WHEN PUSH COMES TO SHOVE: Dealing With Resistance to God's Word ACTS: CHURCH 101 Acts 4:1-22 February 21, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
WHERE WE’VE BEEN: A Review
PUSHBACK: Setting the Scene 4:1-4 Acts 4:1 (NIV) The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
What Bothered the Religious Leaders about the Preaching of Peter and John?
WHEN RELIGION OPPOSES CHRISITANITY 4:5-7 Acts 4:5 (NIV) The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"
When threatened, religion exercises INTIMIDATION.
2. When uncertain, religion emphasizes TRADITION.
3. When suspicious, religion employs INTERROGATION.
THE LIMITATIONS OF RELIGION 4:8-14 Acts 4:8 (NIV) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people!
Religion lacks the POWER of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 4:9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
2. Religion is BLIND to Christ’s working.
Acts 4:11 He [Jesus] is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
3. Religion is UNMOVED by the gospel message.
John 14:6 (NIV) Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Matthew 7:13 (NIV) Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
4. Religion is SILENCED by transformed lives.
THE RECOURSE OF RELIGION 4:15-22 Acts 4:15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it.” 1. The Problems Facing the Council vv. 15-16
Acts 4:17 “But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." 18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 2. The Sanhedrin’s Seemingly Simple Solution vv. 17-18
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." 3. The Disciples’ Response vv. 19-22
SO, WHAT DO I DO TODAY?
The first thing we need in our lives is an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12 (NIV) Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Romans 10:9 (NLT) For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in Him will not be disappointed."
2. Words are powerful only when they are backed up with congruent action. Acts 4:13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
Galatians 5:19 (NASB) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality [sexual], impurity, sensuality [debauchery], 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities [hatred], strife [discord], jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes [rivalries from selfish ambition], dissensions, factions [divisions], 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing [“wilding”], and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:22 (NASB) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:24 (NASB) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
WHEN SILVER AND GOLD ARE NOT ENOUGH ACTS: CHURCH 101 Acts 3:1-26 February 14, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
CHURCH 101: A Review
I. THE ENCOUNTER. 3:1-10 A. The Scene 3:1-3 Acts 3:1 (NIV) One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer - at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money.
B. The Miracle 3:4-8 Acts 3:4 (NIV) Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, "Look at us!" 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God.
This miracle was UNEXPECTED (3:4-6a).
2. This miracle was done in the NAME of Jesus (3:6b).
3. This miracle was INSTANTANEOUS (3:7).
4. This miracle was COMPLETE (3:8).
C. The Result 3:9-10 Acts 3:9 (NIV) When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
II. THE MESSAGE 3:11-26 A. The Setting 3:11-12a Acts 3:11 (NIV) While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them…
B. The Explanation 3:12b-16 Acts 3:12 (NIV) When Peter saw this, he said to them: "Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”
Acts 3:13 (NIV) The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus. You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate, though he had decided to let Him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
Three Inescapable Contradictions:
The Jews were the ones who DEMANDED Jesus’ death after Pilate had decided to release Him.
The Jews were the ones who DISOWNED the Holy and Righteous One and demanded the release of a murderer.
The Jews KILLED the author of life, but God raised Him from the dead.
The verdict – “We are witnesses of this.”
God’s remedy to this guilt … Acts 3:16 (NIV) By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through Him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.
C. An Exhortation 3:17-26 Acts 3:17 (NIV) Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ would suffer.
Acts 17:30 (NIV) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. Ephesians 4:18 (NIV) They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 1 Peter 1:14 (NIV) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
Acts 3:19 (NIV) Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that He may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you - even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets.
Three Results of Repentance:
Our sins are PERMANENTLY wiped out.
Times of REFRESHING may come because of the [presence of] Lord.
The Messiah – whom they had rejected – would RETURN.
Moses: Acts 3:22 (NIV) For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'
Samuel and Old Testament Prophets: Acts 3:24 (NIV) Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers.
Abraham: He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' 26 When God raised up His servant, He sent Him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."
OPERATING BY GRACE: The Hierarchy of the Heart
ACTS:CHURCH 101 CHURCH GROWTH GOD'S WAY Acts 2:37-41 February 7, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH: A Review
Peter’s sermon. His topic was “Who is Jesus?” His conclusion was that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 2:36 (NIV) "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ [Messiah]."
THE CROWD’S QUESTION 2:37 Acts 2:37 When the people heard this, they were cut [pierced] to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" First, it was because they realized that they had EXECUTED their Messiah. Second, their desperation also came from a FEAR of Messiah’s wrath. Finally, they were devastated by the understanding that what they had done could not be UNDONE.
GOD’S SOLUTION AND PROMISE 2:38-40 Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent…”
They were to REPENT.
Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. 2. They were to be BAPTIZED individually.
There is a concept here that is muddied in our English translations. Some have connected the forgiveness of sins with the act of baptism rather than the act of repentance. In Greek, “for forgiveness of your sins” is connected with “repent.” Here are five reasons – outside of Greek grammar – that shows that the phrase “for forgiveness of your sins” is connected with the term “repent” rather than the idea of baptism.
First, the view that baptism is necessary for salvation ignores the immediate context of the passage. Baptism was a dramatic step for these listeners. By publicly identifying with Jesus, they risked become outcasts in their culture. Peter calls upon them to show the genuineness of their repentance by submitting to public baptism. In a similar way, Jesus called the rich young ruler (Luke 18) to prove the genuineness of his repentance by parting with his wealth. No one would argue from this passage that giving away one’s possessions is necessary for salvation. Salvation is not a matter of water or economics. Second, this teaching violates an important hermeneutical (the science/skill of interpreting the Bible) principle known as analogia Scriptura (the analogy of Scripture). No passage in the Bible, when correctly interpreted will teach something contradictory to the rest of Scripture. The rest of the Bible unmistakably teaches that salvation is only by faith (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:21-30; 4:5; 10:9-10; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:16). Third, Jesus having condemned the ritualistic religion of the scribes and Pharisees would not institute another ritual (i.e., some act necessary for salvation) in its place. Fourth, this interpretation is not true to the facts of Scripture. Throughout Acts, forgiveness is linked to repentance, not baptism (cf. 3:19; 5:31; 26:20). In addition, the Bible records that some who were baptized were not saved (Acts 8:13; 21–23), while some were saved with no mention of their being baptized (Luke 7:37–50; Matt. 9:2; Luke 18:13–14). The story of the conversion of Cornelius and his friends very clearly shows the relationship of baptism to salvation. It was only after they were saved, as shown by their receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44–46), that they were baptized (vv. 47–48). Finally, there is no mention of baptism in 1 Corinthians 15:1–4 where Paul summarizes the gospel he preached and by which the Corinthians had been saved.
3. They would RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:9 (NLT) “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.”
Acts 2:39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off - for all whom the Lord our God will call. 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation."
THE DELIGHTFUL PROBLEM Acts 2:41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
THE DIVINE SOLUTION Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching…
It was a LEARNING community.
Colossians 3:16 (NIV) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 2. It was a CONNECTING community.
Acts 2:43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 3. It was an INSPIRING community.
Acts 2:44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 4. It was a LOVING community.
Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. 5. It was a WORSHIPING community.
Acts 2:47 …praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. 6. It was an EVANGELIZING community.
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV) Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Matthew 13:54 (NASB) He [Jesus] came to His hometown and began teaching them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household." 58 And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
ACTS: CHURCH 101 GETTING TO THE POINT The First Sermon of the Church Acts 2:14-37 January 31, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Acts 2:6 (NIV) When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
First, note that it was a “known” language.
Second, it arrested the attention of those who heard.
Third, the content was worship.
Acts 2:12 (NIV) “And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another ‘What does this mean?’”
Acts 2:13 (NIV) But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
A SUMMARY OF PETER’S SERMON
It was SIMPLE. First, the apostle answered their question; second, he told them about Christ; third, he enlisted commitment.
The sermon was SCRIPTURAL. Peter’s message abounds with God’s Word.
The sermon was CHRIST-CENTERED.
The sermon was attention-getting and RELEVANT.
The sermon was PRACTICAL. It began by answering the question “What does this mean?” (Acts 2:12) and ended by answering the question “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).
The sermon was CONVICTING. “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”(Acts 2:37).
PETER’S SERMON: What Do You Do with Jesus Acts 2:14 (NIV) Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! PART 1: Why Should They Listen 2:14-21 Acts 2:16 (NIV) No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
What Luke has described in 2:1-13, Peter now explains. 1. What Peter, the 120 and onlookers were experiencing was the pouring out of God’s Spirit as prophesied by Joel. 2. These are the “last days” of God’s redemptive program. 3. All of God’s people get to participate.
PART 2: The Identify of the Messiah 2:22-36 Acts 2:22 "Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles [“powers” – their nature being a demonstration of the power of God] and wonders [their effect being to arouse astonishment] and signs [their purpose being to embody or signify spiritual truth] which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know - 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.
The Testimony of CURRENT EVENTS 2:22-24
First, Jesus’ death was part of God’s plan.
Second, the listeners were culpable. They were not innocent.
Third, God’s final act of attestation was the resurrection.
Acts 2:25 "For David says of Him, 'I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; 27 because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. 28 You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.' 2. The Testimony of SCRIPTURE 2:25-28
Luke 24:17 (NIV) He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along?" They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 "What things?" he asked. "About Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see." 25 He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.
Acts 2:29 Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ [the One who], that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'The Lord said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, 35 until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet." '
Acts 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ - this Jesus whom you crucified." PART 3: The Conclusion is Jesus is the MESSIAH 2:36
THE INVITATION 2:37 Acts 2:37 (NIV) “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’”
ACTS: CHURCH 101 The Birth of the Church Acts 2:1-4 January 24, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
GETTING READY FOR THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH
1. THE EVIDENCE OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING. 2:1-4 Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 1:4 (NIV) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Pentecost Originally = It was the middle of the three annual Jewish harvest festivals (Dt. 16:16). It was either called the Feast of Harvest (celebrating the completion of the grain harvest) or the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) because it took place 50 days after the Passover, which was when the grain harvesting began. Pentecost Historically = Towards the end of the inter-testamental period, it began to be observed as the anniversary of the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai, because this was considered to have occurred 50 days after the Exodus.
Acts 2:2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
The noise was not wind, but sounded like it.
The sight was not fire, but resembled it.
1 Corinthians 12:13 (NIV) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body - whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free - and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
The speech was in languages that were not their own – “speak with other tongues (languages).”
So, what was it? Was it a baptism or a filling?
Scripture shows that baptism is the placing of the believer into the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (NASB) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into [placed into and identified with] one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Filling emphasizes the control and power of the Spirit in the life of the believer. Ephesians 5:18 (NASB) And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit [what follows are the results of being filled], 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
2. THE EFFECT OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING. 2:5-13 Acts 2:5 (NIV) Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs - we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"
The first effect is that all this – what I call “funneled commotion” - DREW this crowd of international Jews and those who were sympathetic to the God of Judaism.
Second, the crowd heard – not a sermon or unintelligible speech – they heard WORSHIP! 2:11 …we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.
Acts 2:12 “And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another ‘What does this mean?’”
Acts 2:13 But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.”
3. THE EXPLANATION OF THE SPIRIT’S COMING 2:14-21 Acts 2:14 (NIV) Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning!
Acts 2:16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'
Let’s be good students of God’s Word and open this up bit by bit.
This event was PREDICTED centuries ago by the prophet, Joel. It’s not the delusions of drunks; it’s the fulfillment of what God had promised.
It is centered in the “LAST DAYS.” This is a reference to a period of time that is between the first and second comings of the Messiah. The Jews had rejected their Messiah as their King and now had to wait through a period for his return – what we could call “the church age.”
It has to do with the “POURING OUT” of God’s Spirit. No longer would God’s Spirit be given in drips and drabs to His people. The image here is of a waterfall, a fire hose, of God’s Spirit as He takes up residence inside God’s children.
There are no more boundaries in regard to WHO gets the Spirit’s work in their lives. This pouring out is on all people. Peter uses Joel’s imagery of contrasts and comparisons – sons and daughters, young men and old men, servants, both men and women.
There are no more boundaries in regard to who gets to PROCLAIM God’s truth. There are segments of Christianity that get caught up in prophesy, seeing visions and dreaming dreams. The emphasis is not on the medium, but on the message.
These last days EXTEND until “the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.” Peter is focused on the idea that this is just the beginning point. He rightly notes that there is a sense of “now and then” in Joel’s prophecy. Today, at the birth of the church, the Spirit is poured out into the hearts of every son or daughter of God. There will be events that close out this time that are still in the future.
The grand goal of all this is that EVERYONE who calls on the Lord will be saved.
ADMIRING THE BIRTH John 14:16 (NIV) And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever -  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 (NIV) But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 15:26 (NIV) When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with Me from the beginning.
John 16:6 (NIV) Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. 7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 When He comes, He will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in Me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see Me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
Ephesians 1:13 (NASB) In Him [Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed [ownership] in Him [Christ] with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge [down-payment, arabon] of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
Galatians 4:6 (NASB) Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
ACTS: CHURCH 101 Facing Difficult Decisions Acts 1:12-26 January 17, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN ACTS 1?
Acts 1:7 (NIV) He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
“Why did Jesus leave in that fashion?”
MAKING DECISIONS Acts 1:12 (NIV) Then they [the Eleven] returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city [between 3/5 and 2/3 of a mile]. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.
Stay OBEDIENT. 1:12-13
What had Jesus told these apostles to do? Acts 1:4 (NIV) “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift My Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:14 (NASB) These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.
2. Stay UNITED. 1:14
They were of “one mind.”
Romans 15:5 (NIV) May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, 6 so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:1 (NASB) Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Romans 12:16 (NASB) Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Philippians 2:1 (NASB) Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
They “were continually devoting themselves to prayer.”
3. EVALUATEthe decision with Scripture. 1:15-20Acts 1:15 (NIV) In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus - 17 he was one of our number and shared in this ministry."
Acts 1:18 (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
Acts 1:20 "For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’”
4. Set out Biblical GUARDRAILS (guidelines) Acts 1:21-24Acts 1:21 (NIV) “Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection." 23 So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias.
Acts 1:24 (NIV) Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two You have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.”
Acts 1:26 (NIV) Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. 5. MAKEthe decision and get on with it. 1:26
Proverbs 16:33 (NIV) The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. Proverbs 18:18 (NIV) Casting the lot settles disputes and keeps strong opponents apart.
When all these parameters are used, any decision wholeheartedly pursued will be the right one.
ACTS: CHURCH 101 STRTING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION Acts 1:1-12
January 10, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
Ephesians 3:10-11 (NIV) “His [God the Father’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
THE BIBLICAL CONTEXT 1:1-3 Acts 1:1 (NIV) In my former book [Gospel of Luke], Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day He was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles He had chosen.
Acts 1:3 (NIV) After His suffering, He showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV) For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. 7 The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your forefathers that He brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION Acts 1:4 (NASB) Gathering them together [literally “took salt together”, eating together], He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
God had them start by WAITING. 1:4-5
Why does God want us to wait at the start?
Psalm 27:8 (NASB) “When You said, ‘Seek My face,’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.’” Psalm 105:4 (NASB) “Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.”
John 14:16 (NIV) And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
2. God had them start by DISCARDING distractions. 1:6-7 Acts 1:6 (NIV) So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority."
3. God started them on an INVESTMENT with global implications. 1:8 Acts 1:8 (NIV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
Ephesians 1:18 (NIV) I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints [i.e., what God has done and is doing for you], 19 and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, 20 which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Joshua 24:14 (NIV) "Now fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your forefathers worshiped beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
4. God started them by PRODDING them to action. 1:9-12 Acts 1:9 (NIV) After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 "Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven." 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.
Acts 1:12 (NIV) Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away (about a kilometer).
GETTING STARTED AT GETTING STARTED
I need to start waiting on God and getting His direction.
I need to discard some distraction.
I need to name the investment God has for me to make.
I need to get started on what I already know to do
ACTS: CHURCH 101 Acts 1:1-5
January 3, 2021 Pastor Patrick Allen
Romans 8:31 (ESV) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?
SO, WHY DO A SERIES FROM ACTS? 1. It’s part of my commitment as your interim pastor to get us into God’s Word. 2. A growing misunderstanding in regard to the place of the local church in our culture. 3. The average person in the pew knows little about the history and theology of the church. 4. We have romanticized the early church.
WHY IS ACTS IMPORTANT?
Acts is a book of historical CONTINUITY.
Acts 1:1 (NASB) The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen.
Luke 1:1 (NIV) Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Acts 1:3 (NASB) To these [the apostles] He [Jesus] also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, "Which," He said, "you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."
1. Acts is a book of revolutionary CHANGE.
2. Acts is a book of literary BACKGROUNDS.
3. Acts is a book of ecclesiastical RECORDS.
HELPFUL FACTS ABOUT ACTS
GOSPELSACTS Jesus models Christianity Everyday people model Christianity
We are Christ’s admiring audience We are the ones on stage
We find Jesus offering His life. We see Jesus offering His power.
Original “seeds” of the church are planted: Those seeds take root, begin to sprout, grow, blossom, and “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:13) bear fruit. Christ is crucified, risen and ascended. Christ is seated in heaven and exalted as head of His body, the church
We see a personal model – in Jesus - We see human examples of that life fleshed out in of what Christianity is all about ordinary men and women
The emphasis is on Christ The emphasis is on the Holy Spirit
The Who and Why of Acts
Colossians 4:14 (NIV) “Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.”
The What and Where of Acts
Like Genesis, Acts records several beginnings:
The first local church
The first sermon
The first church leaders – deacons and elders
The first missionary movement
The first non-Jewish converts
The first use of spiritual gifts
The first persecutions and martyrs.
AN EASY OUTLINE TO REMEMBER Acts 1-12 The focus is on Peter Acts 13-28 The focus is on Paul
Acts 1:8 (NASB) “… 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."
Chapters 1-7 describe the church ESTABLISHED at Jerusalem.
Acts 8:1b (NASB) “And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.”
Chapter 8-12 describes the church SCATTERED to Judea and Samaria.
Acts 13:1 (NASB) Now there were at Antioch, in the church that was there, prophets and teachers: Barnabas, and Simeon who was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Chapters 13-28, the church EXTENDED to the ends of the earth.
AN APPLICATION AS WE BEGIN
Luke’s story of the church resembles our own growth and development as followers of Jesus.
1. ESTABLISHING Colossians 2:6 (NASB) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Philippians 1:6 (TLB) “And I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in His grace until His task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”
The Book of Acts is an unfinished book for it is still being written in your life and the lives of all Christians who carry the light of Christ into a darkened world” (Ray Stedman, Birth of the Body, p. 15).
KEEPING YOUR JOY IN 2021
December 23, 2020 Pastor Dave Bruno
If you felt some periods of joylessness in the past year, you are not alone. I recently looked over the World Happiness Report that came out in 2020. This 202-page report showed that the United States, one of the world’s economically richest countries, came in #18 on the Happiness Scale: and our level of happiness in this country has been declining yearly, since 2005. According to Psychology Today, it used to be that older people in their sixties and seventies scored higher in their contentment and appreciation of life. This has changed drastically. Old age and retirement have does not brought the satisfaction it once did. Last year, in the normal December, none of us could have known just how non-normal 2020 would be for us. Who could have predicted church life in 2020 would involve outdoor worship services, mask requirements, Zoom bible studies, and on-line worship together? Those of us who are Christ followers, are not immune to hardship, trials, or suffering. James 1:2 says; Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. This is not a sermon to make you feel guilty for not feeling joyful. I too, have had episodes of lacking joy in the past several months. And I know I am not alone. We know that even the most mature of God’s people have experienced periods of joylessness in their lives. - --Job wished he had never been born (Job 3:11 “Why wasn’t I born dead? Why didn’t I die as I came from the womb?”) --David, the man after God’s own heart, prayed to be taken away to a place where he could not have to deal with reality (Psalm 55:6-8 “Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape” --Elijah, even after defeating 450 prophets of Baal with fire that he called down from heaven fled into the desert and ask God to take his life (I Kings 19:4 “He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, Lord,’ he said. ‘Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.’” So, if these men struggled, I have to ask myself, ‘How can I experience consistent joy in my Christian life?’ I know that joy is not an option. Scripture tells us that God expects his people to rejoice in every circumstance, whether we feel like it or not. -I Thess 5:16 says “Rejoice always…” -I Peter 4:13 – “keep on rejoicing” -Philippians 4:4 – “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” SO, WHAT’S TAKING AWAY OUR JOY? 1) We tend to focus on the things that go wrong in our personal life 2)We choose to allow some people to rob us from our joy 3) We have allowed the media, especially social media to rob our joy. 4) We long for future events in our lives and we forget to seize the moment of our day to day blessings 5) Covid-19 – Need I say any more? WHY I NEED JOY! --It effects our witness for Christ. Jesus said in John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” --It effects the atmosphere in our homes, with our family --It effects our relationship with God Now Joy is different from Happiness. Happiness is the feeling you get when things are going well—it’s usually based on your circumstances. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep sense of pleasure, delight, gladness and well-being that is independent of your circumstances. Joy is less of an emotion and more of a decision. MY STEPS ON CHOOSING JOY DURING 2021 1) I WILL FOCUS ON GETTING CLOSER TO GOD God Himself is the source of our joy. Galatians 5:22-23 says that joy is one of the byproducts of having the Holy Spirit living and abiding in us. How to get closer to God: a) Spending Time with God -Psalm 16:11 b) Spending Time in His Word -Jeremiah 15:16 c) Spending Time Talking to God (Prayer!) -John 16:24 -Answered prayers bring joy! But you can’t get answered prayers if you don’t pray. You won’t pray unless you make time to pray. 2) I WILL FOCUS ON THE OTHER PEOPLE IN MY LIFE Joy fills our lives when we remember the good things God has done through the people He has placed in our lives. No wonder the Bible says we need share joy with others: -By encouraging one another (I Thess 5:11) -By praying for one another (James 5:16) -By accepting one another (Rom 15:7) -By forgiving one another (Eph 4:32) -By loving one another (I John 3:11) 3) I WILL FOCUS ON SERVING - Galatians 6:10 What identifies you? Being harsh, being approachable, caring or hateful, mean spirited or a person who shows grace. A servant is always identified as someone who cares for people. 4) I WILL FOCUS ON GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED Prov 22:9 You can’t put into words the joy that comes into your life by giving to others. 5) I WILL KEEP MY FOCUS ON THE FUTURE HOPE GOD HAS FOR ME. Revelation 21:3-4 My prayer and hope is that HCC will be a church full of people, not perfect people, but people who have God’s joy pouring out of the way they live on this earth. So here’s what I’d like you to do as you start this new year. Come up with your own list. Your steps on how you are going to make the decision to have the joy of the Lord in your life. What things do you need to start doing, and to stop doing? We cannot produce joy by our own power; we need to rely on the power of His Holy Spirit. Knowing that circumstances won’t always go away or may never change. Be determined to stay faithful to living a joyful life with God. This takes trusting in Him. Placing our trust in God will bring us joy. God loves us more that we can imagine. I know that there is fear as the new year approaches. Many people are stating that they will spend most of this next year in survival mode. We need to remember that joy comes in giving our burdens to Jesus. Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. My prayer for you this year is that you allow Jesus to carry the heavy loads in your life, and receive His Joy
THE GLORIA IN EXCELSIS DEO
Luke2:8-14 December 20, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
SONG BETWEEN FEAR AND PEACE: An Introduction
“What do I really fear?”
TWO ISSUES ABOUT FEAR
Luke 2:8 (NASB) In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
ISSUE #1: Why Do We Fear What We Fear?
Luke 2:9 (NASB) And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
Romans 3:23 (NIV) …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
The fear that you and I experience every day in life is a fear that comes from being aware of this gap – the distance between who we were designed to be and who we really are.
Luke 2:10 (NASB) But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:13 (NASB) And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
The reason that Jesus came by virgin birth instead of by natural means was to reveal the glorious POWER of God.
The reason that Jesus came to earth - God came to man in the incarnation - was to reveal the glorious PRESENCE of God.
And the reason that Jesus went to the cross was to reveal the glorious GRACE of God.
ISSUE 2: What Can I Do With My Fears?
The first thing we do with fear is to let it DRIVE us to Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ came to allay your fears and to bring peace into your life. He answers every single fear that we have. Think of a fear.
Suppose you fear that you don’t have what it takes for life? Jesus would say to you from: 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Maybe you feel you’ve really messed up and no longer useful to God. He would say to you: 1 John 1:9 (NASB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Maybe you fear that you don’t know whether or not you’ve really been changed by Him. God would say to you: 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV) Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Psalm 46:10 (NASB) "Cease striving and know that I am God…"
Stop where you are and ask this question: If I am in Christ and I have trusted Christ, and He is in me and is changing me, in what way does my relationship with Christ answer the fears I have in life?
1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 2. The second thing we do with fear is rather than letting it be the force behind our lives; we let faith drive us THROUGH our fears!
We fear because there’s distance between the glory of God and the frail humanity in us. But Jesus has bridged the gap, and all of our fears are answered in Him:
the One who knows what we’re going through right now,
the One whose eye is on the sparrow,
the One who is well aware of our fears, and
the One who has brought us amazing peace.
So let your fears drive you straight to Christ, and let your faith drive you straight through your fears.
ON BEYOND CHRISTMAS Matthew 1:18-25
December 13, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
1.The birth of Christ is without a CATEGORY into which we sort the experiences of life.
Matthew 1:18a (NASB) Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph…
Matthew 1:18b (NASB) … before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:19 (NASB) And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Matthew 1:20 (NASB) But when he had considered this [as he was considering these events], behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
2.The miracle of miracles is that the baby inside of Mary was God in HUMAN flesh. Matthew 1:20 (NASB) … an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:21 (NASB) "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
Matthew 1:22 (NASB) Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."
Who is this baby? Colossians 1:15 (NIV) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. … 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.
3.Like Joseph, if we do not accept this baby, we will MISS Christmas, because it is “on beyond zebra.” “Jesus was conceived when God took off the glove of nature and touched Mary with his naked finger. Thus, Jesus did not evolve up and out of history; He descended down and into history.” - C. S. Lewis
Philippians 2:5 (ESV) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
GAINING INSIGHT: What Did I Learn Today?
What are the familiar sights and sounds of Christmas that you enjoy most?
Read Matthew 1:18-25 again. What feelings might you have – or you might go through – in verses 19-21?
How would you explain the importance of the virgin birth to an inquiring friend?
What has gone “on beyond zebra” for you this Christmas season?
For next time: Read Luke 2:8-14.
What Christmas hymn or song do you like to hear or sing during this season?
Fear is a theme that is woven into many different aspects of that first Christmas. Where else do we find fear cropping up?
Why is fear essential to the Christmas story?
WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS? Luke 1:26-38
December 6, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
AN UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS Luke 1:26 (NASB) Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 1. Mary began with FEAR and CONFUSION.
Luke 1:30 (NASB) The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." 2. Mary received HOPE and DEFINITION.
Luke 1:34 (NASB) Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. 3. Mary also received CLARITY and ASSURANCE. Malachi 3:6 (NIV) "I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.
THINKING ABOUT MY CHRISTMAS We look for SOLUTIONS. But, God gives us a SAVIOR.
We want ANSWERS. Life is more than we can imagine, so God gives us HIS SPIRIT. Deuteronomy 29:29 (NASB) The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.
We look at the IMMEDIATE, the temporal. God, however, is focused on the ETERNAL. Hebrews 11:13 (NASB) All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR CHRISTMAS? Colossians 3:12 (NASB) So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Luke 2:11 (KJV) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. So, what will you do with Him?
GAINING INSIGHT: What Did I Learn Today?
With COVID-19 running rampant, what do you expect your Christmas to be like?
Read Luke 1:26-32 again. Where do you find the concept of “fear” in this passage? Why did God include it in this account?
Which description fits Christmas 2020 best for you? Explain.
a. It is full of fear and confusion. b. It is full of hope and definition. c. It brings clarity and assurance
For next time: Read Matthew 1:18-25.
How would you feel in Joseph’s place in verse 19? In verses 20-21?
If you were Joseph, what would you say to family and friends? To God?
Why was it necessary that Jesus be born of a virgin?
HEAVEN: THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
November 29, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
INTRODUCTION: Pitching on Tuesday
WHAT IS HEAVEN? The Bible tells us three things about heaven:
Heaven is where God LIVES and rules.
Psalm 123:1 (TEV) Lord, I look up to You, up to heaven, where You rule.
2. Heaven is a REAL place. John 14:1 (NASB) "Do not let your heart be troubled; [you] believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. Matthew 6:20 (NIV) But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
3. Heaven was designed for US. Matthew 25:34 (NIV) Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave Him great pleasure.
WHERE IS HEAVEN? Psalm 53:2 (NLT) God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; He looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God. John 14:5 (NASB) Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Romans 3:21 (NLT) But now God has shown us a way to be made right with Him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
WHAT IS HEAVEN LIKE? Job 11:7 (CEV) Can you understand the mysteries surrounding God All-Powerful? 8 They are higher than the heavens and deeper than the grave. So what can you do when you know so little, 9 and these mysteries outreach the earth and the ocean? Here are some things you WON’T find:
There is no SICKNESS in heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:40 (CEV) Everything in the heavens has a body, and so does everything on earth. But each one is very different from all the others. … 42 These bodies will die, but the bodies that are raised will live forever. 43 These ugly and weak bodies will become beautiful and strong. 1 Corinthians 15:49 (TLB) Just as each of us now has a body like Adam's [that means we have a human body], so we shall someday have a body like Christ's.
2. There will be no SADNESS in heaven. Revelation 21:4 (NIV) He [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Psalm 56:8 (NASB) You have taken account of my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book?
3. There is no SUFFERING. Revelation 7:16 (NIV) Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.
4. There is no SIN. Jude 1:24 (NLT) And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into His glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy.
1 John 3:1 (NIV) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see him as He is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
5. There is no DEATH. Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Here is a list of the things you WILL find in heaven.
We will have a REUNION with other believers.
Hebrews 12:22 (NIV) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant…
2. We will receive REWARDS.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Matthew 16:27 (NIV) For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father's glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done. Romans 14:12 (NIV) So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Ephesians 6:8 (NLT) Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.
3. We will have RESPONSIBILITIES in heaven. 2 Timothy 2:12 (NLT) If we endure hardship, we will reign with Him. Luke 16:10 (NIV) “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?”
4. We will have REST (refreshment, renewal) in heaven. Hebrews 4:9 (NIV) There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
5. We will have REJOICING in heaven. Matthew 25:21 (NASB) “His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”
HOW DO I GET TO HEAVEN? Matthew 7:13 (NIV) “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Romans 1:17 (NIV) For in the gospel a righteousness from Godis revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith." Here’s how you put your trust in Christ: Romans 10:9 (NLT) For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11 As the Scriptures tell us, "Anyone who believes in him will not be disappointed." A – I admit that I’m a sinner and need a savior. B – I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me – to pay the penalty for my sins. C – I confess that I want Jesus to call the shots in my life. D – I depend on God’s promise. John 3:16 (NASB) “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” HOW DO I LIVE IF I’M GOING TO HEAVEN?
Don’t be DISTRACTED by temptation.
1 Peter 2:11 (NIV) Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain [keep away] from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
Hebrews 11:15 (TEV) They did not keep thinking about the country they had left; if they had, they would have had the chance to return. 16 Instead, it was a better country they longed for, the heavenly country. And so God is not ashamed for them to call him their God, because He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
2. Don’t be DISCOURAGED by trouble. 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT) And so, since God in His mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up. … 17 For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18 So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.
3. FOCUS my energy on what will last. Matthew 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
GAINING INSIGHT: What Did I Learn Today?
What was your first image or understanding of heaven? Where did you learn this?
Read John 14:1-6. What statements does Jesus make about heaven? Many people object to the so-called “narrow mindedness” of Christians on the question of how one reaches God. How does verse 6 answer that objection?
Read Revelation 21:1-4. What descriptions does John give about heaven in this passage? How might they be a source of encouragement to God’s people?
What does it look like to live in light of the fact that you will one day be with Jesus Christ in heaven?
For next time: Read Luke 1:26-32.
With COVID-19 still running rampant, what do you expect Christmas to be like?
Where do you find the concept of “fear” in this passage? Why was this included in this account?
How did the angel assure Mary?
October 25, 2020 Pastor Patrick Allen
TWO DANGERS IN TRANSITION
A RELUCTANCE to become virtually unknown, forgotten, and overlooked in reaching a goal.
Matthew 20:25 (NIV) “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
2. A NEGLIGENCE in recognizing others who really deserve much of the credit. Romans 13:7 (NASB) Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. 8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
IDENTIFYING THE UNSUNG HEROES. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND.
They helped complete the REBUILDING of the wall.
Nehemiah 7:1 (ESV) Now when the wall had been built and I had set up the doors, and the gatekeepers, the singers, and the Levites had been appointed…
2. They were responsible for the SECURITY of the city. Nehemiah 7:2 I gave my brother Hanani and Hananiah the governor of the castle charge over Jerusalem, for he was a more faithful and God-fearing man than many.
3. They were responsible to set a daily SCHEDULE. Nehemiah 7:3 (ESV) And I said to them, “Let not the gates of Jerusalem be opened until the sun is hot. And while they are still standing guard, let them shut and bar the doors. Appoint guards from among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, some at their guard posts and some in front of their own homes.”
The Critical Problem - Nehemiah 7:4 (ESV) The city was wide and large, but the people within it were few, and no houses had been rebuilt.
Nehemiah 11:1 (NASB) Now the leaders of the people lived in Jerusalem, but the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while nine-tenths remained in the other cities.
DEEDS OF THE WILLING UNKNOWNS.
There were those who willingly MOVED into the city. 11:2-9
Nehemiah 11:2 (NASB) And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. 3 Now these are the heads of the provinces who lived in Jerusalem, but in the cities of Judah each lived on his own property in their cities - the Israelites, the priests, the Levites, the temple servants and the descendants of Solomon's servants. 4 Some of the sons of Judah and some of the sons of Benjamin lived in Jerusalem. From the sons of Judah: Athaiah the son of Uzziah, the son of Zechariah, the son of Amariah, the son of Shephatiah, the son of Mahalalel, of the sons of Perez; 5 and Maaseiah the son of Baruch, the son of Col-hozeh, the son of Hazaiah, the son of Adaiah, the son of Joiarib, the son of Zechariah, the son of the Shilonite. 6 All the sons of Perez who lived in Jerusalem were 468 able men. 7 Now these are the sons of Benjamin: Sallu the son of Meshullam, the son of Joed, the son of Pedaiah, the son of Kolaiah, the son of Maaseiah, the son of Ithiel, the son of Jeshaiah; 8 and after him Gabbai and Sallai, 928. 9 Joel the son of Zichri was their overseer, and Judah the son of Hassenuah was second in command of the city.
2. There were those who willingly WORKED in the temple. 11:10-14 Nehemiah 11:10 (NASB) From the priests: Jedaiah the son of Joiarib, Jachin, 11 Seraiah the son of Hilkiah, the son of Meshullam, the son of Zadok, the son of Meraioth, the son of Ahitub, the leader of the house of God, 12 and their kinsmen who performed the work of the temple, 822; and Adaiah the son of Jeroham, the son of Pelaliah, the son of Amzi, the son of Zechariah, the son of Pashhur, the son of Malchijah, 13 and his kinsmen, heads of fathers' households, 242; and Amashsai the son of Azarel, the son of Ahzai, the son of Meshillemoth, the son of Immer, 14 and their brothers, valiant warriors, 128. And their overseer was Zabdiel, the son of Haggedolim.
3. There were those who willingly worked OUTSIDE the place of worship. 11:15-16 Nehemiah 11:15 (NASB) Now from the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, the son of Azrikam, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Bunni; 16 and Shabbethai and Jozabad, from the leaders of the Levites, who were in charge of the outside work of the house of God…
4. There were those who supported the ministry through PRAYER. 11:17 Nehemiah 11:17 (NASB) … and Mattaniah the son of Mica, the son of Zabdi, the son of Asaph, who was the leader in beginning the thanksgiving at prayer, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, the son of Galal, the son of Jeduthun.
John 15:4 (NIV) “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.
5. There were those who served the Lord by PROMPTING worship. 11:22-23 Nehemiah 11:22 (NASB) Now the overseer of the Levites in Jerusalem was Uzzi the son of Bani, the son of Hashabiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Mica, from the sons of Asaph, who were the singers for the service of the house of God. 23 For there was a commandment from the king concerning them and a firm regulation for the song leaders day by day.
TIMELESS TRUTHS TO APPLY.
Your SHAPE for ministry makes you valuable although not necessarily famous.
We must not confuse famous with NECESSARY.
1 Corinthians 12:14 (NIV) Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
Our SHAPE determines just what necessary part we play in our body. Spiritual Gifts Heart – passion … what do we like to do? Ability – what do we find easy to do? Personality – Alone vs. groups; Introvert vs. Extrovert. Do you like to work with people, things or information? Experiences – What have you done before, especially the painful experiences.
How do I make this a reality? Step 1 – You need to BELONG. Step 2 - You need to MATURE. You need to commit to the personal habits that help you grow (Prayer, Bible Study, Giving, Small Groups). You need to commit to be accountable to others for your progress. Step 3 – You need to discover your ministry SHAPE. (Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences).
2. Every labor done in love is REMEMBERED by God. It is never forgotten. Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) “God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.”
3. Our final rewards will be determined on the basis of personal FAITHFULNESS, not public applause. 1 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV) “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
KEEPING THE COMMITMENTS YOU MAKE Nehemiah 9:38-10:39 October 18, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
The Bottom Life in Making Commitments: Our commitments – whether they are kept or not – SHAPE who and what we are!
Nehemiah 9:38 (NASB) "Now because of all this we are making an agreement in writing; and on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests."
Areas that together form a foundation for a church facing the challenge of transition:
First, we have to rediscover the PRIORITY of the Word of God (8:1-12)
Second, we have to rediscover the necessity of APPLYING God’s Word (8:13-18).
Third, we noted the importance of dealing with our PAST through confession and repentance (9:1-37).
WHAT IS A BIBLICAL COMMITMENT? We make all kinds of commitments in our lives, but a biblical commitment has three main elements. When we understand each of these elements, we have a better grasp on how to fulfill the commitments we make. FIRST ELEMENT - Our MIND.
Matthew 22:37 (NKJV) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
SECOND ELEMENT - Our HEART. In the process of making and keeping commitments, the heart embraces what the mind understands.
Proverbs 3:5 (NKJV) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
THIRD ELEMENT - Our WILL. The will acts on what the mind understands and the heart embraces. It gives action to our thoughts and feelings.
James 4:17 (NASB) says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
THE PROCESS OF COMMITMENT. THE GENERAL COMMITMENT. 9:38-10:29 Nehemiah 10:1 (NASB) Now on the sealed document were the names of: Nehemiah the governor, the son of Hacaliah, and Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8 Maaziah, Bilgai, Shemaiah. These were the priests. 9 And the Levites: Jeshua the son of Azaniah, Binnui of the sons of Henadad, Kadmiel; 10 also their brothers Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, Beninu. 14 The leaders of the people: Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, Baanah.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 (NIV) Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. 3 A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool. 4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
The “general theme” behind this written document is seen beginning in Nehemiah 10:28 (NASB) Now the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the temple servants and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the law of God, their wives, their sons and their daughters, all those who had knowledge and understanding, 29 are joining with their kinsmen, their nobles, and are taking on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God's law, which was given through Moses, God's servant, and to keep and to observe all the commandments of GOD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes…
THE SPECIFIC EXPRESSIONS. 10:30-39 Nehemiah 10:30 (NASB) … and that we will not give our daughters to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons. 1. Commitments in the HOME. 10:30
1 Corinthians 9:22 (NASB) "To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."
James 4:4 (NIV) "You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."
2. Commitments in SOCIETY. 10:31 Nehemiah 10:31 (NASB) As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt.
Romans 2:17 (NASB) But if you bear the name "Jew" and rely upon the Law and boast in God, 18 and know His will and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, 19 and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, 21 you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one shall not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? 24 For "THE NAME OF GOD IS BLASPHEMED AMONG THE GENTILES BECAUSE OF YOU," just as it is written.
3. Commitments in the SPIRITUALLIFE. 10:32-39 Nehemiah 10:32 (NASB) We also placed ourselves under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God. 34 Likewise we cast lots for the supply of wood among the priests, the Levites and the people so that they might bring it to the house of our God, according to our fathers' households, at fixed times annually, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law; 35 and that they might bring the first fruits of our ground and the first fruits of all the fruit of every tree to the house of the LORD annually, 36 and bring to the house of our God the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks as it is written in the law, for the priests who are ministering in the house of our God. 37 We will also bring the first of our dough, our contributions, the fruit of every tree, the new wine and the oil to the priests at the chambers of the house of our God, and the tithe of our ground to the Levites, for the Levites are they who receive the tithes in all the rural towns. 38 The priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes, and the Levites shall bring up the tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse. 39 For the sons of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of the grain, the new wine and the oil to the chambers; there are the utensils of the sanctuary, the priests who are ministering, the gatekeepers and the singers. Thus we will not neglect the house of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:19 (NIV) “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 20 You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Matthew 11:28 (MSG) "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. 29 Walk with Me and work with Me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30 Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
KEY PRINCIPLES IN MAKING COMMITMENTS.
Serious THOUGHTprecedes significant commitments.
Written PLANSconfirm right priorities.
A loss of DISTINCTIVENESSleads to a loss of commitments.
FACING THE PAST WITHOUT FLINCHING
Nehemiah 9:1-38 October 11, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
HANDLING OUR PAST
In general, people deal with the past in one of four ways:
IGNORE it. “Past? What past?” This is the individual who lives for today and commits those same blunders that he or she did in that past.
REWRITE it. Some people make up new parts of their life.
LIVE in it. Sadly, there are some who are permanently attached to the “good, old days.”
LEARN from it. Romans 15:4 (NIV) “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
This patter for inner rebuilding…
began with the READING of the Word of God (8:1-3),
and continued with WORSHIP (8:6).
They then sought to gain INSIGHT (8:8).
The next day they began APPLYING what they had heard by celebrating the Feast of Booths (8:13)
THE PREPARATION. 9:1-5a Nehemiah 9:1 (NASB) Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.
PERSONAL Preparation. 9:1
Psalm 139:23 (ESV) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
PHYSICAL Preparation. 9:2a
Nehemiah 9:2a (NASB) The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners…
Nehemiah 9:2b (NASB) … and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. 3 While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the LORD their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the LORD their God.
SPIRITUAL Preparation. 9:2b-3
They CONFESSED their sin and the “context” of sin (iniquities of their fathers).
They TURNED to God’s Word, which gave them direction in their prayers. Without turning to God’s word, they would continue to replay their sin.
THE PROCESS. 9:5b-38 Nehemiah 9:4 (NASB) Now on the Levites' platform stood Jeshua, Bani, Kadmiel, Shebaniah, Bunni, Sherebiah, Bani and Chenani, and they cried with a loud voice to the LORD their God. 5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabneiah, Sherebiah, Hodiah, Shebaniah and Pethahiah, said, "Arise, bless the LORD your God forever and ever! O may Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise! 6 You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them and the heavenly host bows down before You. STEP 1 - LOOKINGUP: Adoration and Praise. 9:4-6
They praised God’s NAME.
They praised His POSITION as Lord.
They praised His WORK as creator and sustainer.
Romans 8:31 (NLT) What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since He did not spare even His own Son but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one - for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one - for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and He is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? … 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
STEP 2 - LOOKING BACK: Reflections & Thanksgiving. 9:7-31 Nehemiah 9:7 (NASB) "You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram and brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful before You, and made a covenant with him to give him the land of the Canaanite, of the Hittite and the Amorite, of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite - to give it to his descendants. And You have fulfilled Your promise, for You are righteous. 9 You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heard their cry by the Red Sea. 10 Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his servants and all the people of his land; for You knew that they acted arrogantly toward them, and made a name for Yourself as it is this day. 11 You divided the sea before them, so they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground; and their pursuers You hurled into the depths, like a stone into raging waters. 12 And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day, and with a pillar of fire by night to light for them the way in which they were to go. 13 Then You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven; You gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments. 14 So You made known to them Your holy sabbath, and laid down for them commandments, statutes and law, through Your servant Moses. 15 You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger, You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst, and You told them to enter in order to possess the land which You swore to give them. 16 But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; they became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments. 17 They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness; and You did not forsake them. 18 Even when they made for themselves a calf of molten metal and said, 'This is your God Who brought you up from Egypt,' and committed great blasphemies, 19 You, in Your great compassion, did not forsake them in the wilderness; the pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, to guide them on their way, nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go. 20 You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, and You gave them water for their thirst. 21 Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want; their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell. 22 You also gave them kingdoms and peoples, and allotted them to them as a boundary. They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon and the land of Og the king of Bashan. 23 You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven, and You brought them into the land which You had told their fathers to enter and possess. 24 So their sons entered and possessed the land. And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land, to do with them as they desired. 25 They captured fortified cities and a fertile land. They took possession of houses full of every good thing, hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves, fruit trees in abundance. So they ate, were filled and grew fat, and reveled in Your great goodness. 26 But they became disobedient and rebelled against You, and cast Your law behind their backs and killed Your prophets who had admonished them so that they might return to You, and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them, but when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors. 28 But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You; therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them. When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You rescued them according to Your compassion, 29 and admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law. Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances, by which if a man observes them he shall live. And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen. 30 However, You bore with them for many years, and admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. 31 Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them, for You are a gracious and compassionate God.
Did you notice the three blots that mar this reminiscing (vv. 16-18, 26)?
Nehemiah 9:32 (NASB) "Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness, do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You, which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. 33 However, You are just in all that has come upon us; for You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. 34 For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them. 35 But they, in their own kingdom, with Your great goodness which You gave them, with the broad and rich land which You set before them, did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds. 36 Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold, we are slaves in it. 37 Its abundant produce is for the kings whom You have set over us because of our sins; they also rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress. STEP 3 - LOOKING AROUND: Petition & Confession. 9:32-37
Psalm 103:13 (NLT) “The LORD is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. 14 For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust.”
2 Corinthians 1:3 (NIV) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, 4 so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
What does God want us to do with it? 1 John 1:9 (NASB) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (from every sin).
STEP 4 - LOOKING FORWARD: Direction & Commitment. 9:38 Nehemiah 9:38 (NASB) "Now because of all this we are making an agreement in writing; and on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests."
Ephesians 3:10 (NLT) God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
GAINING INSIGHT FROM YOUR CHALLENGES
Nehemiah 8:13-18 October 4, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
SOME NECESSARY BACKGROUND. Think of the book of Nehemiah as being divided into two main sections. In the first six chapters, there is a RECONSTRUCTION of the wall. In the last seven chapters, there is a RE-INSTRUCTION of the people who built the wall.
Nehemiah 8:8 (NASB) They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.
But mark this point carefully: They received INPUT, but not INSIGHT.
Nehemiah 8:13 (NASB) Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law.
Mark 6:51 (NASB) “Then He [Jesus] got into the boat with them [the disciples], and the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished, 52 for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened.”
THE PURSUIT OF INSIGHT. 8:13-15 Nehemiah 8:13 (NASB) Then on the second day the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests and the Levites were gathered to Ezra the scribe that they might gain insight into the words of the law.
It takes TIME. 8:13
2. The pursuit of insight takes the right PEOPLE. 8:13 Ezra 7:10 (NASB) “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
3. The pursuit of insight takes the right ATTITUDE. 8:13
Hebrews 12:14 (NASB) Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled…
4. The pursuit of insight takes the right SOURCE. 8:14 Nehemiah 8:14 (NASB) They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month.
Nehemiah 8:14 (NASB) They found written in the law how the LORD had commanded through Moses that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month. 15 So they proclaimed and circulated a proclamation in all their cities and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the hills, and bring olive branches and wild olive branches, myrtle branches, palm branches and branches of other leafy trees, to make booths, as it is written." 5. The pursuit of insight takes the right RESPONSE. 8:14-15
Luke 6:46 (NIV) “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”
THE RESULT OF GAINING INSIGHT. 8:16-18 Nehemiah 8:16 (NASB) So the people went out and brought them and made booths for themselves, each on his roof, and in their courts and in the courts of the house of God, and in the square at the Water Gate and in the square at the Gate of Ephraim. 17 The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them.
A personal commitment and effort to OBEY God. 8:16-17a
We are at this moment as close to God as we really choose to be. True, there are times when we would like to know a deeper intimacy, but when it comes to the point, we are not prepared to pay the price involved.” - J. Oswald Sanders, Enjoying Intimacy with God
John 14:15 (NASB) “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. … 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. … 23 If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
Nehemiah 8:17 (NASB) The entire assembly of those who had returned from the captivity made booths and lived in them. The sons of Israel had indeed not done so from the days of Joshua the son of Nun to that day. 2. A continued willingness to CHANGE. 8:17a-b
Nehemiah 8:17c (NASB) And there was great rejoicing. 18 He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance. 3. A discovery of JOY. 8:17c-18 Get the Principle: Joy comes from OBEDIENCE
WHERE DO I BEGIN? Nehemiah 8:18 (NASB) He read from the book of the law of God daily, from the first day to the last day. And they celebrated the feast seven days, and on the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance.
Spend time DAILY in the Bible.
Ezra 7:10 (NASB) “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
2. Spend time with others in WORSHIP and celebration.Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
For Next Sunday: Read Nehemiah 9:1-38 Opening Up
In your growing up years, what did “confession” mean to you? What did you have to do?
What is the occasion for this time of corporate confession? How do the Israelites prepare for it?
In the prayer recorded here, God’s grace and power are reviewed throughout redemptive history. What was emphasized and at what time?
Where is God at work in their present situation?
In seeing God anew in this prayer, how do the people respond?
The last time you did something requiring confession on sin, what was involved? What brought it out into the open? How was your confession received?
How do a Christian today show sincerity in one’s confession and repentance of sin? In that activity, what part would you assign to God’s Word? To other believers? To public or private prayer?
WHAT'S NEXT? Becoming a Healthy Church
September 27, 2020 Pastor Dave Bruno
Nehemiah 7:1-3 After the wall was finished and I had set up the doors in the gates, the gatekeepers, singers, and Levites were appointed. 2 I gave the responsibility of governing Jerusalem to my brother Hanani, along with Hananiah, the commander of the fortress, for he was a faithful man who feared God more than most. 3 I said to them, “Do not leave the gates open during the hottest part of the day. And even while the gatekeepers are on duty, have them shut and bar the doors. Appoint the residents of Jerusalem to act as guards, everyone on a regular watch. Some will serve at sentry posts and some in front of their own homes.”
THEY APPOINTED SOUND LEADERSHIP
-Leaders who had integrity -Leaders who feared God Proverbs 29:25 “fearing people is a dangerous trap” -Leaders who stayed alert -Leaders who valued people
Nehemiah 8:1-5 1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given for Israel to obey. 2 So on October 8 Ezra the priest brought the Book of the Law before the assembly, which included the men and women and all the children old enough to understand. 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law. 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. To his right stood Mattithiah, Shema, Anaiah, Uriah, Hilkiah, and Maaseiah. To his left stood Pedaiah, Mishael, Malkijah, Hashum, Hashbaddanah, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.
2. THEY VALUED the Word of God
Romans 15:4 – “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
WE BELIEVE IN THE SCRIPTURES OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTIMENTS AS VERBALLY INSPIRED BY GOD, INERRANT IN THE ORIGINAL WRITINGS AND THAT THEY ARE SUPREME AND FINAL AUTHORITY IN FAITH AND LIFE.
Nehemiah 8:6 6 Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
3. THEY HADexpressive worship Nehemiah 8:7 …the Levites then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places. 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.
4. THEY HAD A DESIRE TO learn and understand the Word Nehemiah 8:9-12 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law. 10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” 11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.
5. THEY HAD A passionate responseTO WHAT THEY HAD LEARNED
INTEGRITY STAY ALERT VALUE PEOPLE STUDY GOD’S WORD BE EXPRESSIVE IN WORSHIP HAVE THE JOY OF THE LORD
September 20, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
WHEN DID THIS INTIMIDATION START? 6:1 Nehemiah 6:1 (NASB) Now when it was reported to Sanballat, Tobiah, to Geshem the Arab and to the rest of our enemies that I had rebuilt the wall, and that no breach remained in it, although at that time I had not set up the doors in the gates…
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE INTIMIDATION? 6:2-19
DISTRACTION through a personal request. 6:2-4
Nehemiah 6:2 (NASB) … then Sanballat and Geshem sent a message to me, saying, "Come, let us meet together at Chephirim in the plain of Ono." But they were planning to harm me. 3 So I sent messengers to them, saying, "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?" 4 They sent messages to me four times in this manner, and I answered them in the same way.
A Timeless Principle: You defeat distractions by emphasizing your PRIORITIES.
DEFAMATION through a public letter. 6:5-9
Nehemiah 6:5 (NASB) Then Sanballat sent his servant to me in the same manner a fifth time with an open letter in his hand. 6 In it was written, "It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says, that you and the Jews are planning to rebel; therefore you are rebuilding the wall. And you are to be their king, according to these reports. 7 You have also appointed prophets to proclaim in Jerusalem concerning you, 'A king is in Judah!' And now it will be reported to the king according to these reports. So come now, let us take counsel together." 8 Then I sent a message to him saying, "Such things as you are saying have not been done, but you are inventing them in your own mind." 9 For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done." But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
Notice four characteristics of a rumor found in this letter:
The source is most often UNKNOWN.
They are filled with EXAGGERATION and inaccuracy.
It is designed to lead to personal HURT and misunderstanding.
Rumors – rather than facts – are employed by those whose motives are EVIL.
Nehemiah shows us four good moves to make when we are slandered:
Nehemiah calmly DENIES the charge. (v. 8a) Then I sent a message to him saying, "Such things as you are saying have not been done…
He puts the blame where it BELONGS. (v. 8b) … but you are inventing them in your own mind."
He reveals their hidden MOTIVES. (v. 9a) For all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, "They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done."
He takes his personal hurt to GOD. (v. 9) But now, O God, strengthen my hands.
DANGER through a subtle conspiracy. 6:10-16
Nehemiah 6:10 (NASB) When I entered the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, son of Mehetabel, who was confined at home, he said, "Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you, and they are coming to kill you at night."
Nehemiah 6:11 (NASB) But I said, "Should a man like me flee? And could one such as I go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in."
It would affect the MORALE of the people. "Should a man like me run away?"
He realized this was not in tune with what God had said to him.
Nehemiah 6:12 (NASB) Then I perceived that surely God had not sent him, but he uttered his prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Nehemiah 6:13 (NASB) He was hired for this reason, that I might become frightened and act accordingly and sin, so that they might have an evil report in order that they could reproach me.
Nehemiah 6:14 (NASB) Remember, O my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these works of theirs, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets who were trying to frighten me. 15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of the month Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations surrounding us saw it, they lost their confidence; for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God.
HOW DO I PRESS AHEAD IN SPITE OF INTIMIDATION?
I need a compelling PURPOSE.
Nehemiah 6:3 “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down!”
A Timeless Principle: Great lives are produced by a COMMITMENT to a great cause.
Matthew 22:37 (NASB) And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'”
Matthew 28:18 (NASB) And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
I need a clear PERSPECTIVE.
James 1:5 (ESV) If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
False Evidence Appearing Real
2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV) “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
1. I need continual PRAYER.
Luke 18:1 (NIV) "Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray and not give up."
2. I need a courageous PERSISTENCE.
The Bible tells us that there are only three things we should flee from: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV) “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14 (NASB) “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:10-12 (NIV)
Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
HOW TO HANDLE A PROMOTION Nehemiah 5:14-19
September 13, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
PROMOTION: An Axiom to Remember.
“Adversity is sometimes hard upon a man; but for one man who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will stand adversity!” - Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish essayist and historian
Why is prosperity a bigger “trap” than adversity? Prosperity often gives us an increase in three areas:
POSITION: Become more. Climb the corporate ladder.
POWER: Do more. Control more.
PRIVILIGE: Have more. Get more perks.
Psalm 75:5 (NLT) “Don’t lift your fists in defiance at the heavens or speak with rebellious arrogance. 6 For no one on earth - from east or west, or even from the wilderness - can raise another person up. 7 It is God alone who judges; He decides who will rise and who will fall.”
A Timeless Principle: The promotion and continuation of every child of God is because of the Lord’s GOODNESS and grace
1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV) "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"
PROMOTION: An Example to Follow. Nehemiah 5:14 (NASB) Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah… 1. THE REACTION TO THE PROMOTION. 5:14a
There seems to be reluctance on the part of many Christians to step into leadership roles, both in the church and in the community. There may be a number of reasons for this:
Some don’t feel qualified – responding to a negative narrative.
Some are dealing with the repercussions of past mistakes and choices.
Some don’t understand the benefits of being “stretched.”
Proverbs 29:2 (NASB) “When the righteous increase (lit. move forward) the people rejoice, but when a wicked man rules, people groan.”
2. THE RESPONSE IN THE POSITION. 5:14b-18 Nehemiah 5:14 (NASB) Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance.
I Will Be Tempted to Misuse My PRIVILEGES. 5:14b
Nehemiah 5:15 (NASB) But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. 16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.
I Will Be Tempted to Abuse POLICIES. 5:15-16
Nehemiah 5:17 (NASB) Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance.
I Will Be Tempted to Abandon the PROJECT. 5:17-18a
Nehemiah 5:18b (NASB) Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people.
I Will Be Tempted to Ignore the PEOPLE. 5:18b
PROMOTION: Our Relationship with the Lord.
I DEEPEN my reverence for God.
Realize that God PUT me in this position.
Psalm 75:6 (TLB) "For promotion and power come from nowhere on earth, but only from God. He promotes one and deposes another."
Realize that God is HOLDING me accountable.
Proverbs 9:10 (NASB) “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
Hebrews 13:17 (NLT) “Obey your spiritual leaders and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they know they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this joyfully and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.”
2.I DEVELOP a love for people.
A Timeless Principle: Image-managers focus on what they can GET. Leaders focus on what they can GIVE. Psalm 78:72 (NIV) "David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skill he led them."
1 Thessalonians 2:8 (NIV) “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
3.I DISCIPLINE myself for eternal rewards. Nehemiah 5:19 (NASB) Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.
Nehemiah 5:16 (NASB) I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. A Timeless Principle: Image-managers focus on their RIGHTS. Leaders focus on their RESPONSIBILITIES.
PROMOTION: What Do I Do Now?
Hebrews 6:10 (NIV) "God will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them."
Romans 8:28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…
I want you to do three things in prayer right now: First, I want you to thank God for the privileges, perks, and pleasures that He has given you in the past. Those promotions that have brought a new level of abundance to you. Second, I want you to acknowledge that God will use both the adversity and the prosperity in your life to make you more like Jesus Christ. Put yourself in His hands, trust Him to finish this work. Third, if things are not rosy right now, admit that to God. But with it, reiterate again to God, your trust in Him and your thankfulness that He is working in all things!
Nehemiah 5:1-18 Sunday, September 6, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
Mark 3:25 (NASB) “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."
THE HISTORICAL SITUATION. 5:1-5 Nehemiah 5:1 (NASB) Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. THE COMPLAINTS OF THE PEOPLE.
Nehemiah 5:1 (NASB) Now there was a great outcry of the people and of their wives against their Jewish brothers. 2 For there were those who said, "We, our sons and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain that we may eat and live." 1. There was a shortage ofFOOD. vv. 1-2
Nehemiah 5:3 (NASB) There were others who said, "We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our houses that we might get grain because of the famine." 2. They had to over-MORTGAGE their homes. v. 3
Nehemiah 5:4 (NASB) Also there were those who said, "We have borrowed money for the king's tax on our fields and our vineyards. 3. They were having to borrow money to pay TAXES. v. 4
Nehemiah 5:5 (NASB) "Now our flesh is like the flesh of our brothers, our children like their children. Yet behold, we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters are forced into bondage already, and we are helpless because our fields and vineyards belong to others." 4. They were having to sell themselves into SLAVERY. v. 5
But these hard times … were not the root problem. THE CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM.
Exodus 22:25 (NIV) “If you lend money to one of My people among you who is needy, do not be like a moneylender; charge him no interest.” (cf. Deut. 23:19-20; Lev. 25:35-37).
A Conflict Consideration: The root cause of internal conflict and discord is always a SELFISH spirit.
James 4:1 (NIV) "What causes fights and quarrels among you? 2 Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but you don't get it."
THE CURE FOR CONFLICT. 5:6-13 Nehemiah 5:6 (NASB) Then I was very angry when I had heard their outcry and these words. STEP 1: Take the conflict SERIOUSLY. 5:6
Ephesians 4:26 (NASB) "Be angry and yet, do not sin."
Nehemiah 5:7a (NASB) I consulted with myself… STEP 2: THINK before you speak. 5:7a
James 1:19 (NIV) "Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. 20 For man's anger does not bring about the righteous life God desires."
A Conflict Consideration: How do I think it through? As the old MasterCard commercial said, “Think about the possibilities!” Write down all the possible reasons and causes.
Nehemiah 5:7 (NASB) I consulted with myself and contended with the nobles and the rulers and said to them, "You are exacting usury, each from his brother!" STEP 3: PRIVATELY confront the offending party. 5:7b
Matthew 18:15 (ESV) “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
Lessons along the Way:
Confrontation can be for everybody’s GOOD.
If I don’t confront the problem it gets WORSE, not better.
The longer I wait, the HARDER it is to confront.
A Conflict Consideration: Effective leaders must have the COURAGE to confront.
Titus 3:10 (NIV) "Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. 11 You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self‑condemned."
Nehemiah 5:7c (NASB) Therefore, I held a great assembly against them. 8 I said to them, "We according to our ability have redeemed our Jewish brothers who were sold to the nations; now would you even sell your brothers that they may be sold to us?" Then they were silent and could not find a word to say. 9 Again I said, "The thing which you are doing is not good; should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? STEP 4: PUBLICLY deal with public divisions 5:7c-13
Nehemiah levels three accusations at these leaders in verses 7-9.
He indicts them for charging outrageous interest rates to fellow Jews.
He charges them with allowing permanent slavery of Jewish debtors.
He accuses them of losing their distinctiveness in the eyes of the surrounding nations.
What Did Nehemiah Have Them Do? Nehemiah 5:10 (NASB) "And likewise I, my brothers and my servants are lending them money and grain. Please, let us leave off this usury.
DETERMINE to stop the wrong. 5:10
Nehemiah 5:11 (NASB) "Please, give back to them this very day their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money and of the grain, the new wine and the oil that you are exacting from them."
MAKE specific plans to correct the wrong immediately, regardless of the sacrifice involved. 5:11
Nehemiah 5:12 (NASB) Then they said, "We will give it back and will require nothing from them; we will do exactly as you say." So I called the priests and took an oath from them that they would do according to this promise.
DECLARE plans for correction in a promise before God and others. 5:12
Nehemiah 5:13 (NASB) I also shook out the front of my garment and said, "Thus may God shake out every man from his house and from his possessions who does not fulfill this promise; even thus may he be shaken out and emptied." And all the assembly said, "Amen!" And they praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.
REALIZE the seriousness of the promise that you’ve made. 5:13
Nehemiah 5:14 (NASB) Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years, neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor's food allowance. 15 But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. 16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. 17 Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around us. 18 Now that which was prepared for each day was one ox and six choice sheep, also birds were prepared for me; and once in ten days all sorts of wine were furnished in abundance. Yet for all this I did not demand the governor's food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people. STEP 5: SET an example of unselfishness. 5:14-18
1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
A Conflict Consideration: You can only ask others to do what you are ALREADY doing!
Ephesians 4:3 (NIV) "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
"By this shall all men know that you're My disciples, that you love one another." John 13:35
DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT: ITS CAUSES AND CURES
Nehemiah 4:1-23 Sunday, August 30, 2020
Pastor Patrick Allen
THE TACTICS OF DISCOURAGMENT. 4:1-8 Nehemiah 4:1 (NASB) Now it came about that when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became furious and very angry and mocked the Jews. 2 He spoke in the presence of his brothers and the wealthy men of Samaria and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Are they going to restore it for themselves? Can they offer sacrifices? Can they finish in a day? Can they revive the stones from the dusty rubble even the burned ones?" 3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was near him and he said, "Even what they are building - if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!" TACTIC #1: RIDICULE. 4:1-3
Why is constant ridicule so effective?
It attacks our sense of SELF-WORTH.
Ridicule is a substitute for REASON.
Ridicule OVERSTATES the facts and implies false facts.
Ridicule is CONTAGIOUS.
Nehemiah 4:6 (NASB) So we built the wall and the whole wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work. 7 Now when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. 8 All of them conspired together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause a disturbance in it. TACTIC #2: RESISTANCE. 4:6-8
Nehemiah 4:11 (NASB) Our enemies said, "They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work." 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, "They will come up against us from every place where you may turn," TACTIC #3: RUMOR. 4:11-12
Two characteristics of rumors (v. 12): 1. They are always spread by those CLOSEST to the enemy. "Those Jews who lived near them."
2. They are EXAGGERATED when repeated. "Then they told us ten times over."
THE EFFECTS OF DISCOURAGEMENT. 4:9-12 Nehemiah 4:9 (NASB) But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night. 10 Thus in Judah it was said, "The strength of the burden bearers is failing, yet there is much rubbish; and we ourselves are unable to rebuild the wall." 11 Our enemies said, "They will not know or see until we come among them, kill them and put a stop to the work." 12 When the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times, "They will come up against us from every place where you may turn," EFFECT #1: Loss of STRENGTH.
EFFECT #2: Loss of VISION.
EFFECT #3: Loss of CONFIDENCE.
EFFECT #4: Loss of SECURITY.
DEALING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT. 4:13-23 Nehemiah 4:13 (NASB) … then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. 1. INDENTIFY YOUR VULNERABLE AREAS. 4:13
Colossians 3:12 (NASB) So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on [wear continually] a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.
Nehemiah 4:13 (NASB) … then I stationed men in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, the exposed places, and I stationed the people in families with their swords, spears and bows. 2. UNIFY YOUR EFFORTS TOWARD A COMMON GOAL. 4:13
Nehemiah 4:14 (NASB) When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: "Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses." 3. DIRECT ATTENTION TO THE LORD. 4:14
Nehemiah 4:4 (NASB) Hear, O our God, how we are despised! Return their reproach on their own heads and give them up for plunder in a land of captivity. 5 Do not forgive their iniquity and let not their sin be blotted out before You, for they have demoralized the builders.
Proverbs 26:4 (NIV) "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself."
What do you talk about to the Lord? First, we can begin by calling to mind the things the Lord has said. We put into our minds the promises of God. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed [fixed] on You, because he trusts in You. Philippians 4:6 (NIV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:31 (NLT) “If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since God did not spare even His own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? … 39 Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Second, we can remember the Lord by calling to mind who He is and what He has done.
Nehemiah 4:15 (NASB) When our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. 17 Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. 18 As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built, while the trumpeter stood near me. 4. MAINTAIN A BALANCE IN OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS. 4:15-18
Nehemiah 4:19 (NASB) I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, "The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. 20 At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us." 5. DETERMINE A RALLYING POINT. 4:19-20
Nehemiah 4:21 (NASB) So we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. 22 At that time I also said to the people, "Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day." 6. DEVELOP A MINISTRY OF SERVICE TO OTHERS. 4:21-22
Nehemiah 4:23 (NASB) So neither I, my brothers, my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us removed our clothes, each took his weapon even to the water. 7. REFUSE TO QUIT. 4:23
ORGANIZING FOR MAXIMUM MINISTRY Nehemiah 4:1-32
Pastor Patrick Allen August 23, 2020
REVIEW: Facing our Challenges
Begins with PRAYER.
Is followed by PLANNING.
Then we PRESENT the plan and motivate people.
PRINCIPLES FOR MAXIMUM MINISTRY PRINCIPLE #1: Keep it SIMPLE.
Organizational Observation: The STRONGEST organizations are the simplest.
PRINCIPLE #2: Work with those who WANT to work.
Nehemiah 3:5 (NASB) Moreover, next to him the Tekoites made repairs, but their nobles did not support the work of their masters.
Organizational Observation: Love everybody, but then MOVE with the movers.
PRINCIPLE #3: Learn to DELEGATE well.
Tasks to Do in Delegation:
BREAK major goals into smaller tasks, cut problems down to size. Nehemiah attacks this huge problem of building the wall by breaking it down into bite size pieces.
DEVELOP clear job descriptions. Every one deserves to know what's expected. This guards against the problem of competing expectations.
MATCH the right person with the right task. The wrong person in the wrong task causes all kinds of motivational problems. Understand what the task is all about and understand what the person is good at and get them together.
Organizational Observation: If it’s everybody’s responsibility, then it’s nobody’s responsibility. Someone has to assume SPECIFIC responsibility.
PRINCIPLE #4: Allow for OWNERSHIP.
Organizational Observation: Allow people to develop and work in their OWN areas!
PRINCIPLE #5: ENCOURAGE teamwork.
"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, thinking together is unity, working together is success."
Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT) Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
Organizational Observation: To be organized you need to provide a supportive climate of TRUST and TEAMWORK.
PRINCIPLE #6: SUPERVISE the work.
Organizational Observation: Establish clear lines of AUTHORITY and RESPONSIBILITY. They not only have clear job descriptions, but they have clear lines of authority.
Organizational Observation: People do what you INSPECT, more than what you expect!
PRINCIPLE #7: Give recognition and APPRECIATION.
Take time to learn NAMES.
Develop ways to let people KNOW they are doing a good job..
Nehemiah 3:20 (NASB) After him Baruch the son of Zabbai zealously repaired another section, from the Angle to the doorway of the house of Eliashib the high priest.
Nehemiah 3:12 (NASB) Next to him Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the official of half the district of Jerusalem, made repairs, he and his daughters.
Organizational Observation: Good organizations RECOGNIZE and REWARD effort.
Romans 14:12 (NIV) "So that each one of us will give an account of himself to God."
1 Corinthians 15:58 (NASB) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.
Romans 12:4 (NLT) Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." 1 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)
MAKING A VISION VIABLE Nehemiah 2:11-20
Pastor Patrick Allen August 16, 2020
NEHEMIAH’S JOURNAL: A Review In facing new challenges and opportunities, … you begin with PRAYER, … then you PLAN. But, the next step is to PRESENT it to people who will cooperate with you.
MAKING A VISION VIABLE Nehemiah 2:11 (NASB) So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.
WAIT for the right timing.
What was Nehemiah doing during those three days?
He was probably RESTING, recovering from a long journey.
PRINCIPLE: Never make a major decision when you're TIRED. Fatigue clouds your perspective.
He may have been PRAYING and PLANNING.
He was building CURIOSITY.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 (NCV), "There is a time to tear and a time to mend. There is a time to be silent and a time to speak." Ecclesiastes 8:6 (NASB) For there is a proper time and procedure for every delight, though a man's trouble is heavy upon him.
Nehemiah 2:12 (NASB) And I arose in the night, I and a few men with me. I did not tell anyone what my God was putting into my mind to do for Jerusalem and there was no animal with me except the animal on which I was riding. 13 So I went out at night by the Valley Gate in the direction of the Dragon's Well and on to the Refuse Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire. 14 Then I passed on to the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was no place for my mount to pass. 15 So I went up at night by the ravine and inspected the wall. Then I entered the Valley Gate again and returned.
Get the FACTS first.
Nehemiah 2:16 (NASB) The officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; nor had I as yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials or the rest who did the work.
So, how do we protect God’s vision from a premature death?
By doing your own RESEARCH. He wasn’t relying on anecdotal evidence.
By initially INVESTING God’s vision in a few positive people.
Proverbs 18:13 (NLT) Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. Proverbs 14:15 (NLT) Only simpletons believe everything they’re told! The prudent carefully consider their steps.
Nehemiah 2:17 (NASB) Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach."
IDENTIFY with the people.
The best ideas are not mine or yours - they're OURS.
Nehemiah 2:17 (NASB) Then I said to them, "You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach."
EMPHASIZE the seriousness of the problem.
How did Nehemiah do it?
First, he appealed to their SELF-ESTEEM.
He appealed to a higher motive, which was concern for God's GLORY.
But, the greatest motivation in life is not external, nor internal, but ETERNAL.
Nehemiah 2:17 (NASB) Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach."
ASK for a specific response.
In making God’s vision viable, you’ve got to see both the REAL and the IDEAL. See what is and what can be.
Nehemiah 2:18 (NASB) I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king's words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, "Let us arise and build." So they put their hands to the good work.
ENCOURAGE with a personal testimony. 2:18
Nehemiah links God’s VISION with the existing SITUATION. He superimposes what He could see God doing over the picture.
First, he tells them about how God had called him to lead the project. "I also told them about the gracious hand of my God upon me."
The second part he tells them how circumstances confirmed his calling. "I also told them what the king had said to me."
How you can tell if this vision has been caught.
There is first a VERBAL commitment – “Let us…”
This is followed by a PERSONAL commitment – “So they put their hands to the good work.”
Nehemiah 2:19 (NASB) But when Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official, and Geshem the Arab heard it, they mocked us and despised us and said, "What is this thing you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?" 20 So I answered them and said to them, "The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion, right or memorial in Jerusalem."
ANSWER opposition quickly, sincerely, and confidently. 2:19-20
The opposition's first strategy is RIDICULE.
The second thing they try is INTIMIDATION.
Nehemiah refused to argue. Instead he points out the SOURCE of his idea, burden and vision.
Nehemiah exposes the MOTIVES of the opposition.
1 John 3:13 (NIV) "Don't be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you."
They will question your MOTIVES, your INTENTIONS, and even your CHARACTER.
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV) “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 16 But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
PREPARING FOR THE ROAD AHEAD
NEHEMIAH 2:1-10 PASTOR PATRICK ALLEN AUGUST 9, 2020
NEHEMIAH’S STEPS IN PREPARATION Nehemiah 2:1 (NASB) And it came about in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes… STEP 1: He prayed about it CONTINUALLY. 2:1a
Why does God delay in answering our prayers?
Waiting refines our vision. It also allows our burden to grow or shrink.
It gives us time to bring Jesus into the picture, not as a temporary consultant, but as the owner and supervisor of our vision.
It also give us – like it did for Nehemiah - time to assess the situation, looking at both the opportunities and the obstacles.
Proverbs 13:16 (NLT) Wise people think before they act; fools don’t - and even brag about their foolishness.
Three Key Questions for Our Church:
Where are we now as a church?
Where do we want to be?
How will we get there?
Nehemiah 2:1b (NASB) … that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2 So the king said to me, "Why is your face sad though you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of heart." Then I was very much afraid. 3 I said to the king, "Let the king live forever. Why should my face not be sad when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies desolate and its gates have been consumed by fire?" 4 Then the king said to me, "What would you request?" So I prayed to the God of heaven. STEP 2: He seized the opportunity to PRESENT his burden. 2:1b-4
Nehemiah 2:3 (NASB) I said to the king, "Let the king live forever. … 5 I said to the king, "If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you … 7 And I said to the king, "If it please the king…” STEP 3: He was polite and RESPECTFUL. 2:3a, 5a, 7a
Nehemiah 2:5 (NASB) I said to the king, "If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it." STEP 4: He had a GENERAL goal. 2:5
Pastor Pat’s General Goal: Strengthen Hydesville Church during this time of pastoral transition for greater effectiveness.
Two Questions: 1. What do we want to be? 2. What do we want to do? Two Common Errors:
We set them too low or too high and make them inflexible.
We try to accomplish them too quickly.
Nehemiah 2:6 (NASB) Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, "How long will your journey be, and when will you return?" So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time. 7 And I said to the king, "If it please the king, let letters be given me for the governors of the provinces beyond the River, that they may allow me to pass through until I come to Judah, 8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the fortress which is by the temple, for the wall of the city and for the house to which I will go." And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me. STEP 5: HE HAD SPECIFIC STRATEGY. 2:6-8
1. He ESTABLISHED a “road map.”
2. He ANTICIPATED what was needed to successfully compete the project.
3. He ASKED for help.
Proverbs 21:1 (NIV) "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord and He directs it like a water course wherever He pleases."
Nehemiah 2:9 (NASB) Then I came to the governors of the provinces beyond the River and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me officers of the army and horsemen. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite and Tobiah the Ammonite official heard about it, it was very displeasing to them that someone had come to seek the welfare of the sons of Israel. STEP 6: He ANTICIPATED obstacles. 2:9-10
Proverbs 22:3 (NLT) A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
Proverbs 27:12 (TLB) "A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them."
CHALLENGES: The Common Factor. Nehemiah 2:8b “And the king granted them to me because the good hand of my God was on me.”
Proverbs 16:1 (TLB) "We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God's hands."
Three Key Questions for Prayer:
Where are we now as a church?
Where do we want to be?
How will we get there?
THE CHALLENGE PRESENTED. 1:1-3 Nehemiah 1:1 (NASB) The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capitol, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, and some men from Judah came; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped and had survived the captivity, and about Jerusalem. 3 They said to me, "The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire."
So, what is our challenge at HCC?
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
NEHEMIAH’S RESPONSE 1:4-11 Nehemiah 1:4 (NASB) When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven. RESPONSE #1 – Nehemiah was PERSONALLY concerned with the need – He allowed it to affect him.
Nehemiah 1:5 (NASB) I said, "I beseech You, O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments… RESPONSE #2 – Nehemiah went to God FIRST – He presented his need in prayer.
He focused on God through WORSHIP and PRAISE .
He CONFESSED sin that would be an obstacle. Nehemiah 1:6 (NASB) … let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, on behalf of the sons of Israel Your servants, confessing the sins of the sons of Israel which we have sinned against You; I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
He REMINDED God of His promises.Nehemiah 1:8 (NASB) "Remember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, 'If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.' 10 They are Your servants and Your people whom You redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand.
Matthew 16:18 (NASB) “… I will build My church…”
He brought his desires to God with CONFIDENCE .
Nehemiah 1:11 (NASB) "O Lord, I beseech You, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of Your servants who delight to revere Your name, and make Your servant successful today and grant him compassion before this man." Now I was the cupbearer to the king.
Hebrews 10:19 (NIV) Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
RESPONSE #3 – Nehemiah made himself AVAILABLE to meet the need.
LET’S BEGIN: Starting with Prayer … 1. PRAYER MAKES ME WAIT.
2. PRAYER CLEARS MY VISION.
3. PRAYER QUIETS MY HEART.
4. PRAYER ACTIVATES MY FAITH.
GOD’S AMAZING GRACE “The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” Psalm 145:8
“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” Psalm 145:8
You can’t understand the Christian life at all unless you understand grace.
Dick Halverson, who was Chaplain of the United States Senate once defined grace this way: “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more and nothing you can do to make god love you less.”
FIVE ASPECTS OF SAVING GRACE
G—GRACE IS GOD’S GIFT TO ME.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23, 24
Grace is the fundamental difference between Christianity and every other religion.
Jesus Christ already did it. He paid for your salvation on the cross and now it’s a free gift to you.
R—RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE BY FAITH
God’s gift is received by faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so than no one may boast.” Ephesians 2: 8, 9
“For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace.” Romans 4:16a
II Samuel 9:1-13—Young Disabled Boy named Mephisbosheth.
A—AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE
“So that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” Romans 4:16b
“For whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13
C—GOD’S AMAZING GRACE COMES THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” John 1:17
Because Jesus paid the price of admission.
“But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” Romans 5:15
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:21
E—GOD’S GRACE IS EXTENDED THROUGHOUT ETERNITY.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all those who long for Him.” Isaiah 30:18
LUKE 15 THE PRODIGAL SON/ THE SCANDALOUS FATHER
Perry Noble says it best: “We should make it hard for people to get to hell from our zip code.”
Scribes – while the Pharisees were the protector of the reputation of Israel’s God, the Scribes were the protector of the reputation of Israel’s law.
Tax- gatherers - the Living Bible paraphrases these next terms – dishonest tax collectors and other notorious sinners.
Sinners- the people of the street whom the Pharisees looked upon with contempt because they did not know the Law – John 7: 33, 45-49.
One author put it this way, “The younger and infamous prodigal son, embodies the utter madness, the blinding insanity that seeps into our souls and shrouds our minds when greed becomes our god, when we decide that there’s only one line worth embracing as a life mantra: Give me! Everything goes south for that young kid hell-bent on a good time. Steely-eyed, he demands his family inheritance.”
The Sound of Silence from the Older Brother
Q. What steps are you taking to prevent a ‘parting?’
Q. How are you living out James 5: 19, 20? ‘My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins.’
Where is the ministry of reconciliation in your life? ‘Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.’ II Corinthians 5: 17-19
‘A recent survey uncovered a scandal. Nine out of ten people who have walked away from churches were never asked why the left. It’s an indictment that so many leavers said that no one seemed to notice they’d gone. That’s careless.’ Leslie Francis
Vs. 11-13 -- The Far and Distant Country -- Godly Fathers Give Their Children Permission to Fail
There are seven phrases that describe the younger son’s life after he left home:
He squandered his estate with loose living.
He had spent everything
A severe famine occurred in that country.
He began to be in need.
He was sent in to the fields to feed swine.
He was longing to fill his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating.
No one was giving anything to him.
Four Definitions of Sin
Breaking God’s law.
Rebellion against God.
Ignoring God and Neglecting Other People
Sin is breaking a relationship. Vs. 14-19 -- The Return Home Godly Fathers Always Hope and Pray for the Return of their Children
“He began to be in need’ vs. 14 – One of the first evidence of insanity is loss of memory.
Q. Why doesn’t the Son go home?
Henry Drummond said it so well: ‘How many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely characters of those who profess to be inside.’ Godly Fathers Protect Their Children from Unnecessary Shame and Ridicule
Rob Parsons put it memorably: “We need to pray that the returning prodigals will meet the Father before they bump into the elder brother.
***The Crucial question why does this younger son return? What makes this young man come to his senses?
A. Dale Bruener writes, ‘The younger son is brought to his senses because of the memory of the Father.’ He thinks about what his father is really like, how he would react, what he would say and he makes a decision to come home.
The younger son rehearses a speech way before he takes off for home. Three parts to his speech:
Confession of sin.
Affirmation of the consequences of sin.
His offer to pay for the debt.
Vs. 20-24 -- The Scandalous Father –A Stunning Welcome– Godly Fathers Shower Their Children with Love and Grace
When the Old Testament prophet sought for words to describe the utter humiliation of God’s people, he used the imagery of bare legs to portray their shame: ‘Remove your veil, strip off the skirt, Uncover the legs, cross the rivers, Your nakedness will be uncovered, Your shame will be exposed. Isaiah 47: 2-3 There was a transfer of shame.
The father lets his younger son say the first part of the speech. The father lets his son say the second part of the speech. But notice carefully where the father cuts off his son’s speech. God will not hear our offer to pay the debt! Why? Because His Son (Jesus Christ) has paid the debt for our sins.
Rejoicing Father: Nothing is more important to a Godly Father than Loving His Children and Celebrating Their Return to Their Faith in God.
Everything the Father does in Jesus parable is culturally unexpected and scandalous.
‘My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and cover a multitude of sins.’ James 5: 19, 20
Bibliography The Wycliffe Bible Commentary The Bible Knowledge Commentary The Exposition Commentary –Warren Wiersbe Luke- Volume Two – Kent Hughes The Gospel of Luke – William Barclay The New International Commentary on the New Testament – Geldenhuys Outline Studies in the Gospel of Luke –Griffith Thomas Mastering the New Testament –Bruce Larson Commentary on Luke –Marshall The Gospel According to Luke – Morgan Word Pictures in the New Testament – Robertson Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels—J.C. Ryle The Prodigal God –Timothy Keller What is the Father Like? – W. Phillip Keller The Parables of Jesus – James Montgomery Boice The Parables –Brad Young Good News About Prodigals – Tom Bisset Finding the Lost – Kenneth E. Bailey The Cross and the Prodigal – Kenneth E. Bailey Poet & Peasant and Through Peasant Eyes –Kenneth E. Bailey No Perfect People Allowed – John Burke They Like Jesus but Not the Church –Dan Kimball Creating a Prodigal Friendly Church – Jeff Lucas Will Your Prodigal come Home? Jeff Lucas
The Corona Virus and The Church and What It Is Teaching Us
The Holy Task of Listening and Caring—James 1:19
We Are Focusing on The Physical Needs of Our Church and Community.
We Are Really Beginning to Understand the Importance of a Small Group.
We Are Learning to Pray More for Our Ministry Than Our Misery.
We Are Learning That Most Ministry Happens and Should Happen Outside the Church Building.
We Are Learning How to Be Shepherds in Unique Ways.
We Are Living the “Oikos Principle”.
When believers are forced out of the context of “going to church”, when they are forced to stop “going to church,” they just might be compelled to start “being the church.”
95% of Christian conversions are generated through personal relationships that is shared between a believer and someone who is close to them.
Acts 10:1; 16:14, 15; 16:31-34
Don’t Look Back.
We are living in exile, separated from our place and local of worship, our traditions. This is our “exile moment”.
God is still calling us to love Him with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. God is calling us to love our neighbor as ourselves. Loving God and loving our neighbors has always been radical.
Don’t look back—Look forward.
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on [so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14
Psalm 133 UNITY
David’s Background Growing Up – neglect, favoritism, strife, discord, envy *I Sam. 16:6-13 – His brothers, father 17:28-30 – His oldest brother – Eliab
As A Young Man – Rage of jealousy, wrath, animosity, hatred, attempted murder *I Sam. 18:1-10 – Saul*19:8-10 – Saul – David became a target.
20:31:33 – Saul & Jonathan 23 – Saul *24 – Saul goes on a campaign with 3,000 men to take David’s life. 26 – Saul
As A Leader – Hostility, revenge *I Sam. 30:1-6 – David as a military leader II Sam. 2:18-3:6 – David fighting Saul’s left-over resistance – David walked into a divided nation. *3:1 *6:16 – Marital dissension, dealing with false accusations. 10:1-19 – Pressures and stress of maintaining a secure nation. Syrians got talked into a bad alliance. 11, 12 – Falling in sin, the cover-up, the confession, the scars 12:10 – The prophecy that the sword would never depart from his house.
As A Father II Sam. 13:1-14 – Dealing with incest, rape, molestation 13:20-30 – Domestic violence, murder 13:28-30 – Ammon and his brothers are killed by Absalom’s servants 14, 15 – Rocky relationship with his son Absalom 14:28 15:1-6 – Absalom’s conspiracy for a corporate take over 16:1-7 – Being harassed by Shimel 18:9-15 – Absalom is chased and murdered.
New Testament reveals its share of squabblesDisciples of Christ – Matt. 20:20-27 – Arguing over who is going to sit where in heaven Matt. 16:22 – Disputing with Christ John 21:20-22 – Questioning ministerial assignments Early Church – Acts 5:1-11 – Ananias and Sapphira – Lied about their tithe – Even the H.S. worked today like it did in the early church; their church parking lot would be full of hearts and ready to haul people away. 5:1,2 – First Church Board Meeting – There was lying; there was discord I Corinthians – Arrogance, immaturity Phil. 4:2 – Friction in the kitchen III John 10, 11 – Diotrephes--Power – monger
VS. 1 – Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity
Q. What keeps us from experiencing unity?
Selfishness, empty conceit, lack of humility—Philippians 2:1-8
Pleasures that wage war in your own body—lust; greed; ulterior motives (working on your own agenda); friendship with the world; lack of submission to God and your spiritual leaders—these are the source of division and quarrels—James 4:1-8
Satan is the source of division and quarrels—Matthew 13:39; 16:23
*Not difficult to experience unity for a short duration. But to maintain unity, harmony and peace for a long time requires God’s grace.
Interesting word picture - unity of the head and body; when the head and the body are of one mind. Unity beginning at the top – in leadership.
*True unity smells good.It permeates the environment around it.
Extravagance, abundance and generosity are key attributes of love and unity. The anointing of the high priest was marked by extravagance, abundance, generosity. “The fact that the holy anointing oil of the tabernacle and temple was never made in smaller quantities than 750 ounces of solids compounded with five quarts of oil, and was so profusely employed that when applied to Aaron’s head it flowed down over his beard and breast, to the very skirts of his garments.” Hugh Macmillan The Ministry of Nature.
John 17 – Christ’s High Priestly Prayer –
vs. 1-5 – Prays for Himself
6-19 Pray for His disciples
20- 26 Pray for all those yet to believe
21-23 At the heart of the prayer was the theme of unity.
Six blessings of unity – (1) goodness, (2) pleasure, (3) anointing, (4) dew, (5) God’s blessing, (6) eternal life.
*Only God can give eternal life Threefold repetition – Coming down – vs. 2a – descending Coming down – vs. 2b – descending Coming down – vs. 3a – descending
True Unity is First Vertical –
Begins with a relationship with God – peace Christ provides
Maintained by obedience to His word – Josh. 1:16-18
True unity, like all good gifts (James 1:17) comes from God.
What True Unity Is Not:
Unity is not mere union – Samson tied the tails of 300 foxes together and lit them on fire. Judges 15:4,5
Unity is not mere uniformity – Wearing the same uniform.
Unity is not unanimity - total agreement on all details.
Unanimity on earth is what the New Age movement calls an ‘altered reality’ . . . it doesn’t happen on this planet.
What True Unity Is:
Originates with God – Trinity (God the Father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit) Oneness, Diversity (?) Love.
Comes from God – John
We Imitate God – John 17:21
Our claim to belonging to the same family depends on our likeness to Christ – Matt. 5:9
Absence of Pride – Romans 12:3 – Unity and Humility are tied to each other
Spirit of Acceptance
Comment – Oh, the people in church are so shallow, I’m into deep open relationships. Where is the acceptance of someone who is just learning to be transparent and open up? Counseling – When my husband/wife gets his act together, then this relationship will happen. Question: How long has your life been totally together? Reality – pride, puffed up arrogance feeds discord and dissension. Humility precedes unity and preserves it. Deep Conviction of Your Need For Others.
Unity comes through regular, spirit-led, corporate worship – Ezra 3:1.
Unity involves compromise – Abraham and Lot.
Unity takes time and effort – It is never automatic or instantaneous.
Unity is centrifical to our Christian faith – I Cor. 1:10
Unity is the catalyst of corporate prayer – Matt. 18:19
Unity is the focal point, purpose, and driving force in sharing the gospel – Phil 1:27
Phil 2:1-11 – Unity is hard work.
“The Christian brotherhood is so unique, sacred and lasting, that a lack of unity is a disgrace.” Charles Spurgeon
PSALM 139 Experiencing God as Your Loving Creator (Part Two)
LIFE LESSON 5: GOD’S WORLD IS DARKENED BY SIN vs. 19-22
Author Max Lucado writes: “A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month.
Question 1: Had you been a German during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler? Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism? Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?” The Psalm shifts the attention to the evil in this world and how it destroys the good God desires for so many, so he prayed an intense prayer. It is a prayer that expresses hatred for all that is evil and all that casts a dark shadow over the good God intends. Nehemiah 1: 1-4 Have you really sat down and thought long and hard about the condition our society is in? Have you really sat down and thought about how devastating alcohol, marijuana, speed and all the other drugs are to our society, what it is doing to our young people and even adults? “It is an act of profound faith to entrust one’s most precious hatreds to God, knowing they will be taken seriously.” Prayer is combat. Prayer brings us before God—and there, before God, we find ourselves grappling with “the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 12 There are hard-won Gethsemane struggles where we are locked in combat. When we take the Psalms as our guide, we find that people who pray have a lot of enemies, and that they spend a lot of their praying time dealing with them. Eugene Peterson writes: ‘There is hardly a page of the Psalms that isn’t left smoking by a pungent curse:
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer --10: 15
Upon the wicked He will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup—11: 6
For Thou wilt make them turn their back; Thou wilt aim with Thy bowstrings at their faces –21: 12
For God scattered the bones of him who encamped against you –53: 5
O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth –58: 6
May they be blotted out of the book of life, and may they not be recorded with the righteous—69: 28
So, pursue them with Thy tempest, and terrify them with Thy storm –83: 15
But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, and it entered into his body like water, and like oil into his bones—109: 18
He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses, He will shatter the chief men over a broad country—110: 6
I hate them with the utmost hatred; they have become my enemies—139: 22
Hate is our emotional link with the spirituality of evil. Our hate needs to be prayed, not suppressed. Jesus did not emerge from the wilderness to negotiate in sweet reasonableness but to do battle: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!” Luke 12: 49
Do you hate what you see happening in our county and society?
The Psalmists identify the enemy and they respond in outrage. They hate what they see. Hate is often the first sign that we care. This in no way means that prayer legitimizes hate – it uses it. “For the wrath of man shall praise Thee; with a remnant of wrath Thou shalt gird Thyself. Psalm 76: 10 God hates evil. God hates haughty eyes, lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers –Proverbs 6: 16-19 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.’ Proverbs 8: 13 “For I hate divorce.” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So, take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” Malachi 2; 16 David looked at life and said, “There is no room for compromise: I have undivided loyalty to the Lord God of heaven.” David also saw that there is no room for inaction or neutrality. “In Germany the came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Martin Niemoller
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 8 “Hate evil, you who love the Lord.” Psalm 97: 10 “Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate!” Amos 5: 15 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” Romans 12: 9
“Hate, prayed, takes our lives to bedrock where the foundations of justice are being laid.” Eugene Peterson
Because God is holy, righteous and pure I denounce and hate___________________. Because God hates evil and wickedness I will_________________________________. Search Me You Must Choose Prayer: Lord, help me not buy the lie the world hands me. Give me the courage to align my life with You, whatever that means, and to choose to believe what you declare about me rather than what I can see in the light of this dark world. Lord, please show me my purpose in Your plan. Help me cooperate with your plan so that it can be fulfilled. Amen!
PSALM 139 Experiencing God as Your Loving Creator
Intro—What we think about God and what we think about ourselves and what we think about our relationship to God determines everything else that makes up our world—other people, our culture, our relationships with people, God’s Word, the world, sin, faith and obedience. Wrong ideas about God will ultimately lead to wrong ideas about who we are and what we should do which can lead to a wrong path, wrong life and the wrong eternal destiny. RIGHT KNOWLEDGE OF GOD = FULFILLED LIFE
Q. Do You Like What You See in the Mirror?
Problem –Dissatisfaction seems to be part of human nature. Q. What Does God Say About You?
There are three attributes of God that come forth from this psalm:
God is Omniscient –God knows everything—vs. 1-6
God is Omnipresent –God is everywhere at once—vs. 7-12
God is Omnipotent –God is all-powerful—vs. 13-18
LIFE LESSON 1: GOD KNOWS YOU vs. 1-6 GOD SEARCHES YOU AND ME
GOD UNDERSTANDS YOU AND ME
GOD KNOWS YOU INTIMATELY AND EXHASTIVELY—vs. 1, 2, 4, 14
There are no secrets with God.
Hebrews 4:13 LIFE LESSON 2: GOD IS PURSUING YOU vs. 7-12
God isn’t going to let you run away. Psalm 139: 7-10
God is in a Different Category Altogether –vs. 11, 12
You Are Desirable to God!
The Scriptures are filled with references that show that God values us so much more than we think He does, especially when we are feeling like a nobody.
God calls His people “the apple of His eye”.
His beloved, chosen, holy, dearly loved.
The very hairs on your head are numbered and known by God.
We are told that there is no person or anything that could ever separate us fro the love of god in Christ. Nothing!
Remember the First Time Someone Wanted You?
LIFE LESSON 3: GOD SAYS YOU’RE AWESOME vs. 13- 16a
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the s tars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beats of the field. The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” Psalm 8: 3-8
THE MIRACLE OF HUMAN CONCEPTION AND BIRTH: Eugene Petersen said, “In the presence of birth, we don’t calculate—we marvel!” “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb!”
How Are You Made?
LIFE LESSON 4: GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU vs. 16b-18
God Thinks About You Constantly
God Has a Plan for You
“For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29: 11 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2: 10
You Are a Vital Part of God’s Plan
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body.” I Corinthians 6: 19, 20
God’s desire is that every person would come to faith in Him. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth. For there is one God and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all the testimony borne at the proper time.” I Timothy 2: 3-6 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” II Peter 3: 9
God’s desire is that every believer in Christ would mature. “And we proclaim Him (Jesus Christ), admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” Colossians 1: 28 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen!” II Peter 3: 18
There are two potential obstacles that could keep God’s plan from being fulfilled in your life:
The level of your cooperation
The level of your commitment.
Stop, Listen, Yield
PSALM 34 The Goodness of the Lord
David faked like he was crazy, mentally deranged—letting saliva drip down his beard to the point that the King really believed he was just another crazy, deranged, mentally unstable person – I Samuel 21: 10-15 Achish bought it and kicked David out of his land.
“The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damscenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.” II Corinthians 11: 30-33
The first part of this psalm is a song, part two is sermon. The first part is devotional, the second part is doctrinal.
David’s Praise – vs. 1-10 What David Resolved—vs. 1-3
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8: 28
What David Remembered –vs. 4-6
David’s Testimony of Deliverance—vs. 4-7
“Then you will walk in your way securely and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden fear nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes; for the Lord will be your confidence and you will keep your foot from being caught.” Proverbs 3: 23-26
“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28: 1
Here is the secret to conquering your fears: “They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
“Look expectantly to the Lord”
What David Realized – vs. 7-10
1. God Protects – vs. 7 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them.”
The Prophet Elisha
“Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, ‘Alas, my master! What shall we do?’ So he answered, ‘Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘O Lord, I pray, open the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.’” II Kings 6: 15-17
2. God Provides—vs. 8-10
“O taste and see that the Lord is good, how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”
The psalmist is challenging every person—Try God and see.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11: 6
“O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear Him there is no want. The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing”—vs. 9, 10
One author put it this way: “The good you enjoy (vs. 12) goes hand in hand with the good you do” (vs. 14). Real satisfying joy is always found in doing the will of God.
Lessons for Disciples—vs. 11-22
If you really want to achieve a full life in the Lord then it begins with a spirit that is totally open to listening to the instruction concerning the fear of the Lord.
David’s Sermon – vs. 13-20
1. Take Heed to Your Words – vs. 13 “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.”
2. Take heed to Your Walk—vs. 14 “Depart from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it.”—vs. 14
3. Take Heed to Your Works-- 34: 15, 16 “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the Lord is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.”
Learn from David’s Example--vs. 17-20 “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Becoming a Christian never means a trouble-free existence. P.C. Craigie writes: “The fear of the Lord is indeed a fountain of life, the key to joy in life and long and happy days. But it is not a guarantee that life will be always easy…It may mend the broken heart, but it does not prevent the heart from being broken; it may restore the spiritually crushed, but it does not crush the forces that may create oppression.”
Deliverance is one thing. Exemption from trouble is another.
The reality of the Christian life and the reality of the promise of prayer does not mean that God will change every difficult situation in your life. But God will preserve you as long as He has work for you to do.
“But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel your Savior!’” Isaiah 43: 1-3a
Bibliography The Bible Knowledge Commentary ---Walvoord and Zuck Wycliffe Bible Commentary Exploring the Psalms –Phillips Volume One – Psalms 1-41 The Treasury of David – C.H. Spurgeon Volume 1 Psalms 1- 57 Psalms 1- 72—Derek Kidner Psalms 1-41—James Montgomery Boice
HOPE DISPITE COVID-19 Let me give you at least four reasons David was hopeful and that we too can be hopeful for:
I. WE CAN HAVE HOPE OF AN ETERNITY WITH GOD.Psalm 62:1- Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.
II. WE CAN HAVE HOPE OF OUR SINS BEING FORGIVEN Psalm 65:3."Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all"
III. WE CAN HAVE HOPE OF GOD'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE Psalm 103:11- "For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth".
IV. WE CAN HAVE A HOPE OF A PURPOSE FOR LIVING Psalm 138:8. "The LORD will work out his plans for my life-for your faithful love, 0 Lord, endures forever."
Three Things That Have Helped Me Keep Hope During Covid 19 l) TURN TO GOD FOR COMFORT. II Cor 1:3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
2) TURN YOUR TRUST IN GOD II Cor 1:10 - ...on Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us"
3) TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR THOUGHTS Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
By reading the Psalms, you will see that David had a personal relationship with God. THIS IS THE BASIC FOUNDATION FOR HOPE
He makes me lie down in green pastures: 1. Free from all fear. 2. Free from friction with others of their own kind. 3. Free from the torment of flies and parasites. 4. Free from hunger. He leads me beside quiet waters:
Three main water sources for sheep:
Dew on the grass.
Springs and streams
He restores my soul:
Two Conditions that Allow Sheep to Becomes Cast More Easily:
Sheep look for the soft spot. I Corinthians 10: 12, 13
Sheep are weighed down by their own wool.
Hebrews 12: 5-11 God restores our souls by showing over and over to us His grace, His mercy, His encouragement, His promises (7,000)
Matthew 11: 28-30
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake:
Q. How do you let God guide me on the right path?
Admit I need a guide.
Ask the Lord in faith for direction.
Listen for God’s response.
Trust God when I don’t understand.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death:
First, understand that there are five facts about valleys to remember
Valleys are inevitable.
Valleys are unpredictable.
Valleys are impartial.
Valleys are temporary.
Valleys are purposeful.
What to do when you go through ‘dark valleys’:
Refuse to be discouraged.
Remember that God is with me.
Rely on God’s protection and guidance.
Always remember—you go “through” valleys.
Shadows are always bigger than the reality.
Shadows cannot hurt you.
There is no shadow without a light somewhere.
The shadow of a dog can’t bite you. The shadow of a sword can’t stab you. The shadow of a shark cannot kill you and the shadow of death cannot harm the child of God.
‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.’ Psalm 34: 19
I fear no evil, for You are with me:
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me: Shepherds in David’s times were always armed. Staff- long stick with a crock at the end of it. Rod—club-like piece of wood to seriously hurt any predator.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies:
You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows: Summer time= fly time—warble files, bot flies, nose flies, deer flies, black flies, gnats, mosquitoes.
Three Great Qualities about Oil:
Smoothness of touch.
Brightness to the sight.
My cup overflows:
Our cups overflow with three things:
With Hope. ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15: 13
With Love. ‘And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you.’
I Thessalonians 3:12
With Joy. Jesus said, “Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” John 16: 24
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever:
God’s two footmen are goodness and lovingkindness. Goodness takes care of our steps and lovingkindness takes care of our stumbles. Leaving behind us a trail of peace, goodness, grace, mercy and love.
Three Comforting Truths:
God is watching over me.
Psalm 145: 17-20a
God’s grace is working in me.
‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” II Corinthians 12: 9 ‘But He gives a greater grace. Therefore, it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4: 6
Heaven is waiting for me!
‘Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord---for we walk by faith, not by sight---we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.’ II Corinthians 5: 6-8 John 14: 1-3
Psalms—Boice Volumes 1-3 Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament Psalms—Derek Kidner The Bible Knowledge Commentary The Wycliffe Bible Commentary The Expositors Bible Commentary Exposition of the Psalms--Leupold Exploring the Psalms—Phillips The Treasure of David—Volumes1-3—C.H. Spurgeon The Book of Psalms—Arno C. Gaebelein The Me I Want to Be—John Ortberg I Am Always With You—Chip Ingram Answering God—Eugene Peterson Outlive Your Life—Max Lucado