house had one, but no one really knew what either one of them did once the door was shut.
"My dad left the house every morning & always seemed glad to see everyone again at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement alone.
"He kept busy enough. He set mousetraps. He oiled my roller skates & they went faster. When I got my bike he ran along side me for at least a thousand miles until I got the hang of it. He signed all my report cards. He took a lot of pictures, but was never in them.
"I was afraid of everyone else's father, but not my own. Once I made him some tea. It was only sugar water, but he sat in a small chair & said that it was delicious. He looked very uncomfortable.
"Whenever I played house the mother doll had a lot to do. But I never knew what to do with the father doll, so I had him say, 'I'm going off to work now,' & threw him under the bed.
Today we are taking the father doll out from under the bed, & honoring the dandelions & refrigerator lights of society.
PROP. And in doing that, we want to talk about a step-dad who was given the tremendous responsibility of raising God's Son. His name was Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
So go with me back in time as we consider his commitment, his concern, & his faithfulness.
Text  Matthew 1: 18 – 25
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

I. JOSEPH WAS COMMITTED
The first part of Joseph's story is one of commitment & happy expectations. Matthew 1:18 begins with these words, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. . . ."

A. Now we need to understand that a Jewish marriage consisted of 3 stages. The first stage is the engagement. Usually that was arranged by their parents. Parents would arrange the engagement without the young people even being involved.
ILL. One example of that in the O.T. was when Abraham sent his servant back to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant found Rebekah & brought her back. Isaac had never seen her before. Then she became his wife.

B. The second stage of a Jewish marriage was the betrothal. During this time the young couple agreed to the marriage, the groom signed a document declaring his responsibilities to her, & they were considered "husband & wife." But they didn't live together yet.
Betrothal usually lasted about one year. It was a time for the groom to prepare the place where they would live. It was a time of building a relationship, of coming to know one another, of planning & dreaming & happy expectations.
However, all of this suddenly ended in shock & disappointment for Joseph for vs. 18 goes on to say, "But before they came together, she was found to be with child..."
The Bible doesn't tell us when Joseph was told, or who told him. Maybe Mary told him. Maybe she said something like, "Joseph, I have the most wonderful news. I'm going to have a baby, & not just any baby. This is the Messiah, the one our people have been waiting for & praying about for so many years. An angel told me."
"I asked the angel, ‘How can this possibly be because I have never slept with a man?’ The angel told me, ‘That which is conceived in you is of the Holy Spirit.’ "It's a miracle, Joseph. Isn't it wonderful? Aren't you happy?"
But Joseph wasn't happy. How could he believe such a story? And Joseph must have felt that Mary had betrayed him. But notice, even in this stage of his disappointment, Joseph still loved Mary.
Matthew 1:19 says, "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly."
The law said that Joseph could have taken her to the city gate & the people there would have taken rocks & stoned her to death. Then Joseph's name would have been cleansed & his reputation restored.
But Joseph decided not to do that. He decided not to disgrace her, but rather to divorce her quietly so that she could start her life over again. And he could start his life over again as well.
That is when the angel appeared to him in a dream, telling Joseph what had happened that the Holy Spirit had caused Mary to conceive a child that would be God's only Son. And God had a request of Joseph. Would Joseph be a father a step-dad? Would Joseph raise God's Son?
Joseph had to decide. He had to make a commitment about a child who didn't belong to him. He had to make a commitment to a marriage that would be held up to scorn & gossip. But Joseph said that he would. So Joseph took Mary to be his wife.
ILL. Barbara Herrenrich wrote a book in which she said, "Yesterday's man was a husband & a father & the family breadwinner. Today's man is a conspicuous consumer & is proficient at dodging commitment."

C. But Joseph didn't dodge his commitment. He accepted the responsibility that God asked him to take. It was Joseph who put his wife on the donkey & began the long trip to Bethlehem. It was Joseph who found a place in which Mary could give birth.
It was Joseph who helped her through birth. It was Joseph who first saw the Son of God, & then held in his hands God's only Son.
Joseph had made a commitment. But he didn't realize what all that commitment entailed. He didn't realize that he would have to serve as a midwife, to help deliver God's only Son.
But he had promised. He didn't dodge his commitment. He kept his word.
APPL. Every so often we have the privilege of seeing parents and their family attend services at our congregation. We challenge them to be faithful Christian parents & examples to their family.
We pray for them, asking God to help them raise their children in the love & nurture of the Lord. We do this because we are concerned about them & their family.

II. JOSEPH WAS CONCERNED

A. Joseph was also concerned. He was used to living in Nazareth, but now he was in Bethlehem. Somehow he had to support his wife & child.
So here was Joseph in Bethlehem trying to get carpentry work, concerned about being able to provide for God's Son & to take care of Him.
Jesus was less than two years old when wise men from the east came & brought exotic gifts. Then Joseph is warned to flee from Herod's murderous intent to kill Jesus. So Joseph uproots his family & flees to Egypt. Later, he uproots them again & takes them to Nazareth.

B. As you know, Mary & Joseph had several children after that. And every year, along with many others from Nazareth, they would take their family to Jerusalem for the Passover Feast.
So we can understand what happened when Jesus was twelve. They worshiped in Jerusalem as they always did, & then began their journey home once again. That evening, as all of those who were traveling together stopped to rest for the night, Joseph may have asked Mary, "Where is Jesus?"
Mary answers, "I thought He was with you." "No," Joseph says, "He isn't with me. Where is He?" They frantically searched through the whole company, but Jesus was nowhere to be found.

C. They rushed back to Jerusalem & began looking up & down the streets. But they can't find him anywhere. Finally, they go to the temple & they notice a meeting taking place. Sadducees & Pharisees are sitting around nodding their bearded heads & looking intently at the speaker.
And who is the speaker? Jesus, a 12 year old boy. "And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (Luke 2:48)
And Jesus says something that Joseph would never forget, How is it that ye sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49)
SUM. Joseph realized that Jesus had just one mother, but two fathers. And it was Joseph's responsibility to turn loose of Him & let Jesus be about what God had sent Him to do. God had given him Jesus on loan. He was a steward, a manager, to help Jesus develop & grow.

III. JOSEPH WAS FAITHFUL

A. So Joseph probably made some decisions on that long road back to Nazareth. He would do the very best he could to help Jesus be about His Father's business to help Jesus be the person God wanted Him to be.
But Joseph's problem was that he was just a carpenter. "Tekton" is the Greek word that is used, a "carpenter."
ILL. It is said that in ancient days a "tekton" was a man who probably had just two chisels, a hammer, a saw, & a square. But with just those few tools he could make a chair or a table, a bridge or a house.
He wasn't just a workman, he was a craftsman, a carpenter.
It is obvious that Joseph had an impact on Jesus. In Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, He talked about a fellow who had some sawdust in his eye. He talked about two men, two carpenters, who built houses. One was wise & one foolish.
Toward the end of Jesus' ministry, when He was trying to communicate to the disciples the importance of finishing what you start, He told of a man who wanted to build a tower, but who first went out & got all of the materials to make sure he could finish what he started.

B. Joseph didn't teach Jesus about nobility. He didn't teach Him about speech making. But by his example he taught Him to "finish what you start," & how to handle disgruntled customers.
He taught Him to pay His bills. He taught Him to treat His mother with respect. He taught Him to take care of His younger brothers & sisters.
Joseph didn't know that sometime before the beginning of Jesus' ministry that God would call him home & leave his family fatherless. And that the boy he trained, the boy he worked with, sawed lumber with, chiseled wood with, would take his place & become a leader to His younger brothers & sisters.
Joseph had no idea that the work that God had called His Son to do was the work of a carpenter & that when Jesus was 33 years old He would construct a bridge that would span eternity.
Joseph had no idea that one day a carpenter's product, a wooden cross, would be the greatest monument that this world has ever known.
All Joseph did was to be a step-dad to Jesus. All Joseph did was to keep the commitment he'd made to God. All Joseph did was to take a few tools & help mold Jesus, the Son of God.
ILL. I came across an interesting poem this last week. It is titled: "A Father’s Love" Please listen as I read it to you.
We hear about a mother’s love
In story & in song,
How staunch it is through trial & storm,
How tender & strong,
How sweet and pure & beautiful;
And every word is true.
But what about a father’s love?
That claims some notice, too.
A father delves the deepest mine
And climbs the girders high
He swings upon the scaffolding
Between the earth & sky.
It’s father who bends his aching back
And bows his graying head
To bear the burdens of the day
And earn the children’s bread.
For both must work & both must plant
And do an equal share
To rear the little ones the Lord
Has entrusted to their care.
All honor to the mother’s love;
The universe it fills.
But when you praise it, don’t forget
That father pays the bills.

CONCLUSION: So to all of you dandelions, to all of you refrigerator lights, to all of you father dolls that have been thrown under the bed, this is your day.
You might feel inadequate for the task that God has called you to do. But just like Joseph you must make a commitment. Like Joseph you must be concerned, not just for the physical well-being of your family, but for their spiritual well-being too.
And you must understand that you are a steward, a manager, & God has given you just a little while with your children. You must devote yourself to do your best in the job that God has called you to do.

This morning there may be some of you who have never known God as your Father, & have never known that God has the same commitment & concern for you that Joseph had for Jesus.
Regardless of whether you are a father or a mother, or whoever you are, we ask you to make a decision this morning, to make a commitment, to give your heart & life & soul to the King of Kings & the Lord of Lords. We invite you to make your life count for Him. You have the opportunity to do that as we stand & sing?
INVITATION

What Will You Do With Jesus?

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

What Will You Do With Jesus?
Acts 28:17-20

INTRO: Good morning. We are reaching the end of our Study of the Books of Acts. There is so much in this book to strengthen and encourage us in our faith. As we have studied this book we have been challenged to live better lives for Christ and have been inspired to keep on—keeping on. It’s been a long journey but one which I hope and pray has been worth it.

Our lives are also a journey, some long and some short. I’m reminded of an old story told by an English preacher;

A young man was walking along a country road. Along came a farmer driving a wagon.
Without asking permission, the young man jumped up on the wagon and said, "I'm going to ride along with you to London."

The farmer just looked at him and said nothing. They rode on for perhaps ten miles. The young man began to feel uneasy. He turned to the farmer and said, "I say, how much farther is it to London?"

The farmer replied, "If you keep on the way we are going, it is about 520 miles, but if you want to get off and walk back the other way, it is about sixteen miles—six miles from where you jumped on."

Sometimes in life we just jump on for a ride without really finding out where the ride is going to take us. God has a ride mapped out for us already as long as we follow His divine will. Like the apostle Paul we need to always make sure we’re heading in the right direction. Check the map, and see if we are on course.

I. Now let us conclude our look at Acts. Remember that we left Paul at the port of Puteoli where he found some brethren and stayed with them for seven days. He journeyed on and he finally reached Rome. He was overwhelmed with thankfulness and encouraged to keep going when some brethren traveled many miles to greet him.

A. This was a great moment for Paul and for the saints in Rome and so we continue with Luke’s account to Theophilus in Acts 28:17-20 – “17. And it came to pass after three days that Paul called the leaders of the Jews together. So when they had come together, he said to them: "Men and brethren, though I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans, 18. "who, when they had examined me, wanted to let me go, because there was no cause for putting me to death. 19. "But when the Jews spoke against it, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar, not that I had anything of which to accuse my nation. 20. "For this reason therefore I have called for you, to see you and speak with you, because for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain.''”
B. After three days in Rome, Paul called for the leaders of the Jews. As Paul always did, he addressed himself "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16).

1. He explained to them that he was in Rome because of charges brought against him by their brethren in Jerusalem. He told them that the authorities had wanted to release him, but he had to appeal to Caesar because the Jews were opposed to Paul being at liberty. Paul's forbearance here is notable, in that he made no mention of the repeated attempts against his life, aided and abetted by the high priest himself.
2. This passage sheds additional light on what happened under Festus. It was the protest of the Jews that led Festus to withhold from Paul the liberty which he could have had.

C. Paul says the reason I’m in chains today is because I’m a Christian. He is someone who whole heartedly follows Christ because he knows and fully understands that Jesus Christ was and is the true fulfillment of Israel's hope. By this, Paul meant that the Christian faith was the true fulfillment of the hope of God's people. Throughout his speeches and epistles, Paul always insisted upon the identity of the New Covenant with all that had been prophesied and typified in the Old.

II. Do we have that kind of conviction? Do we believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah who was the true fulfillment of Israel’s hope? We have read of one woman who truly believed that, and she is found in John 4.

A. In a discussion with Jesus about worship, the Samaritan women says in John 4:25 – “ "I know that Messiah is coming'' (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will tell us all things.''”

1. What a priceless jewel of faith lay at the bottom of this poor beleaguered woman's heart. All the sins and mistakes of her life had not erased her knowledge of the essential truth that Christ would come into the world and teach men all they need to know to obtain salvation.
2. Look at Jesus’ response to this claim in verse 26 “Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He.''” Scholars say that the Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch which is Genesis through Deuteronomy as Scripture, yet they anticipated the Messiah confidently.

B. In the Temple court, Peter preached in Acts 3:22-24 “22. "For Moses truly said to the fathers, `The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23. `And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' 24. "Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.”

1. Quoting from Deuteronomy 18:15 ff Peter makes his statement clear. Jesus was the promised Messiah.
2. All the way through the Old Testament there are many prophecies concerning this coming Messiah.

C. The Jews and the Samaritans were waiting on the arrival of the Christ.

1. In Luke 2:25 we find that Simeon was “… waiting for the Consolation of Israel,…”.
2. In Luke 2:38 we find that Anna spoke of Him to “… all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem… ”.
3. Andrew announced to Peter, “… We have found the Messiah'' (which is translated, the Christ).” in John 1:41.
4. In John 1:45 we find Philip bringing Nathanael to Jesus, saying, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

D. Even the enemies of Jesus recognized the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

1. In Matthew 2:4-6 we find Herod calling the Scribes, the copiers of the Old Testament manuscripts, to inquire “… where the Christ was to be born.”
2. When disputing the belief of some in Jesus as the Christ, the Jews affirmed, in John 7:42 “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”
3. While being tried, the high priest asked the Lord, in Matthew 26:63 “I adjure You by the living God that You tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Look at Jesus’ response in verse 64, “It is as you said.”

E. You see, there was a reason that the Samaritan woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming”. The reason is found in the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ. This was well known.

1. No wonder the apostle Paul asked King Agrippa in Acts 26:27 “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
2. The question you really need to answer is; Do you really believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Because the evidence is indisputable.
3. The Old Testament predicted the events. Christ came and fulfilled them.

III. Folks, believing that Jesus is the Christ and yet doing nothing with that belief, are two different things. For those who are not Christians, they need to ask themselves the same question which Pilate asked the mob in Matthew 27:22 “… "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?...”

A. In the Tabernacle Holy of Holies, the light of God's glory was present between the cherubim, telling Israel that God was in her midst. The mercy seat was the place appointed where God met once a year the blood of the sacrifice of atonement.

1. The blood of atonement was sprinkled there. Atonement, it was not an appeasement. God does not have to be appeased.
2. He is merciful, compassionate, and full of loving kindness, but He will not hold man guiltless without an atonement.
3. When the blood was sprinkled, there was satisfaction. Sin was rolled forward. The offering for sin was made.

B. That was the Old Testament, but now the One whose blood was made an offering for sin is Jesus, the Messiah, the Christ.

1. He is the Mercy Seat where the justice of God and the satisfying sacrifice bring peace to all who believe.
2. We don’t want anyone to leave here today making the same mistake that many other people do, and that is to reject Him. We don’t want anyone leaving here today saying that ‘no one ever told me that Jesus was the Messiah’.

C. Have you ever talked to someone about something that has happened, but they didn’t know anything about it? You thought they would have known something about it because it concerned them, but they hadn’t heard anything.

IV. In a way that’s what Luke goes on and shares with us next. Listen to their reaction to Paul’s words. Acts 28:21-22 – “ And they said to him, "We neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren who came reported or spoken any evil of you. "But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.''”

A. It seems from our text that the leaders of the Jews in Rome knew nothing of the charges against Paul and reported that no word had come from Jerusalem.

1. Since Paul’s accusers were Jews and the people he is speaking to here are Jews, you would think that such a serious charge against Paul would be known by most Jews.
2. If that happened today, with our modern version of the grapevine, social media, people the world over would be saying. ‘Hey, you know that guy Saul who became a follower of Christ, man he’s such a troublemaker, he stirred up a rebellion amongst the Jews in Jerusalem, he is the main ringleader of the Nazarene party among the Jews, and hey, if you think that was bad, he even defiled the temple by bringing Gentiles in there and spoke against our forefather’s teachings.’

B. They hadn’t heard anything bad about Paul. In fact, they were more interested in hearing more about this Christianity which everyone, everywhere is speaking against.

V. Paul after a while arranges to do just that. Now I say this tongue in cheek, but if someone were to think that listening to a sermon for thirty or forty minutes is long, they really should count their blessings. We are now Acts 28:23-24 – “ So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening. And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.”

A. On the appointed day, a large group returned, and Paul preached all day using Moses and the prophets to testify concerning God's kingdom. We see over and over again as we study that we can’t just use the New Testament and leave out the Old Testament.

1. In teaching a person willing to study, the preacher took him straight to the Old Testament and to the Book of Genesis to show him how sin had separated mankind from God. After discussing a few others passages in the Old Testament, he smiled at the preacher at the end of the study and said, ‘someone once told me that the church of Christ doesn’t believe in the Old Testament, I now know that is simply not true.’
2. Romans 15:4 - “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
3. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
4. The apostle Paul used the Old Testament to convince the Jews and Gentiles that Jesus was the Messiah. We should be doing the same thing.
5. By the way notice we read; “he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them” I think it would be a mistake to suppose this took the form of a monologue and I suspect the debate must have been keen and impassioned.

B. As we have seen so often the group was divided as to whether to believe Paul or not. This always occurs when the gospel is preached: people are polarized with reference to it, some believing, some not believing (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).

VI. At this point Paul has one more statement to make, again using the Old Testament as his proof. Now at Acts 28:25-27 – “25. So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: "The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers, 26. "saying, `Go to this people and say: "Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive; 27. For the heart of this people has grown dull. their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them.'' '”

A. Paul quoted from Isaiah 6:9-10 why? To show that their rejection to the gospel had been foretold by the Holy Spirit. This same passage was applied to Israel by Christ, as affirmed in all four gospels (Matthew 13:13-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10; and John 12:37-41). The reason for its being repeated here is because the same blindness that closed the hearts of Israel to the Christ was still operative in closing their hearts against the gospel.
B. This is still a major problem for many people today. They hear of the Bible, they even read and listen to the Bible but they fail to understand it. They see Christians coming together every week and living their lives fully devoted to God but they can not perceive of having that commitment.

1. Why don’t they understand? Why can’t they perceive? Simply because their hearts have become hardened. They have ears but they only hear what they want to hear. They have eyes but they don’t use them to see truth. The cares of this world are too important to them and they take the easy way.
2. Isaiah says, ‘listen, open your hearts, listen to what God is saying to you, open your eyes and see the truth’.
3. In other words, leave your own ideas behind, forget about what the world says and turn to Jesus in repentance, and He will heal you from the disease of sin.

VII. There is good news. Paul says in Acts 28:28 – “Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!” Paul tells them that salvation would be taken to the Gentiles and they will listen. What about us today, are we listening?

A. A visitor approached a preacher after listening to his sermon on the necessity of receiving Christ as his Savior. The man said he thought that Christianity should limit itself in presenting Christ as our example whom we should follow.

The preacher turned to the visitor and said, "If I were to preach Christ as our example, would you follow His example?" "Why not?" was the flippant answer. The preacher said, "Okay, let us think of some of the things that Jesus did and did not do. One of the things that is said of Him is that He did not sin. Can you take that step and follow His example in doing no sin?" "No, I must be very honest about myself, I do sin said the man."

The preacher then answered: "It is impossible then to follow Jesus unless you first make Him your Savior. It is He who must live in you so that you can say 'For me to live is Christ.'"

1. Jesus Christ came into the world not only to set an example for us, but to become our Savior. It is only when we receive Him as our Savior that we are able to follow Him as our example because He dwells in us.
2. The only reason the offer to have Jesus as your personal Savior is still an offer today is because Jesus hasn’t given up on you. God loves us. 2 Peter 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
3. Do any of us really think that God wants people to perish and spend eternity in hell? God is patient with you. He doesn’t want you or anyone to be condemned to hell. He is waiting patiently for you to turn and be healed spiritually.

B. Please don’t ever think though that Jesus is not going to return for Judgment Day until you repent. Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:10 – “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…”

1. It’s not a question of ‘if’ Jesus is coming back, it will happen. Scripture is clear on that. It’s a question of ‘are you ready’ before He comes back.
2. He’s not going to come back and say, ‘hi, I understand you’ve struggled to believe in me ever since the creation of the world. I’m going to give you another few thousands years to believe.’
3. No! When Jesus comes back, that’s it. If you haven’t believed and obeyed His commands before that happens you’re in trouble.

C. Listen to those familiar words Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23 – “21. "Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22. "Many will say to Me in that day, `Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23. "And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; Why didn’t Jesus know them? They were prophesying in Jesus Name, they drove out demons in His Name, they performed miracles in His Name. Why then didn’t Jesus know them?

1. Because of what He said in verse 21, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
2. Look at what Jesus said following on in Matthew 7:24-27 – “24. "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25. "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26. "Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27. "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.''”
3. Being a Christian is more than just coming to Jesus, it’s more than just hearing His words. It’s about obeying His words and practicing what Jesus preached.

CONCLUSION:
We are now at the conclusion of acts. Paul is finished speaking with the Jews, but he is far from finished when it comes to preaching the gospel. Acts 28:29-31 – “29. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves. 30. Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31. preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”

Paul spent two years in his own rented house where he received guests and taught many people concerning the kingdom of God. He spoke boldly and no one forbid him to continue.

He finally made it to Rome and his ambition to preach the gospel in the greatest city then known to mankind was fulfilled, thanks to the grace of God.

This concludes our look at the Book of Acts starting with the first sermon called, ‘It’s all about Jesus’. There is much more of course. The Book of Acts, Luke’s report to Theophilus, begins and ends with Luke writing about Jesus. The question is for each of us; What are you going to do with Jesus, the Messiah?
____________________________________________________________________________________

We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

# ???
Taken from sermon by Mike Glover

Seeing the Handwriting on The Wall

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

SEEING THE HANDWRITING ON THE WALL
Daniel 5: 2 – 30

On a balmy Saturday morning in January, an alert warning of nuclear doom was erroneously sent to millions of people across the state of Hawaii.

"BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL."

Those were the words that flashed on cell phones and televisions screens across the state, the result of a mistake by an employee of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency who selected the wrong option in a text-based dropdown menu.

Though the agency eventually issued a correction,
residents and tourists,
as well as Hawaiian natives tracking the impending disaster on the mainland, in real-time on social media,
criticized the government for taking 38 minutes to issue the retraction.

In 1883, the greatest volcanic explosion in modern history took place. Krakatoa, a volcano in Indonesia, exploded and shot 6 cubic miles of debris 24 miles up into the stratosphere.
Its shock wave traveled around the world 7 times, and its debris fell more than 2000 miles away.

The official death toll – over 90,000 people. The sky was so blackened from the clouds of debris that the sun was blocked from the sky for the next 24 hours …as far away as New England.

At the time of Krakatoa’s explosion, the Captain of a nearby British sailing ship wrote these words in his log:

“I am writing this blind in pitch darkness. We are under continual rain of pumice-stone and dust.
The explosions are so violent that the ear-drums of over half my crew have been shattered.... I am convinced that the Day of Judgment has come.”

How many of you had a chance to see the Solar Eclipse that occurred 5 years ago on August of 2017.

My daughter Megan said that where they were at the solar eclipse made the sky so dark that they could see the stars in the sky and the temperature dropped 25 degrees during the eclipse.

The Eclipse had a lot of people excited and partying...

Someone noted immediately following the events of the solar eclipse that “The festive nature regarding the eclipse brings to my mind the Babylonian King Belshazzar who threw a drunken feast the night the Medes and Persians crept under the city gate.”

It seems that these folks were seeing the eclipse as being “the handwriting on the wall”.

Eclipses are NOT rare...
but hands writing stuff on the wall – that’s pretty rare.

Let’s consider a little background for our text today.
Babylon was a wealthy kingdom and the city was considered insurmountable to attack.

Greek historian “He-row-do-tus” claimed that "Babylon surpassed in wonder any city in the known world" and he specifically praised the walls which he said were 56 miles long,
80 feet thick, and 320 feet high.
There was no way that any foreign power was going to take their city.

But in the days of king Belshazzar.
Babylon was being threatened from the Empire of the Medes and Persians and war was constantly on the borders. And, that enemy was marching toward Babylon itself.

But Belshazzar was convinced that Babylon WOULD NOT fall to these enemies. Belshazzar’s army was too mighty, his walls too imposing, and his nation had dominated this region for nearly 100 years. It was just not going to happen!!!

In fact, Belshazzar was SO convinced that there was no power that could stand against his nation’s might… that he throws a party.
“King Belshazzar made a great feast for a thousand of his lords and drank wine in front of the thousand.

Belshazzar, when he tasted the wine, commanded that the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken out of the temple in Jerusalem be brought, so that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.

In Daniel 5:1-4 we read : “Then they brought in the golden vessels that had been taken out of the temple, the house of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. They drank wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.”

Notice – the King was holding a feast to honor “the gods of silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone”. But he didn’t take THEIR vessels to party with. Noooo. Instead, he deliberately calls for the vessels of gold and silver that came from the Temple of Jerusalem.

Now, why would he do that???
Well, apparently he did it DELIBERATELY. When Daniel appeared before Belshazzar he tells us what was going on:

Daniel 5:18-22
“O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty.
And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him.

Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled.

But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him.

He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys.
He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.

And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this.”

What was Daniel saying?

He was saying that Belshazzar had deliberately mocked the God of Israel because he was ashamed of his father.
He knew all the stories - he knew how Nebuchadnezzar had been bought low by Israel’s God... and he was embarrassed by it.

So now – faced with an impending attack by an enemy army - Belshazzar is making an open declaration that he not only rejects any threat by the Medes and the Persians
but he ALSO rejects the supposed power of Daniel’s God.

Belshazzar is going to prove that he’s too powerful to be intimidated by some foreign God.

He doesn’t want to bow down to a God that says he has to change his life –
to a God who says he has to be humble rather than proud.

Because that is the constant message of this God of Israel.
The Bible tells us in James 4:6 "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

You know... that’s why a lot of people reject God. They don’t want God to be in charge of their lives, and they don’t really want to change their lives all that much.

George Orwell once observed: "On the whole… human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."

And that’s what many in this world want. They don’t want to change. They want God to stay OVER THERE. They don’t want His morality. They don’t want Him to be in control. THEY want to be in control

And after a while God says FINE.
You want me off your back,
you want me out of your life,
you don’t want me controlling your life –
we can do that.

But there’s a price to be paid. And the price is that you will be storing up wrath for the day of the judgment.

Romans 2:5 says “... because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

And that’s pretty much what happened with Belshazzar.

Daniel tells him in verses 24 – 28 “Then from God’s presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed.
And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the matter: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Now, I’m not going to go into great detail on what those words meant. (One, because I CAN’T). 😊
All we need to know is that Belshazzar rejected God and God was sending a message:

Belshazzar had been weighed in the balances and was found wanting, his kingdom was brought to an end,
and his kingdom was to be divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
The wrath of God had descended upon Babylon.

That very night in 539 BC the Medes and Persians conquered the city. They didn’t have to break down the mighty walls of Babylon. Instead they simply diverted the Euphrates river that flowed under the walls and walked into the city on the riverbed.
And verse 30 tells us “That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.”

The point is...
there comes a time when God’s patience runs out.

C.S. Lewis once observed: “There are two kinds of people:
Those who say to God: ‘Thy will be done,’
And those to whom God says: ‘All right, then - have it your way’”
You REALLY don’t want to be part of that 2nd group.

Back in the 1800’s Knowles Shaw wrote a hymn about this story
“See the brave captive Daniel, as he stood before the throng,
And rebuked the haughty monarch for his mighty deeds of wrong;
As he read out the writing, 'twas the doom of one and all,
For the kingdom now was finished - said the hand upon the wall.

So our deeds are recorded, there's a Hand that's writing now;
Sinner, give yourself to Jesus, and before His cross to bow;
For the day is fast approaching, it must come to one and all,
When the sinner's condemnation will be written on the wall.”

But now wait a minute!!!
I thought God was a God of forgiveness and mercy.
Isn’t God a God of forgiveness and mercy?
Of course He is!!!

2 Peter 3:9 tells us “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

But the fact of the matter is... there will come a time when people WILL perish. And they’ll perish because they just gave lip service to God. They saw the handwriting on the wall and they squirmed. They sensed the pain of impending judgment and they were sorrowful. But when it came right down to listening to God and what he expects from us... they didn’t really want to change

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”

Belshazzar reflected a “worldly grief”. We’re told that when the hand writes a mysterious message on the wall and he is frightened. Daniel 5:6 says
“Then the king’s color changed, and his thoughts alarmed him; his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together”

But then the oddest thing takes place. As soon as Daniel interprets the message it seems that Belshazzar goes back into his “party mode”.

Verse 29 tells us that As soon as Daniel tells the King that his Kingdom is about to be destroyed “Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.”

What’s going on here? Why this big shift in attitude?
Well the King is trying to buy God off. He’s thinking
“If I reward this servant of God - if I clothe him in purple and give him a fancy gold necklace and say nice things about him –
maybe God will realize I’m not such a bad guy after all.

Essentially Belshazzar was trying to appease God with trinkets. He had no intention of changing his lifestyle or humbling himself to God. He just wanted to pay the bill, leave a tip, and then move on with his life.

It was the same way when Krakatoa ... which we mentioned in the beginning of the sermon ... exploded. The skies were so dark in New England that people believed it was the end of the world. According to one source “At the very start, people began to gather in small groups to question what was happening.

Slowly, people began to make their way to the Churches. They say that by twelve noon every Church in New England was filled to overflowing with people on their knees crying out to God. There were cries for mercy, people begging for forgiveness and others confessing their sins. The Churches were full late into the night”.

But, the next day when the sun rose again in the sky...
the churches weren’t nearly as full. Many people no longer went to their knees in repentance and confession. Things “got back to normal” because now ...without the threat of impending doom... they could go back to the idea that God wasn’t that important anymore. God was “OVER THERE” and they were “OVER HERE”.

But those who did that didn’t seem to realize that they were still under judgment.

I once overheard a sales lady talking on the phone trying to recruit an “in home rep” for her business. And as I was eavesdropping on the conversation something clicked for me.
So I began to write down the questions she asked the prospective rep:
• Are you in this for fun?
• OR are you in this to make some REAL money?
• What would you have to make to be happy?
• (And) How many hours a week would you be committed to the business?

Now we’ve all heard that kind of spiel dozens of times before. Essentially she was asking the recruit –
"How much is this worth to you?
Does it matter to you?"

And that’s EXACTLY what God constantly asks us:
how much is this relationship with me worth to you?
Are you just here to play at Christianity or are you really serious about wanting to spend eternity with Me in heaven?
Now here’s the deal: Many people read this tale of the “handwriting on the wall” and they think it’s a cool story. It’s in a lot of children’s Bibles and folks remember it from Sunday School classes... but this story wasn’t just written down for your entertainment. God placed this story in His Bible because He wanted to remind us that there will come a day of reckoning.
A day when repentance will no longer suffice. A day when the handwriting may be on the wall for you.

 

Based on a Sermon
by Roger Thomas

The Proof is in the Pudding

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

The Proof is in The Pudding
Acts 27:39-28:16

INTRO: Good morning. Last time in Acts we saw that although life’s outlook doesn’t look good at times we should take courage, because our eternal forecast as Christians is looking great.

We saw that God never intended for humans to be alone. Paul was not alone on that ship. Luke went along on this journey to Italy with him and Aristarchus.

We saw that life will be dangerous at times. When Paul was on that ship the violent wind didn’t let up all night and continued the next day, so the sailors began to throw the cargo overboard. Later when the Euroclydon hit their vessel, they spent many days in danger.

When everyone else around you is giving up hope, you don’t give up hope because your suffering is only for a little while. When you don’t give up hope you can encourage others. Paul told them that not one hair on their heads would be harmed.

I heard this story about two heavily intoxicated New Englanders who, after leaving the tavern one night in the wee hours, went down to their skiff to return to their homes across the bay.
They got in and began to row. They struggled rowing the rest of the night, wondering why it was taking them so long to get to the other side. When the sky became light, and they became more sober, they discovered that their mooring-line had never been loosened, and that their anchor had not been raised. Can you imagine that, rowing all night only to find out that you never lifted the anchor?

That’s exactly what stops some people from becoming Christians. They cannot believe, because they are tied to this world. They need to cut the cord and set themselves free from the clogging weight of earthly things, then they will see the right path and be on their way towards heaven.

I. Luke continues to tell us about Paul’s adventures on this trip and they too, after surviving the night, had some cords to cut. Just like people need to cut the cords with this world to get to heaven, these sailors must loose themselves to get to a safer place. Acts 27:39-41 – “39. Now when it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 40. And they let go the anchors and left them in the sea, meanwhile loosing the rudders ropes; and they hoisted the mainsail to the wind and made for shore. 41. But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the prow stuck fast and remained immovable, but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.”

A. As day broke, it became clear why Paul had said the sailors needed to stay on board. Although they did not recognize the land which was nearby, they did know how to guide the ship toward a bay with a beach which they could see. Without their skilled hands, all could have been lost.

1. It’s then that they had to let go of the anchors, loose the rudders' ropes and hoist the mainsail. These ancient vessels had dual steering oars to keep the ship on course. Though more efficient than a single rudder, the exposed oars were more vulnerable to damage.
2. Just before the ship reached shore, it stuck fast in a sandbar formed by the swirling waters caused by the merging of two seas. These submerged shoals, are sometimes formed by the sands which had been piled together by water action on both sides. It was invisible; therefore they plowed the ship into it, with the result given in this verse.
3. The bow stuck firm but the stern began to break apart in the rough seas.

B. I’d like us to recall that in those days if someone oversaw a prisoner, they were in charge of their lives. Back in Acts 16 when Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi, at verse 26 we read – “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison-house were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened; and everyone's bands were loosed.” God freed them and the jailor was about to kill himself. Why was he going to do that? Because Roman law says that if a prisoner escapes your custody, you have to pay the penalty that your prisoner was due.
C. The reason I shared that with you is because of what Luke tells us next. Acts 27:42-44 – “42. Now the soldiers' plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43. But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, and commanded that those who could swim should jump overboard first and get to land, 44. and the rest, some on boards and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.”

1. The present situation led the soldiers to think that it would be better to kill the prisoners than to risk any of them getting away. Their heartless plan shows how little regard they had for the providential escape from death which they had just experienced. The soldiers didn’t want to be held accountable, so they planned to kill the prisoners. But God was working through the centurion Julius, and Julius wanted to save Paul so he forbid this course of action.
2. Instead, anyone who could swim was told to make their way to shore while the others who couldn’t swim used boards and broken pieces of ship to help them float ashore.

D. It’s all about trust. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 56:3 – “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.”

1. Folks, that is one of our reasons for Bible study. Yes, we study in depth and often go over familiar ground. In doing so we meditate on God’s word and the quicker we get His word into our hearts, the quicker we will develop our trust in God and His promises.
2. They had forgotten what Paul had told them earlier. They had forgotten God’s promise because they didn’t trust God like Paul did.

E. Back just a few verses in Acts 27:23-26 – “23. "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24. "saying, `Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25. "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26. "However, we must run aground on a certain island.''”

1. If they had listened and believed they would not have panicked like they did. If they believed, they would have realized that what Paul said to them earlier was true.
2. Paul told them that the ship would have to run aground and he told them just as God's messenger had promised, not a single life would be lost.
3. Put your trust in God and His promises, folks. He has delivered you time and time again from stormy waters and He’s not going to stop now. He wants you to make it to that heavenly shore.
4. As one put it, if at any time you feel you’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea, then swim Christian swim. Keep swimming Christian, because before too long you will come across an old rugged cross to cling to, which was sent from heaven to take you to heaven.
5. God kept His promise and not a single soul was lost.

F. The journey to Rome had been interrupted by a disastrous shipwreck, Paul's fourth by the way; but Luke would go on in the next chapter to recount the continuation of the trip, first reporting what happened during the delay on the island of Malta. In it all the "finger of God" is clearly visible.

II. Luke continues in Acts 28:1-6 – “1. Now when they had escaped, they then found out that the island was called Malta. 2. And the natives showed us unusual kindness; for they kindled a fire and made us all welcome, because of the rain that was falling and because of the cold. 3. But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4. So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live.'' 5. But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. 6. However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead; but after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.”

A. Luke says that they discovered the island's name was Malta. The natives, who were descendants of Phoenicia, did not speak Greek, but they did show considerable kindness to those that were shipwrecked.
B. Luke tells us that the rain was falling and it was cold. Remember this was late in the year and the weather was likely quite chilly. All those from the ship would have been soaked having to swim to shore. To get warm they built a fire, and Luke says that while Paul helped gather sticks for the fire, a viper, made active by the heat, latched onto the apostle's arm. Paul shook it off into the fire.
C. These islanders, who were very superstitious, believed he must truly have been guilty of something since the snake bit him after he had survived the sea. When he didn’t die, they decided he was a god.

1. In reading this, we notice this is a strange reversal of what had happened at Lystra (Acts 14:12ff), where Paul was first hailed as a god, and later stoned. The carnal man loves extremes, either worshiping himself in the person of his heroes, or by killing those who do not conform to his prejudices.
2. God delivered Paul from the prisons. He delivered him from the courtrooms. He delivered him from the shipwreck, and He has delivered him again from snake bite.
3. On the road to Damascus we know that Jesus told Paul he had a purpose. One of those purposes was for Paul to preach in Rome and no-one and nothing, not even a snake was going to prevent that from happening.
4. God has a purpose for you too and if you will trust Him even through times of trials and suffering, He will deliver you time and time again until you have achieved that goal.

III. Luke continues in Acts 28:7-10 – “7. Now in that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. 8. And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9. So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10. They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.”

A. Luke tells us that the centurion and ship's officers, along with Paul and his company, were invited to stay at the house of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius.
B. Publius entertained them for three days, during which time Paul healed Publius' father of a fever and dysentery by praying and laying his hands on him. In this way Publius' kindness was repaid. In working such a wonder, Paul verified the truth of Jesus' promise that His apostles should suffer no hurt from deadly serpents, and that they should lay hands on the sick and heal them. Dummelow noted about this scripture, "Here we have first hand evidence of a competent medical witness to the reality of Paul's miraculous cures." The word “dysenteria” which we translate "dysentery" is a medical term used by the physician Luke.
C. People love to contemplate miracles and there are those that come around claiming they can perform them,

1. Many years ago, Oral Roberts went to Nashville, Tennessee with his “miracle working” campaign.

a. The Apologetic Press ran a newspaper advertisement offering a $1,000 reward for medical proof of a single miracle.
b. Roberts never sought to claim the reward.

2. The late Ronald Coyne, a small-time “healer” from Oklahoma, went to Nashville Tennessee, claiming that he could miraculously see through a “plastic eye.”

a. The Apologetic Press offered to pay all expenses if he would submit to testing administered by a qualified physician specializing in the study and treatment of defects and diseases of the eye.
b. He declined the offer and threatened to sue them. The Apologetic Press urged him to do so, for the courtroom is a real arena for the examination of evidence. Coyne took his “magic eye” con game and left town.

3. Here is a this small note written to the Apologetic Press.

a. “The miracle power of Christ was at work when my friend was healed instantly of terminal cancer, including the scar tissue from the radiation.” He went on to say that “The proof is in the pudding.”
b. Listen to the reply they gave this man. All we ask is: “Let us see the evidence that there was any pudding!” Does the gentleman actually expect anyone to believe that story in the absence of any objective evidence whatever? Were there before-and-after x-rays that document the “miracle”? Is there written testimony from competent physicians regarding the instantaneous disappearance of the “terminal cancer”, scar tissue and all? If so, where is it?

4. Making claims and proving them are two different things. 'The proof is in the pudding' is just shorthand for 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'. That longer version makes sense at least, whereas the shortened version really doesn't mean anything. The meaning becomes clear when you know that 'proof' here is a verb meaning 'test'. You can claim anything but until it is tested it is not proved. The more common meaning of 'proof' in our day is the noun meaning 'the evidence that demonstrates a truth'.

D. Luke tells us that after seeing Paul’s healing of Publius' father, others who were sick were also brought to the apostle and he healed them. No wonder they bestowed honor on Paul while he was with them and sent the whole company on their way with adequate provisions.

IV. Just before we finish Luke goes on and tells us in Acts 28:11-16 – “11. After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island. 12. And landing at Syracuse, we stayed three days. 13. From there we circled round and reached Rhegium. And after one day the south wind blew; and the next day we came to Puteoli, 14. where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15. And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. 16. Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him.”

A. Luke informs Theophilus that they set sail aboard another ship after three months, likely after the worst of the winter storms were over.

1. Their first stop was at Syracuse, then Rhegium and, finally, Puteoli. Puteoli was the main port of call for ships carrying wheat from Egypt to Rome.
2. It’s there they found brethren and stayed with them for seven days then they went on to Rome.

B. Paul has finally reached his destination. While he was in Rome, he was permitted to live with a guard by himself.

CONCLUSION:

When Paul headed to Rome, the word apparently got around. Brethren came to greet him as far as the Appii Forum and the Three Inns. The Appii Forum, also known as The Market of Appius, was "forty-three miles from Rome”, and Three Inns was ten miles closer to Rome. The travel of some of the saints such a distance to welcome the beloved apostle was a source of great joy.

Look at Paul’s reaction to this meeting of the saints. When he saw them all, he thanked God and they gave him the courage to go on.

Do we do that? Do we thank God for our brothers and sisters in Christ and give them the courage to go on? When Christians meet it should be a time of thanking God because we are glad to see each other. It should be a time of encouraging each other.

Did you know that encouraging is a gift from God? Paul tells us that in Romans 12:6-8 and I’ll paraphrase – “6. We have gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if it is prophesying, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7. or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; if you are a teacher, in teaching; 8. if it is to encourage then give encouragement; he who gives, give generously; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, do so with cheerfulness.” [para]

Folks, let us be encouraged this morning to be like Barnabas, to be a son of encouragement. Take a moment and look at the people around you as you go through the day and ask yourself, who can I encourage this week? After you have identified them, do something about it.

Remember you don’t need a miracle to visit them, give them a call, send a text message, send e-mail, or write a small note or card with words of encouragement within. Whatever it is you decide to do, do it knowing that you have practiced the use of the gifts you have.

Let’s put the proof back into the pudding that we really do practice what we preach.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

If anybody needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ, be buried with Him in baptism, and become a part of the work He has for us; or if you need to ask for prayers on your behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

 

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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Life’s Forecast

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 27:1-38

INTRO: Good morning. Today we are back in the book of Acts. Last time we read of Paul’s defense that he used to try to persuade King Agrippa, Bernice and Festus about Jesus. We have read about Paul’s journeys in the past few years and today we will be reading of another one. I want to look at what is described in Acts 27:1-38.

As we have seen over the past lessons God has been protecting Paul for going to Rome. Festus, along with Agrippa and Bernice, delivered the apostle and some other prisoners into the hands of a centurion named Julius. God wanted Paul in Rome. Paul wanted to be in Rome. Agrippa sent him on his way to Rome.

If you will, turn to Acts 27 and read with me, Acts 27:1-2 – “1. And when it was decided that we should sail to Italy, they delivered Paul and some other prisoners to one named Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Regiment. 2. So, entering a ship of Adramyttium, we put to sea, meaning to sail along the coasts of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, was with us.” Luke noted that Julius was of the Imperial Regiment, part of the Roman army that belonged to the emperor.

The ship they boarded had sailed from Adramyttium, which is located in northwest Turkey.

It was never a part of God’s plan for mankind to be alone. Paul was not alone, Luke went along on this journey to Italy with him and Aristarchus. Folks, as Christians we need to remember that it’s absolutely impossible to be alone. Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 – “… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”" In other words you may feel lonely at times but you are never alone, Jesus is there with you, just like He was with Paul. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are on this life’s journey with us. We need to remember that.

I. They are off on that long journey to Rome and Luke continues in Acts 27:3-5 – “3. And the next day we landed at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him liberty to go to his friends and receive care. 4. When we had put to sea from there, we sailed under the shelter of Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5. And when we had sailed over the sea which is off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia.” The ship’s first stop was in Sidon. Because of the wind, they changed direction and stopped again at Myra. None of us were born Christians, in the outlook of life we also see that there will be stops before we get where we need to go. Notice I said, ‘where we need to go’ not ‘where we want to go’.

A. God wants us to find truth, but many people settle for a truth which suits their own needs. Many people believe in God but don’t believe what the Bible teaches.
B. Many people believe that one church is as good as the next and one person’s faith is as good as the next. However Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:4-6 – “4. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5. one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6. one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

1. Paul says there are not many churches. There are not many hopes. There are not many lords or faiths. There are not many baptisms.
2. He says there is one church, one hope, one Lord, one faith and one baptism.
3. Some of us, perhaps many, were not brought up in the Lord’s church. In my life I tried out various religious groups, but I always found there was something out of sync with the Bible.
4. Jesus’ promise is as true now as when He first said it in John 8:31-32 – “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.''” Sometimes we need to stop and think about where we need to go and not where we want to go.

II. Luke carries on with his report to Theophilus and says starting in verse 6, Acts 27:6-9 – “6. There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing to Italy, and he put us on board. 7. And when we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed, we sailed under the shelter of Crete off Salmone . 8. Passing it with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea. 9. Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous because the Fast was already over, Paul advised them,” Let’s pause there a minute.

A. The ship Julius found was out of Alexandria and bound for Italy. Julius, Paul and the rest of their company boarded that ship and it set sail against a late summer, north-westerly wind, for the port of Cnidus.
B. Because the wind was so unfavorable the captain sailed along the southern shore of Crete. When they finally reached the port of Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea, a decision had to be made as to the course to be pursued. All in all, things are going well and according to plan even though the wind is not in their favor.

III. As we’re about to read, the apostle Paul could see something different on the horizon, and the forecast was not good. We continue with Paul Acts 27:10-12 – “10. saying, "Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.'' 11. Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul. 12. And because the harbor was not suitable to winter in, the majority advised to set sail from there also, if by any means they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete opening toward the southwest and northwest, and winter there.”

A. The centurion, instead of listening to what Paul said, followed the advice of the pilot and of the owner of the ship. Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, they decided to sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.”
B. Paul advised them not to attempt to go any further at such a dangerous time of year. Christians should also be aware that the forecast for life will be dangerous at times. Anyone who says become a Christian and life will be great has told you a lie.
C. Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that “… In the world you will have tribulation …” Troubles… and I believe most of us know by now we can count on that. Sometimes the storms of life are so powerful we’re left wondering; why is this happening? I’ll tell you one example.

1. Dr. Thomas Goodwin, chaplain to Oliver Cromwell, and President of Magdalen College, lost half of his library, some five hundred pounds worth of his best books, in the terrible fire of London in 1666. That’s about $114K in today’s money.
2. His son remembers how his father lamented this, and said of it, that in taking away these precious possessions, God had struck him in a very tender place. Later he said, "I loved my books too well, and God corrected this by affliction."
3. Sometimes pain, suffering and troubled waters come into our lives because we love the world more than we love God. We may end up bringing trouble upon ourselves when we spend too much time in the world and not enough time in Christ Jesus.
4. At times in life, just when you get through one storm we find that it isn’t very long before the next one comes. Luke told us that the wind didn’t let up all night, in fact the violent seas continued the next day, so the sailors began to throw the cargo overboard.

D. Why was this a bad time of year to make this journey? Because Luke told us in verse 9 that ‘the Fast’, or ‘Day of Atonement’, was now over and from that we can conclude it was around the beginning of October.

1. If you were the captain of a ship you should know that the Mediterranean Sea was not a safe place to be especially for ancient vessels between September 15th until about March 15th.
2. Paul knew what time of the year it was and notice also that Paul’s concern was not just for the cargo but also for the lives of those people on board the ship. Even with this insight from Paul, Julius was inclined to listen more closely to the words of the ship's pilot and the owner rather than to Paul.
3. Most of those on board the ship were hoping to reach Phoenix because its harbor was easier to access.

E. I am sure most of you remember Hurricane Katrina which formed on August 23 during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and caused devastation along much of the north-central Gulf Coast. It was the costliest and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States.

1. It was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest hurricane on record that made landfall in the US. I remember the pictures of the devastation it caused in the city of New Orleans.
2. Naming strong winds is not new. In fact, as we’re about to read there’s one well known at that time, one called the ‘Northeaster’ on its way towards the ship which Paul is aboard.

IV. Acts 27:13-18 – “13. When the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. 14. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon . 15. So when the ship was caught, and could not head into the wind, we let her drive. 16. And running under the shelter of an island called Clauda, we secured the skiff with difficulty. 17. When they had taken it on board, they used cables to undergird the ship; and fearing lest they should run aground on the Syrtis Sands, they struck sail and so were driven. 18. And because we were exceedingly tempest-tossed, the next day they lightened the ship.”

A. I suppose that most people have heard the phrase, ‘plain sailing’ which means an easy, uncomplicated course. It refers to an easy-to-navigate sea, in the 'level, flat' sense.

1. Luke has just told us that this ship’s travels were far from ‘plain sailing’. When a soft, south wind began to blow they assumed they could easily reach Phoenix within a day. I’m not a sailor but I know people who are and they tell me that when you’re out at sea the weather conditions can literally change in minutes. That’s what happened here.
2. Suddenly a very strong wind which they called the ‘northeaster’ blew stronger and stronger. This wind ended all hope of reaching a safe harbor as they had to let the ship be driven by the will of the wind.

B. When the ship reached the shelter of an island called Clauda, the sailors, with the help of Luke and some other passengers, secured the lifeboat which would have been allowed to trail the ship because they planned to use it to go ashore at Phoenix.

1. As panic sets in, the sailors passed cables under the ship to strengthen it against the stormy sea and let the ship drift without the aid of sails for fear of being shipwrecked on the west of Cyrene, which was called Syrtis.
2. The wind didn’t let up all night, and the violent seas continued the next day so the sailors began to throw the cargo overboard.

V. Acts 27:19-21 – “19. On the third day we threw the ship's tackle overboard with our own hands. 20. Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. 21. But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, "Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss.

A. Luke tells us on the third day they threw the tackle overboard as well. Since they could not see the sun or stars, navigation was difficult or impossible.
B. Folks, when the forecast for life is not looking good and you feel like you’ve lost your way because of the dangers which lie ahead, don’t give up hope. We understand times can get so tough you may want to isolate yourself and give up on God and His people, but please don’t do that.
C. In 1 Peter, when he writes about our living hope and our future inheritance, he says in 1 Peter 1:6-8 – “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” [ESV] Don’t give up and cut yourself off from God and His people because in the eternal outlook of life, your suffering is only for a little while. That hope of eternity with God is not a fairy tale, it’s real and alive, that’s why it’s called a living hope.
D. Sometimes the outlook, the forecast if you will, turns out to be different then we think. Have you ever heard of the “Michael Fish” effect? You may not have heard the term but I’m certain you are all familiar with the doom and gloom weather forecasts we get and then things don’t turn out that bad. That is due to the “Michael Fish effect”.

1. Let me explain. Michael Fish was a very well known broadcast meteorologist on British TV. A few hours before the Great Storm of 1987 broke, on October 15th, he said during a forecast: "Earlier today, apparently, a woman rang the BBC and said she heard there was a hurricane on the way. Well, if you're watching, don't worry, there isn't!"… The storm was the worst to hit South East England for three centuries, causing record damage and killing 19 people. Since then weathermen are now inclined to predict "a worst-case scenario in order to avoid being caught out".
2. The point is, those in this world that bring forecasts to our attention may shape it for their own benefit.

E. Paul had God to base his information on. Luke tells Theophilus that Paul told them what was coming, but they didn’t listen, so Paul reminds them of his earlier warning. The reason he reminds them is not to say, ‘I told you so’, but to give more credibility to what he was going to say next.

VI. Acts 27:22-26 – “22. "And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23. "For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24. "saying, `Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.' 25. "Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26. "However, we must run aground on a certain island.''”[NKJV]

A. Paul is saying, listen, I know the outlook is tough right now and the ship is going to run aground on an island and be lost, but God, through an angel, has promised to answer my prayers by saving every single life on board this ship.

1. When life’s forecast is for rough waters ahead we also need to remember that God will answer our prayers. If God rescued us before why do we think He won’t rescue us again?
2. Psalm 61:1-3 – “1. Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.”
3. The forecast we see for life may get tough, but this is where the mature Christians set themselves apart from the immature.

B. In the Book of James when he’s talking about asking God for wisdom, he writes in James 1:6-8 – “6. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do..”[para]

1. Immature Christians think that when the waves get high that God has left them, and they stop praying because they want the suffering to be over on their terms.
2. The mature Christians continue to pray, not only because they understand that the waves will settle again but because they have absolute faith in God to hear their prayer and answer their prayer according to His will.

C. Yes, life is tough, but don’t stop praying because there is always hope. The Philippian jailor in Acts 16 saw no hope when Paul and Silas were freed from prison, and he was about to kill himself, but Paul gave him hope. Most people on board this ship saw no hope, but Paul gave them hope.

VII. Luke continues now and tells us in Acts 27:27-32 – “27. But when the fourteenth night had come, as we were driven up and down in the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors sensed that they were drawing near some land. 28. And they took soundings and found it to be twenty fathoms; and when they had gone a little farther, they took soundings again and found it to be fifteen fathoms. 29. Then, fearing lest we should run aground on the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern, and prayed for day to come. 30. And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, when they had let down the skiff into the sea, under pretense of putting out anchors from the prow, 31. Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.'' 32. Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.”

A. On the fourteenth night, as they were tossed about in the Adriatic Sea, the sailors sensed they were coming close to land. As all old ships did to find out how close to land they were, they took soundings. When they realized they might hit some rocks, they cast four anchors off the stern and prayed for daylight.

1. The sailors, to save themselves, let down the lifeboat and pretended to put out more anchors. This didn’t go un-noticed. Paul saw what they were doing and warned Julius that they could not be saved without the sailors on board.
2. Finally, they begin to believe Paul’s words and the centurion commands his soldiers to cut away the ropes to the lifeboat and let it fall away.

B. Do you know what one of the saddest parts of life’s forecast can be? It’s knowing that some will give up and fall away. Paul knew, even though the sailors didn’t, that they had to cut away the ropes to the lifeboat and let it fall away so save their own lives.

1. We have witnessed people falling away from the Lord over the years and it’s heartbreaking. We need to ask ourselves, have we done everything humanly and divinely possibly to prevent that from happening?
2. Have we encouraged, talked, sent cards, have we prayed about them to God? If the answers to those questions are yes, then we can’t say that we haven’t tried. While we are doing all those things we need to be careful that we don’t go with them.
3. Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Folks, some people will fall. Jesus taught that in ‘the parable of the sower’.
4. The Bible is full of examples of people who fall. The sad news is, sometimes to keep ourselves from falling, we need to let them fall away and that can hurt a lot.

VIII. After meeting their spiritual needs by giving them hope, Paul turns his attention to their physical needs. Acts 27:33-38 – “33. And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, "Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34. "Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.'' 35. And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36. Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37. And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship. 38. So when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship and threw out the wheat into the sea.”

A. Paul urged everyone on board the ship to eat since they hadn’t eaten for a while, and then reassures them again by telling them that not one hair on their heads would be harmed.
B. While they all watched, Paul took some bread, prayed and began to eat. When all 276 on board ate, they were encouraged and cast the grain overboard.

CONCLUSION:
When life’s outlook is not looking good, not only should we remember we’re not alone on our journey, not only should we remember we will have many stops in life, not only should we be aware that life can be dangerous at times, not only do we need to remember that God will answer our prayers… but we also need to remember that God will look after our needs.

If you ever wanted to know someone who is more aware of your needs than anyone else, God is that person. Paul tells them that not one hair on their heads would be harmed.

Jesus says in Luke 12:6-7 – “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

God is so aware of you, never mind your needs, that He knows exactly how many hairs you have of your head.

No wonder Paul could write in Philippians 4:19 – “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Yes folks, life as they say is a journey, and sometimes the forecast is not good, but it doesn’t have to be that way forever.

For the unbeliever life can be a raw deal sometimes with no hope of a better tomorrow because they don’t see the eternal forecast.

For the Christian, we know that life is difficult sometimes but because we have the living hope of eternal life, the forecast is looking good indeed.
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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

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Taken from sermon by Mike Glover

Making Wise Decisions

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

MATTHEW 7:13-27

INTRODUCTION: Several years ago, there was a news story about a man named Don Wyman. He was muscular and worked for a mining company.
One day about 4:00 p.m. he was alone in a forest cutting down a tree when the tree snapped back in his direction and knocked him to the ground.
The massive oak landed on his left shin – shattering his bone and ripping his flesh.
He tried to free himself, using his chainsaw to no avail.

He did everything he could think of, but still he couldn’t get free.
He realized that unless he got help soon he was going to bleed to death. He knew it would be hours before someone might figure something had gone wrong and come looking for him.

So, he made a courageous decision.
Pulling the starter cord from his chain saw he tied a tourniquet to his leg, shutting off the blood flow to his shin. Then somehow, with his pocket-knife, he proceeded to amputate his lower leg, just below the knee.
Now, on one leg, he had to find help.

He crawled 135 feet uphill to his bulldozer, climbed in, started it up and drove that extremely slow machine 1/4 mile to his pickup truck.
The truck was a stick shift and he had to use a metal rod to depress the clutch when he shifted.

He drove a mile and a half and came upon a dairy farm where someone called an ambulance.
1. Don Wyman survived the ordeal.
--But only because he realized that being pinned like that under that oak tree, to keep his leg would probably cost him his life.
2. So he had a MAJOR DECISION TO MAKE.
--And he chose to live.

This morning, our sermon comes from the latter part of the Sermon on the Mount

with a message entitled “Make Wise Decisions”
1. Jesus concludes His best-known teaching by encouraging people to make wise decisions

2. He does so with a well-used method that reverberates through the whole Bible --the invitation to choose to be wise or to choose to be foolish

a. The book of Proverbs is almost entirely devoted to the comparison between the wise person and the foolish person

b. Moses – Duet. 30:19-20a – “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.”

c. Joshua – Josh. 24:14-15 – “’Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.

But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.’”

d. Jeremiah- Jeremiah 21:8 – “"Furthermore, tell the people, ’This is what the LORD says: See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death.”
--God was saying, “You get to choose which way you will go.”

3. Everyday we’re faced with decisions --Will we be wise or will we be foolish?

4. Jesus gives us three important questions to ask ourselves to ensure that we are following the way of the wise and not the way of the fool

I. WHICH PATH ARE YOU TRAVELING ON?
--Matt. 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

A. The foolish person says, “There are no boundaries.”

1. The world thinks total freedom with no restrictions is the goal.
2. Prov. 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to man but in the end it leads to death .”

B. The wise person says, “The Road is narrow.”

1. Prov. 3:5-6 – “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
2. There’s a reason Jesus says, “Narrow is the path.” --He knows this route provides the most fulfillment.

C. Comparing the two ways:

1. The broad way

a. The broad way is kind of like an Interstate highway

1). It’s easy to get on
2). You can travel very fast
3). You can be enticed by the many billboards along the way
4). You can quickly exit the highway, partake in whatever pleasure without accountability, and get right back on again.

b. IN CONTRAST, The narrow road is more like a winding rural road

1). It’s not easy to find and therefore not easy to get on
2). You have to be careful how you travel
3). It is very restrictive
4). The word translated “narrow” is from the Greek word for “tribulation” which usually means persecution
5). You have to leave your baggage behind

D. The wise person realizes that the way to life is very narrow as taught in the Bible:

1. John 14:6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
2. 1 Tim. 2:5 – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus..”

E. Pursuing the narrow path is an ongoing decision.

1. There is the one time we decide to follow Christ, but we must continue daily to make wise decisions in order to stay on that road.
2. To head on the pathway to hell requires that you do absolutely nothing: simply follow the crowd.

II. WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO?
--Matt. 7:15-22 – “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them.

Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

1 Thess. 5:21-22 – “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
A. The wise person says, “There’s a difference between truth and falsehood.”
Jesus is condemning more than just false teaching; He is discouraging false behavior, impure motives, and inconsistent actions.

B. Jesus points to “fruit” as the essential method for discerning what is false and what is true.

1. In Israel the buckthorn plant produced little, black berries that could, initially be mistaken for grapes. There was also a thistle that produced a flower similar to the fig. --So the idea of carefully examining the fruit of a plant was a familiar one to Jesus’ listeners.

2. So, how do we tell between a false teacher and a true one?

a. We should pay attention to the manner of living a teacher shows.
--Do they show righteousness, humility and faithfulness in the way they live?
b. We should pay attention to the content of their teaching.
--Is it true fruit from God’s Word, or is it man-centered, appealing to ears that want to be tickled?
c. We should pay attention to the effect of their teaching.
--Are people growing in Jesus or merely being entertained, and eventually falling away?

D. Along with false teachers, there are false disciples
“Counterfeit Christians, like counterfeit twenty-dollar bills, are not easily detected. It takes a trained, discerning eye.”
--Sadly, the difference between genuine and counterfeit is always subtle, never obvious.

1. Let’s say I went to a local store with a twenty-dollar bill that was printed on yellow paper, had my wife’s picture on it, and was shaped in a funny way. Would they take it?
However, if a gave them a crisp, perfectly shaped, green piece of paper with what looked like the right ink and right background, and had a very distinguished picture of Andrew Jackson on it, I would have a much better chance at deceiving the clerk.

2. In comparison to money, counterfeit believers are a lot harder to spot.

a. They can mouth the right words or even do the right things but that’s religion
b. Jesus calls us to a consistent path, walked daily and regularly, marked by a sincere relationship to God’s word … one that follows Jesus’s example

John 14:15 à “If you love me … then keep my commandments

III. WHAT ARE YOU BUILDING ON?
--Matt. 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

A. The foolish person says, “I plan for the temporary.”

1. Christ continues throughout the Sermon on the Mount to get people to think long term.
2. As Paul put it, Gal. 6:7-8 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

B. The wise person says, “I plan for eternity.”

1. Who is the individual who plans for eternity?
-- There is a qualifier, Jesus says: “The one who puts these words of mine into practice.”
2. James 1:22 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

C. Notice the similarities between the builders:

1. Both are builders
2. Both are building houses
3. Both have similar life situations – they both go through storms
--It’s THE STORM that proves the difference

a. We have to understand that we’re all building something.
b. And what we build will be tested.  --1 Cor. 3:11-14 – “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.
c. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”

D. The important thing is the differences between the two builders

1. Two different kinds of people --they build on two different kinds of foundations

a. The first hears the Word and then builds upon it
b. The second hears the Word but chooses to ignore it

2. Two different outcomes

a. One house stands firm
b. The other is completely destroyed.

3. This parable is the inspiration for that great old gospel song:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

E. Two different underlying principles

1. If you’re only hearing and reading the truth, you’re not prepared for life’s storms

2. If your foundation is sure, no storm will cause your life to collapse.

3. Jesus didn’t preach this message so it would sound nice or so that we could sit around and discuss it.

He preached it so that we could act on it.
--He emphasized obedience

CONCLUSION: A. Many years ago a man conned his way into the orchestra of the emperor of China although he could not play a note. Whenever the orchestra practiced or performed, he would hold his flute against his lips, pretending to play but not making a sound.
He received a modest salary and enjoyed a comfortable living. Then one day the emperor requested a solo from each musician. The flautist got nervous. There wasn’t enough time to learn the instrument.
He pretended to be sick, but the royal physician wasn’t fooled. On the day of his solo performance, the impostor took poison and killed himself. The explanation of his suicide led to a phrase that found its way into the English language: “He refused to face the music.”

1. Today you can pretend to be a part of God’s orchestra by just blending in with the crowd and going through the motions. No one notices because you say the right things, go to the right places, and hang out with the right people. And you can enjoy the comfort of being accepted by the crowd of your choice.

2. But there will come a day when you must face the music, one day you will be separated from everything.

--On that day you will stand alone before God

B. Every day you are building a foundation, based on which path you travel and to whom you listen.
2. The question is: Will you do it?
C. It’s time for you to make your choice:
1. Have I chosen the right gate?

2. Am I traveling the right road?

3. Does my tree bear the right fruit?

4. Am I following those who teach the truth?

5. Is my faith being demonstrated in what I do?

6. Do I truly know God through Jesus Christ?

Bas

A Godly Mother

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Exodus 2:1-10

INTRO:
Good morning. For the past ten or so decades in the US we have celebrated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Mark will not be with us this morning and it has been sort of a tradition that he speak on holidays. I suppose I am going to break that tradition today and talk about a godly woman that all of us can learn from.

We're grateful for mothers. Where would we be without them? Well, we wouldn't be, and that is God's design. It was His wisdom, His plan for there to be mothers. We're so thankful for that.

We're going to talk about a lady by the name of Jochebed. She's only mentioned twice by name in the scriptures.

Can you think of anyone else in the world that has more potential for a positive influence on a child than a mother? Jochebed was a godly mother who by faith brought God into the life of her son Moses in a great way. I think we can safely say that behind every great man is a mother.

A mother creates a close bond with her children that will last for a lifetime. A mother's influence will be either positive or negative.

A mother has the opportunity, like Timothy's mother, to plant the seeds of faith in a child that can lead to that child living a life for the Lord and being a servant to others. One of life's greatest blessings is to be and to have a godly mother.

Abraham Lincoln declared, “No man is poor who has a godly mother.” Lincoln understood that it was never the money that made the man, but the character of the man that defined him. But where does that character come from? I submit that we often find that character developed from the nurturing, care, and love of our mother. All life begins with our mother, and it is from our mother that we first take in this world. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to be a godly parent. That's what we should be striving for.

This morning. I want us to consider the example of a godly mother in the Old Testament taken from the pages of the book of Exodus… the mother of Moses, the human writer of that book. Her name was Jochebed. We're going to first talk about her identity as we look at who she was. She's mentioned in Exodus 2:1-10 but not by name. We learn her name in other places.

I. Read with me if you will, in the second chapter of Exodus, verses one through ten. Exodus 2:1-10 – “1. And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. 2. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. 3. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank. 4. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him. 5. Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river. And her maidens walked along the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. 6. And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children.'' 7. Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?'' 8. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go.'' So the maiden went and called the child's mother. 9. Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.'' So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses, saying, "Because I drew him out of the water.''”[NKJV]

A. Here is the story of the birth of Moses. His mother’s name is not given but we do find her name elsewhere—Exodus 6:20 mentions her by name and also in Numbers 26:59. We don't know a whole lot about her. She's kind of played down, but I think what she did is remarkable. I’ll read Numbers 26:59 – “The name of Amram's wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam.”

1. In the Hebrew pronunciation, the J takes on a Y sound, yokobed. It means the glory of Jehovah. I think that is fitting, and as we look at her see why I think that.
2. Jochebed was an Israelite, one of God's chosen people, to bring a savior into the world. She was also a member of the tribe of Levi, which would become the priestly tribe that later would do the duties of the Tabernacle and eventually of the Temple.

B. The Scriptures in Genesis 15:13 had prophesied that the children of Israel would be in bondage in Egypt for 400 years. There's no evidence that Jochebed knew that her son would be the one who would lead his people. We don't have any record of God ever speaking to Jochebed like He did to Abraham and to others. She was not among the high and mighty, she was not among the rich and famous. She was just a poor Hebrew slave. What else can we say about her? Though her name is mentioned little, we'll never forget what she did and how God used her to accomplish a great purpose.

II. Nothing will have a more profound influence on the lives of our children than their having a good, godly example in their homes. Our children are bundles of potentiality. We need to develop that while the opportunity is there. It may escape us. It will become too late because children won't wait to grow up. We can't put them on hold. Children must be developed, and nobody born is born a great person. They need to be developed. They must be made persons, great persons,  prayer and instruction.

A. What does a Godly mother look like? She's certainly one who prays and she's one who teaches her children. We read in the Book of Deuteronomy 11:18-21 – “18. "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19. "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20. "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21. "that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.”
B. A person sets an example by the life that they lead. We see that when Paul talks to Timothy in the Book of Second Timothy 1:5 – where he says, “when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice [u-nus], and I am persuaded is in you also.” The influence of a mother and a grandmother cannot be exaggerated. Some one who has a compassionate heart, and stands firm in her faith.
C. Jochebed was a Godly woman who stood by her faith in some very difficult circumstances. Let’s look at what is going on with Jochebed. She faces a great dilemma. She was living in a hostile environment. Jochebed’s life was no bed of roses. She was born in Egypt of the tribe of Levi. She must face the difficulty of slavery, it is the life she is born into.

III. Let’s look at some verses that describe the situation she is in. First, in Exodus 1:8-14 – “8. Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9. And he said to his people, "Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10. "come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.'' 11. Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12. But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. 13. So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. 14. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.” ,

A. The Egyptians were very hard on them. Not only did they build, they also had to take care of the fields. In Exodus 3:7 – “And the Lord said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” God was aware of what was going on with them. He mentions it again in verse nine where he says, “… behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them.”
B. Pharaoh was not satisfied with the results of this oppression and so he issued the edict we read about in Exodus 1:15-16 – “Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of one was Shiphrah and the name of the other Puah; and he said, "When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.''”.

1. We know that every child is special in the eyes of God and made in the image of God. Pharaoh didn't have any respect for God's image, and thus he could give an order like he did for those children to be killed.
2. Scripture then tells us that the midwives feared God and did not obey the edict. God protected the midwives and the Hebrews increased.
3. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.'' Verse 22. The Egyptians dreaded the Israelites. They made their lives difficult, and they worked the people mercilessly for no good reason. In hatred and fear of the Hebrews, Pharaoh ordered the Midwives to kill the male babies. When the Midwives didn't do that, he ordered the male infants be cast into the Nile River that was infested with crocodiles.

C. There was great peril with Pharaoh's edict, great danger. Disobedience could easily cost one a life in prison, if not death itself. Jochebed did not allow herself to surrender to the hopelessness of life as a slave in Egypt. That would have been easy to do.

1. We live in a world that's hostile toward Christianity, biblical Christianity, and toward Christians. Though we don't have the overt persecution that the Israelites faced at the hands of the Egyptians. We used to say people were becoming more indifferent to Christianity. Now we find they're becoming more opposed, intolerant and antagonistic toward Christianity in our world and in our nation.
2. We observe that as we see them brazenly promoting the killing of infants in the womb. In their pride, they parade their sexual promiscuity, their perversion, before others.
3. In John 15:18, Jesus said, - “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”
4. Godly people must resist, and they must counter the ways of the world in its intolerance toward Christianity. We must teach against and resist evil.

IV. Let's now talk about Jochebed’s courage. She was a courageous woman. She refused to go with the flow, and she refused to consider her own life, her own comfort and her own convenience and safety. She refused to bow to Egypt's demands.

A. The Bible tells us about her courage. She refused to obey the evil command. She knew the decree that Pharaoh had made. It was a dangerous thing. She knew that her baby's life would be forfeited if she didn't do something… but if she refused and disobeyed she knew that her own life was on the line.
B. We read in Acts 5:29 – “… we’re to obey God rather than men”. What's she going to do? The decree went against everything that was humane and right and moral and good. It's something that she had to deal with, and it's just as repulsive today when we have to deal with things like that.

1. Jochebed fearing God more than she feared man, made a decision that put her life in jeopardy.
2. That decision resulted in saving a nation, and by the way, it gave the world a savior. This woman, who is little known, did something that affected the outcome of the world when she saved her son. She was just a slave, a nobody, but she accomplished great things.

C. Many wonder how a mother could make any other decision? How can a mother ever think of killing her child? We wonder about that, but today, the statistics of abortion rates in the USA alone are staggering.

1. By seeking to preserve Moses’ life, she saved the life of Israel's future lawgiver, leader and the writer of the Book of Exodus.
2. A historian, wrote about a man by the name of Isaac. In his book it says Isaac's birth took place on a cold winter day in Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire, England. The son of a farmer who died three months before he was born.

a. He was born in 1642 prematurely, and not expected to live. His mother, Hannah, reportedly said that he could have fit inside a quart mug.
b. His mother was having a hard time running the farm and looking after her new baby. The first English Civil War had started in August of 1642 and war was raging around them.
c. Some people today would think it would have been easier for Isaac's mother if she had aborted him. His mother wouldn't consider it.
d. That’s just as well for the world. Isaac grew up to be a scientific genius. Isaac was the one who discovered the law of gravity. He revolutionized mathematics by developing calculus. He improved the telescope. He became famous for his work in physics and mathematics and astronomy. Isaac was the first person to receive knighthood for scientific achievement.
e. When he died in 1727 at the age of 84, the government honored him by burying him in London's famous Westminster Abbey.
f. Certainly it might have been easier for his mother to abort this child who became Sir Isaac Newton, a believer in God, but the world would never have known the greatest scientist who ever lived if she had done that. How many geniuses has the world lost through abortion? We will never know.

V. Well, we’ve talked a little about Jochebed, her identity, her dilemma, and her courage. Let's now talk about her sacrifice as we take a look at some more passages in Exodus. Exodus 2:3 – “But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank.” Jochebed cared for Moses for the first 3 months she had him in her possession but the time came when discovery was likely imminent.

A. God's Providence came into play. When she realized she could no longer hide her infant son she made an ark platted with reeds. She placed that cradle with her treasured child in it secretly among the rushes at the river's bank, and told Marian, the young daughter, to stand and watch over the small craft.

1. I want to point out that it's probable that Jochebed thought she would never see her son again. She didn't have any promise she would, but she entrusted her child to God's hands.
2. When I think of Jochebed, I think of many expecting mothers who are pressured by the world to abort their unborn infants. I find that a sad thing. Like Jochebed, there are many mothers who have refused abortion and yet have no choice but to place their children up for adoption. Like Jochebed, they need to turn to God to find a loving home for their child.
3. I know their heart probably breaks at the thought of giving up their baby, but God is honored when they obey the command not to murder them.

B. Effectively Jochebed had put Moses up for adoption. She was not going to be able to raise him all the way, but she had him long enough to give him a start.

1. In Second Corinthians 5:7 we read, – “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” In Proverbs 3:5-6 we read, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” And in Proverbs 29:25 we read – “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”
2. We see this, in action in the life of Jochebed as we look at her sacrifice. We talk about her faith and her refusal to kill the baby. Jochebed had faith in God's protection for her baby. Jochebed fully entrusted her child to God's safekeeping, and God was able to work in that situation because of her faith.

C. She trusted God's Providence as children are being murdered all around her. Think about it. She is living in a society where it's a command of the King to murder all male babies. I wonder if it ever crossed her mind to say, “God, I don't understand why you're allowing this? But in what you have planned I trust you. Here is my son, I entrust him to you.”
D. I know we need to trust our children to God and do things His way. If we want God to work in our lives and in the lives of our families, then we need to place our faith in Him and put our faith into action. That's the kind of faith that God accepts and it pleases him. God will not and cannot work in our lives without us placing our trust in Him, which includes our actions based on what we believe.
E. In Hebrews 11:6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

VI. Let's talk now about her reward. The Bible tells us she gave up what she could not keep, and she received back more than what she gave.

A. We see that in the book of Exodus 2:5-8 – “5. Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river. And her maidens walked along the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. 6. And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, "This is one of the Hebrews' children.'' 7. Then his sister said to Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?'' 8. And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go.'' So the maiden went and called the child's mother.”

1. It wasn't an accident that Pharaoh's daughter saw this beautiful baby boy and heard his cry and that she had compassion on him. She was touched by what she saw though she knew this was one of the Hebrew's children.
2. I like the fact that she had a tender heart, that she wasn't prejudiced. It was God's sovereign Providence that caused Pharaoh's daughter to save Moses and to even ask Jochebed to nurse him. She went against her father's will. She had a good streak.
3. I wish we knew more about her, but we know enough to know that she was the one who saved Moses and that God used her in that regard. Not only was Jochebed’s infant saved, but she was paid to take care of him. How about that? She got paid to nurse her own child.

B. The Bible tells us that God honored Jochebed’s faith by catapulting Moses into a position from a death sentence to a Royal place in the household of the King of Egypt. God always rewards an obedient faith, and certainly the measure of our faith is demonstrated by our obedience.

1. It was Jochebed’s love, her faith, and her courage that saved her child from a cruel death and preserved him so that he could bless the world.
2. She was a godly mother. She laid a foundation for Moses during the first years of his life. She was used by God during those early formative years in preparing Moses for the grand calling that he was going receive some 80 or so years in the future, to lead his people out of Egyptian bondage.
3. Living a godly life before him doubtlessly had a profound influence, as evidenced in Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 has several verses about Moses but I note the first one Hebrews 11:23 – where it says, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.” The next few verses talk about the faith of Moses and what he accomplished.

C. In those passages it says, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” That's talking about Christ. He saw Christ through the eye of faith many centuries into the future.

VII. We teach our children, and the Bible also says we are to train them Proverbs 22:6. There is a difference in teaching and training. We can teach a computer class in a classroom that doesn't have a computer in it. We can teach them through charts and books and lectures, but until you set a child down to a computer and you work with that child and you start giving them exercises, hands on training, they are not going to be fully educated in computers. Yes, it's possible to be taught without being trained, but we are also to train our children.

A. Moses could have accepted the position of Pharaoh's grandson. But when he grew up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter.

1. Do you see how God is mocking Pharaoh? He raises up a deliverer, He raises up a savior right there under Pharaoh's nose, right in his own house.
2. On one side for Moses, there were the treasures of Egypt, which he could have had now in this life. On the other side were the glories of Jesus, which he could only see through the eye of faith, and which he could only have in the next life. He faces the decision between what he can have now or what he can have in the next life. He made the right choice. He esteemed Christ greater treasure than the wealth of Egypt.

B. We need to show our children the riches of Jesus. I want to point out that Moses’ parents were not afraid of the King's command, and they lived in perilous times, exceedingly fierce, and we live in perilous times. A lot of Americans have lost their faith in God. Satan has plenty of agents that are trying to influence us to help our children lose faith through the Godless views of humanism.

1. Even infiltrating churches, you see evidence of it. When churches ignore the Bible and encourage various forms of idolatry, and immorality is advocated in the humanist manifesto… by their fruit, you shall know them. These churches, which parade as Christianity, are dispensers of humanism with a little bit of Christianity thrown in here and there to confuse and deceive.
2. Humanism is camouflaged as something good. Prayer and Bible reading are under attack. Evolution is promoted… but not an intelligent designer. Amoral sex education is taught and promoted apart from biblical values. This only works to harm our children.
3. The alcohol industry spends millions on advertising every year aimed at our youth. TV sitcoms laugh at sexual perversion and drunkenness. The devil knows that what we laugh at, we cannot take seriously again. Movies and music are filled with messages of promiscuity and rebellion and drugs and alcohol.
4. Moses’ parents looked past the King of Egypt and to the King of Kings. That's what they were preparing for and so can we. God took that little Ark, and he made it a battleship to sink the mighty Kingdom of Pharaoh. I’d like to point out the irony that It was Pharaoh who wanted the babies drowned in the water but it was Pharaoh's Army that drowned in the Red Sea.

CONCLUSION:
Jochebed may have never realized the important role that she was playing in God's plan, but she changed the course of history. All honor to the women of all ages who fear the Lord. Mothers who love God, and raise their children in that love, can have a great effect on the world. Who had a more lasting and powerful influence? The Great Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut [haat•shuhp•soot], one of the most prolific builders of ancient Egypt, or Jochebed, the mother of Moses? As we study scripture and consider the life of Moses, we are also observing the influence of a godly mother.

Moses had an incredible value system. His value system was so great that when God wanted to destroy the Israelites, Moses volunteered to be destroyed and let the Israelites live. Where did he learn that kind of love and that kind of value system? I strongly suspect that Jochebed put something in his heart that all the teachers in Egypt could not take away.

Though he was instructed in all the ways of the Egyptians, all the wisdom of Egyptians, someone else taught and trained him in the ways of God… his mother.

Finally, when we think about Moses, we think about the hymn that says Trust and obey, there's no other way. Truly, God wants us to trust and obey. We've got to have that kind of faith, a faith that will act… faith with action. It's not trust if you're unwilling to obey. That's not trust if you just say, I believe it, but I'm not going to do it.

Are you trusting God and working things in His way today? Is He the Lord of your life? For Him to be your Savior, He must first be your Lord. A lot of people want Him as a Savior, but they don't want Him as Lord. Accepting Jesus as Lord means responsibilities and obedience and there are many who resist that fact.

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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

# 644 – Trust and Obey

 

Reference Sermon: Richard Blackford

First Love

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Revelation 2:1-7

INTRO:
Good morning. I thought I would take this opportunity for an aside from Acts and look at something from the book of Revelation. This actually came from a question that came up as we studied in Acts.

But first I’d like to start with a quick story. After worship service a wife patiently reminded her husband to put on his hat and coat before leaving. Overhearing the exchange, the preacher remarked to her; “Rather absent-minded, is he?” The wife replied; "Extremely so, the other night when we got home he knew there was something he wanted to do, but he couldn't remember what it was until he had spent over an hour trying to think." "And did he finally remember it?" asked the preacher. "Yes” she said, “He remembered that he wanted to go to bed early."

As we age, change happens, doesn’t it? Have you changed as you aged? We would all have to say yes – physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually. What about churches – do they change as they age?

Where can we go to find a description or evaluation of any of the churches of the first century (NT churches)? The book of Acts where we have been studying for sure, but those are mostly describing the beginnings of the churches. What about later? How did those churches do in the long run?

The seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation represent the types of churches that are generally present throughout the N.T. They, no doubt, had similar people, assets, and problems. Five of the seven churches (Smyrna and Philadelphia being the exceptions) were rebuked for tolerating sin in their midst, not an uncommon occurrence in churches ever since. The words we find here could be easily reproduced in our own time and addressed to many churches that we may know – even this one.

• Each of the seven addresses begins with, “I know your works.”
• Each contains a promise, “To him who overcomes.”
• Each end with “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Our focus today is on the oldest church of the 7. It was from the evangelistic efforts of the church in Ephesus that some of these other congregations came to be. It is only fitting that Jesus would evaluate them first. By the time of this letter, four decades had passed since the Ephesian church’s tumultuous birth. The apostle Paul was gone, as were many of the first generation of believers converted under his ministry. This church had experienced changes. How had these changes affected the body?

Read with me Revelation 2:1-7 – “1. "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, `These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: 2. "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3. "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. 4. "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5. "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent. 6. "But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.'' '”

I. Who is speaking here? We will begin our study of these verses with the identification of the One who is speaking to the church in Ephesus. Revelation 2:1 says; `These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:’ Although He is not named directly here, we can easily recognize the speaker as the Christ.

A. Jesus’ self-description is taken from John’s vision in Revelation 1:13-18 – “13. and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14. His head and His hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15. His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16. He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 17. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18. "I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.”

1. As Jesus walked among the lampstands (i.e. the churches) he held the stars (authority) of those churches in His right hand. He had every right to evaluate and bring judgment upon these congregations because they belong to Him.
2. There is also in this, a picture of Jesus’ love and concern for these churches. He walks among them to protect them – give them the oil they need to continue burning – trim the wick to make them brighter.

II. What He Commends: What did Jesus see at Ephesus that pleased Him? Revelation 2:2-3,6 – ‘2."I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3."and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary…. 6."But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

A. The Greek word for “know” here is eidō [ay-do] which indicates knowledge – Jesus does not have to come to see – He already knows everything about this church – and us!
B. When Jesus commends this church what did He see that was right about it?

1. “Works”, (ergon) – this indicates that this was a working church. The same word is used in Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
2. “Labor” (kopos) means labor to the point of sweat and exhaustion. They were willing to work hard for Christ. They were no doubt teaching the lost and edifying one another as Paul had done when he was among them.
3. “Patience” – (hypomonē) is patience in trying circumstances. Strong defines it as a hopeful, enduring patience. Thayer says it is “the characteristic of a man who is not deflected from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings”. This commendation indicates that, despite their difficult circumstances, the Ephesian believers remained faithful to their Lord.
4. “Can not bear those who are evil” – The Lord says that this church “could not tolerate evil men”. Following the example of Paul, they held a high standard of morality and doctrine. They were sensitive to sin in the lives of the members. In Ephesians 4:27 – “nor give place to the devil.” Paul had warned them not to give the devil a place or foot hold and they were practicing that effectively.
5. “You have tested” (peirazō) – They were willing to put their teachers to the test. They were aware of the danger of false teachers and false apostles. We noticed earlier that Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus in Acts 20 about the coming influence of false teachers. Acts 20:29-31 - “29. "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. "Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. 31. "Therefore watch…”

i. In his second epistle, John warned that “many deceivers have gone out into the world” (2 John 7) and cautioned believers, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;” (2 John 10).
ii. The early church father Ignatius, writing not long after John penned the book of Revelation, also commended the Ephesians for their vigilance: “You heed nobody beyond what he has to say truthfully about Jesus Christ… I have heard that some strangers came your way with a wicked teaching. But you did not let them sow it among you. You stopped up your ears to prevent admitting what they disseminated” (on Ephesians 6.2; 9.1; cited in Richardson, Early Christian Fathers, 89, 90).

6. “Hate” (miseō) – in verse 6 Jesus adds the specific commendation for this church you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. It might surprise us to see hate being commended. First, we must note that they “hate the deeds”. God hates all sin and expects His people to hate it as well. We can not get comfortable with evil doctrine of immorality or become desensitized to the sin we see around us.

i. We know very little for certain about the Nicolaitans (they are mentioned later in the letter to the church in Pergamos). Beyond that there is nothing, and anything we find is outside scripture. From various writings it seems to refer to an apostate group who led others to commit immorality.
ii. Merrill C. Tenney, professor of New Testament and Greek studies says… “the teaching of the Nicolaitans was an exaggeration of the doctrine of Christian liberty which attempted an ethical compromise with heathenism”
iii. Irenaeus wrote of the Nicolaitans that they “lived lives of unrestrained indulgence”
iv. Clement of Alexandria added that the Nicolaitans “abandon themselves to pleasure like goats… leading a life of self-indulgence” (cited in Barclay, The Revelation of John, 1.67).

7. The Ephesian church was not taken in by this heresy.

C. Let’s recap then, all that was going right in this church at Ephesus:

1. They were a working church.
2. They were disciplined and discerning in doctrine.
3. They had endured hardship without growing weary.
4. They were persevering through troubles.

III. What Jesus Rebukes: Then in Revelation 2:4 – “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Despite the good things that Jesus has said about this church, this is a serious flaw. In the first chapter of his letter to this church, Paul says in Ephesians 1:15 – “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, 16. do not cease to give thanks for you… ”. That was years before. Things had changed in Ephesus. What does it mean for a church to leave its first love?

A. They had allowed their love for Jesus and each other to grow cold. What brought them to Christ no longer motivated their activities. Even though their works were right, and they were even willing to bear reproach to uphold the truth, they lacked the essential reason God had provided.

1. When we consider love, we cannot help but think of Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians about the primary place of love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 – “1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”
2. It is possible to do the right things for the wrong reason or even without reason at all. Serving God has a necessary emotional component. WHY becomes a harder question for us to ask than WHAT or HOW.

i. Let me give an example: A person who begins teaching a Bible class or giving to a ministry out of a love and zeal for Christ, later only stays with this work because no one else will take the job.
ii. Another example, Christians who now attend worship out of an obligation to family, or because others would be upset – but they do not do it out of love anymore.
iii. How about at home? Marriages can continue to exist, even after the love has grown cold. The activities are mechanical and unfulfilling. Churches can prove to be sound in doctrinal matters, but dead and cold in their love for God and each other.

3. A loveless obedience is a real threat among those who strive to do the right things, and do not tolerate evil. One author offers this observation: “Every virtue carries within itself the seeds of its own destruction. It may indeed be possible that desire for sound teaching and the resulting forthright action taken to exclude all imposters, can create a climate of suspicion in which brotherly love might no longer exist… Good works and pure doctrine are not adequate substitutes for that rich relationship of mutual love shared by persons who have just experienced the redemptive love of God.”

i. One must be careful with this sort of comment because it seems to imply that it was their very loyalty to the faith that resulted in their lapse. Their hatred of heresy "bred" their defection; and that cannot be true. God’s pure word produces pure faith and love.
ii. It was "their leaving their first love, who is Christ." A failure in the Christian's heart of their love for Christ results quickly in the other failures. Their actions, their defense of the faith, had become action for action’s sake rather then action born out of love for the One who first loved us and gave Himself for us.

4. We must stand against evil and desire sound teaching. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 - “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;”
5. Of course, we must oppose a brother, who teaches error, yet our stand must be taken with care remembering that who we love first is Christ. Paul tells the Galatians in Galatians 6:1 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

IV. What Jesus Commands: Revelation 2:5 – “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.”

A. Remember is the first word here. It is noteworthy that Jesus’ solution starts with the command to remember. When the love goes out of a marriage, the counselor may ask the couple to remember why they married each other in the first place – recall the emotion, the commitment, the willing sacrifice. What was good about the other person?

1. What is good about Jesus? Why do we love Him? God wants us to remember, so we do not lose our love.
2. Repent: They needed to repent in a deliberate rejection of their sins, because to fail to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength is sin. Matthew 22:36-38 says – “36. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?'' 37. Jesus said to him, " `You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38. "This is the first and great commandment.” Without a willingness to humbly repent, there is not hope of recovery from such a critical error.
3. Speaking of what Jesus said in Matthew 22 what did He say next in verse 39? “And the second is like it: `You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

B. Do the first works: Finally, they needed to demonstrate the genuineness of their repentance and do the deeds they did at first. They needed to recapture the richness of Bible study, devotion to prayer, and passion for worship that had once characterized them. The church’s cold love for God may have become evident in their disregard for each other. Start serving God in love and then you will start serving each other again. Put first things first.

V. What He Promises: Revelation 2:5 – “or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you repent.” Revelation 2:7 – “… To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

A. As critical as their sin was, it was not too late. If they repent, God will forgive. If they do not repent, Jesus will come quickly and remove their candlestick.

1. This coming of Jesus is not His second coming, but a coming judgment on this church. The final coming of Christ in the Judgment to come will occur, irrespective of any group's repenting or not. Although we are accountable as individuals, a church can lose its lampstand. What does that mean?
2. First, we must recognize that this is something that only Jesus could do. The lampstand from the image in chapter 1, represents the place of the church in the mission to bring the light of God to the world. It represents the church’s place with Jesus.
3. A church can lose its lampstand while it yet exists. Burton Coffman puts it this way… “This does not refer to any total destruction of a church or of a city, but to the removal of the impenitent from any effective status as a lampstand of the truth in Jesus Christ. Many a church has continued to enjoy life on earth long after their utility as an effective instrument for spreading the gospel of Christ has perished. Such churches have indeed had their "lampstand" removed.”
4. This promise emphasizes again that it is Jesus who holds the sovereignty. Our life as a church exists in His mind, not ours. We may be listed in every directory, but missing from among the lampstands tended by Christ.

B. Then Verse 7 does indeed seem to point to the Judgment to come. Notice that this promise is personal and individual, not corporate. To each one who overcomes, he will be able to eat from the tree of life.

CONCLUSION:
We see from reading John’s last book - the status of the churches. I can not help but wonder, where will this church be in the years to come? Will we still be here? A few things are certain:
• We will experience change,
• Satan will not quit trying to destroy us
• If we do not abandon Him, God will see us through whatever comes.

He is our first love. We must not leave Him.
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We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.

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Reference Sermon: Dave Schmidt – 4/15/2018

Decisions, Decisions!

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Acts 26:1-32

INTRO: Good morning, Church. In our study of the Book of Acts we have been on an incredible journey, especially in these last few chapters following the apostle Paul’s trials and tribulations. He had been passed from pillar to post, but he never lost sight of the fact that God was in control of his life, if he remained faithful to the task of witnessing for Christ.

Last time in Acts, we saw God was helping Paul through many different people. Even when some Jewish leaders were bent on getting rid of Paul and plotted to take his life multiple times, God was protecting him. We left Paul before Festus and he made an appeal to speak to Caesar himself. He never gave up, even when he was being passed around from one courtroom to another.

I heard an old story about a small boy with his father, who were in an elevator going up in the Empire State Building. As they flashed by the 66th floor, the child, in considerable anxiety, clasped his father's hand, and in a whisper, said, "Does God know we are coming?" God certainly knows who’s going where and even though Caesar didn’t know the apostle Paul was coming to Rome, God assuredly did.

I. Before God gets Paul to Rome, he has some unfinished business in yet another courtroom. We pick up Paul’s story again in Acts 26 and it’s here we find Paul making his defense before King Agrippa. Acts 26:1-5 – “1. Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself.'' So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2. "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3. "especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4. "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5. "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.”[NKJV]

A. You will recall that Festus is the representative of Rome and had the full authority of Rome behind him. But here Luke tells us that it was Agrippa who told Paul he was permitted to speak.

1. With an outstretched hand Paul began by saying he was happy to make his defense before the king, especially because King Agrippa would have been familiar with Jewish teachings and customs.
2. I suspect Paul must have had a long talk in mind since he begged the king to be patient.
3. Paul goes on and talks about his citizenship. He reminds the king that he was brought up in Jerusalem and was well known among the Jews. In fact, he was so well known among the Jews, Paul says; why not ask those who are accusing me today?
4. I suspect indeed some of his accusers may well have remembered the zealous young Pharisee in his youth. They would have remembered Saul, as he was known back then, during his time as a persecutor.

B. Isn’t it amazing what people choose to remember? Decisions, decisions, what do we select to remember?

1. I know all of us at some point in our lives have had bad experiences whether they are church related or not. I’ve heard it said that much of our memory is our choice. We select things to dwell on and then reinforce those memories by going over them again and again.
2. Yes, we may have had a bad experience in the past with some people, but not all our experiences were all bad. I’m sure there would have been some great times of friendship and love, perhaps even with those same people.
3. What I’m saying is we need to choose wisely, focus, and remember those good times. Because speaking from experience, if you dwell on the bad things, they can eat away at you and stop you from moving on.

C. Note the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 – “13. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul says forget what’s happened in the past and move forward.

II. Remember in Acts 24:21 we saw that Paul said he was being judged for his hope in the resurrection. Now let’s look at what Paul tells Agrippa he was being judged for. Acts 26:5-8 – “5. "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6. "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7. "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8. "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?”

A. Have the charges been changed without anyone knowing about it? Is Paul changing his argument? Paul says, he was now being judged “for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.” Paul is referring to the hope of the resurrection of the dead as proved by the resurrection of Christ.

1. In fact Paul taught that the hope of Israel was to be found only in and through Jesus of Nazareth. This, of course, infuriated many of the Jews; but that seemed to Paul an incredible behavior on their part.
2. Imagine you live in the city and Sunday morning you are waiting at the stop for the Mayfield bus to come to take you for worship. You ask the elderly gentleman next to you ‘when does the Mayfield bus arrive?’ He says ‘in about five minutes.’

a. Seeing you have a few of minutes to spare you focus your attention on how you look, making sure your hair is nice, check your clothes haven’t got any wrinkles in them, and that your shoes are nice and clean.
b. When you have checked yourself repeatedly you ask the kind gentlemen next to you, ‘how long now before the Mayfield bus arrives?’ He says, “oh you just missed it.” The reason you missed the bus was because you were so focused on yourself, you forgot to look up for the bus.

3. That is a silly illustration of course, but as silly as that illustration sounds that’s exactly what the Jews did, they didn’t have a few minutes, they had hundreds of years to wait for the Messiah they were promised, and they missed Him because they were so focused on all the technicalities, they forgot to look up.

a. Paul says that this very hope was sought by all the tribes of Israel. In fact, he said their daily earnest service to God was based upon that very hope. Paul couldn’t understand the charge because the very essence of that hope was the basis of the Jews' accusations against him.
b. They had missed the Messiah, and they didn’t even understand their own argument.

B. Someone once gave this little piece of advice, if you ever get into a debate with anyone about any issue, always argue using scripture. It surprises me when people, even Christians, try and make a point about something and they throw Scripture at you but that same Scripture never seems to apply to them.

1. It never ceases to amaze me when people quote Scripture to you, yet it seems to have a different meaning when it is applied to them.
2. The Jews knew about the Messiah, they knew about the hope they had in the resurrection of dead, but they forgot the Scriptures applied to them too.
3. They seem to have forgotten the power of God. I suspect that’s why Paul asked King Agrippa, "Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”
4. Because Paul asked this specific question, it shows us that his accusers were primarily of the Sadducees, who if you remember, didn’t believe in the resurrection of the dead which is a shame.

III. Paul now moves on to his time as a persecutor of the Lord’s church. Acts 26:9-11 – “9. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10. "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11. "And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.”

A. Paul says he took actions to stop the teaching about Jesus and His followers, because he was convinced that is what God wanted him to do. Just as Agrippa's family had pursued an end to the life of Jesus, Paul had pursued an end to the teachings of Jesus.

1. He says that many of those saints were shut up in prison in Jerusalem because of his actions.
2. When Paul says, "When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them." What he is saying here is that as a member of the Sanhedrin he voted to condemn them.
3. As we know he didn’t stop there. He punished them in every synagogue. He even went to cities outside of Jerusalem to get them to speak against the name of Jesus.
4. Paul is saying, don’t tell me what the Jewish beliefs are. I know them. You don’t need to tell me how zealous you should be against anyone who teaches anything against our forefather’s teachings. I was.

B. Paul describes himself in Philippians 3:5-6 – “5. circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6. concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.” Paul says when it came to being a Jew, he was right at the top with the best of them.

IV. Agrippa must have been a patient man as Paul continues with his defense in Acts 26:12-18 – “12. "While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13. "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14. "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, `Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15. "So I said, `Who are You, Lord?' And He said, `I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16. `But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17. `I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18. `to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'”

A. We will not dwell too much on this because we have studied Paul’s road to Damascus experience a few times already in this study of the Acts. Here Paul shares the account of his conversion and his purpose for that conversion.

1. To further make his point to Agrippa, he tells him that on his way to Damascus in pursuit of even more Christians, He saw a great light, which was brighter than the sun coming out of heaven at midday and surrounding him and his companions.
2. After the group fell to the ground, a voice spoke to him in Hebrew, saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." Naturally, Paul asked the Voice to identify Himself and the Voice identified Himself as Jesus of Nazareth.
3. This Jesus of Nazareth told him to stand up because He intended for him to minister and witness for Him both as to the things he had seen and would see. The Lord went on and promised to protect Paul from harm coming either from the Jews or the Gentiles, to whom he was being sent, and we have seen that very powerfully in our study.

B. Then in verse 18, just in case Agrippa wondered what Paul’s purpose was, Paul tells him his purpose was to open their eyes to their own sinfulness.

1. To show them the way of receiving forgiveness of sins and the great inheritance available to those set apart by their faith in Jesus.
2. Paul, as you can imagine is now in full flow sermon mode and like all good preachers, he knows when it’s time to get to the point.

V. Acts 26:19-21 – “19. "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20. "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21. "For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.”

A. Paul could not disobey a voice from heaven, so he preached the gospel in Damascus and Jerusalem, both to the Jews and Gentiles. Paul raises an important point here, the necessity of repentance, a turning toward God and living a life showing the works of repentance.

1. We all know the importance of repentance before a person becomes a Christian.
2. Please don’t ever think that that is the one and only time you ever need to repent. Christians are a repentant people and when they sin they need to confess those sins to God, and repent.
3. We can tell each other that we have repented of a sin but we’re not fooling anyone except ourselves if our actions aren’t backing up our confession.

B. This is an important point and as Christians we need to be passionate about this. For one thing, I get a little frustrated when I get emails asking me to ‘say a little prayer and invite Jesus into my heart and I will be a Christian’. There is no mention of believing, confession, or baptism, never mind the word repent. I also get a little frustrated when people say they are sorry about this or that but their actions clearly tell me a different story.

1. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 7:10 – “For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” In other words, repentance produces fruit. Repentance is proven by the actions which follow. Repentance is not sorrow for sin, it is a change of the will, with regard to sin.
2. It’s more than feeling sorry for ourselves. Worldly sorrow is the kind of sorrow and fretting that focuses on ourselves – what I did wrong, how bad I am, why I can’t stop. This kind of grief gets us nowhere. Through he was sorrowful for his actions, Judas committed suicide.
3. Repentance, the change of will, is a clear demonstration to God and your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, that you are sorry for your sin.
4. When Paul was in Athens, he said in Acts 17:30 – “… these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,”
5. If that offends anyone we do not need to be sorry because Jesus Himself said in Luke 13:3 – “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

C. If repentance is a part of the gospel message, if repentance is a command which we are commanded to do every time we sin against God or our brothers and sisters in Christ, then we need to keep it in the gospel message. We need show our repentance in our actions.

In Scotland, six miles north-west of Dumfries and Galloway is Trailtrow Hill. On that hill is a watch tower named "Repentance" when it was built.
What gave the tower its name we are not told, but it is said that an English baronet, walking near the castle, saw a shepherd boy lying upon the ground, reading attentively.
"What are you reading, lad?"
"The Bible, sir."
"The Bible, indeed!" laughed the gentleman.
"Then you must be wiser than the parson. Can you tell me the way to heaven?"
"Yes, sir, I can," replied the boy, in no way embarrassed by the mocking tone of the other; "you must go by way of yonder tower."
The gentleman saw that the boy had learned right well the lesson of his book.
Being rebuked, he walked away in silence.

D. We all, every person on earth, has a decision to make, repent and live or don’t repent and die. That’s John’s point in 1 John when he talks about the sin that leads to death. Any sin which isn’t confessed and repented of will lead to death. I know that the word repent not only silences some people but it also upsets some, but that is nothing new, is it?

1. At the core of those Jewish people who were trying to get rid of Paul were those who could not tolerate the idea of the need for repentance and rejected the idea of the resurrection.
2. I find it of note that it is the Sadducees, those of secular Israel, who totally rejected Christ, leading the way.

E. Paul being the devote Christian that he was gave credit where credit was due. We are now at Acts 26:22-23 – “22. "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come, 23. "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.''”
F. Paul said, it was only by God's help that he was still alive to tell Agrippa that Moses and the prophets had said the Christ would suffer, rise from the dead, and spread the good news among Jews and Gentiles.

1. He wasn’t alive speaking to Agrippa because he was an eloquent speaker, he was still alive because God had a purpose for him.
2. He gave credit where credit is due. We need to do the same. It is important to thank God today for the life He has given us.

VI. After a long time speaking with the king, Festus has heard enough. Acts 26:24-27 – “24. Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!'' 25. But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26. "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27. "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.''”

A. Luke tells us that Festus interrupted with a loud declaration that Paul had gone crazy from too much learning. Festus showed the total lack of spiritual discernment which is always the mark of the carnal man. A typically cynical subaltern of Rome, he decided to break up the meeting. I wonder if he even noticed that his royal guests were getting the message.

1. Paul replied by simply and respectfully saying he was not crazy but spoke the truth.
2. Paul uses his opportunity to speak in his defense to focus more on trying to convert his judges. The apostle went on to note that the events surrounding and following Jesus' life were done in the open for all to see and had been well known to King Agrippa.
3. He then asked Agrippa if he believed the prophets. Paul answered for him, perhaps sensing, or through the Spirit knowing what the King was thinking, of course he believed the prophets.

CONCLUSION:
Agrippa recognized that Paul was using a concise argument intended to persuade him to follow Jesus as the Christ. Acts 26:28-29 – “28. Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian.'' 29. And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.''”

God gave us free will, the power of choice, and that implies the need to make decisions.
Luke tells us that Paul expressed his true desire that Agrippa, along with everyone else who heard his voice, would be converted to the point of zealously following the Lord just as he did. That should be the goal of every single Christian.

Yes, we have friendships. Yes, we have people we just say hi to, but underneath all of that there should be a desire within every one of us, for them to become what we are… Christians.

Every now and then people will realize this and do one of two things. They will either want to know more, or they will walk away. That was the choice which Agrippa, Festus, and Bernice had to make.
Acts 26:30-32 – “30. When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; 31. and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, "This man is doing nothing worthy of death or chains.'' 32. Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.''”

Agrippa, Festus, and Bernice left the room concluding that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or chains. In fact, King Agrippa stated that Paul could have been released had it not have been for his appeal for the case to be heard by Caesar.

Yes, they left the room, but Paul had seized the moment, and the seed was sown. The decision was theirs to make. These people knew where Paul was brought up, they knew what he was like as a young person, they knew what he was like as a Jew, and they knew what he was like before becoming a Christian.

There are many people in our lives who know certain things about our past just as Paul was known. Like with Paul they also need to see the transforming power of the gospel in our lives as Christians now. We’re not born Christians, we are born again Christians.

It should be the prayer of every single Christian that all of our friends, family, neighbors and enemies, that in the short time or long, they too will be become what we have become.

Remember we have already made our decision to follow Jesus, it’s our friends, family, neighbors, and enemies who need to decide for themselves who they want to follow.
____________________________________________________________________________________

We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.

If anybody needs to respond, either to dedicate themselves to Christ, be buried with Him in baptism, and become a part of the work He has for us; or if you need to ask for prayers on your behalf, won’t you come forward as we stand and sing our Invitational song.

 

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Reference Sermon: Mike Glover

Lessons From THe Tomb

Posted by Chardon in DefaultTag

Matthew 27: 57 – 66

A man was driving along the highway when saw a very large and very colorful rabbit hopping across the middle of the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the rabbit but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of the car and was struck by his car. The driver, being a sensitive man, as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road, and got out to check out the situation. Much to his dismay, the colorful rabbit was dead. The driver felt so awful, he began to cry.

A woman driving down the highway saw the man crying on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong. 'I feel terrible', he explained, 'I accidentally hit this big, colorful rabbit and killed it. What should I do?'

The woman told the man not to worry. She knew what to do. She went to her car trunk, and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the dead, limp rabbit, and sprayed the contents of the can onto the furry animal. Miraculously the rabbit came to life, jumped up, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped down the road. After traveling about 50 feet away the rabbit stopped turned around, waved and continued hopping down the road. After another 50 feet or so, he turned again, waved and hopped another 50 feet, again he waved.

The man was astonished. He couldn't figure out what substance could be in the woman's spray can. He ran over to the woman and asked, 'What is in your spray can?
The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label. It said:
'Hair spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds permanent wave.'

This morning I would like to look at the 27th chapter of Matthew and a few lessons we can learn from the tomb of Jesus.

The disciples must have been devastated. They had been inspired by Jesus’ teachings. And they had decided to follow Him. It had not been an easy road, but they had willingly left families, homes, & jobs to follow Jesus.

As they walked with Him they had seen amazing things. They had seen Him multiply a few loaves & fishes & feed the multitudes. They saw Him walk on water, & calm an angry storm.
They saw Him straighten crooked limbs & give sight to the blind. He even raised the dead back to life again. Truly, He was the Messiah that God had promised would come!

And a week prior, when He entered Jerusalem. People lined the streets and you could hear their jubilant “Hosannas” & watch as they waved palm branches & threw flowers before Him. Everything confirmed that THEY had followed the RIGHT man.

But now He is dead. How could they have been SO WRONG? What would they do now?
What do you do when your heart is filled with despair?
What do you do when your world falls apart?

Well, what did happen? And what lessons can we apply to our lives today? Our scripture text this morning is Matthew 27:57-66.
I. THE SCENE AT THE TOMB
A. To begin with, the Bible tells us that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus.
Listen to vs’s 57-58. “As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.
“Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body,
and Pilate ordered that it be given to him.”
What do we know about this man named Joseph? We don’t know much, but we do know some things about him.

1. First of all, he was from Arimathea, a small town about 20 miles from Jerusalem. As towns go, Arimathea wasn’t very important, but Joseph himself evidently was.
In fact, Mark 15:43 tells us he was “...a prominent member of the Council...” (That’s the Sanhedrin, the supreme judicial authority of Israel who had illegally condemned Jesus to death).
But Luke 23:51 says that he was “...a good & upright man, who had not consented to their decision & action.”

2. Secondly, Matthew tells us that he was rich. I don’t know about you, but sometimes we act as if we think that Jesus came to minister only to those who are poor & down & out.
But Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me.” (John 12:32) He came to minister not just to the poor but to the rich, also. TO ALL MEN!!!

3. Thirdly, Joseph had an acquaintance named Nicodemus who helped him bury Jesus. Listen to John 19:39, “He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh & aloes, about 75 pounds.”

Matthew 27:59-60 goes on to say, “Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, & placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb & went away.”
So Joseph & Nicodemus together buried Jesus. They shared the cost. Joseph paid for the tomb, & Nicodemus paid for the burial spices. Why did they do this?

4. The apostle John gives a reason when he writes in John 19:38,
“Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews.”
ILL. That reminds me of the little boy who had adopted a stray dog. Someone asked, “What kind of dog is that?” He answered, “He’s a police dog.” The man said, “He doesn’t look like a police dog.” The boy answered, “That’s because he’s in the secret service.”

There are some Christians who seem to be in the secret service, following Jesus at a distance. They want to be His disciples, but like Joseph of Arimathea, they’re not sure they want everyone else to know. So they keep their faith secret.
Maybe now, when it was too late, Joseph & Nicodemus were trying to make amends, by doing the only thing left to do - bury the body of Jesus.

B. But Joseph & Nicodemus weren’t the only ones at the tomb. Vs. 61 says, “Mary Magdalene & the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.”

Do you realize that Jesus acted differently toward women than the average Jewish man? He treated women with respect. He acknowledged the presence of women. He spoke to them in public. No rabbi or Pharisee would have done that!
So, two women were there. They had been with others at the cross, weeping as He died. And now they were there as He was being buried.

C. Enemies of Jesus came to the tomb also.
Vs’s 62-63 say, “The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests & the Pharisees went to Pilate. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After 3 days I will rise again.’’

Now think about that.
The enemies of Jesus remembered that He had predicted His resurrection. And because His enemies remembered, they said to Pilate in vs’s 64-66,
“So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come & steal the body & tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. The last deception will be worse than the first.”

“‘Take a guard,’ Pilate answered. ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So, they went & made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone & posting the guard.’”

ILL. James Stuart, the writer, says that the most pathetic sentence in human literature is that of Pilate to the priests, “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
Stuart asks, “What would you say to a man who stands in the gray of dawn & says to the rising sun, ‘Stop! You cannot soar into the heavens today’?

“Or what would you say to a man who stands on the beach & draws a line in the sand & says to the tide, ‘Halt! You cannot cross this line’?
You would say to each of them, ‘You are mad!’
So what do you say to Roman soldiers who stand with spears in hand, guarding the tomb which holds the Lord of Life, trying to keep Him from rising from the dead? “

ILL. A hymn writer wrote:
See the tomb where death had laid Him, Empty now, its mouth declares; “Death & I could not contain Him, For the Throne of Life He shares.”
Come & worship, come & worship, Worship Christ, the Risen King!

 

And as we worship, there are 4 lessons we should learn. The first one is: “Be realistic. The Christian life can be an emotional roller coaster.”
For the disciples it was exactly that. For them, Palm Sunday was a mountain-top experience. Then came Friday & the cross. And then Sunday & the resurrection. Up & down, up & down, & up again.
There are some who believe that once we become a Christian our troubles will be over, & everything will be wonderful from then on. But as we mature in the faith, as we learn to be realistic about our lives, we can say with the apostle Paul,

“I have learned the secret of being content in any & every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” [Philippians 4:12-13].

B. Here’s a second lesson: “Be patient. Desperate circumstances sometimes can be quickly reversed.”
For the disciples it took only 3 days. On Friday they are in deep despair, but by Sunday night they’re on top of the mountain because of the resurrection. So sometimes things can be quickly reversed.

Sometimes we wonder: “Why does God allow us to find ourselves in desperate circumstances?” The answer ought to be clear: God allows us to experience desperate things in life so that we’ll turn to Him.
Oftentimes it is only when we’re desperate or in despair, that we really recognize our need of God.

ILL. Why did God allow Moses to reach the shore of the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit? So that the people would turn to God for help.
Then God parted the waters of the Red Sea & the children of Israel walked across on dry ground.
Why did God permit Joseph to spend years in an Egyptian prison? So that he would depend completely on God. Then God gave him the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams & soon he is the Prime Minister of Egypt.

Why did God allow Jonah to be thrown overboard into a stormy sea? So that He could send His special fish to rescue him & vomit him up on the shore nearest Nineveh. Then he could preach the message of God to the people of Nineveh.

C. Here is the third lesson: “Be faithful, even when God doesn’t change your circumstances.”
I think the ultimate test of faith is not “What do we do when the problems are taken away?” The ultimate test of faith in our lives is “What do we do if the problems are not taken away?”

ILL. Maybe you’re dealing with cancer, & there’s no cure. And every day you experience the pain & face the uncertainty of the future.
Maybe you have a spouse or parent with Alzheimer’s. You’ve been dealing with that now for months & it just goes on & on.
Maybe you have a home situation filled with stress & tension, & there seems to be no solution to it.

The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though the going is rough for a while down here. These trials are only to test your faith, to see whether or not it is strong & pure.”

D. And the fourth lesson is: “God’s plan may be better than all of our plans.”

 

ILL. Becky Pepper tells the familiar children’s story: “Once Upon A Mountaintop.” It’s about 3 little trees growing on the top of a mountain.
These trees were talking together one day. (Remember that In children’s stories trees can talk with one another.)
One tree said to the others, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
One answered, “Well, when I look up at the heavens & see the stars sparkling in the sky, I think to myself, ‘I’d like to be a treasure chest that holds diamonds & precious stones.’”

The other one said, “Well, when I grow up, I want to be part of a giant ship that sails across the sea carrying kings & queens to important destinations.”

Then the one who asked the question in the first place said, “When I grow up I just want to stay right here. I want to grow tall & straight, pointing to the heavens so that everyone who comes up on the mountain will look at me & think of God.”

Over the years the trees grew & grew. Finally, men came & cut the trees & took them down from the mountain.
The first one was delighted to find that he was being taken to a carpenter’s shop. But he was devastated when he discovered that he was not going to be made into a treasure chest, but rather, into a feeding trough.
And instead of holding precious stones, he would hold hay & feed for animals. And animals would come & slobber over him.

The second one was delighted to find that he was being taken to the seaside. But then he was devastated to discover that he was not going to be part of a giant ship, but just a tiny fishing boat. And his cargo would not be kings & queens taken to important places, but dead, smelly fish.
The third tree was disappointed that he was cut down. He had just wanted to stay on top of the mountain. He was even more disappointed when he was cut into beams that were placed in a stack of lumber & forgotten.

Years passed, & one day 2 people came into the stable where the young feeding trough had now grown old & worn through years of use.
The old feeding trough watched as the woman gave birth to a baby, wrapped him in swaddling clothes, & then laid him in the feeding trough. And he thought to himself, “I am a treasure chest, because now I hold the most precious thing that has ever come into this world.”

More years passed, & one day the second tree was sailing across the Sea of Galilee. On board were strangers, mostly fishermen.
Suddenly the winds came up & blew fiercely, & the waves began to beat against the little ship. Then one of the men stood up & said, “Peace, be still.” And the little ship suddenly realized that his task was not to carry kings, but the King of Kings & Lord of Lords.

A couple more years passed & one day the third tree was yanked from the lumber pile, & placed on the shoulders of a man who had to carry it through jeering crowds toward a hill called Calvary.
When they got there the beam was tossed to the ground, & the man was placed upon it. Then it felt the penetration of the nails driven through the man’s hands, & into its wood.
And as the people gathered around cursing & mocking the man, the poor tree felt ugly & hated, too.
But then the man was taken down & buried in a tomb, & on the third day raised from the dead. And the tree said, “Now I know that every time men look at ME they’ll think of God.”
INVITATION

 

Sermon Contributor Melvin Newland

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