The Whole New Testament is about Evangelism

The Whole New Testament is About the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20 and a survey of the New Testament)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 23, 2020

Over the past six weeks I talked about knowing Jesus. Once you realize that you know Jesus I hope you want others to know Him too. You want others to have the same relationship with Jesus that you have.

Today, I begin a series titled be contagious in 2020.

I once heard that no one in hell is upset that someone shared the Gospel with them. What do you think? Why are we so afraid to talk about Jesus with other people? Are we afraid to talk about our children with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our job with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our spouse with someone else? Are we afraid to talk about our hobbies? Why are we afraid to share the Gospel? I think it is spiritual warfare. The devil does not want us to talk about the Gospel.

The Gospel is about abundant life now and eternal life later (John 10:10).

Today’s sermon is a survey through the New Testament. I want to show you that the whole New Testament has an evangelism undercurrent. Sometimes the New Testament is quite blunt about evangelism, other times it is an undercurrent. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.

Sometimes I do a workout called high intensity interval training in which a leader is leading me through intense cardio. It is called Insanity. It is intimidating when we are stretching and the leader says, “Are you as nervous as I am about this workout?” Let me tell you this message will be like insanity, meaning, a lot of intensity really fast in a short amount of time. There is a lot of Bible in this message and a lot of content so fasten your seatbelt and let’s get going.

My theme is: The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.

My application: be an evangelist

A number of years ago on a Friday night I received a text from another pastor and it said, “Are you in season?” I instantly knew what it meant. 2 Timothy 4:1-5 says to preach the Word in season and out of season. The next day was their turn to find a speaker for the Men’s Breakfast and he was asking me to preach. Usually, when it is last minute, I recycle a message, but this time I was convicted to write something new. I am not a last minute guy, but I believe the Holy Spirit was working in that message. Recently, I was going through some files and found that message. This message is edited from that message theme.

Thom Rainer shares “When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”

Are we passionate about the Gospel? Would we give up certain things we like in church if it meant more people will be saved?

  1. The church’s marching orders come from: Matthew 28:19-20
    1. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
    2. So, if you are here and you are a believer in Jesus Christ that means that you are here to reach other people with the Gospel. Do you realize this? Our churches have for far too long been filled with people who are gluttonous with everything but passion for the Gospel. We have been gluttonous about our preferences. We have been gluttonous about our favorite Theology, and theology is great, but it must convict and compel us to the Gospel, otherwise we are stuck in 2 Timothy 3:7: Always learning but never coming to a knowledge of the Truth. For too long we have been coming to great knowledge, but the knowledge doesn’t compel and convict us to set the captive free. So, if you are a believer in Christ, you are now in the Lord’s army. My job is to be a drill sergeant.
    3. Imagine a war scene. You are all in the military and you are on a rescue operation. People have been taken prisoner. People are taken hostage. They are taken hostage by the devil and he holds them hostage in sin. They don’t even know they are hostages. They are caught in Stockholm syndrome. It is your job, it is our job, to get them out. We have to rescue them. Once they are saved, they become disciples in order to rescue others.
    4. Let’s look at another example of the Great Commission:
    5. Mark 16:15: And He said to them,“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
    6. Why did John write his Gospel? John 20:31: but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
  2. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel, but so was the Old Testament. Check this out:
    1. Luke: 24:45: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, [Old Testament] 46 and said to them,“Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
    2. Do you know that even in the Old Testament God wanted a relationship with people? Go home and read Jonah. Jonah was the reluctant, racist prophet and yet God sent him to Nineveh to lead them to repentance.
  • The Great Commission is in Acts again.
    1. Acts 1:8: but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
    2. The whole New Testament is about the Gospel.
    3. The word Gospel means (Gk. euangelion, ‘good news’). In classical literature the word designated the reward given for good tidings. It also indicated the message itself, originally the announcement of victory, but later applied to other messages bringing joy[1]
    4. The word Gospel is used 97 times.
    5. For the most part, every New Testament letter, or book is about evangelism.
  1. Survey of the New Testament.
    1. Matthew: Matthew seemed to address problems that were primarily where Jewish Christians were a prominent part of the audience and where these Jewish Christians kept a closer relationship with the synagogue and non Christian Jews. There is a tension focused on in Matthew between an exclusive mission to Israel and the mission to non Jewish nations. (Mt. 10:5-6; 23;15:24; 1:5;2:1-12;8:5-13; 12:21; 13:38; 15:21-28; 21:33-43; 22:1-10; 24:14; 27:54; 28:19-20) According to D.A. Hagner we cannot take one side of the other on these. Matthew still has a message on target to gentile Christians. These are to gentile Christians who may fail to value the Jewishness of Jewish Christians pressuring them to minimize all Jewish practices that were a threat to the gentile believer’s sense of equality (DeSilva 237-238).
    2. We already read the Great Commission from Matthew.
    3. Additionally, I believe the whole sermon on the mount is point out that they need a Savior.
    4. Mark: One of the purposes assuming a pre 70 AD date is to help Christians dealing with the persecution under Nero. (or after) Another purpose is that the shape of discipleship must follow the pattern of the rejected Messiah. Mark writes about the purpose of discipleship as well as maybe to comfort Christians or also to encourage Christians who are reserved about sharing their faith in persecution.
    5. Luke: Luke and John are the only Gospels that give their purpose: “an orderly account that he hopes will enable Theophilus to know the truth about the things which you have been instructed.” Not merely a historical work but to confirm the commitment made and instruction received by Theophilus and other Christian readers like him as they joined the movement. Luke clarifies the position of the church with regard to the Roman Empire. Luke focuses on the Gentiles as well as the Jewish people. He does talk about Theodicy which is how God did in fact fulfill the promises of the OT to the house of David. There is a Christocentric reading of the Jewish Scriptures extending this to the early church  (DeSilva 307-310).
    6. Of course we already read about how Jesus opened the disciples eyes at the end of Luke’s Gospel to reveal that the Scriptures taught about Him.
    7. John: Many suggest that this Gospel was written as an evangelical Gospel. We can even make John 20:31 as a purpose statement. “These are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.”
    8. Acts: I already read Acts 1:8. Acts is all about the spread of the church from Jerusalem to Rome. Acts is all about what Mark Driscoll calls Riot evangelism. Paul comes into an area, a riot breaks out, people are saved and he moves on. Maybe that is what we need in our area.
    9. Romans: 1:14-16: 14 I amunder obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 
    10. Romans 15:20-2120 And thus I aspired topreach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation…
    11. 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians are written to a church that had been planted and now needed some discipleship.
      1. 1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, forI am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
      2. Verses 19-23:
  • 19 For though I amfree from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. 23 I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.
  1. So, we have 1 Corinthians 15:1-15:
  2. NowI make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve… 
  1. The Prison Epistles: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon are all full of evangelical Theology, these are fresh, new churches.
    1. Ephesians chapters 1-3 are all about soteriology, the theology of salvation.
    2. Ephesians 3 is all about this mystery about Jews and Gentiles united.
  • Galatians is all about our salvation by grace.
  1. 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians have a theme of people who have lost loved ones and were worried that they were going to miss the resurrection. So we have:
  2. 1 Thessalonians 4:16: 16 For the LordHimself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
  1. The Pastoral Epistles, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus: Building up the church in proper Theology for the church’s purpose. Proper Theology leads us all to evangelism, convicts us all to evangelism.
  2. 2 Timothy 2:10: For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory.
  3. 2 Timothy 4:5: Paul’s dying words: do the work of an evangelist.
  4. Hebrews: New Jewish believers struggling to live the Christian life in persecution. So, they start thinking that the old way, the Jewish way, would be easier. The writer is proving that Jesus is greater than Moses, that Jesus is greater than the Angels.
  5. Hebrews 10:11-12: 11 Every priest stands daily ministering andoffering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God
  6. James: The Proverbs of the New Testament, making sure the Christian’s works match their belief.
  7. 1 Peter, 2 Peter: How about 1 Peter 3:15: but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
  8. 1 John, 2 John, 3 John: Just look at 1 John 1:1-4: What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
  9. 2 and 3 John are trying to keep heresy out of the church.
  10. Jude: Jude had turned aside from writing a letter concerning the “salvation they share” to instead write a letter addressing a problem with itinerant teachers bearing a message that Jude considers incompatible with the Apostolic Gospel.
  11. Then Revelation: The transition from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant, the law that we could not keep to Christ who took care of our sin.

Close:

Where would you be without Christ in your life? Go home and think about that. Then, pray for opportunities to create God space in your life this week.

I hope and pray that we all have prayer partners and accountability partners. Here is an idea. Have that person hold you accountable to Gospel conversations. This week tell your prayer partner that you want him or her to ask you every week how many God space conversations you have had the previous week. What is a God space conversation? Here are examples of God space conversations. These are conversations that you would have with someone who is not living the Christian life. It is not saying that they are not saved, maybe they need to come back to the Lord, only He knows that:

How are you with the Lord?

Can I pray with you?

How can I pray for you?

We are going to pray for our food can we pray for you?

There are others, but I am talking about things that open the spiritual with people.

I pray that we will all take this seriously.

Thom Rainer

“When the preferences of the church members are greater than their passion for the Gospel, the church is dying.”

What are you most passionate about? Put aside your preferences. The Bible is about the Gospel:

1 Corinthians 9:16: 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 

Prayer

 

[1] R. H. Mounce, “Gospel,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 426.

Abide in Jesus (John 15:4)

Knowing Christ in 2020, Conclusion (John 10:10 and John 15:1-6)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 16, 2020

A woman was driving home one night. The weather was really nasty. Rain was coming down in buckets and visibility was very poor. Seeing taillights ahead of her, she followed the car in front. Not being able to see, the car in front seemed to be going in the right direction. So she stuck with it. All of a sudden the car in front of her came to a stop. She began to wonder what had happened; perhaps the car in front had hit a deer or some thing like that. She began to feel uncomfortable; thinking being stopped in the middle of the road can often lead to accidents. Much to her alarm the car in front of her turned off their lights. Her concern was now growing as well as her anger, and she was then startled by a knocking on her window. She looked up and there was a man standing in the pouring rain wanting to speak to her. She cracked the window open and asked the man what the problem was. The man replied by stating that that was the question he was going to ask her. She retorted that she wasn’t the one who had stopped in the middle of the road and then turned off the car lights. The man’s reply was that they were not in the middle of the road, but in his driveway. Obviously, this woman had chosen the wrong leader to follow. She had chosen a leader who would not take her to where she wanted and needed to go. She had chosen the wrong leader and the wrong road.

Are we following Christ? Are we living with Christ? Are we living in a relationship with Christ?

Today, I wrap up the sermon series about Knowing Christ in 2020. Today, I wish to talk about abiding in Christ.

A.W. Tozer wrote:

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”

We need to live with Jesus and we do that through the Holy Spirit.

My theme and application:

We must abide (remain) in Christ and we cannot bear fruit apart from Him.

Let’s read John 15:1-6:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 

  • Abide in Christ.
    • Let’s put this passage in context. We are in the upper room discourse. This is John chapters 13-17.
    • One writes, “It is possible that if the text of this discourse was spoken as they walked from the upper room in Jerusalem down into the Kidron Valley and across to the Mount of Olives, they could have seen the great golden vine, the national emblem of Israel, on the front of the temple.”476[1]
    • Verse 1 shares, Jesus is the Vine and the Father is the Vinedresser.
    • We have an Old Testament idea of Israel as the vine, but the idea was that Israel was the rebellious vine. This is clearly showing that Jesus is the perfect vine. These are different metaphors in Scripture.
    • We could look at this as God, the Father, as the Farmer.
    • The NET Bible: There are numerous OT passages which refer to Israel as a vine: Ps 80:8–16, Isa 5:1–7, Jer 2:21, Ezek 15:1–8, 17:5–10, 19:10–14, and Hos 10:1. The vine became symbolic of Israel, and even appeared on some coins issued by the Maccabees. The OT passages which use this symbol appear to regard Israel as faithless to Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) and/or the object of severe punishment.
    • Jesus is the Vine, this means we must be connected to Him. We will come back to that with verse 4.
    • Verse 2 shows that we’re are connected to Jesus we are to bear fruit. God the Father prunes us so that we do bear fruit. But if we do not bear fruit we are cut off. Literally the branches that do not bear fruit He lifts up. There are two different views on this.
      • Does this mean that branches that do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown into judgment? If this is the case then were they true believers who lost their salvation or were they never believers to begin with? This is difficult because Jesus says that every branch “in Me…” If the unfruitful branch is in Him that seems to mean that they are a believer. But when we get to verse 6 Jesus shares that unfruitful branches are thrown into the fire which seems to be judgment.
      • Some believe that what verse 2 is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are “lifted up” which would mean they get special treatment like a farmer would do and this would make them bear fruit. This would be like using a trellis or something to help it out.
  • Others could say they are not truly in Jesus, like Judas. This connects it to verse 6. 1 John 2:19 talks about people leaving the church that were never really part of the church. This fits with verse 6 and the idea of judgment.
  • However, in agriculture the pruning of verse 2 would happen in the spring and the removal of disconnected branches of verse 6 would happen in the fall.
  • Either way, I believe what Jesus is saying is that branches that do not bear fruit are not truly connected to Him and so they are cut off. Branches that bear fruit are pruned to bear more fruit. The point is that we must be connected to Jesus.
  • In verse 3 Jesus shares the disciples are clean, but they are clean because of what Jesus spoke to them. Jesus cleansed them. In this sense, they are clean, meaning they are already pruned.
  • In John 17:17 Jesus says that God’s Word is truth and Jesus prays that they will be sanctified by the Truth.
  • Verse 4 is key:
    • Abide in Jesus.
    • This means to “remain” in Him or to “live” in Him.
  • Jesus says why they must remain in Him. A branch cannot bear fruit on its own. We need to be in Jesus to bear fruit.
  • This is our key application.
  • This whole sermon series has been about having a relationship with Jesus. We need to know Jesus. We must abide in Him.
  • Brother Lawrence shares: The most holy practice, the nearest to daily life, and the most essential for the spiritual life, is the practice of the presence of God, that is to find joy in his divine company and to make it a habit of life, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him at all times, every moment, without rule or restriction, above all at times of temptation, distress, dryness, and revulsion, and even of faithlessness and sin.[2]
  • Think of this like a power strip. I have here a power strip, but does it have power? No, it needs plugged in. That is how we are without Christ.
  • In verse 5 Jesus adds to verse 4: Jesus clarifies that He is the vine and we are the branches. This adds to the metaphor. A branch must be connected to the vine, so we also must be connected to the Vine. If we are connected to Him, we bear fruit, apart from Him we can do nothing.
    • Think about it: Have any of you cut live tree branches off of a tree?
    • At first, we see them all green with leaves, but within a week they are dead and drying up.
  • The branch must be connected to the tree. We must be connected to the Vine and the Vine is Jesus.
  • Verse 6 tells us what happens if we do not abide in Him. If we do not live in Him we are thrown away like a dead branch. The farmer gathers dead branches and burns them. That is the description of those that do not abide in Him and bear fruit.
  1. Applications:
    1. We must abide (remain) in Jesus (verse 4).
      1. How do we abide in Jesus?
      2. That is what this has been about. I have been preaching and teaching on that for 6 weeks.
        1. Spend time in His Word daily.
        2. Spend time in prayer.
        3. Meditate on His Word.
        4. Go deeper in Bible study.
        5. Spend time with the church family.
      3. We must bear fruit showing that we remain in Jesus (verse 2).
      4. We must worship God that we can live life with Jesus (verse 4).

 

So, where are you at? Don’t give up.

 

Conclusion:

A man once bought a home with a tree in the backyard. It was winter, and nothing marked this tree as different from any other tree. When spring came, the tree grew leaves and tiny pink buds. “How wonderful,” thought the man. “A flower tree! I will enjoy its beauty all summer.” But before he had time to enjoy the flowers, the wind began to blow and soon all the petals were strewn in the yard. “What a mess,” he thought “This tree isn’t any use after all.”

The summer passed, and one day the man noticed the tree was full of green fruit the size of large nuts. He picked a large one and took a bite, “Bleagh!” he cried and threw it to the ground. “What a horrible taste! This tree is worthless. Its flowers are so fragile the wind blows them away, and its fruit is terrible and bitter. When winter comes, I’m cutting it down.” But the tree took no notice of the man and continued to draw water from the ground and warmth from the sun and in late fall produced crisp red apples.

Some of us see Christians with their early blossoms of happiness and think they should be that way forever. Or we see bitterness in their lives, and we’re sure they will never bear the better fruit of joy. Could it be that we forget some of the best fruit ripens late?[3]

 

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

 

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

476 476. Tenney, “John,” p. 150.

[1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 14:30.

[2] Brother Lawrence in The Practice of the Presence of God. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 13.

[3] https://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=john%2015&type=scripture&sourcename=illustrations

Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church (Acts 2:42-47)

Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church (Acts 2:42-47)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 9, 2020

We can learn great lessons of unity and its power simply by observing nature. For example, a single snowflake looks beautiful and innocent. If it remains on its own it can easily fly away or quickly melt away. On its’ own it does no harm and poses no threat to anyone, does it? But when it unites with other snowflakes, they gain more strength and power. We know the power of the accumulation of “snowflakes” they have the power to work havoc and bring a whole administration to halt.

If that is the power of united snowflakes can you imagine the power generated when people are united?[1]

Let me ask you, what does the communal aspect of the church mean to you? How have your Christian friends supported you in the past?

My brother used to come home from work and say, “Pastor Steve…” Just kidding, he never would address me as pastor. He would say, “Steve, I met this great Christian man at work. He knows the Bible so very well. The way he lives matches what he says. He is a good man. He saw Moses part the red sea (Exodus 14:13-31) and he was the small boy (John 6:9) who gave Jesus his lunch to feed 5000, he is a good Christian man. BUT, he says he never goes to church, there are too many hypocrites at church.”

It used to be that I didn’t have the best answer to something like that. Sure, I could cite passages where the author of Hebrews says not to give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25), but what else? Then, something hit me a few years ago. It was like, like lightning just struck my head, but it didn’t hurt. So that makes it the best kind of lightning. The thought came to mind, or God gave me the thought: “Who was the New Testament written to?” You see the whole New Testament is about the setup of the church. Many of the books of the New Testament are written to a church specifically. 1 Corinthians 1:2 is addressed to the Church of God in Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:1 is written to the Church of God in Corinth. 1 and 2 Thessalonians are written to the church in Thessalonica. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 have statements directed to many churches, seven actually. In 1 Timothy chapter 3 we have instructions for the setup of elders and deacons in the church. In Titus chapter 1 we also have instructions for elders in the church. In fact, the term translated as “church” is used 79 times in our New Testament. So, the church is important.

I now know from New Testament studies that the apostle would write a letter, for example 1 Corinthians, and then the people would come together to eagerly listen as it was read. They would come together as a church. Coming together as a church, is the idea of fellowship. Let’s talk about fellowship today.

I hope that today’s message will challenge you to a deeper commitment to fellowship with God and with the church. I hope today’s message will help you understand what fellowship entails. This is important for each follower of Christ and for the church corporately.

As you know I have been preaching about “knowing Jesus in 2020.” Today, I want to focus on the church. One way we know Jesus is through His church.

My theme today is:

Knowing Jesus Through the Corporate Church

  1. First, I would like to talk about fellowship with God.
    1. First, our problem is that because of sin, our fellowship with God is broken. True fellowship begins with God. In Genesis chapter 3 we see that God and humans had fellowship with one another. This fellowship happened in the Garden of Eden which God created for them. But when Adam and Eve sinned that sin placed a barrier in their fellowship with God. All throughout the Old Testament God was showing the people that that barrier cannot be healed on our own. But God longs for a relationship with His people. He created us to glorify Him and He does love us. But we don’t have true fellowship with each other until we have true fellowship with God.
    2. The first part of fellowship is with God and this is restored in Jesus Christ who died to heal your relationship with Him, but that only happens by trusting in Him.
  2. True fellowship with believers:
    1. Now, let’s look at true fellowship with believers. The ideal model is found in Acts 2:42-47.

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. 46 Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.

  1. Notice that all of these verses have to do with a group of people, the New Testament church. None of the verses have to do with an individual.
  2. Let me update you as to what has been going on in Acts chapter 2. Chapter 2 is the Pentecost chapter. The Holy Spirit comes upon the church. Peter preaches a sermon and verse 41 tells us that about 3000 people are saved. Then, starting in verse 42, we see this example of the early church.
  3. Verse 42 says “they” were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching.
  4. This is discipleship practiced in fellowship.
  5. Fellowship means to come together with a common purpose. This verse gives an example of teaching and practicing the teachings of the apostles as a community. The text uses the pronoun “they” to refer to who was doing what. This is more than one person. This is a community.
  6. Verse 42 also says they are about fellowship and prayer. They are breaking bread together. This probably means eating meals together and may also include communion.
  7. Notice how the text says: “they were ‘continually’ devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” They were studying together. They were being devoted to the teaching of what became the New Testament and they were doing this together.
  8. Notice how it says they were devoted to “fellowship.”
  9. We must also teach and live the Scriptures as a community. We must also eat meals together and take communion together. And we definitely must pray together.
  10. I know that there are many people in this church who would love to pray with other Christians, this is critical. The most Spirit empowered times of prayer that I have had have been with other Christians.
  11. Notice verse 43:
  12. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and manywonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.
  13. You see, they were devoted in fellowship and the Holy Spirit was very active.
  14. Verses 44-45 are a summary describing what this community was like. They were together and they had all things in common. They shared with one another.
  15. Do we do this? Do we share with those who have need? Would I do this? Would I sell things to help someone in need? We must. I must. I must be willing to do what needs to be done to bring God’s comfort to God’s people.
  16. Verse 46 continues talking about what they were doing and their attitude. They were doing this daily. They were united in the temple. Why does it say the temple? That is because at this point the Christians still met in the temple. They were eating together at different houses.
    1. Recent excavations in Jerusalem on the Western Hill (part of the Upper City) have resulted in the discovery of a residential district in the ancient city. There were many houses in this area that would have belonged to the wealthier inhabitants of the city.[2]So there were homes in this area where groups could meet.
    2. But notice the text says they had a good attitude about how they did things. My translation says, “Gladness and sincerity of heart.”
  • How are we with our attitude? How are we with doing things as a community? Are we happy to be with Christians?
  1. They were also praising God. They were worshipping together.
  1. Acts 2:42-47 is a model example.
  • In my study I came across the Tyndale Bible Dictionary’s article on Fellowship. This article gave 7 things that should be a part of our fellowship. I want to share these with you.
    1. (1) Love one another with the same compassion that Christ displayed to his own (Jn 13:34–35; 15:12). The law of fellowship should be the rule of love (Heb 13:1
    2. (2) Cultivate that spirit of humility that seeks the other person’s honor (Phil 2:3–5).
    3. (3) Lighten fellow believers’ loads by bearing one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2).
    4. (4) Share material blessings with brothers and sisters in need (2 Cor 9:13).
    5. (5) Tenderly correct a sinner while helping to find solutions to the problems (Gal 6:1).
    6. (6) Succor [reinforcement of troops] a fellow believer in times of suffering (1 Cor 12:26).
    7. (7) Pray for one another in the Spirit without ceasing (Eph 6:18).

Close:

I have a passage I wish to use as I close this message:

Rev. 21:3: And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them... [3]

Our fellowship must first be right with God and then with each other. In the end our relationship with God will be right, and out of that relationship with God we can grow with each other.

When I was a child, I received a Mr. Potato Head for Christmas. I didn’t like Mr. Potato Head, but he does make a good example of fellowship. You see, in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul gives a model for the New Testament community. You see, people have different gifts, just like a body. In a body, we cannot all be the arm. No, the arm has a gift and so does the hand and the foot, etc. But in Mr. Potato head you can put the arm where the foot should go, but that isn’t right, is it? Every part has its’ place. In a church, all the gifts and the gifted people have their place.

The Bible teaches a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12). This means that we can support each other and strengthen each other. The Bible also teaches iron sharpens iron and a man sharpens his brother (Proverbs 27:17). This means we can sharpen each other. The Christian life is not meant to be lived individualistically. We are meant to be a community. Sometimes we need to sharpen one another by saying, “Hey, what you said to so and so the other day was kind of rough!” Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Sometimes we need to support one another.

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

I wonder, do you know Christ?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] (FROM A SERMON BY FRANCIS BALLA, UNITE WE STAND, 8/24/3012)

[2] Clinton E. Arnold..  Acts.  Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary.  (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan) 2007.  ISBN 0310278252. P. 23.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. 1995 (Re 21:3). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Knowing Jesus Through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)
This will be a sermon on the importance of in depth Bible study.
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Bible is a very large book isn’t it? Sometimes I think this is what keeps us from reading and studying the Bible. We are intimidated by its size. Well imagine the Bible without divisions.

The first division of the Bible into chapters and verses is attributed to Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury in the late 12th century.

Cardinal Hugo, in the middle of the 13th century, divided the Old Testament into chapters as they stand in our translation.

In 1661, Athias, a Jew of Amsterdam, divided the section of Hugo into verses. And in 1561, a French painter divided the New Testament into verses as they are now. [1]

I recently read about a Bible scholar who was on a mission trip overseas. He realized that the church over there was quite immoral. Lying and stealing were okay even for Christians. But then he realized why they were so immoral, most of them did not own Bibles. Even the pastor did not have access to a Bible. Now think of our situation. We have lots of Bibles. In fact, Some wag remarked that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.[2] We have open access to the Bible.

I am in a sermon series about knowing Jesus. I want to submit to you that we know Jesus through His Word.

Today, my theme is:

Knowing Jesus through the Scriptures.

Today my application is:

Make time for devotional reading and Bible study.

Let’s read 2 Timothy 2:15:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

  1. Look with me at this verse.
    1. Paul says “be diligent.” The KJV translated this as “study.” However, it really means to “be diligent.”
    2. This includes studying but not only that. This is about our whole life.
    3. So, we are to “be diligent,” “work hard” in order to present ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves to God. We are presenting ourselves as one who doesn’t need to be ashamed.
    4. “Ashamed.” This means that we are to live our lives as men of God, women of God.
    5. We would be ashamed of our sin. Our shame comes by standing in front of a holy God, but also by being seen by the world as hypocrites.
    6. But that is not the end. Paul says, correctly handles the “Word of Truth.”
    7. So, Paul is telling young Timothy (and us) to work hard, be diligent to live a holy life and also to know the Scriptures. Paul is about to die and these are his final words. He died soon after writing this.
      1. This is where we fail, big time.
      2. Today we have more availability to know the Scriptures than ever before, but we don’t know them.
  • Most of the time we don’t even care about the Scriptures.
  1. Even in most churches, the pastor might rather quote a psychologist than the Bible. I have listened to youth messages with hardly any Bible. I have listened to Sunday morning sermons with hardly any Bible. How sad.
  1. When solving problems, how often do you consider the Bible’s words?
  2. Now, I agree, as an engineer the Bible may not speak to your equation.
  3. But the Bible will speak to many of life’s problems. Just read Proverbs, there is so much financial management instruction in Proverbs. There is also so much family wisdom in Proverbs.
  4. Even if you are a non-Christian the Bible will help you out in life.
  5. As a church, in our leadership meetings, we must consult and think about Biblical wisdom? Intentionally. There may be times when our church will face heavy decisions and the best thing to do will be to pray and fast for a week and then come together to decide. We must pray, we must also consult God’s Word.
    1. We as Christians must get into the Scriptures more and more.
    2. We must not compromise the Bible. We must believe it in faith.
  • We must live it. It is not enough to believe the Bible, we must live the Bible.
  1. We must study the Scriptures so that we “correctly handle the Word of Truth” as Paul said.
  1. Listen, read and study the Scriptures.
    1. Listen to the Scriptures.
    2. Through most of human history they listened to the Bible as many could not read or did not have access.
      1. You can listen to the Bible through a Bible app or CD or other method.
      2. You can also listen to parts of the Bible by listening to sermons. Sermons should be filled with Scripture. Sermons should be based on 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
    3. If you are not a reader or have trouble reading the Bible I encourage you to listen to the Scriptures. I post chapters that I read through on podcasts, Facebook and the website. There are many many ways to have free access to audio Bibles.
    4. Also, there are many ways to access Bible studies and sermons from good resources on youtube, podcasts or Christian radio. Talk to me, I want to help you.
    5. Check out Moody Radio: 103.3 or 90.1.
    6. Check out oneplace.com for other good messages.
    7. If you are on the web or Facebook or Youtube check out: Francis Chan, David Platt, Chuck Swindoll, Chip Ingram, John Piper among other resources.
    8. Now, there are two ways to read or listen to the Scriptures:
      1. Devotionally: this means you just read or just listen to the text. You may meditate or think deeply about it, but not in-depth study.
        1. Start and end with prayer.
        2. Make sure you reflect on what you read or listened to and make an application.
      2. In-depth Bible study.
        1. Again, if you struggle with reading try just listening to deep sermons or Bible study.
        2. You can also get this through Sunday School. But I encourage you as much as possible to try your own Bible study.
      3. Donald Whitney shares in his book “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.”

How often should we read it? British preacher John Blanchard, in his book How to Enjoy Your Bible, writes,

Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptation and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God’s face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same: every day! As the American evangelist D. L. Moody put it, “A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months, or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God’s boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it.”5[3]

Whitney continues:

Jesus often asked questions about people’s understanding of the Scriptures, beginning with the words, “Have you not read …?” He assumed that those claiming to be the people of God would have read the Word of God. When He said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), surely He intended at the very least for us to read “every word.”

Here are the three most practical suggestions for consistent success in Bible reading.

First, find the time. Discipline yourself to find the time. Try to make it the same time every day.

Second, find a Bible-reading plan. It’s no wonder that those who simply open the Bible at random each day soon drop the discipline. Inexpensive Bible reading plans are available in all Christian bookstores and in the back of some Bibles. Or you may obtain a reading plan from your church.

Third, find at least one word, phrase, or verse to meditate on each time you read. Take at least one thing you’ve read and think deeply about it for a few moments. Your insight into Scripture will deepen and you’ll better understand how it applies to your life.

  • How do you study the Bible?

Donald Whitney again shares:

If reading the Bible can be compared to cruising the width of a clear, sparkling lake in a motorboat, studying the Bible is like slowly crossing that same lake in a glass-bottomed boat. The motorboat crossing provides an overview of the lake and a swift, passing view of its depths. The glass-bottomed boat of study, however, takes you beneath the surface of Scripture for an unhurried look of clarity and detail that’s normally missed by those who simply read the text.

Why do so many Christians neglect the study of God’s Word? R. C. Sproul said it painfully well:

Here then, is the real problem of our negligence. We fail in our duty to study God’s Word not so much because it is difficult to understand, not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work. Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion. Our problem is that we are lazy.3

  1. First you read the Scriptures.
  2. You can’t study the Scriptures when your Bible stays on the shelf.
  3. Get the Bible off the shelf and read it. We think it is a difficult thing to do but we never try. Read the Scriptures.
  4. If you read about 90 verses a day you will complete the Bible in one year. Read 45 verses a day and you will complete the Bible in two years.
  5. If you don’t have a good Bible with a modern translation let me know and I will give one to you. By modern translation I mean New International Version or New American Standard Version and there are several other good translations. [4]
  6. There are other Bible translations known as paraphrases like the Message and the New Living Translation, they have their place but not as your main Bible.
  7. By the way, Eugene Peterson is the author of the He did a good job in what he set out to do which was render the Bible in a very contemporary format. He didn’t intend for it to take the place of our main translation.
  8. You should also have a good study Bible. In a study Bible there is a section at the bottom of each page that has commentary on the text. This will help you apply it and understand it.
  9. I can help you with this if you contact me during the week.
  10. I encourage you to set aside an hour or so each week for in depth study of the Bible.
  11. During this time you open your Bible and spend time studying one chapter or one small section.
  12. So, read the section to study and then divide it in smaller units.
  13. For example, read Mark chapter 1.
    1. Read through the chapter a couple times.
    2. Then divide the chapter into paragraphs.
  • Give each paragraph a title.
  1. Then take each paragraph and write it in your own words.
  2. Also, think about any cross references to those verses. A cross reference is another Bible passage that is stating something similar. Most Bibles list cross references in the inside column or along the right or the left. Scripture interprets Scripture, so those cross references are important.
  3. Meditate and pray for God’s wisdom in applying the passage and understanding the passage.
  • If you have questions about this contact me. In this format it is hard to teach this, but it is still important and that is why I am explaining this.
  1. The Bible is important. We need to learn the Bible.

Close: 

I like what one person shares:

This is from a helpful booklet, Reading the Bible, by a Welsh pastor named Geoffrey Thomas. Whenever he writes of reading the Bible, also think of hearing and studying it as well.

Do not expect to master the Bible in a day, or a month, or a year. Rather expect often to be puzzled by its contents. It is not all equally clear. Great men of God often feel like absolute novices when they read the Word. The apostle Peter said that there were some things hard to understand in the epistles of Paul (2 Peter 3:16). I am glad he wrote those words because I have felt that often. So do not expect always to get an emotional charge or a feeling of quiet peace when you read the Bible. By the grace of God you may expect that to be a frequent experience, but often you will get no emotional response at all. Let the Word break over your heart and mind again and again as the years go by, and imperceptibly there will come great changes in your attitude and outlook and conduct. You will probably be the last to recognize these. Often you will feel very, very small, because increasingly the God of the Bible will become to you wonderfully great. So go on reading it until you can read no longer, and then you will not need the Bible any more, because when your eyes close for the last time in death, and never again read the Word of God in Scripture you will open them to the Word of God in the flesh, that same Jesus of the Bible whom you have known for so long, standing before you to take you for ever to His eternal home.9[5]

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

 

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

[1]Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations : A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers (Garland TX: Bible Communications, 1996, c1979).

[2] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28.

5 John Blanchard, How to Enjoy Your Bible (Colchester, England: Evangelical Press, 1984), page 104.

[3] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 33.

3 R. C. Sproul, Knowing Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1977), page 17.

[4] The NRSV, the ESV, the HCSB, etc

9 Geoffrey Thomas, Reading the Bible (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980), page 22.

[5] Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 38–39.

Knowing Jesus through Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 18:1-8)

Knowing Jesus through Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 18:1-8)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 26, 2020

Today, we are going to talk about knowing Jesus through prayer. Shortly after Dallas Theological Seminary opened its doors, their doors almost closed because of bankruptcy. Before their 1929 commencement day, the faculty gathered in the president’s office to pray that God would provide. They formed a prayer circle, and when it was Harry Ironside’s turn, he circled Psalm 50:10 with a simple Honi-like prayer: “Lord, we know you own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please sell some of them, and send us the money.”

The time lapse between our requests and God’s answers is often longer than we would like, but occasionally God answers immediately.

While the faculty was praying, a $10,000 answer was delivered.

One version of the story attributes the gift to a Texas cattle rancher who had sold two carloads of cattle. Another version attributes it to a banker from Illinois. But one way or another, it was God who prompted the gift and answered the prayer.

In a moment that is reminiscent of the day Peter knocked on the door of the house where his friends were praying for a miraculous jailbreak, the president’s secretary interrupted the prayer meeting by knocking on the president’s door. Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder and president of DTS, answered the door, and she handed him the answer to prayer. Turning to his friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Ironside, President Chafer said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”[1]

How is your prayer life? If you do not pray, you do not know Jesus. That is just logical. We cannot have a relationship with someone we do not talk with. Jesus describes the ways He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to come to Him with persistence.

We have been in a sermon series which I have titled “Knowing Jesus in 2020.” Today I wish to talk to you about knowing Jesus through prayer.

My theme is:

Jesus teaches us a meaningful order of prayer.

My application:

Pray persistently

  1. How do we pray, what do we pray for?
    1. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That may be the prayer that you learned when you were a child. When I was in preschool I learned: “God is great, God is good, God we thank you for this food, Amen.” We might have learned these prayers because we grew up in homes, or had extended family to teach us to pray. Others may not have had that privilege.
    2. Turn with me to Matthew 6:9-13:

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

  1. In this passage Jesus teaches us a meaningful order of prayer.
  2. This passage is also found in Luke 11.
  3. In Luke 11:1 it says that Jesus was praying in a certain place and then the disciples asked Him to teach them to pray.
  4. Actions speak louder than words. The disciples saw Jesus’ actions. They saw Jesus praying often and they saw the miracles that He did. In Luke 9:28ff they saw the transformation. In Luke 9:12ff they saw Jesus feed 5000. In Luke 8:40ff and 49-56 they saw Jesus heal Jairus’ daughter. In Luke 8:43ff they saw Jesus heal a woman with an issue of blood simply because she touched His garment. In Luke 8:22ff they saw Jesus still the sea. In Luke 4:31ff they saw, or heard about, Jesus casting out demons in Capernaum. They had also seen Jesus praying a lot: in Mark 1:35 after Jesus had healed many people, He retreated to a secluded place to pray. The disciples likely connected prayer with the miracles. So, they ask Jesus to teach them to pray.
  5. The question is: in the context of Jesus’ life, is the passage in Luke the same as the passage in Matthew? That is possible. It is also possible that Jesus taught this more than one time. This was important to Jesus.
  6. Notice in verse 9 that Jesus says, “Pray then in this way.” This is important. Jesus didn’t say pray these words. No, Jesus was giving a pattern, an order for our prayers.
  7. In order for us to grasp the significance of this we must look at the verses preceding this passage.
  8. Jesus started teaching about prayer in verse 5. Notice in verse 7 Jesus said do not use “’meaningless’ repetition as the gentiles do.” The key word is “meaningless.”
  9. There is nothing wrong with reciting this prayer occasionally in corporate worship, but we must be very careful of meaningless repetition. That is exactly what Jesus was going against as He taught them this order for prayer.
  10. Greek prayers piled up as many titles of the deity addressed as possible, hoping to secure his or her attention. Pagan prayers typically reminded the deity of favors done or sacrifices offered, attempting to get a response from the god on contractual grounds.[2]
  11. Jesus doesn’t condemn long prayers but wants meaningful verbiage.[3]
  12. We begin prayer with worship: Our Father who is in Heaven, holy is Your Name.
  13. When we are praying as Jesus taught us to pray we are not simply saying “Lord, Your name is Holy.” We are saying, “Let Your name be holy.” There is a simple difference. The difference is that we are asking God’s name to be revered as holy. The name of the Lord is who He is. This is a polite request, or a wish. We are asking God’s name to be set apart, sanctified, sacred. This is worship as we are ascribing to God what He is. He is holy.
  14. In verse 10 we continue in worship. We are praying for God’s Kingdom to come. In verse 10 I see the focus on God. I notice a repeated personal pronoun “you,” or “your” in the English. Do we realize what we are saying when we use this prayer. This is a powerful line. God’s Kingdom= submission.
  15. “Your Kingdom come.”
  16. “Your will be done.” (second person)
  17. àthis means that our prayers must not be about us but about God. The only part about us is:
  18. Forgiveness
  19. Daily bread
  20. Deliverance from evil
  21. Lead us not into temptation
  22. But the prayer starts with worship by giving God credit for who He is and the prayer starts with asking that His will be done.
    1. In this prayer we are praying for God’s Kingdom to come about. This is a strong prayer. We are praying for His Reign.
    2. This means that we must submit to His rule!
  • So, meaningful prayer starts with worship. Meaningful prayer ascribes to God the attributes that He has and we request that He maintains His holiness. Meaningful prayer asks for the Lord’s will not our own. Meaningful prayer asks for His kingdom to come about. Meaningful prayer implies submission to His will and kingdom.
  1. Verse 11 shows us the second category of meaningful prayer. Meaningful prayer includes requests for our daily needs. Give us this day our daily bread.
  2. Richard Foster who wrote Celebration of Disciplines, says that this shows that we are allowed to make personal request in our prayers. If we need a babysitter today, pray for that. If we need help shoveling snow, pray for that. But we pray for what we need, not what we want.
  3. Verse 12 shows us that a meaningful order of prayer includes a request for forgiveness. Notice that this request implies that we have forgiven others. Richard Foster says that we always must give in order to be able to receive. He says, “It is simply that by the very nature of the created order we must give in order to receive. I cannot, for instance, receive love if I do not give love. People may try to offer me love, but if resentment and vindictiveness fill my heart, their offers will roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If my fists are clenched and my arms folded tightly around myself, I cannot hold anything.”[4]
  • In verse 13 Jesus shows that a meaningful order for prayer includes a request not to be led into temptation and deliverance from evil.
  1. God does not tempt (James 1:13).
  • But god will test us. Richard Foster says this: In praying this we are saying: “Lord, may there be nothing in me that will force you to put me to the test in order to reveal what is in my heart.”[5] The Lord can also intervene so that satan doesn’t tempt us.
  1. Deliver us from evil is deliverance from the devil.
  1. Pray persistently:

Let’s read Luke 18:1-8:

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge *said; now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

  1. In Luke 18 we see a group of 3 parables together like we see in Luke 15.
  2. This is one of the few parables in which Luke explains the purpose before giving the parable.
  3. If you look at verse 1 it says “He was telling “them.” The “He” is “Jesus” and the “them” is the “disciples.” Jesus is talking to the disciples. We can discover this from Luke 17:22. We actually need to put this in context. The context is that Jesus has been talking to the disciples about the end times. That is what He was talking about at the end of Luke 17 and the audience or location has not changed.
  4. MacArthur says the key to interpreting this parable is hanging on the door. I love that way of looking at it. What MacArthur means is that right in verse 1 Luke gives us the purpose.
  5. The purpose is that at “all” times they ought to pray and not lose heart.
  6. The parable consists of a “lesser to greater” argument—i.e., if A (the lesser) is true, then how much more B (the greater) must be true. The comparison here is between the reluctant action of an unjust judge (the lesser) and “how much more” just will be the action of a just God (the greater).[6]
  7. There are 2 purposes here.
  8. Remember that Luke also shared purposes at the beginning of the Gospel he wrote. In Luke 1:4 he shared that he wrote that Theophilus might know for certain the things he has been taught.
    1. We see that we should always pray.
    2. We see that as we always pray we should not lose heart.
  9. Let’s pause for some applications:
    1. Are we always praying?
    2. Do we lose heart?
    3. Do we get discouraged in our prayers?
      1. Jesus is sharing this parable in order to encourage us to keep praying. Don’t give up. God honors our persistence.
      2. However, we are to pray about spiritual things. We must pray God’s will. We must pray for His Kingdom.
    4. Do we pray about all things?
    5. Do we persistently pray?
    6. In context Jesus had been teaching on the end times, are we praying for Jesus’ second coming? We must be praying for His second coming. We must be praying “Come, Lord, Jesus” (1 Cor. 16:22; Rev. 22:20).
    7. We must be praying for God’s Kingdom (Matthew 6:10).
  10. I want to summarize the rest of the parable. This widow persistently comes to the judge. This judge does not fear God and does not respect people. Yet, because of the woman’s persistence he will grant her request. Jesus uses this as a parable about how we are to pray and how God responds. Basically, Jesus is saying if this mean judge still answers her request that means that our loving God wants to answer our requests.
  11. However, remember that it seems the widow in the parable is praying for her needs, but this is an illustration about seeking God’s Kingdom and seeking His second coming. This is because the parable is in context right after Jesus was talking about the end times.
  • Other applications:
    1. We must worship God who lovingly meets our needs and answers our prayers (Luke 18:7).
    2. We must pray to know Jesus.
    3. We must prayer journal. Sometimes prayer seems intangible. I encourage you to write out prayers.
    4. We must pray continually. Pray whenever a need arises or whenever you want to thank God or worship Him (1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 3; Phil. 4:6-7).
    5. We must have deeper, extended prayer.
    6. We must pray Scripture.

Close:

I began this sermon about Dallas Theological Seminary and Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer and prayer:

Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer and prayer goes back before that. He was overseas meeting with someone regarding the seminary. The seminary hadn’t even started yet. He woke up in the night and couldn’t stop thinking about all of the needs of the seminary. He got on his knees in prayer and He said to God that he would stop plans for the seminary if God wanted him to. The next morning he was at breakfast. The wealthy man he was staying with asked him how the library would be provided for and Dr. Schafer said that that wasn’t worked out yet. The man asked Dr. Schafer how his pay was coming. Dr. Schafer said that he was not taking pay. The man agreed to give money to start the library and pay for Dr. Schafer’s salary (I heard this from Swindoll on Insight for Living).

 

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

 

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] http://www.faithgateway.com/pray-hard/#.Vp6jczY0nq0

[2]Keener, C. S., & InterVarsity Press. (1993). The IVP Bible background commentary : New Testament (Mt 6:7). Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.

[3] ver•biage \ˈvər-bē-ij also -bij\ noun

[French, from Middle French verbier to chatter, from verbe speech, from Latin verbum word]

(circa 1721)

1 : a profusion of words usually of little or obscure content 〈such a tangled maze of evasive verbiage as a typical party platform —Marcia Davenport〉

2 : manner of expressing oneself in words : diction 〈sportswriters guarded their verbiage so jealously —Raymond Sokolov〉
Merriam-Webster, I. (1996, c1993). Merriam-Webster’s collegiate dictionary. (10th ed.). Springfield, Mass., U.S.A.: Merriam-Webster.

[4] Richard Foster’s book on Prayer page 186-187

[5] Richard Foster on prayer page 189

[6] https://www.esv.org/Luke+18/

Knowing Jesus Through Scripture Meditation

Knowing Jesus through Scripture Meditation (Psalm 119:9-15)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, January 19, 2020

I once came across a powerful quote by Daniel Webster that illustrates this topic. In the presence of Professor Sanborn of Dartmouth College, Mr. Webster laid his hand on a copy of the Scriptures as he said, “This is the Book. I have read through the entire Bible many times. I now make it a practice to go through it once a year. It is the Book of all others for lawyers as well as divines; and I pity the man who cannot find in it a rich supply of thought, and of rules for his conduct. It fits man for life—it prepares him for death.”[1],[2]

With that in mind, turn to Psalm 119. I read the following:

The anonymous psalmist who wrote this longest psalm sought refuge from his persecutors and found strength by meditating on the Word of God. This psalm, the longest chapter in the Bible, is largely a collection or anthology of prayers and thoughts about God’s Word. C. S. Lewis compared it to a piece of embroidery, done stitch by stitch in the quiet hours for the love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely, disciplined craftsmanship.

This psalm contains a reference to God’s Word in almost every verse (except verses 84, 90, 121, 122, and 132). (The Jews claimed that only one verse did not refer directly to God’s Word: verse 122.756) The psalmist used at least eight synonyms for the Word of God, each of which conveys a slightly different emphasis. However, sometimes it appears that the writer chose a synonym simply to avoid repetition. “Way” and “ways” (Heb. derek) describes the pattern of life God’s revelation marks out. It occurs 13 times in the psalm (vv. 1, 3, 5, 14, 26, 27, 29, 30, 32, 33, 37, 59, 168).[3]

We are in a sermon series in which I am talking about knowing God. How do you know God? One way to know God is to know His Word. One way to know His Word is to read His Word. A way to go deeper in His Word is to memorize His Word. While we memorize His Word, we are meditating on His Word.

Let’s read verses 9-16 because the Hebrew Bible would consider that a section, the Beth section.

My theme and application is:

Challenge yourself by meditating on Scripture.

Psalm 119:9-16:

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, Lord;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word.

Think about what this passage says, Hide the Word in our heart:

“The act of ‘hiding’ God’s word is not to be limited to the memorization of individual texts or even whole passages but extends to a holistic living in devotion to the Lord (cf. Deut 6:4-9; 30:14; Jer 31:33).”[4]

Other responses to God’s Word that the writer mentioned and that occur first in this section are “rejoicing” (vv. 14, 74, 162), “meditating” (vv. 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148), and “delighting” (vv. 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, 174).[5]

  • This is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is all about God’s Word, the Bible.
  • The Psalms have been called the Jewish Hymnbook. Interesting that the longest is all about God’s Word. We have Psalms in the book of Psalms that they would sing on their way to Jerusalem for certain feasts, called Psalms of ascent. These are Psalms 120-134. I find it interesting that these Psalms follow the masterpiece on the Bible. Therefore, I believe meditating on the Scriptures is pivotal in worship.
  • There are verses in Psalm 119 that specify praise: See verse 164: Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.
  • Consider this, the Psalmist is praising God for His righteous law. The Law is the Word, the Bible. In fact, terms used for the Word or what we would call the Bible are:
    • Law,
    • Testimonies,
  • Precepts,
  • Statutes,
  • Commandments,
  • Rules,
  • Word
  • The Scriptures are our base in our spiritual life. They are our guide. We must have God’s Word in our head.
  • Think of paint, the base is critical. I worked at Lowe’s and I went to a paint certification class. In painting they taught us something like 90% of painting is surface preparation. Not only that, there are base paints which we used to mix paints.
    • Our surface prep for spirituality is being in the Bible. Reading the Bible having the Bible handy.
    • The Bible is our base. Just like I could not mix paint without the proper base paint, we cannot grow spiritually without the Word of God.
  • Think of a building’s foundation. I am not a master-builder, but I have dug holes and we are supposed to go a certain depth. Foundation is important and the Bible is the foundation for us spiritually.
  • There was a wonderful family in my youth ministry in Cincinnati. So, I was disappointed to see that the mother posted an article on Facebook, or, rather linked an article, that references things the author wished Christians admitted about the Scriptures. This article had a negative view of the Scriptures. However, the more I study, the more I learn, the longer I am a Christian I am realizing that every Word of the Bible has great value and great meaning. Jesus responded to the devil’s attacks with the Scriptures (Matthew 4; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; John 4:6-7). The Word is the only, offensive weapon against the enemy in Ephesians 6:17, the Sword of the Spirit. People have sought out to prove the Bible wrong and they become believers.
  • I believe the Bible leads us into worship.
  • How can we study the Bible, study the promises of God, and not worship the One those promises are about? I believe the Bible is written about a Big God. Tony Campolo was once confronted by an atheist who was one of his students. The young man told Campolo, “For me to believe in God, I have to have a God that I can understand.” And Campolo replied, “God refuses to be that small!”[6]
  • I believe the Bible leads us into prayer.
  • In Eugene Peterson’s book called Answering God, He makes a strong case that we only pray well if we are immersed in Scripture. We learn our prayer vocabulary the way children learn their vocabulary—that is, by getting immersed in language and then speaking it back. And he said the prayer book of the Bible is the Psalms, and our prayer life would be immeasurably enriched if we were immersed in the Psalms. [7]
  1. So, we need to have the Word, the Bible, in our head, we do that by meditation.
    1. Let’s walk through the passage:
    2. Verse 9 the way for a young man to stay pure by living according to God’s Word.
    3. Notice that verse 9 is a question and an answer.
    4. I don’t believe the author is a young man and so I don’t think the author is talking about himself right here. I think the author is advising young people on how to stay pure.
    5. What does it mean to be pure? The verb translated as “pure” always means a moral sense. It can mean to be justified, to be righteous before God, to be clean in the sight of God.
    6. Don’t we all want to be right in God’s sight? Don’t we all want to be clean? Psalm 51 was written right after David, the King of Israel, had sinned by committing adultery and murder. In verse 2 of that Psalm he says, “Wash away all my iniquity, and purify me from my sin.” David had this sin before him and he wanted to be clean.
    7. David had already committed the sin. But in the passage before us this morning the point is preventive. How can a young person keep his/her way pure?
    8. The answer: by living according to God’s Word.
    9. There is something unsaid in this verse. It is implied and will be stressed more in verse 11 and the rest of the Psalm. Listen: a young person or anyone else cannot live according to God’s Word if they don’t know it.
    10. Think of the Bible as a filter for your life. I have had aquariums for half of my life. An aquarium needs a filter. The filter takes out the impurities and cleans the water. The Word of God is your filter for your life. It is the parent’s responsibility, under God, to teach their children God’s Word. At a certain point, as the child grows up, it is their responsibility to start teaching themselves. God has given us a filter for our life, but it requires that we spend time studying this filter and how to use it. Many times we let the filter sit on a shelf.
    11. It is not enough to take our filter off the shelf and read it, we must memorize it. We must know the Word of God when it is not in front of us. We must know the Word of God as second nature.
    12. In the original language the text says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By ‘keeping or ‘guarding’ his way according to your word.” Notice the difference? The NIV says by living according to God’s Word.
    13. The importance is that in the original language the idea of guarding our life and the guard is God’s Word. We have a guard watching out for evil and sin. Back in Bible times they had watchmen who stood on the city’s wall and watched for invaders. That is what this word means.
    14. How can a young man keep his way pure? By using the Word of God as a guard against evil.
    15. Although this is directly to young man or woman, this is not limited to a young person. The very next verse will make that clear.
  • Notice in verse 10 the Psalmist changes from a young man to himself.
    1. He says, “’I’ seek you.” How much does the Psalmist seek the Lord? With every bit of his being, with his whole heart.
    2. This verse has two parts. The first part is a statement of what he is doing and the second part is a plea.
    3. Can you say that? Do you want to be able to say that? We all can, but we have so many distractions. Start by making the Word of God a guard for your life. Start by reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it. And start by having a fear of sin.
    4. Look at the second half of this verse. It is a crying plea. “Please, please do not let me stray from Your commands!”
    5. There seems to be a fear of falling away, of backsliding.
    6. I must ask myself, “am I scared of falling into sin? Am I scared like that of going into situation where I may gossip, lie, or sin in another way?”
    7. If so, meditating on Scripture is the way to purity.
  1. Verse 11 comes back to the preventive idea.
    1. It is simply a short sentence: Your Word I have hidden in my heart… this means meditating on it. Thinking about it when you drive, or do other monotonous tasks. Memorize it.
    2. Why did he hide the Word in his heart? So, he doesn’t sin against the Lord.
    3. First, we read the Scriptures, then we memorize them, then we meditate on them. That is the way to sin free living. As we meditate on them, they are always before us in thought. As they are before us in thought they are a filter to keep our life pure.
    4. There is a Campus Crusade for Christ missionary, he memorizes whole books of the Bible. He memorizes the shorter, New Testament books. You know how he does it? When he jogs he takes his Bible and reads them over and over again.
    5. Ponder this: why are the Scripture worth reading, meditating on and even memorizing?
    6. These are the words for eternal life. These Scriptures are illegal in many countries. They may be illegal in the US some day. People have died to get you these Scriptures. Truly, people have been burned at the stake for translating the Bible. These are the Words to a full life.
    7. These are the words by which we can live a pure life. Use the Scriptures as a filter.
    8. Meditate is used 18 times in the N.I.V. translation of the Old Testament and 16 times in the Psalms. Meditate is used a total of 8 times in Psalm 119. Of course, what does the verb mediate have to do with the Bible.
    9. I once heard that the Hebrew verb “to meditate” has to do with chewing on something over and over again. From the Hebrew word ‘meditate’ we get our English word “ruminate”. It literally means ‘to chew the cud’. It’s like a cow that chews and re-chews the cud to extract all the nutrients from it. We need to approach God’s word at times and chew the cud.
    10. The idea of meditation is not necessarily memorization, but making the Scriptures a part of us. This means that we will reason differently, think differently, live differently. The promises of God, the actions of God are a part of us. Then we have the language of God a part of us.
    11. Look at verse 15: 15 I meditate on your precepts
      and consider your ways.
    12. I have been talking about knowing God and making the case that we know God by meditating on His Word. How do we meditate on the Word?
      1. Make it your goal to memorize the Word.
      2. Choose a Modern translation as it will be easier if you can understand the language.
  • Select a verse relative to your needs/life.
  1. Read a passage several times to understand the full meaning.
  2. Begin one verse at a time per passage
  3. List the verbs in the passage/verse in order- ask what is next, add the rest of the verse to the verbs.
  • Visualize the sequence of events.
  • Carry memory cards.
  1. Strive for word perfect memorization.
  2. Practice reciting to a friend.
  3. Remember you will learn it if you just keep ruminating on the passage.

I drink coffee most days. I love coffee. You know what? I absolutely hate it when I get grounds in my coffee. The grounds look like dirt and so I want my coffee filter to do its’ job and keep the grounds out of my coffee. Likewise, the Bible will help you keep dirt out of your life. Read it, memorize it, and meditate on it! Because meditating on Scripture is the way to Holy Living, the way to purity sin-free living! Try it. This week, memorize Romans 12:1-2 and then come to me and I will recommend another passage to memorize. Maybe there is a group of you that will want to memorize Scripture together?

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1]Charles R. Swindoll, Insight for Living devotion on Psalm 119:97 (I think)

[2] 1. Daniel Webster, quoted in Stephen Abbott Northrop, A Cloud of Witnesses: The Greatest Men in the World for Christ and the Book (Fort Wayne, IN: The Mason Long Publishing Co., 1894), 491.

 

[3] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[4] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[5] http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/psalms.pdf

[6] (From a sermon by Jeff Strite, Trusting in Ravens, 8/8/2011)

[7] Tim Keller

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines (Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:18)

Spiritual growth takes time and discipline, but we can only know Jesus through spiritual growth just like we can only know a person through investing in the relationship.

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, January 12, 2020

I wonder who you have a relationship with, do you know anyone?

Remember last week I talked about whether you know famous people. Recently, I heard a message in which someone shared that they were at a restaurant and Johnny Depp walked in. Johnny Depp walked in and went to a table at the back of the store and a bodyguard walked in with him. The bodyguard sat facing everyone else basically to say that there is no access to Johnny Depp.[1] There is no relationship with Johnny Depp. But you know what, we can have a relationship with Jesus. I would recommend choosing Jesus over Johnny Depp. Think about it, would you prefer a relationship with the creator and sustainer of the world or with an actor. Most reject the Creator and go after the actor. I exhort you to seek Jesus.

Okay, so do you have a relationship with anyone? I am sure that you do, so do you know them? How do you really know someone? Does it take effort? Does it take time spent together?

I wish to talk to you about knowing Jesus. I wish to begin a new sermon series related to knowing Jesus.

I read the following:

“Much of the history of Christianity has been devoted to domesticating Jesus—to reducing that elusive, enigmatic, paradoxical person to dimensions we can comprehend, understand, and convert to our own purposes. So far it hasn’t worked.”[2] I love that.

When the Bible scholar N.T. (Tom) Wright was asked what he would tell his children on his deathbed he said, “Look at Jesus.” Tom Wright explained why:

The [Person] who walks out of [the pages of the Gospels] to meet us is just central and irreplaceable. He is always a surprise. We never have Jesus in our pockets. He is always coming at us from different angles … If you want to know who God is, look at Jesus. If you want to know what it means to be human, look at Jesus. If you want to know what love is, look at Jesus. And go on looking until you’re not just a spectator, but part of the drama that has him as the central character.[3]

We have the opportunity to know Jesus, but most do not. Even many of you, I dare say, do not know Jesus. Sure you made a commitment to Him, but do you know Him? Do you really have a relationship with Him? How is your prayer life? How are your devotions? How are your corporate and individual spiritual disciplines? If they are weak, I am here to help you and more than that, God wants to help you.

My theme and application is:

Knowing Jesus through Spiritual Disciplines (Philippians 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Peter 3:18)

Spiritual growth takes time and discipline, but we can only know Jesus through spiritual growth just like we can only know a person through investing in the relationship.

Read with me Philippians 2:12-13:

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

  1. Work out your salvation, what does that mean?
    1. Relationships take time. Do you know your children if you do not spend time with them? Do you know your spouse if you do not spend time with them?
    2. Anyone seen Fiddler on the Roof? There is a clip where they sing “Do you love me”? Watch this.
    3. Play clip
    4. Now, they had arranged marriages, they may not have known each other when they got married, but they did by this point. They grew together and served together. They had a relationship. But it was work, or at least at times it was work.
    5. Love is a choice. Sometimes we may not feel the love for someone else, but we choose to love them because they are our spouse or child or parent or another human being, then we work on the relationship.
    6. Do you work on your relationship with your Savior?
    7. So, you just read that passage, now let’s think about it.
    8. If we read the whole chapter of Philippians 2 it is a marvelous chapter. Paul talks about looking unto others needs before our own. Paul talks about considering others more important than ourselves. Paul talks about having the mindset of Christ. Paul talks about how Jesus came to earth and died for our sins and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Now, Paul says to work out our salvation.
    9. “Work out” that is a mining term, imagine miners digging out precious metals.
    10. But does this mean we are saved by works?
    11. It says to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, does this mean we have to earn our salvation? What do you think?
    12. Well, when it comes to that we must examine Scripture with Scripture and we will do that in a minute.
    13. In this case, just look at the context. Look at the next verse. It says, “God is working in you…” So, God is working in you so you must let it flow out of you. There is more we can say about that passage, mainly notice the reverence. “Work out your salvation with ‘fear and trembling…’” That is powerful!
    14. We are freely saved, we know this by Ephesians 2:8-9 which says that we are saved by grace.
    15. We have salvation freely given to us by Jesus, but we must grow spiritually, not to earn our salvation, but to foster a relationship with God.
  2. Look at 1 Timothy 4:7-8:

But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

  1. This is another passage about building a relationship with Jesus.
  2. Instead of being caught up in worldly things discipline yourself.
  3. What are we disciplining ourselves for?
  4. The purpose of godliness.
  5. Look at verse 8: godliness has much profit for this life and the life to come.
  6. But do you see what it takes? Discipline.
  7. There is no instant Discipline is the key to spiritual maturity.
  8. The word “discipline” actually means “train or exercise.” Paul uses a Greek word from the athletic arena; we also derive from it the word ‘
  9. We have the Revealed Truth (Bible) + Disciplined Obedience+ The Power of God’s Spirit Within = Change & Growth& Maturity& Godliness.
  • Let’s apply
    1. Most of us want a relationship with God that we do not have to invest in; therefore, it is one-sided. It sucks the life out of me as a pastor. Let me be personal, it is draining trying to shepherd people that do not care.
    2. I want to challenge you to have godly habits. This week begin devotional habits.
    3. Aim to read one chapter of the Bible a day and make an application. Aim to spend 5-15 minutes in devotions. Read the Bible, apply the Bible and then pray about what you read. Pray the Scriptures. If you need help contact me. Also, you can read along as I share on my podcasts and Facebook devotions, actually you can just listen to the Bible if you want. There are many ways to have access to the Scriptures if you want to.
    4. It takes 3 weeks to form a habit, so dedicate the time and make it a point to have a relationship with Jesus.
    5. Remember you do not have a relationship with someone who you do not spend time with. If you do not spend time with God are you saved? Good question.
  1. Let’s go deeper in applications.
    1. We must view our relationship with God as a relationship and therefore, we must put time and effort into our relationship with God.
    2. We must discipline ourselves unto godliness (1 Timothy 4:7).
    3. We must understand spiritual growth takes discipline.
      1. We must discipline ourselves to spend time with the Lord.
      2. We must discipline ourselves to pray (1 Thess. 5:17).
      3. We must discipline ourselves to deep prayer (Ezra 9:5ff; 1 Kings 8:22ff).
      4. We must discipline ourselves to corporate prayer (Acts 4:24-30).
      5. We must discipline ourselves to pray instead of worry (Phil. 4:6-7).
      6. We must discipline ourselves to spend time reading the Scriptures (Psalm 119:9-11 and 105).
      7. We must discipline ourselves to spend time with the corporate church (1 Cor. 12).
      8. We must discipline ourselves to make Jesus our Lord (Luke 9:23; Romans 10:9-10; Gal. 2:20).
      9. We must discipline ourselves to pursue godliness so that out of that relationship with God flows fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).
    4. We must spend time working out our relationship with God for the joy of knowing Him (Phil. 2:12-13).
    5. We must work out what God is working in us, we must let our relationship with Jesus flow out of us (Phil. 2:12-13).
    6. We must obey Peter’s command to grow (2 Peter 3:18).
    7. We must grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
    8. We must grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
    9. In our spiritual growth and our relationship with Jesus we must aim to glorify Him now and forever (2 Peter 3:18).

Conclusion:

I began the sermon talking about Johnny Depp. Let’s think of another famous person, what about Elvis Presley. I have heard that in the 1950’s the women would scream out these deafening screams to get to him. So, obviously Elvis had body guards, there was no access to Elvis, but you can have access to Jesus.

Oswald Chambers writes on the February 13th date of My Utmost for His Highest:

 The destiny of my spiritual life is such identification with Jesus Christ that I always hear God, and I know that God always hears me (John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God by the devotion of hearing all the time. A lily, or a tree, or a servant of God, may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is that I am taken up with other things. It is not that I will not hear God, but that I am not devoted in the right place. I am devoted to things, to service, to convictions, and God may say what He likes but I do not hear Him. The child attitude is always “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” If I have not cultivated this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God’s voice at certain times; at other times I am taken up with things—things which I say I must do, and I become deaf to Him, I am not living the life of a child. Have I heard God’s voice to-day?[4]

Do you know Him?

Luke 9:23

Confess, believe, trust, commit

Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.

 

prayer

 

[1] Randy Hechert shared this at Alliance Friends on Sunday, Nov. 3, 2019

[2] Andrew Greeley, “There’s No Solving the Mystery of Christ,” Chicago Sun-Times, (1-16-04)

[3] Marlin Whatling, The Marriage of Heaven and Earth (CreateSpace, 2016), page 129

[4] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).