Sunday May 12, 2019 Mothers Day

As we honor mothers on Mother’s Day, we are reminded that the tasks that a mother performs often go unnoticed, however when they are not done, everyone notices.

God gives each of us assignments in life, one of the most important is that of being a godly mother.

In his final moments Jesus gave assignments to two men, John and Peter.

In John 19: 26-30, we read the well-known account of the crucifixion, the worst and the best day in all human history as Jesus gave his life for our sins.  As he was about to die, Jesus turns to Mary and John, the disciple he loved, and says, “here is your son”, “here is your mother”.

Jesus doesn’t simply ask John to look after his mother, he connects them as family and John took Mary into his home. At this time Mary was probably in her late forties and we assume that she was already widowed and had no way of supporting herself in that culture.

For Jesus, this was not an afterthought, it was part of his plan. Jesus never did anything without a definite purpose (See John 19:28). Jesus was not finished until he had taken care of his mother, in this he displayed the importance and value of caring for our mothers.

He entrusted his mother to John and in so doing, he honored his mother (see Ephesians 6:1-3).

In Ephesians 6, Paul taught the 5th commandment to the Gentile church in Ephesus, the only commandment with a promise, “that is may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

We know that the children of Israel were the recipients of this law and it directly pointed them to the promised land that awaited them, but the principle of God is still the same, there is a blessing in honoring our parents.

This 5th commandment is not directed only to children, but to adults, honoring parents as we become adults, as we become parents and as they age.

Jesus honored his mother by ensuring that she is well cared for. Jesus gave John this assignment and the Bible tells us that he did as he was asked.

This takes us to the second assignment, the assignment that Jesus gave to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus and his disciples are making their way to Jerusalem, and as they come into the region of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asks this question, “who do you say that I am?”, the most important question that we all must answer.

Peter, the bold disciple, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus affirms Peter’s declaration and makes a profound statement in verse 18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

In the Greek language, Jesus uses the word “Petros” for Peter, which means small stone. And then he says, “and on this rock I will build my church”, the Greek word Jesus used for rock is “Petra”, which is a much bigger rock or a bedrock.

Jesus is saying that Peter is one of the small stones, but the foundation of the church was the message that Peter was to declare, the foundation of the church is the Gospel message, the Good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God, which make a way for us to be righteous before God.

Jesus assigned Peter to declare the Gospel, and this is also the first time in the Bible that we see the word, “Church” used in the New Testament.

In verse 19, Jesus tells Peter, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom”. We use keys to open doors; these keys are not keys to open doors in heaven. Peter was given the keys to opening the door of faith in people by sharing the Gospel message. The key to the kingdom is the proclamation of the gospel. This is the role and responsibility of the church, to share the good news about Jesus Christ to unlock the hearts by faith as the Holy Spirit takes the message and transforms lives.

The Jewish rabbis often spoke of “binding and loosing,” meaning forbidding or permitting.

Jesus’ statement later included all the Apostles, as the representatives of their Lord, they would exercise authority according to His Word.

Verse 19 is frequently confused, and the Greek verbs for binding and loosing are crucial to our understanding. Both verbs, binding and loosing are in the perfect passive tense. This means that it is an already completed work. So, the original Greek translates as follows, “And whatever you bind on earth [forbid to be done], shall have been already bound … in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth [permit to be done], shall have already been loosed in heaven.”

Thus, Jesus is saying that Peter is to declare what God has already done in Heaven. Jesus did not say that God would obey what the Apostles declared on earth, but that the Apostles should do on earth whatever God had already willed. The church does not get man’s will done in heaven; it obeys God’s will on earth.

For Peter, this sounds like a mighty calling.

So, who got the more important role? Peter or John?

The keys to the kingdom or caring for a widow

We tend to view value or importance by the number of people influenced.

For example, don’t we view the CEO of a large company as being much more important than a CEO of a small company?

Surely, Billy Graham who preached to hundreds of thousands of people must have been more important than the unnamed preacher who walks the streets in India?

We tend to look for the impact or the influence, but God doesn’t look at influence, God looks at obedience.

We as those who have submitted ourselves to the lordship of Jesus Christ, daily need to be asking the Lord for direction and assignments. Sometimes the Lord asks us to do things that make a big noise in the world. Other times we are asked to do things that no-one notices, but God does!

So, who had the more important role, Peter or John? Both were equally important, both were equipped by God for the task that they had to do.

In the Kingdom of God as His children, there are no levels of importance, there is only obedience and disobedience to the calling of God on your life.

What is God inviting you to do with him?

(See Ephesians 4:11-12)

 

 

Sunday May 5, 2019 The Prescription for True Joy

click on the camera to watch the video of the message

TRUE JOY

Paul’s letter to the Philippians

Are you joyful? The letter to the Philippian church is known as Paul’s letter of Joy. In Chapter 4:4 Paul makes a command, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

So many people live joyless lives, we are surrounded things that steal our joy. Paul challenged the Philippian church to guard against things that would steal their joy.

Fear of opposition and suffering (Philippians 1:28 and 29)

In the western church, we have grown accustomed to the church being a respected part of society. The world is changing rapidly, and the true principles of Christianity are not welcomed or even tolerated. This should not surprise us if we read what Jesus taught as the signs of the end times in Matthew 24.

But we don’t need to be afraid of those who oppose Christianity, they are controlled by a different kingdom, a kingdom that tried to kill Jesus. As you live your life, being Christs ambassador, you will encounter opposition, it should not come as a surprise.

And then there is suffering; suffering is when things we desire, love and enjoy are taken away from us. We suffer when we lose a loved one, our health, our job, or we encounter a tragedy such as a natural disaster. We don’t ask for suffering, but it is a real part of our lives.

The challenge is, how do we prevent opposition and suffering from stealing our joy.

Lack of unity (Philippians 2:2-4)

Paul was joyful because the Philippian church was united. Does this mean there are never disagreements in the church? Of course not. It is quite normal to expect differences of opinion on certain subjects, but we must never compromise on the essentials of our faith and the truth of the Word.

So, when we do have differences of opinion, the governing rule must be love, “having the same love” (Philippians 2:2). This is a preferential love, a love that always seeks the highest good of others. This goes against the narcissism of the age in which we live.

Verse 2 ends with two more descriptions of unity, “being in full accord and of one mind”. This means that the church knows its God given purpose.  The purpose of the church is to, worship God, proclaim the Gospel, reach the lost and to care for the broken. The mission of the church always supersedes our personal preferences, that is Holy Spirit unity.

When the church is united around its mission and calling, the individual members of the church will experience joy. We will joyfully give, joyfully serve and joyfully fellowship with each other.

Grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14-15)

Paul is clear that all everything we do must be done without grumbling or disputing. The church is the representation of Christ on the earth and if we are characterized by grumbling and disputing, we are not going to attract people to Jesus.

Grumbling is also translated, Murmuring. This is the muttering under your breath or gossiping. This is like an undercurrent at a beach. From the surface, everything looks great, but as you get deeper into the water, the undercurrent sucks you under.

Disputing is the open arguments within the body. Normally where there is grumbling, arguments and disputes will follow. This has no place in the church.

When we argue, we are showing the world that our own personal opinions are more valuable than the name of our savior that we preach. Grumbling and disputing rob us of our joy.

False teaching (Philippians 3:2-3)

Paul rebukes the Judaizers, those false teachers who teaching that to become true Christian, you must go back to the law of Moses and begin practicing and conforming to the ancient Levitical law with all the rituals and sacrifices. These Judaizers prided themselves in their holiness and their morality, but Paul says that they were evildoers who were deceived, and deceiving others.

Today we have so many people who are trying to work for their salvation and striving to be good enough for salvation. Philippians 2:12 says “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

We cannot work for our salvation, but we must work out our salvation. When you try to do things for God to earn salvation, not only are you not saved, you will also not experience true joy and peace with God.

Bad thinking (Philippians 4:8)

Proper actions come from proper thinking. What we think about will ultimately determine our practices. What you choose what to dwell on affects your whole life. Spending hours looking at other peoples posts on facebook or Instagram will rob you of joy. Harboring resentment against someone, dwelling on past pain, thinking impure thoughts, will all rob you of joy.

Lack of contentment (Philippians 4:11-13)

Paul had learned the secret of contentment as he trusted in the Lord in every circumstance. This is knowledge he has gained because of walking with God. We all go through seasons of need and abundance and if we don’t have a God given contentment, we will never experience joy.

So, with all these warnings of things that steal our joy, how do we find true joy?

In the middle of the letter Paul makes one of the most powerful declarations in all of scripture in Chapter 2:5-11.

Paul emphasizes the centrality of Christ in his life and in the life of the Church. The example of Christ is the key. It was because of Christs humility that God exalted him.

The key to joy is humility. Humility means that I trust that Jesus is enough. Humility is the very act of submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every area of my life.

How have you lost your joy?

Where have you turned your focus away from the supremacy of Christ?

It doesn’t happen with one decision, it is a gradual process of neglecting spiritual disciplines. Neglecting prayer, neglecting God’s word, pulling back from fellowship with other believers.

All these things lead to a gradual turning away from the lordship of Christ and a gradual turning away from Joy.

Philippians – Paul’s letter of Joy – Philippians 4:14-20 – Sermon April 28, 2019

Philippians 4:14-20

 Are you content?

Contentment could be financial security, family security or relational security. The marketing agencies dislike content people, because they cannot sell you anything. They prey on discontentment and strive to create discontent.

But there is a big difference between worldly contentment and Christian contentment. Worldly contentment is fleeting and short lived. But Christian contentment is different, Charles Kelley said, “Christian contentment is the God-given ability to be satisfied with the loving provision of God in any and every situation.”

To be content in every situation is what Paul is referring to in these verses. He has known comfort, and has known poverty, but he could honestly say that he was content (see 2 Corinthians 3:5).

At the time of writing this letter, Paul was in prison and he was reflecting on his life and journey as a Christian and in spite of all he had gone through, he was rejoicing.

The Philippian church had sent Paul a financial gift for his ministry and Paul was expressing his gratitude. God had stirred in the hearts of the people in Philippi, Paul realizing that the Lord had used this early church to provide for his need was thanking the Lord.

Philippians 4:14, “yet it was kind of you to share in my trouble.” The word Paul uses for share means to have fellowship in, or to participate alongside. The Philippian church really were suffering with Paul, they cared deeply for him and considered his suffering to be their suffering.

This is how it should be in the body of Christ (See1 Corinthians 12:26).

Philippians 4:15-16: “And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again.”

Paul had no other church supporting him in ministry. Even in Thessalonica, a wealthy sea-port, had not yet experienced the blessing of supporting world evangelism. They were inward focused and missed out on the blessings that the church in Philippi was experiencing.

We can easily fall into the thinking that supporting missions is simply a horizontal transaction, the donor giving to the missionary and the missionary going out. But when we truly understand that everything we have comes from God, and that we are merely stewards of all that Has entrusted to us, it becomes a vertical transaction. The missionary asks God the Father for provision, the giver asks God the father how much he/she should give, and then in obedience, both are blessed to be a part of the Gospel ministry.

In verse 15, Paul says that they were entering into, “giving and receiving”. There is no giving without receiving. The church gave materially but received a spiritual blessing. Paul looked on their missionary gift as an investment that would pay them rich spiritual dividends. No gift we make to the Lord’s work will ever leave us poorer (see Luke 6:38). The Bible is clear, that if we give, we will receive, but we must also be clear that we do not give in order to receive, it doesn’t work that way.

Paul continues in verse 17 “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Paul’s real joy was not in the gift that he received, rather his joy was in what the gift did for the Philippians.

We are in danger of seeing people as goers and suppliers, but the reality is that in the kingdom of God, we are all a part of the Great Commission, and no Christian is excused.

Philippians 4:18, “I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.”

Paul could say this because his heart was pure, he was not relying on man, he knew exactly who provided his needs. Paul had the abundance mentality of the kingdom of God, knowing that God never runs out.

Paul said that this gift was a fragrant offering to God an acceptable sacrifice. Paul is not referring to tithing, the regular giving to the Lord’s work, this is giving over and above, as an offering to the Lord.

In the Old Testament, the temple tithe was 10%, but in the New Covenant we don’t have this as a law. Rather if we have submitted ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we are called to give our all to the Lord. In our giving to the work of the ministry of the church 10% is a guideline, but this is simply the beginning. Over and above that we prayerfully give to the Great Commission ministry of missions. Not only does this build us up in our walk with the Lord, it also is an invitation into a blessing.

Paul looked on their gift as a spiritual sacrifice, laid on the altar as a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord, this is true worship. Seeing this in relation to Hebrews 11:6, we must understand that faith and giving must go hand in hand.  A sacrifice that is pleasing to God, is a sacrifice that is given by faith, faith in the existence of God, faith in the provision of God and faith in the promises of God.

We have to realize that God doesn’t need our money, He is inviting us into a lifestyle of blessing.

In verse 19, we have one of the most quoted promises in the Bible, but unfortunately it is almost always taken out of context and misused. Philippians 4:19: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Many people quote this verse without meeting the condition of verse 18. Paul is saying, “You met my need, and God is going to meet your need.” But more than that, “You met one need that I have, but my God will meet all of your needs.”

The primary purpose of giving and receiving is in verse 20, “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Missions and the church exist for one purpose, to declare the glory and the praises of God.

Will you ask the Lord for His invitation into the blessing of giving towards the Great Commission?