Inside the Esterhazy Baptist Church

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Jeremiah 17:5-8. What colour are your leaves?
July 18, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship:  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:1-2, 8–9 (ESV).

Hymn: #51 “Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah”

Verse 1 – Guide me O Thou great Jehovah Pilgrim through this barren land I am weak but Thou art mighty Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand Bread of heaven Bread of heaven Feed me now and ever more Feed me now and ever more

Verse 2 – Open now the crystal fountain Whence the healing stream doth flow Let the fiery cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey through Strong Deliverer strong Deliverer Be Thou still my strength and shield Be Thou still my strength and shield

Verse 3 – When I tread the verge of Jordan Bid my anxious fears subside Death of death and hell’s destruction Land me safe on Canaan’s side Songs of praises songs of praises I will ever give to Thee I will ever give to Thee

CCLI Song # 1448 John Hughes | Peter Williams | William Williams © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     As much as I love a sunny day, the summer is demonstrating the absolute necessity of rainy days!  Agriculture is suffering and this impacts all of us.

     Covid-19 with its lock downs brought a different kind of drought.  It limited travel, sports, schools, church services, dining out and getting together with family and friends.  Some people grew weary and emotionally wilted under the restrictions, but not all.

     The availability of vaccines has allowed restrictions to ease and people are beginning to travel again in record numbers, eager to shake off the lockdown blues.  However, what will you do if you return from your get away to find that the dissatisfaction hasn’t left?  Book another trip?  Try something different?  Some will look around at people they know to see if anyone seems to be handling life better than they are, and wonder “What is their secret?  How did they manage all this?”  Will anyone think of you as they look for answers?

     Jeremiah 17:7-8 says: “7 But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. 8 They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7–8 (NIV). 

     The prophet Jeremiah describes a blessed (happy) person as being like a green, fruitful tree – yet doesn’t that describe most trees?  Yes, but the difference is that this tree endures the heat and drought, why is that?  This tree is planted by a stream.  It remains green when the surrounding countryside turns brown from lack of rain.

1.  What do we need to do to be like that tree?

     The key to blessing is to place your trust & confidence in the Lord God.  The Lord called Jeremiah to prophecy during the last 40 years of Judea’s existence as an independent country.  Judea was between the regions two superpowers, Egypt and Babylon. Judea’s leadership trusted in their diplomatic skills to negotiate treaties for their security rather than trust in the Lord.

     Jeremiah 17:5-8 uses the image of two trees to warn against trusting in human strength rather than trusting in the Lord God.  “5 This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6 That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” Jeremiah 17:5–6 (NIV).

     Turning your heart away from the Lord and trusting in human strength (your own or others) removes you from God’s blessing.  They are pictured as a stunted bush, struggling for survival in the parched wilderness, completely dependent upon external circumstances (rain) for survival.

2.  What are the results of placing my trust in God?

A. Internal: Continued growth.

     You learn to draw your strength from him, meaning external circumstances do not inhibit your spiritual growth.  In fact trouble encourages us to put our ‘spiritual roots’ deeper into the Lord, rather than rely upon the sporadic rains of circumstances.  Jeremiah says this results in a life without the fear and worry of the unknown others face. 

     China Inland Missionaries Arthur & Wilda Matthews had been in China for 12 years before leaving for further language training.  While away the Communist Party of China came to power.  Yet when they were invited to return by the Chinese church and given visas in 1950 they felt God had opened the door for them.

          Yet when they arrived the found the Chinese Christians fearful of the political situation and they were told by the Chinese pastors that they would not be allowed to evangelize in the region.  “As time went on, they were not allowed visit homes and preach within the city. Eventually, they were not allowed outside of the missionary complex, or even distribute of medicine.”  When other missionaries were allowed to leave the Matthews’ requests were refused.  Arthur was given the opportunity to report on fellow missionaries, when he refused it was the beginning of 2 ½ years of struggle.  During this time they were encouraged by the words of Andrew Murray for dealing with difficult times: Remind yourself:

1. He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this place and in that fact I will rest.

2. He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child.

3. He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn.

4. In His good time He can bring me out again—how and when He knows.

So let me say, I am: Here by God’s appointment; in His keeping; under His training; for His time.

B. External:  A Green & fruitful life.

     Not only does trusting the Lord bring the blessing of deepening your relationship with the Lord, whether you realize it or not, your resilience in difficult times will be noticed by others.  Jeremiah pictures it like a green and fruitful tree during a drought.  As it got hot, my lawn turned brown, except for one spot, where my sump pump was emptying the water.  You did not notice it until the rest of the lawn turned brown from lack of rain!  I’ve seen this happen as Christians go through difficult times which cause others to wilt “and turn brown”.  When faced with trials, you will be noticed as having a source of strength that cannot be explained by the outward circumstances. 

     Fellow missionary Isobel Kuhn wrote about Arthur & Wilda Matthews in her book “Green Leaf in Drought Time.”  Kuhn writes: “yet as trial piled upon trial; as the ground (their human comforts) grew so parched with drought that it threatened to crack open, their leaf was still green.”

Isobel relates that during the darkest days of their detainment in China, Wilda daily heard gunfire from the nearby execution range where the Marxists were killing townspeople in mass numbers. She wondered when her own time would come, and she shuddered at what would happen to their little girl, Lilah, if she and Arthur should perish. They were near starvation, but the Communists wouldn’t release their funds or issue exit visas. They were trapped, and every day seemed their last.

     What good could possibly come out of such prolonged anxiety? Isobel points out that having explained the message of the Victorious Christian Life to the Chinese, the Matthews now had an even deeper, more lasting ministry. “There was an unseen Source of secret nourishment, which the Communists could not find and from which they could not cut them off. . . . The message above all others which the Chinese church needed was to see that truth lived out under circumstances equally harrowing as their own.”

     Those “who trust in the Lord” today are mocked as people who are limiting their potential to “be all they can be.”  Jeremiah 17:7-8 show just the opposite is true.  Those who place their whole trust in the Lord have a source of strength which is independent of circumstances and is limitless.

     What color are your leaves right now?  Where are you drawing your strength from?  Have you put your trust in the Lord?  Are you ready to explain the reason for the hope you have in your Lord?  If you have placed your trust in the Lord Jesus, be ready, your green leaves and fruit life will give you away!

Hymn #493 “It is well with my soul”

Verse 1 – When peace like a river Attendeth my way When sorrows like sea billows roll Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say It is well It is well with my soul

Chorus – It is well with my soul It is well It is well with my soul

Verse 2 – Tho’ Satan should buffet Tho’ trials should come Let this blest assurance control That Christ hath regarded My helpless estate And hath shed His own blood For my soul

Verse 3 – My sin O the bliss Of this glorious tho’t My sin not in part but the whole Is nailed to the cross And I bear it no more Praise the Lord Praise the Lord O my soul

Verse 4 – And Lord haste the day When the faith shall be sight The clouds be rolled back as a scroll The trump shall resound And the Lord shall descend Even so it is well With my soul

CCLI Song # 25376 Horatio Gates Spafford | Philip Paul Bliss © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “20 To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: 21 to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (GNB).

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John 13.1-17.  “Following Jesus’ example.”
July 11, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” Isaiah 6:3; Psalm 95:6 (NIV).

Opening Song: Come let us worship and bow down.
Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.
Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker.
For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture.  And the sheep of His hand, just the sheep of His hand
CCLI Song # 27329  Dave Doherty  © 1980 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Our society is in crisis!  There is a crisis of trust resulting in immense frustration.  Lack of trust in political leaders has trickled down to include a lack of trust for those who work for them, bureaucrats, law enforcement & even among those once viewed as highly trustworthy in science & medicine!

     People are looking for, honest leaders with integrity who do what they promise for the good of those “they serve,” rather than serving themselves.

     However, there is something else that is happening among us, it has always been present, but now it is on a scale rarely seen so broadly within a society – I am speaking of individualism.  Popeye the sailor man’s “I yam what I yam” is now on steroids – becoming: “No one can tell me what I can or can’t do or be or say!  I will do whatever I feel like!”  Do you see the potential for problems? 

     In 2012 the Josephson Institute conducted a survey of American High School students.

·       99% agreed with the statement: It’s important for me to be a person with good character.

·       98% agreed with the statement: In personal relationships, trust & honesty are essential.

·       95% agreed that trust & honesty are essential in business & the workplace.

     These are encouraging results, young people who believe in integrity. However, like their society, what they believe is not always demonstrated in what they do!  Here are some more questions:

·       36% agreed with the statement: A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed.

·       57% agreed with the statement: In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.

·       51% admitted to cheating during a test at school.

·       75% admitted to copying another’s homework.

·       76% admitted they have lied to a parent about something significant.

·       93% agreed with the statement: I am satisfied with my own ethics and character.

     These young people are reflecting their society. We agree that trust & honesty are essential, individually and corporately, however we “bend the rules” when it suits us.  It appears we are truly “more concerned about feeling good than being good!” [1]

     The idea: “Do as I say, not as I do” has existed throughout humanity’s history.  Jesus Christ lived by the motto: “Do as I say and do as I do.”  We have a peculiar example of this in John 13:1-17 where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet (a servant’s job) and then says in v. 15 “I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” John 13:15 (NLT).  John 13:1–17:

1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (NIV).

     Jesus gave his disciples an example to follow.  That these words were preserved means they are also for us!  Why did Jesus wash his disciples’ feet?

1. To display his love (v. 1).
     John begins chapter 13 by explaining Jesus’ intention to demonstrate the depth of his love for his disciples.  Love does not count the cost or care what others think, it takes the needed action even at the risk of rejection.  Love in a key theme during Jesus’ final hours with disciples.  In chapters 13-17 the word “love” is used 37 times as compared to only12 times in chapters 2-12.  Jesus loved each of his disciples (even Judas, whose feet he also washed) and he also loves you and me.
 
2. To model humility.
     Foot washing was a necessary job in the first century and for guests was done by the lowest ranking servant in the household.  A wife would wash her husband’s feet, children their parents’ feet and students’ their teacher’s feet. 

     What Jesus did during the meal, would have stunned his disciples.  Not only did Jesus wash his disciples’ feet, but he first removed his outer garments.  Some commentators feel that Jesus stripped down to his loincloth, before he wrapped a towel around his waist, just the way the lowliest servant would do.  The disciples, with the exception of Peter, were silent as Jesus went to each one and washed their feet, likely wondering if they were going to get an explanation for this odd behavior.

     The Gospel of Luke 22:24-30 gives us some insight into the mindset of the disciples that evening; it tells us they were arguing over who was the greatest.  Luke records Jesus telling them his kingdom requires servant leaders.  John 13 shows us that Jesus actually became their servant: “15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” John 13:15–17 (NLT).

     Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet demonstrated his love for them, modeled the humility he desired from them, but also pictured his entire mission.
 
3. To represent his entire mission.
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” John 13:1 (NIV).

     John 13:1 does not just introduce the foot washing scene; it also serves as an introduction to the remainder of this Gospel.  Verses 1-3 states that Jesus knew his death was imminent, but it also reminds us of Jesus’ “roots;” he has come from the Father, was under his authority and would return to the Father, completing his mission (cf. John 3:14-16). 

     The phrase “he loved them to the end” or “he showed them the full extent of his love” (NLT notes) holds more meaning than we might realize.  The Greek word translated “to the end” is also be translated “to the very finish” and is used in its verb form as Jesus’ last words from the cross, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).  Dale Brunner in his commentary on John translates this phrase as: “He loved them right up to the very finish, perfectly”[2] Jesus willingly lay down his life on the cross to finish the work of salvation required to offer humanity forgiveness from sin.

     Verses 1-3 tell us that Jesus, knowing all this, got up, stripped down and then washed his disciple’s feet in an act that was clearly beneath him, even from a human perspective.  The disciples do not understand why Jesus is doing this.  Jesus explains in vv. 12-17 that his kingdom requires servant leadership, and he sets the example.  Yet Jesus’ words to Peter in verse 7 hints that time will reveal even more: “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (NIV).

     After Jesus’ resurrection his disciples came to realize the foot washing was parable, a picture of what Jesus, the second person of the Trinity did for humanity.  The Apostle Paul in Philippians 2:1-5 calls for Christians to demonstrate humility towards one another with the same attitude as the Lord Jesus.  Then in verses 6-11 he describes how Jesus stripped off his heavenly glory, became as a servant, and as a human being, humbled himself to the point of death on a cross.  This humble obedience to his Father resulted in his glorification, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow.

     Have you been moved by Jesus’ love?  Have you accepted his love and forgiveness?  Have you been challenged to up-root your self-centred focus by Jesus’ humble obedience to his Father?  Are you willing to commit your life to Jesus and his mission?  Jesus did not just teach these things, he did them!  You cannot live this way this on your own, ask Jesus for strength, submit to his leadership in all your life.

Closing Song: “Make me a servant”
Make me a servant humble and meek, Lord let me lift up those who are weak, and may the prayer of my heart always be, make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.
CCLI Song # 33131  Kelly Willard  © 1982 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)  Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)  Willing Heart Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “20 May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV).



[1] Professor James Davison Hunter, University of Virginia.

[2] Bruner, F. D. (2012). The Gospel of John: A Commentary (p. 753). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

Luke 5.1-11. “Peter, an example of how the Lord changes lives.”
July 4, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to worship: “Praise Him for His grace and favors to our fathers in distress; Praise Him, still the same as ever, slow to chide, and swift to bless.”

Hymn: #379 “Take my life and let it be”

Take my life and let it be Consecrated Lord to Thee take my moments and my days let them flow in ceaseless praise

Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee

Take my voice and let me sing Always only for my King Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee

Take my silver and my gold not a mite would I withhold Take my intellect and use Ev’ry pow’r as Thou shalt choose

Take my will and make it Thine It shall be no longer mine Take my heart it is Thine own It shall be Thy royal throne

Take my love my Lord I pour At Thy feet its treasure store Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee

CCLI Song # 1390 Frances Ridley Havergal | Henri Abraham Cesar Malan © Words: Public Domain

Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     Last week we finished Ephesians chapter 2, focusing on what it means for us to be the church.  We are going to step away from Ephesians for the summer and get back to it this fall.  Before we do that let’s take one more look at Ephesians, chapter 2:20 which describes the church as: “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” (NIV).  One of those Apostles was the fisherman Simon, whom Jesus gave the name Peter. “Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matt. 16:17–18 (NIV). 

     The book of Acts tells us that Peter became a key leader in the early church.  Guided by the Holy Spirit Peter’s preaching was instrumental in the numerical and spiritual growth of the church, laying the foundation for future believers, including ourselves.  Even so, Peter would insist that God alone deserves all the praise and glory for what he accomplished in Peter’s life.  Before he met Jesus, Peter likely thought he was doing the most he could with his life, given his circumstances, wow, did meeting Jesus ever change that!

     Today we are going to look at a variety of lake centred events in Peter’s life which Jesus used to teach and develop Peter into a rock he could build his church upon.

1st Luke 5:1-11

1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.” Luke 5:1–11 (NIV).

     Luke 5:1-11 introduces us to Simon Peter while he is still fishing.  In verses 1-3 Peter is in the background, an incidental character in the story, like a doorman or taxi driver in a drama.  In this case he’s the owner & operator of the boat Jesus is using as a floating pulpit to teach the people crowding the shoreline.  However, when Jesus finishes teaching our attention is directed towards Simon as Jesus asks to be taken fishing.  It is as if Jesus says: Simon, show me what you’re good at, let me see where you are investing your life.  Peter explains that their hard work the previous night hadn’t resulted in any fish, lowering expectations for a daytime attempt.  However, something about Jesus made Peter willing to assemble his gear and crew to head out to go fishing.

     When Peter saw that by following Jesus’ instructions they had caught more fish than his nets or both his boats could hold, he knew God was at work through Jesus: “8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’”  In this encounter Peter saw Jesus as master and himself as a sinner, unworthy of Jesus’ attention, so he warns Jesus away.  Rather than being deterred, Jesus tells Peter not to be afraid but to join him in fishing for people, and he did.

     This is where each of us needs to begin, with a realization of our own sin and a recognition that Jesus is here to help.  The journey begins as we stop avoiding and running from Jesus and start learning to walk with him and learn from him.

2nd Matthew 17:24-27

24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?” 25 “Yes, he does,” he replied. When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” 26 “From others,” Peter answered. “Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”” Matthew 17:24–27 (NIV).

     From this encounter Peter, who had caught many fish before, again saw Jesus’ power and learned the lesson that Jesus, as the Son of God is our provider.  God promises to provide for us and encourages us not to obsess over possessing material things, because he already knows what we need (Matthew 6:25-34).  Do you trust Jesus as your provider?  If so, how has he taught you to trust him?

3rd Matthew 8:23-27.

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”” Mt. 8:23–27 (NIV).

     In this encounter at the lake, a storm beyond the skill of professional fishers threatens to sink the boat until Jesus scolds the wind and waves, calming everything down and amazing the disciples.  Here Peter sees his own fear in contrast with Jesus’ ability and desire to protect them.  How often does the Lord use a storm in your life to teach you the same lesson?

4th Matthew 14:22-33

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” Matthew 14:22–33 (NIV).

     Peter has come to trust Jesus for the impossible, enough so that he willing to get out of the boat and walk on the water if Jesus invites him to join him.  Yet here he learns what happens when we take our eyes off of Jesus and instead focus on the storm!  Each one of us will encounter storms in this life, the question is, are they going to stop you from stepping out in faith with Jesus – not if you keep your focus on him, rather than your problems!  Here’s a question to reflect on: when someone asks you “How are you?”  Who is the subject of your response?  You?  Your problems? Or is it your Lord and his help?  “12b I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12b–13 (NIV).

5th John 21:1-17

1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” John 21:1–17 (NIV).

     After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter decided to go fishing. After fishing all night without catching anything, Jesus called from the shore to throw the nets on the other side of the boat.  When they did, they caught more than they could handle. Back on shore, Jesus ate with Peter and re-commissioned him as His apostle. From this encounter Peter saw Jesus as his very Purpose for living and himself as a servant. This was Peter’s final lesson before Jesus returned to his Father. Peter has been changed.  He is now willing to submit to the Lord’s will and lead in humility.  He continued to learn and grow as he continued to keep his eyes on Jesus and trust in him alone.

     How about you?  Have you met Jesus and accepted his invitation to do what you do under his guidance, taking it to the next level?  It begins by recognizing you are broken, a sinner in need of help, and realizing that Jesus is not repulsed by that fact, rather that’s why he has come, to help you, if you will trust him to.

     Next, realize that Jesus’ goal is for you to not only follow him, but for you to learn from him and grow to become like him.  As you do this, you will bring glory to God the Father.  How does Jesus do that?  By using the school of life to teach you to depend upon him by showing you he is worthy of your trust.  He will not abandon you; you can survive and grow through whatever comes.  Notice, I didn’t say he would remove every difficulty; I said he would go through it with you and enable you to grow more like him (Jesus) as you do.  Listen to these words from the Apostle Peter’s first letter, chapter 1 verses 3-7: “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:3–7 (NIV).

Hymn: #371 “Have Thine own way Lord” (vv.1-4)

Verse 1 – Have Thine own way Lord have Thine own way Thou art the Potter I am the clay Mold me and make me after Thy will While I am waiting yielded and still

Verse 2 – Have Thine own way Lord have Thine own way Search me and try me Master today Whiter than snow Lord wash me just now As in Thy presence humbly I bow

Verse 3 – Have Thine own way Lord have Thine own way Wounded and weary help me I pray Power all power surely is Thine Touch me and heal me Savior divine

Verse 4 – Have Thine own way Lord have Thine own way Hold o’er my being absolute sway Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see Christ only always living in me

CCLI Song # 28225 Adelaide Addison Pollard | George Coles Stebbins © Words: Public Domain

Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “Let the wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing. Praise Jesus now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 (CEV).

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

Ephesians 2:19-22.  “What is the Church?”
 
June 27, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: (based on Psalm 25)

We lift up our souls to you, Holy God.
We trust the Lord with our past, present, and future.
Teach us, Lord, that we may know your ways.
Guide our every move, Holy One, that we may walk in your paths of love and mercy.
Let us worship the One who leads us in what is right.
Together, let us worship God!

Hymn: #8 “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Verse 1 – Praise to the Lord the Almighty The King of creation O my soul praise Him For He is thy health and salvation All ye who hear now to His temple draw near Praise Him in glad adoration

Verse 2 – Praise to the Lord Who over all things So wondrously reigneth Shelters thee under His wings Yea so gently sustaineth Hast thou not seen how thy desires ever have been Granted in what He ordaineth

Verse 3 – Praise to the Lord Who doth prosper Thy work and defend thee Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee Ponder anew what the Almighty can do If with His love He befriend thee

Verse 4 – Praise to the Lord O let all that is in me adore Him All that hath life and breath Come now with praises before Him Let the amen sound from His people again Gladly for all we adore Him

CCLI Song # 43073 Catherine Winkworth | Joachim Neander © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     What is the church?  What comes to mind when you hear that question?  Most people use the word “church” as short hand for the building – “I’m going to church” meaning coming to this building. 

     What is the church?  Some describe it as being “organized religion”.  Does church only happen when we form committees and write constitutions?

     What is the church?  Is it individual Christians?  Each one of us had to make an individual, personal choice to recognize our sin and accept God’s gift of forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.  Does that make each of us “a church” with no need for others?

     Biblically speaking, is the church a building made out of wood, steel and cement?  NO, a church building is the place where the church meets, but the building is not the church.  Is the church an organization?  God the Father has designed his church to be organized, with Christ Jesus as the head and Holy Spirit gifted and guided leaders to add in the Spiritual growth of believers.  Is an individual the church?  Each of us must make a personal choice but God has decided his church is corporate: We see this as the Spirit’s gifting is distributed among the body of believers, and hear it in Jesus’ promise to be with us; Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (NASB 2020)

     We are looking at Paul letter to the Ephesians, and today are in chapter 2, verses 19-22.  Paul in describing the riches and privileges in Christ that Gentile believers have now received, teaches all his readers about the nature of the church and answers the question: What is the church?

     Let’s begin by reviewing what Paul has already told us.  In chapter one Paul reminds his readers of the amazing grace that God has extended to believers in his plan to forgive and adopt us into his family.  Then he prays that the Holy Spirit would help them to grasp how amazing this gift is.

     In chapter two Paul reminds us of what we were saved from and our hopelessness apart from God’s intervention on our behalf.  Paul then reminds his Gentile readers of their isolation from God until Christ Jesus intervened on their behalf.

     In Ephesians 2:13 the tone changes with the words “But now…” as Paul begins to describe that the Gentiles may also be brought forgiven into God’s presence through the blood of Christ Jesus.  Jesus, on the cross has destroyed the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile.  Going beyond the end of hostilities, Jesus brings both Gentile and Jew together to make a brand new person, which is known as “The Church” (cf. Eph. 3:6-10).

     Listen as I begin reading from verse 17: “17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:17–22 (NIV).

     Today’s passage, Ephesians 2:19-22 begins with the word “consequently” in the NIV translation, to tell us that Paul is about to build on what he has just told us (“but wait…there’s more!”). Paul now explains to the Gentile Christians the amazing new privilege which they are now included in by using three familiar models of the church.  These three models help us to clarify what God means when he calls us the church.

Models of the Church – Eph. 2:19-22

1.  The church as God’s Kingdom (v. 19a).

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people”

     In Eph. 2:12 Gentiles were reminded that they were separate from Christ, excluded as citizens of Israel and foreigners to God’s covenant promises.  Have you ever been a foreigner in another country?  It can be exciting to visit a new country, but it can also be unsettling to realize that as an outsider you may not have the same rights and freedoms as a citizen.  In Canada if you are not a citizen and you are convicted of a serious crime, you can be deported back to your own country, even if you’ve lived here most of your life.  How about living in a small town?  Outsiders, those who didn’t grow up in the community may never be granted the same status as those who broke the land and founded the town.  Now imagine you are living in the first Century, a mere accusation of a crime may be enough for a foreigner to be banished from a community, losing home and land and needed to start all over.

     Paul is telling the Gentiles, you are no longer outsiders; God has welcomed you into his kingdom.  In Romans 9:23-26 Paul makes this point clear as he quotes from Hosea 2:23 & 1:10: “23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” 26 and, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ ”” Romans 9:23–26 (NIV).

2.  The church as God’s Family (v. 19b).

“and also members of his household,”

     In this new creation formed of believing Jews and Gentiles called the church, we are not just citizens of God’s kingdom we are also members of his family!  We are not visitors, not household servants; we are sons and daughters of God with complete rights of inheritance and full access to God the Father!  We have seen our relationship with God, what is our relationship with each other in the church?  Siblings, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, expressing love for each other, and caring for each other as family does.

3.  The church as God’s Temple (vv. 20-22).

20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” Ephesians 2:20–22 (NIV).

     We are built on the foundation of those commissioned by Christ to teach and lead the church, the Apostles and prophets of the early church and thus the New Testament scriptures they recorded for us.  Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone (v. 20), essential to the foundation and the rest of the structure, he holds it all together (v. 21).  What is being built?  A holy temple – God’s holy house.  The term used here for temple isn’t speaking of the whole temple grounds, but refers specifically to the inner sanctuary, the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple.  With this in mind look at verse 22: “22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

     Paul is reminding the Gentiles, the former outsiders that they also are being built into this incredible living Holy of Holies, the church, where the Holy Spirit of God dwells!  What an amazing privilege!   Some homes have signs says:  The Jones’ live here.  The Church of Jesus Christ, believers’ lives are to declare – The Spirit of the Living God dwells here!  With the privilege of the Spirit’s presence also comes the responsibility to represent him appropriable.   

     We started out by asking, what is the church?

·       The Church is not a building or something I go to or attend, the Church is something I as a Christian am literally a part of!

·       The Church is not filled with people; the Church is built of people and is filled with the Holy Spirit!

·       The purpose of the Church is NOT to serve and please me, rather OUR purpose as the Church is to serve and please God.  We do this as (with God’s empowering) we live a life worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1-3).

Hymn: “We have come, God’s living Temple” (tune of #51 – Guide me o Thou great Jehovah)

We have come, God’s living temple, In the joy of Christ the Son.  Here the Father’s word is spoken.  Here His gracious work is done.  Breathe His Spirit! Drink His goodness!  Heaven’s life is here begun.

Set aside all vain distractions.  Lay your needs before His throne.  Give your hands, a holy offering.  You are His and not your own.  All your spirit praise His Spirit!  Turn your thoughts to Him alone.

Christ is God’s eternal temple, All His holy presence here.  By His Spirit, we His body Live to make His presence clear, Loving, learning, giving, growing Till our Lord Himself appear.

Go and shine with God’s own presence!  Live the love of Christ the Son.  By your words let Him be spoken, By your hands His work be done.  Breathe His Spirit, share his goodness Till His glorious Kingdom come!

Words by Ken Bible  Music by John Goss; arr. by Ken Bible  © 2012, 2014 by LNWhymns.com. CCLI Song #7030966.

Benediction: “11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” 13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11, 13 (CSB).

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

 
 
 

“Let the walls fall down.”  Ephesians 2:11-18.

Esterhazy Baptist Church.  June 20, 2021

Call to Worship: “I will give ⌊you⌋ thanks, O Lord, with all my heart. I will tell about all the miracles you have done. I will find joy and be glad about you. I will make music to praise your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1–2 (GW).

Hymn: #512 “My Saviors Love”

Verse 1 – I stand amazed in the presence Of Jesus the Nazarene And wonder how He could love me A sinner condemned unclean

Chorus – How marvelous how wonderful And my song shall ever be How marvelous how wonderful Is my Saviour’s love for me

Verse 2 – For me it was in the garden He prayed not My will but Thine He had no tears for His own griefs But sweat drops of blood for mine

Verse 3 – In pity angels beheld Him And came from the world of light To comfort Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night

Verse 4 – He took my sins and my sorrows He made them His very own He bore the burden to Calvary And suffered and died alone

Verse 5 – When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see ‘Twill be my joy through the ages To sing of His love for me

CCLI Song # 25297 Charles Hutchinson Gabriel © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We live in a divided world.  We see this as we hear the international news: fighting between Israel and Hamas, tension between the USA and Russia, and Canada’s struggle with China holding two of our citizens because we have detained one of their citizens.  Our recent national news also reminds us that Canada past and present has racial and social injustice to deal with.

     In our text today, Ephesians chapter 2:11-18, the Apostle Paul looks at divisions and shows us how Christ Jesus has bridged them.  Paul reminds his readers of where they have come and how that happened in order to reinforce their appreciation of what God did for them – It is by grace you have been saved!

     Paul has been explaining the incredible grace of God which has been extended to all of us – both Jew and Gentile.  I can imagine during his ministry that Paul encountered some individuals who expressed doubt in his message because they had NEVER heard such hopeful news for humanity before.  “How can something this life changing just spring up out of nowhere? Smells fishy to me!”  Paul’s response, based on our text today might have been: “You have never heard this before because you are Gentiles, and until now, God’s plan to include you in his plan to save humanity had not been revealed.”  Paul then explains:

  1. The problem faced by the Gentiles – you are outsiders.
  2. How outsiders can become insiders.

III.     How Jesus did this and the difference it makes.

  1. The problem faced by the Gentiles – They are outsiders, Eph. 2:11-12.

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:11–12 (NIV).

The uncircumcised were:

1 – Christ-less – They had no messianic promise or hope to look forward to.

2 – Stateless – They weren’t part of God’s people, Israel.

3 – Friendless – They were not included in the unconditional covenant promises God made with Abraham, David and in Jer. 31:31-34 & Ezek. 36:22-32.

4 – Hopeless – They were not aware they had any hope of help from God.

5 – godless – They did not know Israel’s God, they worshipped gods of their own making – false gods.

     This is still the situation for those without Christ, who have not heard what God has done.  In verses 13-18 Paul explains what the Triune God has done: sinners who deserved God’s wrath have been brought near – how is this possible?

  1. How outsiders can become insiders – Eph. 2:13-14

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” Ephesians 2:13–14 (NIV).

1Jesus shed his blood, offering himself in our place, to forgive our sins and brought them near.  That idea “brought near” is used in Isaiah 57:19 “Peace, peace, to the far and the near, says the Lord; and I will heal them.” (NRSV).  “When the Rabbis spoke about accepting a convert into Judaism, they said that he had been brought near.”[1]  Does this mean that Gentiles must first become Jews to experience God’s grace in Christ?  That is what some within the Jerusalem Church believed until God made it clear to Peter by sending the Holy Spirit upon Gentiles who accepted Jesus as their sin forgiver and life leader.

2Jesus became our peace.

     Jesus became our peace by removing the dividing wall of hostility between us and God and us and others.  Paul may have been thinking of the wall within the Temple which warned Gentiles, under the threat of death, not to pass further into the Temple.  Paul was arrested in Jerusalem because of the false assumption he had brought Gentiles into the Temple. 

     The Jewish people were not the only ones who divided people – Greeks considered non-Greek speaking people to be barbarians and Romans had vastly different laws for Romans verses non-Romans.  Sadly, things have not changed in the last 2000 years, differences continue to divide us!

     How did Jesus become our peace?  William Barclay explains it this way: Suppose two people have a difference and go to law about it; and the experts in the law draw up a document, which states the rights of the case, and ask the two conflicting parties to come together on the basis of that document. All the chances are that the breach will remain unhealed, for peace is seldom made on the basis of a legal document. But suppose that someone whom both of these conflicting parties love comes and talks to them, there is every chance that peace will be made. When two parties are at variance, the surest way to bring them together is through someone whom they both love.

      That is what Christ does. He is our peace. It is in a common love of him that people come to love each other. That peace is won at the price of his blood, for the great awakener of love is the Cross. The sight of that Cross awakens in the hearts of men of all nations love for Christ, and only when they all love Christ will they love each other. It is not in treaties and leagues to produce peace. There can be peace only in Jesus Christ.[2]

III. How Jesus did this and the difference it makes, Eph. 2:15-18

  1. How Jesus did this (v. 15a):15a by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.” NIV

     The Jewish people had come to believe that their only hope in being acceptable to God was to keep his law.  The Pharisees had developed thousands of rules and regulations to keep people from breaking God’s commands.  These regulations governed behavior and encouraged legalism but did nothing to nurture one’s relationship with God.  As we have already seen, humanity was spiritually dead, the law could not change that, nor could keeping the law be anything more than an outward facade over a dead soul!  God, in love, brought us near through the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross on our behalf: Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (NIV). Jesus came to tell us that we cannot earn God’s approval by keeping the ceremonial law, instead we must accept the forgiveness and fellowship which God in mercy freely offers.[3]

  1. The difference it (Jesus’ sacrifice) makes (vv. 15b-18):

15b His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:15–18 (NIV).

  1. Believing humanity is made new in Christ (v. 15b).

     The Greek has two words which mean new.  One, neos means new in point of time; a pen made this week is new even though thousands were made the previous week.  The Greek word Paul uses here, is kainos and it means new in point of quality; it is something which did not exist before.  This is what Jesus has done.  Once divided humanity is brought together through accepting the saving work on Christ on the cross and made into something the world has never seen before.  The Gentiles have not become Jews, nor have the Jews become Gentiles, the two have been remade in Christ into his body the church, which we will look at in greater detail next week.

  1. Believing humanity is reconciled to each other and God through Christ (vv. 16-17).

     Reconcile means “to bring together again.” We MUST remember our reconciliation with God AND each other came at a heavy cost – the death of God’s Son on the cross!  To ignore the reconciliation achieved and called for by Christ Jesus between Christians is to disregard the price he paid for your salvation!  We are friends with others because they are friends of God! 

  • Believing humanity now has access to God the Father, by the Spirit, through Christ (v. 18).

     The Greek word translated as ‘access’ is prosagōgē and it is used in a variety of ways: bringing a sacrifice to God; bringing poeple into the presence of God to be consecrated to his service; introducing a speaker or an ambassador into a national assembly; and above all it is the word used for introducing a person into the presence of a king. The Persian royal court had an official called the prosagōgeus whose function was to introduce people who desired an audience with the king.[4]  This is the right that the Lord Jesus gives ALL who have accepted him as their sin forgiver and life leader – access to Almighty God.  Thanks to Jesus’ loving sacrifice on our behalf, we are no longer outsiders, we have access to Almighty God!

     What are we going to do with this privilege?  Let us take one more look at Ephesians 2:17-18 “17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” Ephesians 2:17–18 (NIV).

     Who is the “he” and “him” mentioned in these verses?  Jesus.  Jesus (he) preached peace to:

  • You who were far away – who was Paul thinking of? Gentiles, meaning us. In today’s context who might this be?  Those who have never heard about God and his love for humanity – this includes many in our world today!.
  • Those who were near – who was Paul thinking of?   Who might this be today?  Think of this group as those who have a vague understand about God and Jesus but haven’t fully understood God’s plan or accepted his gift of forgiveness. 

We as believers are to live as those made new in Christ, and tell those near and far away the good news of Jesus’ saving grace.

Hymn: #302 “Share His love” (vv. 1-3).

Verse 1 – The love of God is broader Than earth’s vast expanse ‘Tis deeper and wider than the sea Love reaches out to all To bring abundant life For God so loved the world His only Son He gave

Chorus – Share His love by telling What the Lord has done for you Share His love by sharing of your faith And show the world that Jesus Christ Is real to you ev’ry moment ev’ry day

Verse 2 – All those who have trusted In God’s only Son And hold this precious treasure In their hearts Seek ways to make it known To all who need to know That God so loved the world His only Son He gave

Verse 3 – We show the love of God Each day we live Reveal Christ’s presence in our lives And how the Holy Spirit Guides us day by day For God so loved the world His only Son He gave

CCLI Song # 26454 William J. Reynolds © 1973 Van Ness Press, Inc. (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6 ESV)

[1] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 111). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[2] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 114). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[3] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (pp. 114–1115). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

[4] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1976). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (p. 117). Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press.

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Ephesians 2.1-10. “It took a miracle, from death to life.”

June 13, 2021. Esterhazy Baptist Church.

     Ephesians is written for us!  The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to Christians almost 2000 years ago who were trying to live out their faith and not get drawn back into the sinful patterns all around them – a situation we each face daily!  So, how do you do it?  How do you walk as Jesus walked in a culture that is becoming increasingly intolerant of Christian beliefs?  Paul gives us the answer in his letter to the Ephesians.

     With this introduction and the expectations created chapter one comes as a surprise.  After his introduction and greeting in 1:1-2, you might expect Paul to point out their failures and the offer correction.  Instead, it is as if Paul excuses himself, turns his back on his audience and begins to praise God.  We listen in as Paul offers a doxology, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” 

     When Paul finishes his song of praise, in verse 15 he returns to his audience, commends them for placing their faith in the Lord Jesus, and then he turns away again and breaks out into a prayer to God for them!  What is going on?  We need pay careful attention to Paul’s praise and Paul’s prayer.  Do not skip over them, read them repeatedly, for they explain how Paul survived the hatred he faced, and teach us how we can stand firm in our faith.  Paul’s focus was not on what was wrong with the world, for that was obvious – it is in bondage to sin, we all are.  Paul’s attention was on God, specifically his work and his plan for us.  Paul’s prayer for the believers was that the Spirit of God would continue to increase their understanding and appreciation of the powerful presence of God at work within them to accomplish his plan!  Paul begins to help these believers, and us too by first focusing on our God.  It is NOT hopeless; God is working out a plan he developed before this world was made!  You are not hopeless, God has done an amazing work in you, and will continue until he is finished.  What is hopeless is trying to live a moral life in your own strength.  Surrender your life to God in Christ, keep it there, and walk in his strength!  This is the lesson of today’s text, Ephesians 2:1-10, let us take a closer look at it.

     Although it was foolish, when I was younger, I sometimes envied the dramatic testimonies of those who had been saved from a gang, or prison or drugs.  The contrast between their life before Christ and their life after accepting Christ seemed to empower these Christians in a way that those of us who grew up in Christians homes did not seem to have.  If you have ever had that thought or current feel that your life without Christ is not that bad, then you need to read Ephesians 2:1-3 and 11-12 over and over and over until you get, as Eph. 2:12 says “Apart from Christ, everyone is without hope,” whether you were on drugs, in a gang or not.  Everyone of us is born into sin and spiritually dead.  As ugly as this looks, it is our reality!  1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” Ephesians 2:1–3 (NIV).

Our Situation:

A.  Without Christ I am spiritually dead – not weakened, not sick, but lifeless, dead, unable to help myself or communicate with anyone who could help – that is what it means to be dead!  That is what sin has done to me/us.

B.  Without Christ I willfully follow the ruler of this world and revel in gratifying my sinful cravings, regardless of the consequences – I am addicted to my sin!

     When you read the description of our situation in Ephesians 2:1-3 what do you think?  What does this look like?  Something without value or use – we would call it trash! 

Verses 4 & 5 describe God’s response to us:

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4–5 (NIV).

     How many of you enjoy art?  One of my nieces has her master’s in art, and Karin & I have spent time with her looking at paintings.  While I find it fascinating that a painter can give a flat canvas the appearance of three dimensions, its not quite my thing.  I think some cars are beautiful works of art and design.  However, what is utterly amazing is taking something worthless and making it into something beautiful.

     In these verses Paul is highlighting the incredible transformation that God, and only God was able to do with us.  Verse 10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, the Greek word can also be translated “creation.”  We are God’s work of art, created from “material” which seemed impossible to work with!

     The love of God for us motivates God to breath life into our spiritually dead souls. The same power that raised Christ Jesus from the dead and seated him at God’s right hand (1:19-20), has worked within us and raised us up with Christ, AND seated us with him in the heavenly realms (2:6).  God’s power changes us – from death to life, from bondage to sin to freedom in Christ.  Why has God done this? 

A)  He loves us (John 3:16) and this exhibits the riches of his grace in Christ Jesus.  We can forget about bragging about our goodness, God gets all the credit for who we are now: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV).

     It is important to reflect on 2:6. As God raised us up with Christ, cleansed and resurrected our sin deadened souls, he then seated us with Christ Jesus in the heavenly realms.  This speaks of closeness of relationship to our God, our protection by God and our position in Christ.  There is nothing we must do to be here, other than accepting God’s invitation – let that sink in!  It is reminiscent of what we read in 1:3 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 (NIV). Blessed with EVERY spiritual blessing.  When you find yourself doubting God’s care – remember all he has done for you.  When you find yourself feeling powerless to keep going, remember where you are seated in the heavenlies.

Why has God done this? 

B)  Notice, we have not been re-born to hang on a wall in a museum.  We have been specially designed by God for a purpose, to do the good works he pre-prepared for us to do.  Eph. 1:4 says that before the world was created, God chose us to be holy and blameless. 

     As we get to chapter 4, Paul will give concrete examples of how we are to imitate God in our everyday lives.  What we must remember is God has provided all we need to do this; we must humbly depend upon him daily for the ability to do this!  We have been saved by God grace alone and we will only represent him successfully by relying upon him for everything!

Benediction: 18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:18–19 (NIV).

 

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

 
Note: Pastor Robert will be away next Sunday, therefore there will be no sermon emailed, posted on the EBC podcast or the dial-a-sermon for the week of May 30.
 
Ephesians 1:15-23. “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.”
May 23, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

     We are continuing our look at the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  Paul wrote it to Christians who were struggling to live differently from the culture around them.  In chapters 4-6 Paul deals with stealing, lying, anger, greed, swearing, bitterness, immorality, as well as how to live in harmony in a Christian household.  Does this sound familiar?  Research on the Church in North American suggests we have the same struggles.

     Let’s look and learn from the Epistle to the Ephesians.  Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison, yet it is his most optimistic and encouraging letter.  How can a letter which deals with the reality of our struggles be uplifting?  Paul begins by focusing on the advantages a believer has in Christ, and then he teaches us how to live a life of love as a response to God’s love to us.

     Today we are looking at Eph. 1:15-23.  As this section begins we clearly hear Paul’s mentoring heart for these Christians.  He expresses his joy for their salvation and his continuing commitment to them in prayer: Ephesians 1:15–16. “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (NIV)

     What does he pray for?  Their money troubles? Temptations? Interpersonal issues?  No, Paul’s focus is on God, not them!  We need to do the same; remember, it all starts with God, not with ourselves or our problems!  Paul asks God that he would enable them to know Him better!  Ephesians 1:17. “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” (NIV).  In 1:13b-14 Paul has told us that Christians have been given the Holy Spirit to confirm that we belong to God.  In verse 17 Paul is asking that the already present Holy Spirit would give these believers wisdom and revelation so they would come to know God better – this is the only way, only God can show us the things of God!

     Notice here that Paul is thrilled about their salvation, yet recognizes it is only the beginning of all that God has for us.  Karin & I married because as we dated we grew in love.  Much to our delight, after we married, we found that we grew so much more in love than we had been when we married – and something we hadn’t thought it possible! 

     Some Christians are struggling in their Christian life because they have not gone any further than asking Jesus to forgive them of their sins. They think this is all there is. They believe that following Jesus as their life leader means doing and not doing certain things, which they try with varying degrees of success, and that’s it.  Paul wants us all to understand that there is so much more!  He prays that these believers would to continue to develop their relationship with God. Listen to Ephesians 1:18–19a. “I pray 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 his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” (NIV)  Paul begins by requesting that God would enlighten the “eyes of their hearts.”  In biblical usage the heart refers to our inner self, which is our mind and our emotions.  Paul prays for insight in three specific areas:

1- The hope to which he has called you.

2- The riches of his glorious inheritance.

3- His incomparably great power for us who believe.

1- The hope to which he has called you.

     John Stott in his commentary suggests this looks back to the beginning of our Christian lives.  Eph. 1:3-5 refers to God’s call on our lives to be holy and blameless in his sight and adopted as his children.  God had a purpose and a plan in calling you to himself, which is beyond what you could ask for or imagine, and this is the reason for our hope!  Stott summarizes: “it was a call to an altogether new life in which we know, love, obey and serve Christ, enjoy fellowship with him and with each other, and look beyond our present suffering to the glory which will one day be revealed. This is the hope to which he has called you. Paul prays that our eyes may be opened to know it.”[1]

2- The riches of his glorious inheritance.

     This looks ahead to our final inheritance, of which the Holy Spirit is a guarantee we will receive it.  1 Peter 1:4 describes it as “…an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,” 1 Peter 1:4 (NIV).  We will be among those described in Revelation 19:6. “Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying, Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty, reigns!” (CSB) This is what awaits us; to be in the presence of the one who has saved us, adopted us and blessed us with every spiritual blessing – we will be home!

 3- His incomparably great power for us who believe.

     If the hope to which we were called looks back on all God has done for us, and reflecting on our inheritance has us anticipating the future, then knowing God’s great power is for us RIGHT NOW!  Paul explains what this power is like through three examples: Ephesians 1:19–23. “and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (NIV)

     This is power that Paul refers to in Ephesians 3:20–21 in preparation to share on the Christ empowered life Christians are to live. “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV).  Paul is saying to ALL his readers: You think you can’t handle life’s pressures, can’t live up to God’s call on your life?  Remember who is on your side!  Remember your call! Remember your inheritance and the immeasurable resources of God’s power at work for you!

     Ephesians 1:20-23 are intended not only to encourage us, but also to instruct us. Here Paul shares with us some of the Spirit granted wisdom and revelation he has received concerning the implications of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Let’s take a closer look at these verses.

a – Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (v. 20a).
     Jesus’ resurrection demonstrates God’s power over death!  We may postpone death with healthy choices and medical treatment, but we cannot escape death!  God did more than restore life to Jesus’ dead battered body; he transformed it into an imperishable body which death can no longer threaten.  Our greatest fear, death, has been defeated by the great power of God.
b – Jesus’ enthronement over evil (vv. 20b-22a).
     As God raised the sinless Jesus from the dead, he gave him the place of highest honour and authority at his right hand.  Jesus has demonstrated his right to rule everything.  This fulfills the messianic promise of Psalm 110:1. “The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”” (NIV) This is another demonstration of God’s great power; Christ’s humble obedience to the Father’s plan has led to his victory over all the forces of evil, they are now subject to him, awaiting judgment.  Christ Jesus has defeated our greatest enemy!
c – Jesus’ headship of the church (vv. 22).
     In his final step of demonstrating God’s incompatibly great power for us who believe, Paul reminds us how integral the church is in God’s plan.  Christians are not left to struggle on their own to decide what to do, but are part of the church, which is under Christ’s direct leadership; he is the head and the church is his body.  Empowered by Christ, we represent him wherever we go! 

     Paul wants us, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to go beyond knowing Jesus in our head as our sin forgiver.  He wants us to realize all that God has done for us will do for us and has available to us right now if we will step out with him in faith as our true life leader!  Ask yourself, am I doing this?  I am trusting God with the resources he has made available to me to walk with him in trust?  What are you lacking that he cannot supply?  What is he calling you to trust him in today?  Will you?  

Hymn: #228 “Rejoice the Lord is King”

Benediction: “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!” Ephesians 3:20–21 (The Message)



[1] Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 56). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

 

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Ephesians 1.1-14.  Praise God for His amazing grace shown us.

May 16, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

Call to Worship based on Ephesians 1: 3-14: 

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, who destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, who has forgiven our sins according to the riches of his grace, and has made known to us the mystery of his will. This is our God!  Let’s worship him together.

     Do you ever reflect back on a meeting or conversation you’ve had and wondered why you found it necessary to so strongly question or criticize someone else’s decision?  Or perhaps you fought back with vigor when your actions were questioned.  Maybe you then comforted yourself with the thought “I’ve got to look out for myself, because if I don’t do it, nobody else will!”

     Today we are starting a series on the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.  Many of the recipients of this letter likely could relate to a feeling of not being in full control of one’s life.  After all, the Roman’s had conquered this land and they wrote the laws.  You were either a Roman, a subject of Rome or a slave – a living tool.  For most people standing up for oneself had to happen on a smaller individual scale: putting down a co-worker, stealing from a hated neighbor and seeking sexual release at the local shrine.

     Paul wrote the letter to the Ephesians to Christians in and around the area of the city of Ephesus, in what is now western Turkey while he was in prison.  This was likely written as a circular letter, to be passed on after it was read, from one church to another church. 

     Based on the subjects covered in Ephesians chapter 4-6, it seems these Christians were struggling, like many of us today, with living any different from the rest of the society around them.  Paul tells them to stop all lying, angry outbursts, stealing, using filthy words, and to stop being bitter. They are not to be involved in immoral, indecent or greedy behavior.  He also tells them how they should treat one another within the Christian household. 

     What do you do when you see a Christian struggling in one or more of these areas?  Do you give them a good scolding?  What do you say if they know they shouldn’t do these things, but they can’t seem to change their behavior?  Let me ask you, what works for you?  What leads you to change ungodly behavior? 

     As you look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, you will notice that Paul doesn’t begin by focusing on their failures.  In chapters 1-3, Paul begins with who they are in Christ – what God has done for them, is doing, and will do for them (and us too).  This format is frequently used by Paul; first the Theological foundation, and then what our response should be to the wonderful work of God toward us.  It is no mistake that the transition verses between the Theological and practical sections are one of the most beloved benedictions in the Bible: Ephesians 3:20–21. “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (NIV)  Paul speaks these words in response to a review of what God in grace has done for us and will do in us through Christ Jesus our Lord.  Now, let’s take a closer look at 1:1-14.

     Ephesians 1:1–2. “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV). Paul begins this letter the way he usually does, by reminding his readers that his call to be an apostle is ALL God’s idea; and as we shall soon see, this truth is also applicable to us. Our salvation is all God’s idea!

     Verses 3-14 are a prayer of praise to God, a doxology.  In the Greek text this is all one sentence, yet we will look at it one thought at a time.

I.     THE PLAN OF THE FATHER –1:3-6

     Ephesians 1:3. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (NIV).  Verse 3 is like a sign over the market place telling what is available inside, and it is incredible!  “Are you feeling down, discouraged or weak in your Christian walk?  What are you waiting for?  This is the place to be, enter and see all that God has for you!”  Paul praises God the Father for blessing us with EVERY spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus!  Wow, every spiritual blessing, which means nothing, is withheld from us in Christ.  We will hear the phrase “in Christ” or “in him” many times in Ephesians because it is so vital to understanding what God has done for us!  Let’s continue reading, to see all that we have to praise God for.

     Ephesians 1:4a. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” (NIV).  Let the enormity of this verse sink in.  Sin made everyone of us ineligible to be in God’s presence.  However, we were chosen by God, to be holy and blameless in his sight, before the creation of the world!  Our redemption was part of God’s original plan.  Christian, are you struggling right now with sin?  God chose you to be holy and blameless in his sight before creation – don’t give up!  Let’s keep reading of the resources available.

     Ephesians 1:4b-5. “In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—” (NIV).  There are two key words in this verse: predestined and adoption.

1) Predestined: In the Greek this work has the idea of “surveyed” and “marked out.”  You responded to God’s grace and decided to follow Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, and God knew you would, he had you “marked out.”   For what purpose?  To be forgiven of sin, made holy and blameless so we could be in his presence… as sons!  This is where the second key term comes in:

2) Adoption:  Verses 4 & 5 tells us that God’s choosing of us was NOT:

§  A self-serving act – “I need another servant.”

§  An act of pity – “I’ll care for them until they come of age, and then they are on their own.”

God’s Choice of us to be adopted with the rights of sons is: An act of glorious grace worthy of highest praise (v. 6)

     Adoption was well known to Paul’s readers.  It is an especially powerful concept to consider here when we realize that the major reason for adoption was child abandonment.  When a child was born to a Roman father, it was brought and laid at his feet.  If he picked the child up, he was accepting it as his own.  If he left it and walked away, he was rejecting it.  Maybe it didn’t look right, bad timing or it was wrong sex.  Usually a child wasn’t killed, but it was left out in the elements for the gods to decide its fate.  It was common for people to seek out such children, looking for strong ones that might make good slaves, either for themselves for sale in the slave markets when they had matured.  Ephesus had one of the largest slave markets in the world at the time of Paul.

     This image of an abandoned child being chosen bought out of slavery and adopted as a full member of the family, is a powerful picture of what God has done for us.  We can take no credit; it is all what God the Father has done through his Son, Jesus.  Ruth Paxson in her book “The wealth, walk and warfare of the Christian” says:  Years ago a very dear friend of mine died, the only child of her parents. I had gone in and out of the home as another daughter. Among her papers was an envelope addressed to her parents, to be opened in case of her death. It contained just one request, that they would regard me as a daughter and do for me as they would have for her.

      Is this not the request which the Son made of His Father for all the other sons who had believed on Him? Did He not express His desire to share with them all that was His, even to His oneness with the Father and their home in glory?

     As we keep reading, we will see the full implications of this adoption.

II.   THE WORK OF THE SON –1:7-13a

     Ephesians 1:7. “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (NIV). We were redeemed from the slave market of sin, not with money, but through Jesus’blood.  While we were sinner, at our worst, WE ARE LOVED THAT MUCH- WHY?  Ephesians 1:7b–8a “…in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” (NIV). The riches of His grace. “Grace, grace, God’s grace, freely bestowed on all who believe; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin!” 

     Ephesians 1:8b–10. “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (NIV).  God’s great plan, which he has now revealed, is to bring all things together under the Lordship of Christ Jesus at the proper time.

     Ephesians 1:11–13a 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13a And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” (NIV).  Here Paul is again reminding us that God is working out his carefully crafted plan, and it is going according to his will.  This includes bringing Jews (those first to put their hope in Christ) and Gentiles together into the church through the gospel of salvation.

III.  SECURED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT –1:13b-14

     The remainder of this section focuses on the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit of God.  Paul says that having heard and believed the message of truth; we received the Holy Spirit as a sign, a guarantee that we are a child of God with full rights.  Ephesians 1:13b–14 “13b When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (NIV)  The use of seals to show ownership was common.  Slaves were branded and soldiers were tattooed.  The Holy Spirit as a seal upon us signifies God’s ownership of us as well as his commitment to us to fulfill all his promises towards us, as we read in  2 Corinthians 1:21–22.  “21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (NIV)

     As we respond to God’s invitation to accept Jesus as our sin forgiver and life leader, we begin to learn that God has planned for this relationship with us from before earthly time began!  The Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit planned your rescue, paid for it (with the blood of Jesus), and adopted you as a full member of the family. Christian that is who you are!  I don’t need to seek identity through what I live in, drive, or wear – I am secure as a child of the King of the Kings.  I don’t need to use others or get their approval; I am loved and guided by the Spirit of God.  I live to please him.

     Christian, are you struggling in your walk with the Lord?  First, this is not a journey you are to make alone!  Your coming to salvation is the work of the God head – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – with all the resources of the heavenly realm available.  As well, notice Christians are addressed in these verses in the plural: “He blessed us, he chose us…” We are part of the church, the body of Christ; this is also God’s plan for us.  We are not alone, nor are we are not powerless.  “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3 (NIV).

Hymn: #350 “’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” (vv. 1,2,4)

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word. Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

Chorus – Jesus Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er. Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood. Just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease. Just from Jesus simply taking, Life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus Savior Friend. And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

Benediction: “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (NIV).

 
 

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Sowing Kindness.  Colossians 3:12
May 9, 2021 (Mother’s Day). Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 
     Happy Mother’s Day.  This message was inspired by Pastor Rick Warren, who when he was preparing for a mother’s day message asked himself two questions.  First, what is the hallmark of a great mother?  And second, what’s the greatest gift you could give a mother on mother’s day.  The answer he came up with was the same for both questions: Kindness.  It is a characteristic of a great mother; and it is also the greatest thing you can do for your mother. 

     When we speak of kindness, what do we mean? It’s not getting everything we want, because that can be the worst thing.  When I chose the title for this sermon, “Sowing kindness” I was reminded of a different word with the same pronunciation: “sewing”.  It’s likely that some of us have memories of torn clothing being mended by our mothers or that last minute costume being sewn together, as well as other countless acts of kindness.  However, kindness isn’t just for mothers.  The Bible says, “Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.” Proverbs 11:17 (NIV).

     Joseph Joubert says: “Kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.” [1]  This is exactly how God loves us!  In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus says: “43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43–45 (NIV).  Luke’s version of this sermon of Jesus says: “35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:35 (NIV).   Romans 2:4 reminds us of the purpose of God’s kindness to us: “4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” Romans 2:4 (NIV).

     As Christians, we are to live lives of kindness.  Colossians 3:12 in the NIV says: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The Living Bible says: “…because of God’s deep love and concern for you, you should practice tenderhearted mercy and kindness to others.” (LB)  Kindness is love in action.  It’s something that you do.  Notice the word “practice.”  Circle that.  It’s practical help.

     How can we become more deliberate in our kindness?  Here are five words to suggest how you can become a kinder person.  One, be sensitive.  These are elements of kindness.  Two, be supportive.  Three, be sympathetic.  Four, be straightforward.  Five, be spontaneous.

1.  Be sensitive. 

     In other words, tune in.  Become aware of the needs around you.  “Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 (NIV84).  He says be aware.  If you care you’ll be aware. 

     The number one barrier to kindness is busyness.  When I get too busy I don’t have time to be kind.  I’m the least kind to my wife, to other people when I have my agenda, my goals, my desires, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do, and I don’t have time to be kind.  If I were to ask you what are the three greatest needs of the people closest to you this last week would you be able to answer?  Kindness starts with being aware and sensitive.  If you care, you’ll be aware. 

2.  Be supportive. 

     Kindness is shown through being supportive in your speech; this is demonstrated through the way you talk to people.  “Kind words bring life but cruel words crush your spirit.” Proverbs 15:4 (GN). 

     Do you remember how ruthless kids were on the playground when you went to school?  Do you remember that?  They’d exploit every weakness and failure.  You’d be hurt and go home and be reminded of the rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words or names will never hurt me.”  However, that’s just not true.  A broken bone heals faster than a broken spirit.  Your words have a great power to heal or to hurt. 

     How much do you support people with your words?  Are you and encourager or are you a discourager?  Do you lift people up or do you put them down?  Do you give them strokes or pokes?  When you belittle people, you are being little.  Be sensitive, be supportive.

3.  Be sympathetic.

     Kind people share in the emotions of others.  Romans 12:15 “When others are happy be happy with them.  If they’re sad, share their sorrows.” (LB).

     Remember what Jesus did at the death of Lazarus when he meet Martha and Mary?  “He wept.”  Some people struggle with funerals, they say, “I feel so awkward when I go to a funeral.  I don’t know what to say.”  The best way to handle a funeral is just weep with people.  You don’t have to say anything.  Just being there is being kind.  The best thing you can do when somebody is grieving is cry with them.  Weep with those who weep.  That’s what it means to be kind.  And rejoice with those who rejoice.  Be sensitive, be support, be sympathetic.

4.  Be straightforward.

     Sometimes kindness means being candid and frank.  Leveling with people where they’re making a mistake.  Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy.” (LB).  Psalm 145:5 “A good man may rebuke me in kindness.” (GN).  That is the essence of the slogan: “Real friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”  A real friend does not say, “It’s none of my business.”  If you’re a friend it is your business.  Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is level with the person and tell me exactly what they are doing wrong. 

     When you go to a doctor do you want them to lie to you or do you want them to be straightforward?  Do you want them to say, “You’ve got to have surgery or you’re going to die.”  Or do you want them to say, “It’s no big deal.  You might get well on your own.  Relax.  Think positive.” 

     Care enough to confront.  Care enough to confront that child.  That mate.  That friend.  That employee.  “How do you know when to confront and when to comfort?”  You have to evaluate each situation and figure out which is going to bring the most healing.  Sometimes comfort will.  Sometimes confrontation will. 

     If you’re going to be a kind person, you need to be sensitive and you need to be supportive and you need to be sympathetic and you need to be straightforward.

5.  Be spontaneous.

     In other words, don’t wait to do a kind act.  When you’ve got time to do it, do it.  Do it now.  Look at this verse Galatians 6:10 “As we have the opportunity let us do good to all people especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (NIV84).  Circle the phrase “As we have the opportunity.”  When should you be kind?  Whenever you see a need. 

     Have you ever had somebody do something nice for you and you think, “I need to write that person a thank you note.”  But you don’t do it right away and then it’s been so long since they did it that you’re embarrassed to write it so you forget it.  The lesson to learn is that opportunities to show kindness do not last.  You must do it now as you have the opportunity.  They pass quickly.  As the saying goes: Give roses while people can smell them!

     However, the number one enemy of kindness is busyness.  We just get so busy we don’t have time for anything but our own personal agenda.  I hear people say all the time, “I’m too busy to serve.  I’m too busy to have a ministry.”  Then you’re too busy.  You’re out of God’s will.  You’re out of balance.  Life involves blessing yourself, blessing others. 

     Who can you be kind to this week?  You look around you; there are people that are discouraged and hurting.  How about at home?  Is it possible that this week you could possibly just possibly be a little bit kinder to your wife, or to your husband or to your children?  And do an act of kindness?  Go out and play catch with them, spend some time with them. 

     How about at work?  Is there someone new you could show kindness by standing with them, helping them through the next three or four months.  How about that person who is unkind to you at work?  Some people are unkind to others simply because they’ve never experienced kindness themselves. 

     How about at school?  Do you think it’s possible you could be kind to that person that nobody else likes?  Is it just possible in the name of Jesus Christ you could be kind to that person this week.  Then watch what happens.  Kindness transforms people. 

     How about that friend who doesn’t know Jesus Christ?  The kindest thing you can do for somebody is share the Lord with them.  Make a friend for life.  Tell them that God loves them.  That’s the kindest thing you can do.  You realize that you are the only Bible that some people will ever read?  You say, “I have a Living Bible.”  You are a living Bible for many, many people. 

     Why are we talking about this, today?  Because the Christian life is to be a life of kindness.  We can make following God so complicated, but it isn’t.  The Prophet Micah in 6:8 tells us how to live in a way which pleases God: “8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NRSV).  It is no surprise then that kindness is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God: “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22–23 (NIV).

     Colossians 3:12 calls for kindness to be as natural to a Christian as wearing clothing is: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  It is not surprising then as the early Christians did this the Romans in the Roman Empire used to confuse two Greek words.  Cristos which mean Christ, Christians, and the word crestos which means kind.  They were always confusing Christians and kindness.  I can’t think of a better confusion.  I can’t think of two words that ought to be synonymous.  To be a Christian and to be a kind person. 

     This week I found a hymn on thankfulness, called: Forgive us Lord, for shallow thankfulness.  I will read it as a poem:

Forgive us Lord for shallow thankfulness,

for dull content with warmth and sheltered care. 

For songs of praise for food and harvest press,

while of Your richer gifts we’re unaware. 

Teach us to thank You Lord, for love and grace,

for life and vision for a purpose clear,

for Christ your Son and for each human face,

that shows Your message ever new and near.

Forgive us Lord for selfish thanks and praise,

for words that speak at variance with deeds. 

Forgive our thanks for waling pleasant ways,

unmindful of a broken brother’s needs. 

Teach us O Lord true thankfulness divine

that gives as Christ gave, never counting cost,

that knows no barrier of yours and mine,

assured that only what’s withheld is lost.

Forgive us Lord for feast that knows not fast,

for joy in things that meanwhile starve the soul. 

For walls and wars that hide Your mercies vast

and blur our vision of the Kingdom goal. 

Open our eyes to see Your love’s intent,

to know with minds and hearts its depth and height. 

May thankfulness be days in service spend,

reflection of Christ’s life and love and light

CCLI Song # 7072507 William Watkins Reid Sr. © 1965. Renewed 1993 The Hymn Society (Admin. by Hope Publishing Company) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Here are two things to do this week.  First, pray about finding a place to serve.  Find a place where you can give as an act of kindness.  It may be in our community or through our church as we hope to become more active this fall.

     Second, do seven secret acts of kindness to those around you and don’t give hints, (i.e.,” Honey, did you notice the flowers?  Did you notice the bathroom was clean?  Did you notice the car was washed?”).  Do these acts of kindness secretly, getting your joy from the Lord, for it is the Lord you are imitating as you are kind!

Hymn: #451 “O Master, let me walk with Thee” (vv. 1,2,4)

Benediction: 15a Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. 16a Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15a, 16a, 17 (NLT)

 

 



[1] Found in: An Encyclopedia of Compelling Quotations, p. 402.  ©2001 R. Daniel Watkins. Henrickson Publishers, Inc. Peabody, Mass.

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John 8.58.  “Who is Jesus – He is the Great I am.”
May 2, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

 

    We have finished looking at the seven “I am” statements Jesus made about himself in the Gospel of John:

1.     And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

2.     Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12).

3.     “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:9).

4.     “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

5.     Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

6.     Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

7.     “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1).

    Today I would like us to consider an eighth “I am” statement of Jesus found in John 8:58: ““Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!”” John 8:58 (NIV).  You will recognize this statement, as his listeners did, as the title God used for himself when asked by Moses what he should call him.  The Israelites, for fear of using God’s name in vain, stopped saying it, replacing it with Lord.  When Jesus said these words in verse 58, many considered it an act of blasphemy, but they didn’t understand what Jesus meant.

    Christians, some 2000 years after this statement, we aren’t surprised by Jesus’ claim to be the eternal God; for this is at the core of our faith.  This isn’t new to us; however, John chapter 8 shows us how our Lord dealt with knowing his true identity while living amongst and seeking to help those who rejected him.  Here we learn how to live a God centred life by observing Jesus.  Listen to some of the exchange which led to Jesus’ statement in verse 58, beginning at John 8:31-59 from the Good News Translation:

    31 So Jesus said to those who believed in him, “If you obey my teaching, you are really my disciples; 32you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 “We are the descendants of Abraham,” they answered, “and we have never been anybody’s slaves. What do you mean, then, by saying, ‘You will be free’?”

    34 Jesus said to them, “I am telling you the truth: everyone who sins is a slave of sin. 35A slave does not belong to a family permanently, but a son belongs there for ever. 36If the Son sets you free, then you will be really free. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are trying to kill me, because you will not accept my teaching. 38I talk about what my Father has shown me, but you do what your father has told you.”

    39 They answered him, “Our father is Abraham.” “If you really were Abraham’s children,” Jesus replied, “you would do the same things that he did. 40All I have ever done is to tell you the truth I heard from God, yet you are trying to kill me. Abraham did nothing like this! 41You are doing what your father did.”  “God himself is the only Father we have,” they answered, “and we are his true children.”

    42 Jesus said to them, “If God really were your Father, you would love me, because I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own authority, but he sent me. 43Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to listen to my message. 44You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father’s desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies. 45But I tell the truth, and that is why you do not believe me. 46Which one of you can prove that I am guilty of sin? If I tell the truth, then why do you not believe me? 47He who comes from God listens to God’s words. You, however, are not from God, and that is why you will not listen.”

    48 They asked Jesus, “Were we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon in you?” 49 “I have no demon,” Jesus answered. “I honour my Father, but you dishonour me. 50I am not seeking honour for myself. But there is one who is seeking it and who judges in my favour. 51I am telling you the truth: whoever obeys my teaching will never die.”

    52 They said to him, “Now we are certain that you have a demon! Abraham died, and the prophets died, yet you say that whoever obeys your teaching will never die. 53Our father Abraham died; you do not claim to be greater than Abraham, do you? And the prophets also died. Who do you think you are?”

    54 Jesus answered, “If I were to honour myself, that honour would be worth nothing. The one who honours me is my Father—the very one you say is your God. 55You have never known him, but I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him, and I obey his word. 56Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see the time of my coming; he saw it and was glad.” 57 They said to him, “You are not even fifty years old—and you have seen Abraham?”

    58 “I am telling you the truth,” Jesus replied. “Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’.” 59 Then they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple. John 8:31–59 (GNB)

    There is much of importance being revealed to us as Jesus is trying to explain his mission to an increasingly argumentative crowd.  For the sake of brevity, I am going to follow the observations of Grant Osborne, in the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, [1] who sees John 8:54-56 as a short summary of what Jesus has been saying:  “54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”” John 8:54–56 (NIV). 

    First, Jesus did not seek his own glory or do anything on his own. “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing” Jn 8:50 (cf. 5:19, 30; 6:38, 57; 7:16, 18, 28; 8:16, 26, 28, 42). Jesus did what his Father directed and for the sole purpose of bring glory to the Father.  Jesus counters the accusation that he is demon possessed (JN. 8:48-50) by pointing out that he is honoring God through his actions; which is not the goal of one possessed by a demon! 

    True selfless action threatens all who try to gain “fame” by faking it. Bruce Milne in his commentary on John says this about the claims against Jesus: The vitriol of the Jews [caustic response] here should not surprise us, even on the part of some who had so recently professed to follow Jesus. The human heart is seldom so spiteful as when it perceives its self-esteem threatened. There is almost nothing we will cling to with greater vehemence than the props by which we bolster our self-image. Further, the treatment meted out to Jesus here is a timely reminder of what is involved in identifying with him and his truth in a fallen world of falsehood. [2]

    Paul used Jesus’ attitude to call us to demonstrate humility towards each other.  “3 When you do things, do not let selfishness or pride be your guide. Instead, be humble and give more honor to others than to yourselves. 4 Do not be interested only in your own life, but be interested in the lives of others. 5 In your lives you must think and act like Christ Jesus. 6 Christ himself was like God in everything. But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit. 7 But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing. He was born as a man and became like a servant.” Philippians 2:3–7 (NCV).  Jesus did not seek his own glory or act independent of God.

    Second, all his glory comes from the Father. “My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me” 8:50 (cf. 5:23; 6:27). Because Jesus is completely oriented to God’s glory, God gives him glory (cf. 12:28; 17:1–5). This is what Paul celebrates in Philippians 2: “8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:8–11 (NLT). 

Jesus’ choice not to live for his only glory, but for the Father’s, results in God the Father exulting him, and God’s opinion is all that matters!  Here’s a question for all of us: Is the Father’s opinion of me all that matters to me?  Is that how I’m living?  If not, what needs to change?

    Third, the people didn’t really know God, even though they claimed he was their God “Though you do not know him” Jn 8:55 (cf. 5:37–38, 42; 7:28; 8:19, 47). This is the heart of the conflict and repeats a frequent Old Testament theme “Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care— but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.”” Isaiah 1:3 (NLT),  (cf.Jer 2:8; 4:22; Hos 4:1). The people claim they know God, and are children of Abraham, but in practice have rejected God and his work among them through Jesus.  They rejected Jesus because he did not fit their conception of the Messiah; they did not realize that he was more than Messiah—he was the Son of God. Therefore, they did not know the true God.

    When Jesus questions his critics claim that they are true children of Abraham, they reveal their true lineage by saying that Jesus is demon possessed.  Abraham never rejected God’s message or tried to kill his messengers.  Grant Osborne says: When my wife taught first grade, she could tell which children belonged to which parents within the first minute of meeting them. The children were the image of their parents. That was Jesus’ point; the Jewish people’s actions showed who their true parent was, and it was not Abraham. Again, the proof was their desire to kill Jesus. This showed that they had completely rejected the truth. In other words, their actions proved their true heritage. To reject the Son is to reject the Father.[3]

    There is only one way to know God the Father, and that is through a relationship with Jesus the Son as your sin forgiver and life leader – that’ it!  When do you stand?  When people watch you, who would they say your father is?  What does your life declare?

    Jesus didn’t live for his own glory, but for his Father’s.  As a result God the Father honoured Jesus, and his opinion is all that matters!  Claiming to know to God isn’t enough; his presence within his children will change how they live in this world.

    Fourth, Jesus both knew God and obeyed him Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and obey his word. Jn.8:50 (cf. 5:19; 6:46; 7:28–29; 8:29).

    There is only one path to God (14:6) and only one way to know God—through Jesus, the one and only Son who knows him utterly and completely (1:18).  This relationship with God through Jesus is:

(1) A gift, not a pedigree. We receive it through putting our trust in Jesus, not our religious heritage or hard work.

(2) It is eternal, not temporary.  Jesus invites into a relationship with the eternal God.

(3) It is expressed in our obedience, not our independence.  We become a child of God, dependent upon him and reflecting his character. [4]

    Jesus is the Great I am – the second member of the Trinity, God the Son.  Today we remember how Jesus did not seek to gain glory for himself, but in humble obedience to his Father, took our place on the cross, for the sins of this world.  As a result of his obedience: the price of our sin has been paid and our adoption as children of God is possible; and as Jesus rose victorious over sin and the grave, he was given the name above all other names, and at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and confess that he is Lord of all, to the glory of God the Father!

Benediction: To Jesus who said: “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.” To him belongs all the “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength… forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:17–18; 7:12 (NLT)



[1] Osborne, G., Philip W. Comfort. (2007). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 13: John and 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 138–139). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Milne, B. (1993). The message of John: here is your king!: with study guide (p. 135). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Osborne, G., Philip W. Comfort. (2007). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 13: John and 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 135–136). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] Milne, B. (1993). The message of John: here is your king!: with study guide (p. 134). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 14:6 “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

April 18, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to worship: “God, you will be praised in Jerusalem. We will keep our promises to you. You hear our prayers. All people will come to you. Our guilt overwhelms us, but you forgive our sins. Happy are the people you choose and invite to stay in your court. We are filled with good things in your house, your holy Temple.” Psalm 65:1–4 (NCV).

John 14:1–6 1 Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (NCV).

    The passage we are looking at today in John chapter 14 takes place in the upper-room, Thursday evening, just hours before Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested.  Jesus has just let Judas know that he knew Judas planned to betray him, and Judas has left to put his plan in motion.  After Judas leaves Jesus says: “33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” John 13:33 (NIV).

    Jesus has much to say to his disciples, but they are shaken at the thought that he is leaving them.  “36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”” John 13:36 (NIV).

    Peter understands Jesus to be talking about his death and Peter assures Jesus that he is ready to die for him.  Peter is stunned to hear Jesus tell him that before sunrise he will deny he even knows Jesus, three times.  In the midst of this awful news, Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2 NIV).

    Where is Jesus going?  “I am going to prepare a place for you – in my Father’s house.”  He goes on to say that when everything is ready, he will return for them.  Finally, Jesus reassures them that they know where he is going.  This is too much for Thomas who says what most of them were likely thinking: “5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?”” John 14:5 (CEV).  Jesus answers him with the words we will look at in detail today:  “6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT).

    What does Jesus mean by this statement?  Let’s take a closer look:

1.  Jesus says:  I AM THE WAY.

    Jesus makes it clear in his answer to Thomas that he is talking about being in God’s presence, The Father’s House, heaven. This is the only destination that is truly worthwhile, and Jesus is preparing a place for us there.

    Not only do we need to know where we are going, we need to know how to get there.  What direction do we take?  Most people you talk to today would say they want to go to the Father’s House, to go to heaven, yet which is the way?  Do you simply wish yourself there?  Is there more than one way to get there?  There are so many opinions, but only way to know for sure is check with the Father!

    We don’t get to God the Fathers’ house by just being religious or living a good moral life. According to Jesus there is only one way to the Fathers’ house.  Many people would say, I know where I want to be, I want to be in heaven, I want to be with God.  How can we be sure we are heading the right direction?  Jesus made it simple – “I am the way, the truth and the life!  Without me, no one can go to the Father.” John 14:6 (CEV).

    It is so important for you to realize that these are Jesus’ own words.  If you believe He was a great teacher, then study what He taught about Himself.  He said, the only way to the Father is through Him, He will show us the way to Father.

    The Apostle Peter at the birth of the church said: “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.”” Acts 4:12 (NIV).  Jesus is the only way to God!  The Apostle Paul writes: “19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLT).

“21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT).

    Jesus not only knows the way to God; he is our way to God!

    A grandfather took his grandson out for a walk in the woods one day.  As they were walking along the grandfather stopped and asked “Do you know where you are?”  The boy looked up and said “No.” Then the grandpa asked him “Do you know where you are going?”  The boy said “No!”  The man chuckled and said, “Well, I guess you are lost!”  The boy smiled up at his grandpa and said “No, I’m not lost. I’m with you!”  The boy knew his grandfather not only knew the way, he knew his grandfather would become the way and lead him out.  That’s what we have with God.  You are never lost, because you always have God to guide you and lead you.  Because of this certainty, we can take others by the hand and lead them out of the darkness as well!

    If you get where you are headed right now in life, where will you be? Will it be at the Father’s house? Do you know the way to God the Father through Jesus the Son?  Invite him to be your sin forgiver and follow him as your life leader.

2.  Jesus says he is:  THE TRUTH.

    Truth is a characteristic of God – “4 Set me free from the trap they set for me, because you are my protection. I give you my life. Save me, Lord, God of truth.” Psalm 31:4-5 (NCV).

“16 All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.” Isaiah 65:16 (NLT).

    Jesus is saying more than he will teach us the truth, he is saying he himself is the truth, he will reveal the truth of God to us.  “31 So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” John 8:31-32 (NCV).

Pastor J. Vernon McGee tells this story: Years ago a student at UCLA told me he didn’t like the Bible because it is filled with dogmatism. I agreed with him that it is. He especially selected this verse and said, “That’s dogmatic.” I said, “It sure is, but have you realized that it is characteristic of truth to be dogmatic? Truth has to be dogmatic.”

I had a teacher who was the most narrow-minded person I’ve ever met. She insisted that 2 plus 2 = 4. It didn’t make any difference what you had two of—apples or cows or dollars—she always insisted that 2 + 2 = 4. She was dogmatic. I have found that the bank I do business with operates on the same principle. Only in my case it is 2 – 2 = 0, and they are dogmatic about it. Friend, let me say to you that one of the characteristics of truth is its dogmatism.

    Now, not all dogmatism is truth—there is a lot of ignorance that is dogmatic. However, that which is truth has to be dogmatic. When I ask directions to go somewhere, I do not want my directions from a man who isn’t sure and doesn’t know exactly how to get there. I want my directions from one who knows exactly where I’m to turn and how many blocks I’m to go. As I said to this young student, “Millions of people for over nineteen hundred years have been coming to Christ on the basis of His statement, ‘I am the way,’ and they have found it is accurate, that it has brought them to heaven. Why don’t you try it? The Lord Jesus says you are not going to get to heaven except through Him. Why not come through Him and make sure?” [1]

3.  Jesus says he is:  THE LIFE.

    We have seen that Jesus didn’t just say he would show us the way, He is the way.  Jesus doesn’t just tell us truth, he himself is the truth.  And he doesn’t just give life, He is the life.  The Gospel of John begins with “1 In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.” (John 1:1-4 CEV).

    This well known verse tells us why Jesus came:  “16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” (John 3:16 CEV).  Jesus came that we might have eternal life, the way to God.  Do you know where you will spend eternity?

    A bank in Binghampton, New York had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix up at the flowers shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read, “With our deepest sympathy.” The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. He was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, “Congratulations on your new location.”
    Do you know where you will spend eternity? Are you going to the Father’s house?

CONCLUSION:

    The claims that Jesus are making are mind boggling – and the disciples are trying to understand.  They have followed him for three years, they’ve heard, yet they don’t fully grasp all that Jesus is saying, but they will!  What changes for them?  The truth of the resurrection! 

    Jesus not only made the claims, he followed through on them.  Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Today he says, I am the only way to the Father.  These would have remained confusing statements if Jesus had not risen from the dead, but he did and the disciples were witnesses of this fact.  Jesus’ words in John 14:19b have even more power: “… Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19 NIV).

    What is your response to these words of Jesus?  IS Jesus your way?  Is Jesus your truth?  Is Jesus YOUR life?  There is no other way to God the Father but by believing in Jesus.  Do you know the way to God the Father through Jesus the Son? 

 

Hymn: #512 “My Savior’s love” (vv. 1,2,4,5).

 

Benediction: “Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen.” Jude 24,25 (CEV)

 



[1]McGee, J. V. (1997, c1981). Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (Jn 14:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 14:6 “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.”

April 18, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to worship: “God, you will be praised in Jerusalem. We will keep our promises to you. You hear our prayers. All people will come to you. Our guilt overwhelms us, but you forgive our sins. Happy are the people you choose and invite to stay in your court. We are filled with good things in your house, your holy Temple.” Psalm 65:1–4 (NCV).

John 14:1–6 1 Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. 2 There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. 3 After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.” (NCV).

    The passage we are looking at today in John chapter 14 takes place in the upper-room, Thursday evening, just hours before Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested.  Jesus has just let Judas know that he knew Judas planned to betray him, and Judas has left to put his plan in motion.  After Judas leaves Jesus says: “33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.” John 13:33 (NIV).

    Jesus has much to say to his disciples, but they are shaken at the thought that he is leaving them.  “36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”” John 13:36 (NIV).

    Peter understands Jesus to be talking about his death and Peter assures Jesus that he is ready to die for him.  Peter is stunned to hear Jesus tell him that before sunrise he will deny he even knows Jesus, three times.  In the midst of this awful news, Jesus says: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:1-2 NIV).

    Where is Jesus going?  “I am going to prepare a place for you – in my Father’s house.”  He goes on to say that when everything is ready, he will return for them.  Finally, Jesus reassures them that they know where he is going.  This is too much for Thomas who says what most of them were likely thinking: “5 Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t even know where you are going! How can we know the way?”” John 14:5 (CEV).  Jesus answers him with the words we will look at in detail today:  “6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NLT).

    What does Jesus mean by this statement?  Let’s take a closer look:

1.  Jesus says:  I AM THE WAY.

    Jesus makes it clear in his answer to Thomas that he is talking about being in God’s presence, The Father’s House, heaven. This is the only destination that is truly worthwhile, and Jesus is preparing a place for us there.

    Not only do we need to know where we are going, we need to know how to get there.  What direction do we take?  Most people you talk to today would say they want to go to the Father’s House, to go to heaven, yet which is the way?  Do you simply wish yourself there?  Is there more than one way to get there?  There are so many opinions, but only way to know for sure is check with the Father!

    We don’t get to God the Fathers’ house by just being religious or living a good moral life. According to Jesus there is only one way to the Fathers’ house.  Many people would say, I know where I want to be, I want to be in heaven, I want to be with God.  How can we be sure we are heading the right direction?  Jesus made it simple – “I am the way, the truth and the life!  Without me, no one can go to the Father.” John 14:6 (CEV).

    It is so important for you to realize that these are Jesus’ own words.  If you believe He was a great teacher, then study what He taught about Himself.  He said, the only way to the Father is through Him, He will show us the way to Father.

    The Apostle Peter at the birth of the church said: “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.”” Acts 4:12 (NIV).  Jesus is the only way to God!  The Apostle Paul writes: “19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLT).

“21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT).

    Jesus not only knows the way to God; he is our way to God!

    A grandfather took his grandson out for a walk in the woods one day.  As they were walking along the grandfather stopped and asked “Do you know where you are?”  The boy looked up and said “No.” Then the grandpa asked him “Do you know where you are going?”  The boy said “No!”  The man chuckled and said, “Well, I guess you are lost!”  The boy smiled up at his grandpa and said “No, I’m not lost. I’m with you!”  The boy knew his grandfather not only knew the way, he knew his grandfather would become the way and lead him out.  That’s what we have with God.  You are never lost, because you always have God to guide you and lead you.  Because of this certainty, we can take others by the hand and lead them out of the darkness as well!

    If you get where you are headed right now in life, where will you be? Will it be at the Father’s house? Do you know the way to God the Father through Jesus the Son?  Invite him to be your sin forgiver and follow him as your life leader.

2.  Jesus says he is:  THE TRUTH.

    Truth is a characteristic of God – “4 Set me free from the trap they set for me, because you are my protection. I give you my life. Save me, Lord, God of truth.” Psalm 31:4-5 (NCV).

“16 All who invoke a blessing or take an oath will do so by the God of truth. For I will put aside my anger and forget the evil of earlier days.” Isaiah 65:16 (NLT).

    Jesus is saying more than he will teach us the truth, he is saying he himself is the truth, he will reveal the truth of God to us.  “31 So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you continue to obey my teaching, you are truly my followers. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” John 8:31-32 (NCV).

Pastor J. Vernon McGee tells this story: Years ago a student at UCLA told me he didn’t like the Bible because it is filled with dogmatism. I agreed with him that it is. He especially selected this verse and said, “That’s dogmatic.” I said, “It sure is, but have you realized that it is characteristic of truth to be dogmatic? Truth has to be dogmatic.”

I had a teacher who was the most narrow-minded person I’ve ever met. She insisted that 2 plus 2 = 4. It didn’t make any difference what you had two of—apples or cows or dollars—she always insisted that 2 + 2 = 4. She was dogmatic. I have found that the bank I do business with operates on the same principle. Only in my case it is 2 – 2 = 0, and they are dogmatic about it. Friend, let me say to you that one of the characteristics of truth is its dogmatism.

    Now, not all dogmatism is truth—there is a lot of ignorance that is dogmatic. However, that which is truth has to be dogmatic. When I ask directions to go somewhere, I do not want my directions from a man who isn’t sure and doesn’t know exactly how to get there. I want my directions from one who knows exactly where I’m to turn and how many blocks I’m to go. As I said to this young student, “Millions of people for over nineteen hundred years have been coming to Christ on the basis of His statement, ‘I am the way,’ and they have found it is accurate, that it has brought them to heaven. Why don’t you try it? The Lord Jesus says you are not going to get to heaven except through Him. Why not come through Him and make sure?” [1]

3.  Jesus says he is:  THE LIFE.

    We have seen that Jesus didn’t just say he would show us the way, He is the way.  Jesus doesn’t just tell us truth, he himself is the truth.  And he doesn’t just give life, He is the life.  The Gospel of John begins with “1 In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.” (John 1:1-4 CEV).

    This well known verse tells us why Jesus came:  “16 God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.” (John 3:16 CEV).  Jesus came that we might have eternal life, the way to God.  Do you know where you will spend eternity?

    A bank in Binghampton, New York had some flowers sent to a competitor who had recently moved into a new building. There was a mix up at the flowers shop, and the card sent with the arrangement read, “With our deepest sympathy.” The florist, who was greatly embarrassed, apologized. He was even more embarrassed when he realized that the card intended for the bank was attached to a floral arrangement sent to a funeral home in honor of a deceased person. That card read, “Congratulations on your new location.”
    Do you know where you will spend eternity? Are you going to the Father’s house?

CONCLUSION:

    The claims that Jesus are making are mind boggling – and the disciples are trying to understand.  They have followed him for three years, they’ve heard, yet they don’t fully grasp all that Jesus is saying, but they will!  What changes for them?  The truth of the resurrection! 

    Jesus not only made the claims, he followed through on them.  Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Today he says, I am the only way to the Father.  These would have remained confusing statements if Jesus had not risen from the dead, but he did and the disciples were witnesses of this fact.  Jesus’ words in John 14:19b have even more power: “… Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19 NIV).

    What is your response to these words of Jesus?  IS Jesus your way?  Is Jesus your truth?  Is Jesus YOUR life?  There is no other way to God the Father but by believing in Jesus.  Do you know the way to God the Father through Jesus the Son? 

 

Hymn: #512 “My Savior’s love” (vv. 1,2,4,5).

 

Benediction: “Offer praise to God our Savior because of our Lord Jesus Christ! Only God can keep you from falling and make you pure and joyful in his glorious presence. Before time began and now and forevermore, God is worthy of glory, honor, power, and authority. Amen.” Jude 24,25 (CEV)

 



[1]McGee, J. V. (1997, c1981). Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (Jn 14:6). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 11:25. “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” Psalm 136:1; 1 Peter 1:3–4 (NLT).

Hymn: “Christ the Lord is risen today” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/BINJeLQ_r0M)

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia.  Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia.  Raise your joys and triumphs high, Allelu allelu.  Sing ye heavens and earth reply, Alleluia.

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia.  Where O death is now thy sting?  Alleluia. Dying once He all doth save, Allelu allelu. Where thy victory O grave? Alleluia.

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia.  Fought the fight the battle won, Alleluia.  Death in vain forbids Him rise, Allelu allelu.  Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia.  Following our exalted Head, Alleluia.  Made like Him like, Him we rise, Alleluia.  Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia.

CCLI Song # 2728588  Charles Wesley  Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      He is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!  As we celebrate Easter, we celebrate that Jesus died on the cross for the sins of humanity, was placed in a tomb, and on the third day defeated death and rose from the grave.  We have been looking at the “I am’s” of Jesus in the Gospel of John and today is the perfect day to look at John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.”

      Jesus spoke these words to Martha as she was grieving the death of her brother Lazarus.  Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary were close friends of Jesus.  When Lazarus got sick his sisters sent word to Jesus, but he waited two days before travelling to their home.  By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.  John 11:17-27 tells us what happened next: “17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”” John 11:17–27 (NIV).  Also keep in mind that verses 38-44 tell us that Jesus went to Lazarus’ tomb and brought him back to life!  This amazed all who saw and heard about it!

John 11:25-26.  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (NIV) 

  1. What does Jesus mean when he calls himself the resurrection and the life? We see in John 11 that Jesus has the power to raise the dead back to life.  Lazarus’ resurrection was a sign that Jesus was sent by God the Father and to bring glory to God.  It is clear since Jesus says “He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” that Jesus is not saying that Christians will never face physical death.  But he does say: “whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”  What does Jesus mean?
  2. Jesus was thinking of the death of sin.

      Albert Einstein when asked about the world’s troubles said: “The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is not a problem of physics but of ethics. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man” (Albert Einstein, cited by Mead, p. 192).   Philosopher Carl June said about our world’s troubles:  “It is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is mankind’s greatest danger” (Carl Jung, “Epilogue,” Modern Man in Search of a Soul, New York, Routledge Books, 1933). [1]

      Jesus is saying: “Even if a man is dead in sin, even if, through his sins, he has lost all that makes life worth calling life, I can make him alive again.” There are numerous examples of convicted criminals that have come face to face with the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

For example, in Japan Tokichi Ishii was a notorious killer at the end of the 19th century.  When he was in prison he was visited by two Canadian women who tried to talk to him through the bars, but he only glowered at them like a caged and savage animal. In the end they abandoned the attempt; but they gave him a Bible, hoping that it might succeed where they had failed. He began to read it, and, having started, could not stop. He read on until he came to the story of the Crucifixion. He came to the words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and these words broke him. “I stopped,” he said. “I was stabbed to the heart, as if pierced by a five-inch nail. Shall I call it the love of Christ? Shall I call it his compassion? I do not know what to call it. I only know that I believed, and my hardness of heart was changed.” Later, when the condemned man went to the scaffold, he was no longer the hardened, surly brute he once had been, but a smiling radiant man. The murderer had been born again; Christ had brought Tokichi Ishi to life. [2]

      The apostle Paul used himself as an example of how Jesus can change a life: 1 Timothy 1:15-16 (The Message)15 Here’s a word you can take to heart and depend on: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. I’m proof—Public Sinner Number One— 16 of someone who could never have made it apart from sheer mercy. And now he shows me off—evidence of his endless patience—to those who are right on the edge of trusting him forever.

      Without the life changing power of Jesus, we are all dead.  Selfishness makes us dead to the needs of others and concerned only for our immediate needs. Only Jesus can resurrect our sin deaden souls.

  1. Jesus was thinking of the life to come.

      Often when we think of this verse, this is what we think of first, the life to come.  But isn’t it also exciting to realize that accepting Jesus as your Savior, your Shepherd brings immediate change now – you no longer need to be dead in sin.

      Accepting Jesus as your Savior also brings the certainty that death in this life is not the end.  The last words of Edward the Confessor were: “Weep not, I shall not die; and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living.” We call this world the land of the living; but it would in fact be more correct to call it the land of the dying. Through Jesus Christ we know that we are journeying, not to the sunset, but to the sunrise. [3]

How does this happen?

      How do we gain such certainty and peace?  It comes as we believe in Jesus Christ. What does that mean? To believe in Jesus means to accept everything that Jesus said as true, and to stake our lives upon that in perfect trust.  So, we believe in our hearts and live it out through our choices which reflect Jesus’ words, and the Holy Spirit will help us as we submit to Him.

  1. KEY QUESTION:

      After Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and the life, he asks her a key question that we also need to ask ourselves.  Jesus asks: “Do you believe this?”

      Martha is often remembered for being anxious and frustrated with her sister and Jesus (Lk. 10:41f), but we should remember her for her answer to Jesus’ question.  Look at Jn 11.27. “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” (NIV)

      First Martha answers, YES, but notice, she does not stop there with a vague answer, she gets specific.  “I believe…” is emphatic – she is stressing that no matter what others may say she is convinced that:

-1- Jesus is the Christ – the Messiah the Jewish people were expecting in fulfillment of God’s promises.

-2- Jesus is the Son of God.

-3- Jesus is one sent by God to accomplish His will perfectly.

      Do you believe this?  Is it evident in your life as well as in your words?

III.  CONCLUSION:

John 11:25-26 (NIV).  25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

  1. Jesus saved us from the penalty of sin; he did this as he died on the cross for your sins as you accept him as your Savior and Lord.
  2. Jesus saves you from the power of sin now; you do not need to live under its authority, what is the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
  3. Jesus saves you from the presence of sin when he will make all things new – this is our future certainty. There will be no more sickness, no more suffering, and no more sin.

      What do you believe about Jesus?  How is that making a difference in your life today?  He came to free you from the power of sin: past, present, and future.

      Let me close with some of the last recorded words of the Apostle Paul as he reflected on his life and looked ahead to eternity: 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (NLT)

Hymn:  “He lives” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/3iishAH8NWY)

I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today; I know that He is living, Whatever men may say; I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer, And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

Chorus – He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.  He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!  You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me I see His loving care, and though my heart grows weary, I never will despair; I know that He is leading through all the stormy blast, The day of His appearing will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King!  The Hope of all who seek Him, the Help of all who find, none other is so loving, so good and kind.

CCLI Song # 17597 Alfred Henry Ackley © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  24 To him who is able to keep you from falling, and to bring you faultless and joyful before his glorious presence- 25 to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from all ages past, and now, and for ever and ever! Amen. Jude 24-25 (GNT)

[1]McDowell, Josh ; Stewart, Don: Answers to Tough Questions : Skeptics Ask About the Christian Faith. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1993

[2] Barclay, William, lecturer in the University of Glasgow (Hrsg.): The Gospel of John : Volume 2. Philadelphia : The Westminster Press, 2000, c1975 (The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. Ed), S. 96

[3] Barclay, William, lecturer in the University of Glasgow (Hrsg.): The Gospel of John : Volume 2. Philadelphia : The Westminster Press, 2000, c1975 (The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. Ed), S. 96

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 15:1-17.  “Who is Jesus?  He is the true vine.”

March 28, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship:1 Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; proclaim his deeds among the peoples. 2 Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell about all his wondrous works! 3 Boast in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. 4 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:1–4 (CSB).

Hymn: “Hosanna, Loud hosanna” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/GuRdnKvhRts)

Hosanna loud hosanna the little children sang; through pillared court and temple the lovely anthem rang; To Jesus who had blessed them close folded to His breast, the children sang their praises, the simplest and the best.

From Olivet they followed a happy joyous crowd, their large palm branches waving, and singing clear and loud; the Lord of men and angels rode on in simple joy, and welcome all the children, each little girl and boy.

Hosanna in the highest that ancient song we sing, for Christ is our Redeemer, the Lord of heaven our King; O may we ever praise Him with heart and life and voice, and in His holy presence Eternally rejoice!

CCLI Song # 6329873 Jeff Redd | Jennette Threlfall © 1976 Fred Bock Music Company For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     Today is Palm Sunday.  This begins the last week before Jesus’ resurrection.  On Palm Sunday when Jesus neared Jerusalem, those traveling with him to celebrate the Passover, began laying Palm branches on the road ahead of Jesus and shouting out: ““Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”” John 12:13b (NIV).  The Gospel of Matthew 21:10 records that: “When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”” (NIV).  We have been asking this same question as we look at the “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John – Who is Jesus?

     So far we have looked at four statements, all of them spoken in public settings sparking heated debate:  I am the bread of life; I am the light of the world; I am the gate, and I am the good shepherd.  John records three more “I am” statements from Jesus and these were shared in more private settings with his disciples to teach, encourage and challenge.  Today I am going to step out of sequence and look at Jesus’ last “I am” statement recorded in John 15:1 & 5 – “I am the vine” or as verse 1 says “I am the true vine.”

     John 15 took place on the Thursday night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas.  Jesus said these things to his closest followers in the final hours that he had with them. They are personal and important for all disciples to reflect on.

John 15:1–8  “1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also 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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (NIV)

     What is Jesus saying to us?  Like so many of Jesus’ statements, this one seems simple and it is easy to remember, yet it has great depth of meaning.  Jesus’ story has three characters. 

     There is the gardener. Some of you are avid gardeners, what does a gardener want from their crop?  They want their plants to produce – fruit or flowers or seed to their full potential.  How do they encourage that?  By planting them where they will grow best, receiving the water and nutrients they require and protecting them from disease, insects, and animals by inspecting them regularly.

     A second “character” is the vine, which takes the water and nutrients from the soil through its roots and brings it to the branches providing what they need to grow.

     The final character is the branches. What is the role of the grape branches?  To be fruitful, that means to produce grapes.

     Jesus uses this illustration to teach us something important.  He begins, “my Father is the gardener” – God the Father is the gardener.  The gardener ensures the branches are fruitful.  He does this by being very hands on, checking every branch, cleaning it, lifting it up into the sunlight, and pruning it so it will be most fruitful. 

     Do you prune your tomato plants? Serious gardeners say to get the best out of your tomatoes you must prune the suckers.  Apparently grape vines also have sucker branches, that do not grow grapes, so they are removed. The pruned grape vines are useless, so they are burned.

     Jesus identifies himself as the vine.  In verse 1 he says, “I am the true vine.”  In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is often pictured as God’s vine, which he planted and cared for but that came to disappoint him despite of all his efforts. 

Isaiah 5:4 “ What more could I have done for my vineyard that I have not already done? When I expected sweet grapes, why did my vineyard give me bitter grapes?” (NLT)

Isaiah 5:7 “The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden. He expected a crop of justice, but instead he found oppression. He expected to find righteousness, but instead he heard cries of violence.” (NLT)

     Jesus says, “I am the true vine.” He becomes the source of nourishment and fruitfulness for God’s representatives.  Who do the branches represent?  Jesus’ followers.  His role as the vine is to supply the branches, his followers, all they need to be strong and very fruitful: 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit (Jn 15:5a).

     Why is Jesus telling the disciples and us this?  To illustrate an essential principle that we NEED to remember: Our role as his disciples is to bear fruit – which brings glory to God the Father: John 15:8 “8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (NIV)

     How are we to do this?  This is an exciting question for some people!  They just love to be busy with their wonderful plans.  But Jesus tells us something here that is of utmost importance, and this is the whole reason he introduced the illustration of the vine.  Just as a branch needs to be connected to the vine to grow and be fruitful, we can ONLY be FRUITFUL IF we REMAIN in Jesus – connected to, dependent upon Jesus.       Jesus was likely thinking of Judas (Jn. 13:2, 10-11, 18) who was now betraying him. He was an unfruitful vine, working in his own strength, for his own purposes.

     OK them, what do WE need to DO to be fruitful?  Jesus says it doesn’t start with doing, it begins with being – being connected to Jesus! 

John 15:4-5 4 Remain in me, as I also 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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)

     What can do without Jesus?  APART FROM ME, YOU CAN DO NOTHING!!!  It seems that our chief concern is to remain in Jesus – our fruitfulness will follow as the Father watches over us and does what is required for us to be fruitful. 

     So, the question is not what should I do, but how do I remain in Jesus?  Look at vv. 9-11: “9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9–11 (NIV).

     To stay connected to Jesus, we must remain in his love, and we do this by obeying his commands.  Jesus anticipates our next question “Which ones?” by stating that his command to love each other the same way he has loved us. 

     Listen to Jesus’ words from verses 12-17 “12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:12–17 (NIV).

     As you love one another as Jesus has loved you, you will be keeping God’s commandments – you will be loving him with all your heart, soul, and mind, and you:

– will honor your father and mother.

– will not murder or hate others.

– will not commit adultery.

– will not steal.

– will not lie.

– will not covet what does not belong to you.

     Remain in Christ – obey his command to love one another – and God the Father will develop fruitfulness in you.

     We began this month with a service using the theme “Building on a firm foundation” based on Jesus’ story of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7.  Here it is from the Message Translation.  This is another way of saying “remain in Jesus! Make his words part of your daily life!”

Matthew 7:24-27 (The Message)
24 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. 25 Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. 26 “But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. 27 When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.”

     What are you building your life on?  Remain in Jesus, draw your strength from him, and live a life of love, modeled after him!

Closing Song – #452 “Make me a blessing” (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/MZ8N5s92zJA)

Out in the highways and byways of life, many are weary and sad; Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife, Making the sorrowing glad.

Chorus – Make me a blessing, make me a blessing, Out of my life may Jesus shine; Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray, Make me a blessing to someone today.

Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love, Tell of His pow’r to forgive; Others will trust Him if only you prove True, ev’ry moment you live.

Give as ’twas given to you in your need, Love as the Master loved you; Be to the helpless a helper indeed, Unto your mission be true.

CCLI Song # 4550637  Ira Bishop Wilson  Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  5 May the patience and encouragement that come from God allow you to live in harmony with each other the way Christ Jesus wants. 6 Then you will all be joined together, and you will give glory to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Romans 15:5-6 (NCV)

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 10.11-21.  Who is Jesus? He is the Saviour. 
March 21, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship: “2 Serve the Lord cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song. 3 Realize that the Lord alone is God. He made us, and we are his. We are his people and the sheep in his care. 4 Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving. Come into his courtyards with a song of praise. Give thanks to him; praise his name.” Psalm 100:2–4 (GW).

Hymn: #462  “Savior like a shepherd lead us” (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/DrxxmObv2-s)

Saviour like a shepherd lead us, Much we need thy tender care; In thy pleasant pastures feed us, For our use thy folds prepare: Blessed Jesus blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us thine we are, Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us thine we are.

We are thine do thou befriend us, Be the guardian of our way; Keep thy flock from sin defend us, Seek us when we go astray: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear O hear us when we pray, Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear O hear us when we pray.

Early let us seek thy favour; Early let us do thy will; Blessed Lord and only Saviour, With thy love our beings fill: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still, Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still.

CCLI Song # 3315718 Dorothy Ann Thrupp Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today we are continuing in John 10, looking at another of Jesus’ “I am” statements, today: “I am the good shepherd.”  Jesus’ teaching in chapter 10 comes out the events of chapter 9.  In chapter 9 Jesus healing of the man blind from birth has brought the question of Jesus’ identity to the fore-front.  Who is he? The Pharisees, who have now come to strongly oppose Jesus (with stoning: Jn. 8:59 & 10:31), have declared Jesus a sinner and anyone who claims Jesus is the Messiah will be put out of the synagogue (Jn. 9:22; cf. Jn. 12:42; 16:2). Who is Jesus that he can do such miracles? Is he sent by God?

     In John 10:1-21 Jesus uses the imagery of the shepherd and his sheep to describe his mission.  In the Bible God and his chosen leaders are seen as shepherd of the people.  The true shepherd of the sheep can be seen by the way the sheep respond to him and his care for the sheep.

The Good Shepherd – John 10:11-21.

     In John 10:11-21 we hear Jesus twice say “I am the good shepherd” and then describe what that means and looks like.  Let’s take a closer look:

A.  Response when the Sheep are in danger –vv. 11-13.

1 – Jesus – “I am the Good Shepherd” (v. 11)

     What you think of when you hear the phrase “the good shepherd”?  I think of Psalm 23 – “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads, he restores, he guides, he comforts and he prepares to provide for me.

     Jesus defines what he means by ‘good shepherd’ and it includes and exceeds what we think of from Psalm 23.  He says: “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  The good of the sheep come first.  Jesus contrasts his actions with those who claim they are shepherds by their actions prove they are not.

John 10:12-13 “12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” (NIV).

2 – The Hired Hand (vv. 12-13).

     These verses describe the tragic results of a shepherd abandoning the sheep just as he is most needed, when attacked by a predator.  Why does the hired hand run?  They have no connection with or concern for the sheep. “I need to do what’s best for me!” 

     This was God’s criticism of Israel’s leaders in Ezekiel 34 where the Lord used the image of shepherds and sheep to describe the situation.  Here’s verses 1-5 from the Message Translation:   “1 God’s Message came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherd-leaders of Israel. Yes, prophesy! Tell those shepherds, ‘God, the Master, says: Doom to you shepherds of Israel, feeding your own mouths! Aren’t shepherds supposed to feed sheep? 3 You drink the milk, you make clothes from the wool, you roast the lambs, but you don’t feed the sheep. 4 You don’t build up the weak ones, don’t heal the sick, don’t doctor the injured, don’t go after the strays, don’t look for the lost. You bully and badger them. 5 And now they’re scattered every which way because there was no shepherd—scattered and easy pickings for wolves and coyotes.” Ezekiel 34:1–5 (The Message).  Israel’s leaders were not looking after the people; they were using them and looking after themselves.  In this chapter the Lord declares that he will shepherd his people (vv. 10-12) and will send his servant David (the Messiah) to be their shepherd (vv. 23-24).

B.  The Good Shepherd’s Relationships –vv. 14-18

1 – With his sheep.

     We are reminded of the shepherd Jesus spoke of in verses 3 & 4, he says in verse 14: I know my sheep (v 3c) – know they by name, personally. Also they know me (3b, 4b); this is demonstrated by their coming when I call and their obedience to my direction.

     In verse 16 Jesus says he has other sheep that are not of this pen, who will listen to his voice – he is referring to the Gentiles.  Together they will become one flock with one shepherd – Jesus. He is describing the church, made up of Jews and Gentiles together!

2 – With the Father.

     Jesus’ intimate relationship with his sheep grows out of the intimate close relationship that exists between the Father and the Son.  And the love of God the Father for the people of this world (John 3:16-17) is seen in Jesus’ willingness to lay down his life for the sheep (us) – which Jesus states a second time (v. 15b).

     Jesus’ words in verses 17-18 deserve careful reflection: “17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”” John 10:17–18 (NIV).

     Notice that when Jesus speaks of laying down his life (his death) he immediately speaks of his ability to take it up again.  Although Jesus’ life has been repeatedly threatened, the timing remains with him!  He has the authority of his Father to decide when to lay it down and when to take it up again (resurrection).  What does verse 17 mean regarding the Father’s love for Jesus?  Jesus is saying that his love for the sheep deeply touches The Father, who also deeply loves the people of this world (Jn. 3:16-17) and thus sent the Son.

     Frederick Brunner in his commentary on John paraphrases the passage: “This is why the Father loves me so much: because I not only die for the world but then I will come right back again through my Resurrection and Ascension to live over the world and within my Church as well—I plan to keep on reaching out to this special world with these special people.” Jesus’ continuing love for the world deeply pleases the God who “so loved” the world. Hence Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection mean as much to the Father as they do to us[1]

C.  Response of the crowds to Jesus –vv. 19-21.

     Once again we are remained that each one must decide about who Jesus is for themselves!

1 – He’s demon possessed.  Some could not see past the fact that Jesus was breaking the religious laws and seemed to be human – rather than trying to understand what was behind his signs and miracles.

2 – Nonsense, demons don’t heal the blind.  Others call out and say: listen to Jesus’ words and look at what he did – they are not coming from a source of evil!  “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?” (Jn. 21:10b).  These words seem to link this portion of chapter 10 back into chapter 9 where the blind man was healed!

     How about you?  Who is Jesus to you?  Is he someone dangerous to avoid?  Or is he your shepherd?  If he is your shepherd are you responding to his voice?  Are you going with him, being found where he is?

     When Jesus was criticized for hanging around with sinners he told three parables about finding lost things, include the joy of recovering a lost sheep (Lk. 15:1-7).  We, if we have responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow him as our sin forgiver and life leader, now have the privilege of helping the Good Shepherd bring back his lost sheep. 

     As Easter approaches, we are reminded that Jesus was fully prepared for the cross and the empty tomb – out of love for humanity.  Ask the Lord to use you to share his love with someone he is seeking out this week!

Hymn: #508 “I will sing the wondrous story” (vv. 1-3) (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/IH7XVVue0dU)

I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me, How He left His home in glory for the cross of Calvary.

Chorus – Yes I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ Who died for me; Sing it with the saints in glory Gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray, threw His loving arms around me, Drew me back into His way.

I was bruised but Jesus healed me, Faint was I from many a fall, Sight was gone and fears possessed me, But He freed me from them all.

Days of darkness still come o’er me, Sorrow’s path I often tread; but His presence still is with me, By His guiding hand I’m led.

CCLI Song # 7154247  Francis Harold Rawley | Ryan Dahl  © Words: Public Domain  Music: 2020 PraiseCharts Publishing (Admin. by PraiseCharts Publishing, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction20 Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 equip you with everything good to do his will, working in us what is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20–21 (CSB).



[1] Bruner, F. D. (2012). The Gospel of John: A Commentary (p. 626). Grand Rapids, MI;Cambridge, U.K.: Eerdmans.

To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

John 10:7, 9.  “Who is Jesus? He is the only way to God’s abundant life.”

March 14, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name!” Psalm 100:2-4 (RSV)

Hymn: #353 “A shelter in the time of storm (click on link for music – https://youtu.be/pCqH7w29RAw)

Verse 1 – The Lord’s our Rock in Him we hide, A Shelter in the time of storm; Secure whatever ill betide, a Shelter in the time of storm.

Chorus – O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a weary land, a weary land; O Jesus is a Rock in a weary land, a shelter in the time of storm.

Verse 2 – A Shade by day Defense by night, A Shelter in the time of storm; No fears alarm no foes affright, a Shelter in the time of storm.

Verse 3 – The raging storms may round us beat, A Shelter in the time of storm; We’ll never leave our safe retreat, a Shelter in the time of storm.

Verse 4 – O Rock divine O Refuge dear, A Shelter in the time of storm; Be Thou our Helper ever near, a Shelter in the time of storm.

CCLI Song # 3323717  Vernon J. Charlesworth  Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     We are looking at the “I am” statements of Jesus found in the Gospel of John to answer the question, who is Jesus? As you read through the Gospel of John it becomes apparent that John is taking us on a journey to discover the answer to that question, a journey he as a disciple of Jesus went on during his 3 ½ years with Jesus.  In case there was any doubt, John gives us his answer in his 2nd last chapter, John 20, the chapter describing the resurrected Jesus first appearing to his disciples.  After Thomas, who missed seeing Jesus the week before, sees the risen Jesus we read: John 20:28–31. “Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (NIV) Who is Jesus?  “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

     Today we are in John 10, looking at Jesus’ statement: “I am the gate” found in verse 7 and repeated in verse 9.  Before we get to this statement, let’s do some review and then look at the context of chapter 10.

     We have seen that Jesus is the source of true life – in John 6:35 he says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (NIV)

     Next we saw that Jesus is the source of true light – in John 8:12 he says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)  The Pharisees took offense with Jesus’ claims and chapter 8 ends with the words: “At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.” John 8:59 (NIV). 

     Chapter 9 is about Jesus healing a man who had walked in darkness his whole life – he had been born blind.  But rather than this being seen as an occasion to praise God, Jesus is condemned because he made mud and put in on the man’s eyes – breaking the Sabbath law of not working!  The Pharisees conclude Jesus is a sinner (9:24). 

     The man who was healed from blindness provides “push back” as a witness to the event and the voice of common sense! “15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”” John 9:15 (NIV).25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”” John 9:25 (NIV).30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”” John 9:30–33 (NIV).  The Pharisees respond by throwing the healed man out of the synagogue (9:23, 34).

     Upon hearing this, Jesus found the man and led him to understand that he is the Messiah. “38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.” John 9:38 (NIV).

  Jesus’ statement on spiritual blindness leads us into chapter 10:  “9:39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. 10:1 “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.” John 9:39–10:6 (NIV84).

     NT Wright in his commentary “John for everyone” offers his insight on the connection between chapters 9 & 10.  First he reminds us that the chapter divisions were added later (to make it easy to find a specific text). Then he says: The question that dominated chapter 9 was: is Jesus from God or not? Is he a prophet or not? Is he the Messiah or not, the ‘son of man’ whom God will set as judge over the world? Now here, in what we call chapter 10, we have a parable about shepherds and sheep. What’s the connection?

     The answer is that in the Bible the picture of the shepherd with his sheep is frequently used to refer to the king and his people. In the modern world we don’t think of rulers and leaders in quite that way… But in the Bible the ideal king is pictured as a shepherd (Ezekiel 34), perhaps modelled on the shepherd-boy David, who became the king after God’s own heart. In a world where they knew about the intimate contact and trust between shepherd and sheep, this was their preferred way of talking about kingship.

     This is the image that Jesus chooses to explain his own claim to be the true king of Israel. …we should notice that in these first five verses he doesn’t mention himself directly. He is talking, as it were in the abstract, about the difference between true shepherds and false ones.  …Jesus is posing the question: how will you tell God’s true, appointed king when he comes?

     The answer is that you can tell the true king the same way you can tell the true shepherd. Anybody can turn up in Jerusalem and give himself airs as a leader. But only the one who comes by the way God has appointed has the right to do so. Anyone can call followers. But the sign of the real king is the response that comes from the heart, when people hear his voice and, in love and trust, follow him.

     The parable of these first five verses, it seems, is designed to say: this is what I’m doing; this is what gives substance to my claim to be sent by God as Israel’s true king. The fact that people are hearing me and following me—notably the man born blind—is the sign that God has sent me.  But, faced with blank stares from his audience, Jesus continues with further explanations.[1]

     In verses 7-10 Jesus describes another role he, as Israel’s true shepherd will undertake because he cares for the sheep:  “7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:7–10 (NIV84).

     The setting Jesus is describing is something his listeners would be very familiar with, a sheep pen – a walled off stone enclosure where a shepherd would lead his sheep to at night to protect them from harm.  The only entrance into the pen is through the gate, and sometimes the shepherd was literally the gate into the pen.  The closeness of the shepherd would bring comfort both to the herd, and to the shepherd who was concerned about the well-being of the flock. 

     The idea of the people of God being described as his sheep is a theme that runs through the Old Testament. For example Psalm 23 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  Psalm 100:3 “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (NIV)  With this back ground in mind, Jesus’ words become even more significant.

What is Jesus saying to us as he describes himself as the gate?

HE IS THE SOURCE OF:

  1. Safety – v. 9a. Jesus is promising eternal safety, salvation. “I” is emphatic – “I alone am the door.” He alone is the way to enter into God’s community – “9a I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”  There is no other way to God.
  2. Peace – v. 9b. “They will come in and go out” – This is a Hebrew idiom used to describe a life that is safe and secure.  “When a man can go in and out without fear, it means that his country is at peace, that the forces of law and order are supreme, and that he enjoys perfect security.” [2]
  3. Life in its Fullness – v. 10c. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  “Have it to the full” means: A surplus, overflowing, or super abundant.  Paul describes this life in Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (NKJV)

     As we have seen, Jesus says:  “I am the bread of life.”  I am the source of life – you must take Jesus seriously, he must become part of you, your very life. 

     Jesus is the source of true light, he says:  “I am the light of the word.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12).  Light represents God and being in God’s presence.  Darkness represents separation from God, sin and all its consequences.  Following Jesus means never walking in spiritual darkness again, but having the light of God within, having the Holy Spirit of God dwelling with you.

     Today we have seen that Jesus is the source of true salvation. He says: I am the gate.  Jesus is the only one through whom we can enter into God’s presence of safety, peace and fullness of life. Jesus is the only way to forgiveness and the security of God’s eternal presence and protection.  Do you recognize his voice?  Are you following him or doing your own thing?

     Where do you stand with Jesus?  This is the most important question you will be asked?  Is he your life?  Is he your light?  Is he your door to God the Father?  There is no other way.  Decide to follow Jesus and do so with all the strength he provides.

Hymn:  #376 “I have decided to follow Jesus (click on link for music – https://youtu.be/5OWWqS1jnOw)

Verse 1 – I have decided to follow Jesus (3x), No turning back no turning back.

Verse 2 – The world behind me the cross before me (3x), No turning back no turning back.

Verse 3 – Though none go with me I still will follow (3x), No turning back no turning back.

Verse 4 – Will you decide now to follow Jesus (3x), No turning back no turning back.

CCLI Song # 2151540  Jeffrey Rickard | Unknown  © Words: Public Domain  Music: 1994 Selah Publishing Company, Inc.  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “5 May kindness and peace be yours from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness. Jesus was the first to conquer death, and he is the ruler of all earthly kings. Christ loves us, and by his blood he set us free from our sins. He lets us rule as kings and serve God his Father as priests. To him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen. ” (Revelation 1:5-6 CEV).

[1] Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-10 (pp. 148–150). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[2] Barclay, William, lecturer in the University of Glasgow (Hrsg.): The Gospel of John : Volume 2. Philadelphia : The Westminster Press, 2000, c1975 (The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. Ed), S. 59

There will not be a written or recorded message for this Sunday. 

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John 8:12. “Who is Jesus?  He is the only escape from the darkness of sin.”

February 28, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.”  Psalm 89:8, 15 (NIV).

Hymn:  #88 “Fairest Lord Jesus” (click link to hear music: https://youtu.be/28uKO9RMOr0)

Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature, O Thou of God and man the Son: Thee will I cherish, Thee will I honor, Thou my soul’s glory joy and crown.

Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands, robed in the blooming garb of spring: Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer, who makes the woeful heart to sing.

Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight, and all the twinkling starry host: Jesus shines brighter, Jesus shines purer than all the angels heav’n can boast.

Beautiful Saviour, Lord of all the nations!  Son of God and Son of Man! Glory and honor praise adoration, now and forevermore be Thine.

CCLI Song # 27800  August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben | Joseph August Seiss  © Words: Public Domain. Music: Public Domain. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today we are continuing our look in the Gospel of John at the “I am” statements of Jesus.  We are looking at John 8:12: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV)

     John chapter 7 tells us that the conversation recorded in John 8:12 takes place near the end or just after the Feast of Tabernacles: It was a 7-day long festival celebrated by the Jews and is still celebrated today by the name of Sukkoth, which means ‘booths.

     This annual feast was inaugurated by God to help the Israelites remember that for 40 years they wandered in the wilderness before they finally entered the Promised Land (Leviticus 23:34-43). During the celebration, the entire nation camped out in booths. These shelters were made of branches and leaves to remind the people of the hardships their ancestors endured in the wilderness. People would eat their meals in them, and some would sleep in them.

     In ancient Israel, the Priests would take 4 large candelabras, each containing 4 bowls of oil. These 16 golden bowls were placed high up in the Temple. The candles would be lit each night and it was believed all Jerusalem was illuminated from these candles. Remember, they did not have streetlights.

     The Feast of Tabernacles was a happy, joyous holiday as the Israelites would dance and sing, remembering God’s glory among them, as God traveled as a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. The celebration also focused on the promise of God sending a light, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who would free them from bondage.

     John 8:12: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV).  Light is essential to us:  Our eyes are designed so we need light to see – it is the way they work.  Plants and most living things need light to survive – light is essential.  It is clear from the context in which Jesus chose to make this statement that he was making a claim that went beyond the impact of an ordinary human being. The Pharisees understood Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah – they got the message, but they rejected it!

     We will consider at Jesus’ statement in a moment, but first, let us look at references to light in the scripture, specifically in relationship to God and the Messiah:

     The word light was specially associated in Jewish thought and language with God. “The Lord is my light” (Psalm 27:1). “The Lord will be your everlasting light” (Isaiah 60:19). “By his light I walked through darkness” (Job 29:3). “When I sit in darkness the Lord will be a light to me” (Micah 7:8). The Rabbis declared that the name of the Messiah was Light.[1]  We see this in passages like:

–    Isaiah 42:6-7 I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness. I will take you by the hand and guard you, and I will give you to my people, Israel, as a symbol of my covenant with them. And you will be a light to guide the nations.  You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons. (NLT)

–    Isaiah 49:6   He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (NLT)

“When Jesus claimed to be the Light of the World, he was making a claim than which none could possibly be higher.” [2]

     The Gospel writers also understood that Jesus was the fulfillment of this prophecy:

–    Matthew 4:14,16 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined. (NLT)

–    Luke 2:28,32 28 Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying… 32 He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (NLT)

     The Apostle John began his Gospel by referring to Jesus as the light:  John 1:4-9 “The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” (NLT)

     After John 8:12, Jesus continues to use the imagery of light for himself, e.g.:

–    John 9:5 “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”” (NIV)

–    John 12:35 “Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.” (NIV)

–    John 12:36 “Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.” (NIV)

–    John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.” (NIV)

What Jesus is telling us?  John 8:12a

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV)

     Keeping in mind the previous scripture references to God and light, Jesus is saying: What the Sun is to the physical world, I am to the Spiritual world.  The world is in the darkness of sin, ignorance, and aimlessness.  Jesus is the light of the world, the only escape from the darkness of sin.  Jesus is the light of God in this sin filled world.

What do we need to do? John 8:12b

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV)

     We need to choose to follow Jesus!  What does this mean?  William Barclay tells us: The Greek for ‘to follow’ is akolouthein; and it…has five different but closely connected meanings.

(i)   A soldier following his captain.

(ii) A slave accompanying his master.

(iii) Accepting a wise counselor’s opinion.

(iv) Giving obedience to the laws of a city or a state.

(v) Following a teacher’s line of argument.

…To be a follower of Christ is to give oneself body, soul and spirit into the obedience of the Master; and to enter upon that following is to walk in the light. [3]

To follow Jesus means to be His disciple, to follow His leadership with your whole life.

What is the promised result?  John 8:12c

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (NIV)

     By following Jesus, who is the light, the promise is that you will have the light of life, eternal life with God.  Have you ever tried to find your way through a dark place with absolutely no light?  What if every step you took was in darkness?  That is what everyone who does not follow Jesus is dealing with in a spiritual sense – stumbling in the dark – it does not have to be that way!

What about You and Me?

     Are you in the dark about life, relationships, choices, peace of mind?  Or are you following Jesus, walking in the light as he is in the light?

Ephesians 5:8-11 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” (NLT)

     Remember, Jesus told his disciples (that includes us) to be the light in the world.  Just as the moon lights up the night sky, not because it radiates light but because it reflects the light of the sun, we are to reflect the light of the Son of God, our Lord Jesus as we walk in step with and dependent upon him:   “ “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14–16 (The Message).

     Jesus is the light of the world – walk in his light, follow him, give him your life and shine for him.

Closing Song: “Shine, Jesus shine” (click link to hear music: Shine Jesus Shine (worship video w/ lyrics))

Verse 1 – Lord the light of Your love is shining, In the midst of the darkness shining, Jesus Light of the World shine upon us. Set us free by the truth You now bring us, Shine on me shine on me.

Chorus – Shine Jesus shine, Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze Spirit blaze set our hearts on fire. Flow river flow flood the nations with grace and mercy. Send forth Your word, Lord and let there be light.

Verse 2 – Lord I come to Your awesome presence, From the shadows into Your radiance. By the blood I may enter Your brightness, search me try me consume all my darkness, Shine on me shine on me.

Verse 3 – As we gaze on Your kingly brightness, so our faces display Your likeness. Ever changing from glory to glory, mirrored here may our lives tell Your story. Shine on me shine on me.

CCLI Song # 30426  Graham Kendrick. © 1987 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.). For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394 

Benediction:  “24 The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;” (Numbers 6:24-25 NIV).



[1]The Gospel of John : Volume 2. 2000, c1975 (W. Barclay, lecturer in the University of Glasgow, Ed.). The Daily study Bible series, Rev. ed. (13). Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

[2]Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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John 6.35.  “Who is Jesus? He is the source of spiritual life”.

Feb. 21, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.” Psalm 145:18-19 (ESV)

Hymn: #51 – Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/oq9vcQqI93U)

Verse 1 – Guide me O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but Thou art mighty; Hold me with Thy pow’rful hand; Bread of heaven, Bread of heaven, feed me now and ever more, Feed me now and ever more.

Verse 2 – Open now the crystal fountain, Whence the healing stream doth flow; Let the fiery cloudy pillar; Lead me all my journey through; Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer, Be Thou still my strength and shield, Be Thou still my strength and shield.

Verse 3 – When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside; Death of death and hell’s destruction; Land me safe on Canaan’s side; Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee, I will ever give to Thee.

CCLI Song # 1448 John Hughes | Peter Williams | William Williams © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are in the season of Lent, the 40 days before Jesus’ last week leading to his crucifixion. It is a time to search our hearts as we reflect on who Jesus is and what he has done for us.  During this time we will primarily be looking at the “I am” statements of Jesus which are found in the Gospel of John.

     Today we are looking at John 6:35: “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NIV).       It is very interesting that Jesus said these words the day after he had fed 5000 men and likely more if you include women and children, with only 5 loaves and 2 fish.  This miracle is included in all four of the Gospels, with the focus being to build the disciple’s faith in Jesus.

     However, only the Gospel of John tells us what happened the next day.  As you would expect, the crowd was excited that Jesus had fed them. Some even wanted to make him king by force and Jesus had to slip away from them that night.  The next day while he was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, some of them caught up with Jesus and the discussion begins:  John 6:25–27 “25 When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” 26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”” (NIV)

     Jesus sizes them up quickly and tells them they have the wrong goals.  They are assuming they will be fulfilled with more bread when they should be longing for that which gives eternal life.  I am reminded of the story of the Burk & Wells expedition which crossed through the center of Australia in 1860-61.  Three of the men ended up in the interior of Australia, during a drought, out of supplies. 

     They survived by eating the Nardoo plant, which they knew that the desert aborigines ate.  The plant turned out to be tasty and it satisfied their hunger, yet as they waited for help to arrive they grew weaker and weaker.  By the time a rescue party found them two of the men had died and only one man was still alive. What had happened?  The aborigines always cooked the Nardoo plant before eating it, but the members of the expedition had eaten it raw. Raw Nardoo roots contain thiaminase which breaks down the vitamin B1, which our body needs to live.  These men were satisfied by what they were eating; it tasted good and filled them up, but rather than save them, it was slowly killing them.

     This is what Jesus is warning us about when we try to fill our spiritual hunger with things that don’t last beyond this life.  Food, leisure, work and family all have their place, but none of them can fulfill our spiritual needs.  Jesus says in John 6:27 to seek “food that endures to eternal life.”  Where can we find that kind of food?  Keep reading: “which the Son of Man will give you” – It comes from Jesus.  How can I be sure?  Keep reading:  “On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”  There is no greater stamp of approval to be found anywhere!  This was seen through what Jesus was saying and doing.

     Those listening to Jesus don’t really seem to get it – they hear Jesus says something about not working for food that spoils, and they ask him, “What must we do to do the works God requires? John 6:28 (NIV).  This is a question that we all have: “What can I do to please God?” John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)  What does this mean?  Eternal life is a gift from God the Father received by placing our trust and confidence in the Son, Jesus, that is what it means to believe in Jesus

        However, these listeners still don’t get it.  Ok, they reason, if you want us to believe in you, prove yourself to us:  30 So they asked him, “What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31 Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jn 6:30-31 NIV

     Now remember, they had been in the crowd of 5000+ that Jesus had fed the day before, they had seen a miracle, but that was yesterday, it seems they are asking Jesus to “earn” their belief today!  Listen to Jesus’ answer: Jn 6:32-33 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” NIV

      Jesus says, what you really need is not manna again, but the bread of God, the one He sends who will bring life to the world.  It is clear to us, that Jesus is talking about Himself, but his listeners still don’t understand, so they ask in Jn. 6:34 “Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” (NIV) 

In John 6:35 Jesus speaks very plainly and says: 35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:35 NIV

     If you trying to fill your spiritual emptiness through any other way than God’s Son Jesus, you are not only filling up on “empty calories,” that give only temporary relief, but you are ignoring the only one who can save your soul from eternal death and darkness.

     That longing within each of us will only be truly satisfied by Jesus Christ.  He brings us forgiveness and renewed fellowship with God – eternity with God begins as we accept Jesus as the Bread of life to satisfy our spiritual hunger.

     Every living thing needs to feed to live.  This is one of the test science uses to decide if something is alive or not.  God made us with physical bodies, which need food, but he also made us as Spiritual beings who also need nourishment. 

     There is that longing in all of us for a greater purpose than just this existence.  This restlessness reveals itself as a longing or as emptiness that no activity, no thing or any person seems to be able to permanently fill.

      After missionary Johnathan Goforth (1859-1936) had spoken in a chapel in southern China, a man said, “I have heard you speak three times, and you always have the same theme. You always speak of Jesus Christ. Why?”  The missionary replied, “Sir, before answering your question, let me ask, ‘What did you have for dinner today?'” “Rice,” replied the man.
“What did you have yesterday?” “The same thing.”
“And what do you expect to eat tomorrow?” “Rice, of course. It gives me strength. I could not do without it. Sir, it is –” the man hesitated as if looking for a strong word. Then he added, “Sir, it is my very life!” 
The missionary responded quickly, “What you have said of rice, Jesus is to our soul! He is the ‘rice’ or ‘bread of life.'”

     What are our deepest needs? It is forgiveness of sins and a renewed relationship with God. Christ is telling us that He meets this need.  You must receive Him as your sin forgiver and life leader: Romans 10:9 “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.” (NLT).

A – Admit to God you are a sinner and desire to turn from your sin.

B – Believe the Lord Jesus died for you and is the only one who can take away your sin.

C – Call on the Lord Jesus, receiving Him as your very own Savior from sin.

John 6:35 “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (NRSV)

     Christian, evaluate your choices.  Is Jesus your living bread?  Are you looking to him to fulfill your deepest needs or are you still looking elsewhere?  The Covid virus has changed our schedules, and may have shown us things we were depending on to feel fulfilled, instead of our relationship with Jesus.  What will you do when “life goes back to normal?”   Spend some time during the season of Lent reflecting on where you turn for fulfillment in life.

     Also Christian, this is GOOD NEWS for everyone!  What about those around you who don’t understand why they continue to fell so unfilled in life?  Will you ask the Lord to guide you and help you share his love with them?  Ask him to show you someone this week to pray for, care for, and look for his opportunity to share with.  This is our mission as followers of Jesus, the Bread of Life!

Closing Hymn:  #274 Break Thou the bread of life (https://youtu.be/dp8oi0qjanU)

 
Verse 1 – Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord to me, As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea; Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee Lord, My spirit pants for Thee O Living Word.

Verse 2 – Bless Thou the truth dear Lord to me, to me, As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee; Then shall bondage cease all fetters fall; And I shall find my peace my all in all.

Verse 3 – Thou art the bread of life, O Lord to me, Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me; Give me to eat and live with Thee above; Teach me to love Thy truth for Thou art love.

Verse 4 – O send Thy Spirit Lord, now unto me, That He may touch my eyes and make me see: Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word, And in Thy Book revealed I see Thee Lord.

CCLI Song # 6348201 Alexander Groves | Don Chapman | Mary Artemisia Lathbury | William Fiske Sherwin © Words: Public Domain Music: 2012 Hearts to God Music, Inc. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction“14 I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will bless you and be kind to you! May God bless you with his love, and may the Holy Spirit join all your hearts together.” (2 Corinthians 13:14 CEV).

 
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“You win by losing.”

February 7, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble” “Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!  For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:1-2, 8–9 (ESV).

Hymn #271: Standing on the promises (click link for music: https://youtu.be/tTwmS7uyqOo)

Standing on the promises of Christ my King, through eternal ages let His praises ring; Glory in the highest I will shout and sing, standing on the promises of God.

Chorus – Standing, standing, Standing on the promises of God my Savior; Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail, when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall, List’ning ev’ry moment to the Spirit’s call, resting in my Savior as my All in All, Standing on the promises of God.

CCLI Song # 31803 Russell Kelso Carter © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Today is the first Sunday of the month, when we typically celebrate communion.  Communion also known as The Lord’s Supper, was given to us by Jesus.  The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11:26 says that as we eat the bread and drink the cup we “proclaim the Lord’s death, until he returns.”  As Christians, we serve a risen Lord Jesus, so in proclaiming his death, we declare in our lives the difference Jesus’ death and resurrection has made in us.  We have died to sin and are alive in Christ Jesus.  Our old nature has been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20), yet we still need to daily take up our cross and follow him.  We need to daily “put off” our old nature and “put on” Christ Jesus (Rom. 13:12,14; Col. 3:9-10).  In doing so, we win by losing those things which hold us back in our relationship with God and trip us up (Heb 12:1).

1.   Lose doubts and find FAITH.

      The Encarta Dictionary defines doubt as: “Uncertainty or mistrust. A feeling or state of uncertainty, especially as to whether somebody is sincere or trustworthy, or as to whether something is true, likely, or genuine.”

      Do you have doubts about God’s care for you and his ability to act on your behalf?  Lose those doubts in God’s power to act in the world and your life and put on faith.  How?  A woman was known among her circle of friends for her simple faith and great calmness in the midst of many trials.  Another woman, who lived a distance away, heard of her and decided to go and meet her, to learn the secret of her calm and happy life.  Upon meeting her she asked: “Are you the woman with the great faith?”  “No,” was the answer, “I am not the woman with the great faith, but I am the woman with the little faith in the great God.”  It is not the size of our faith that matters, but where our faith is placed!  Sometimes our doubts grow because we focus more on the problem and our own abilities than the one who is greater than all – The Lord.  Review who the Lord is – his character, what he has done for us and his promises upon which our faith rests – and begin to praise him.  It’s not the size of our faith; it’s the greatness of our God in whom we have faith, who will change things!

      Lose the doubts that God can use you, and believe in faith he knows what he’s doing and has the power to use you no matter what.  With the recent death of the well known interviewer Larry King, I listened to an interview he had made years ago with Joni Ericson Tada.  Joni told how at first when as a teenager she learned that she was a quadriplegic (losing the use of 4 limbs), she felt useless and wanted to die.  And yet as she surrendered her will to God in faith, he has used her in amazing ways: to encourage those with disabilities and to form a ministry (Joni & friends) to serve those with disabilities around the world (estimated at 1 billion people). Pamela Reeve, in the book Faith Is says: Faith is resting in the fact that God has an objective in leaving me on the scene when I feel useless to Him and a burden to others. [1]  Lose doubts and find faith.

2.  Lose despair and find HOPE. 

      Lingering doubt can lead to despair.  Despair is defined as a “feeling of hopelessness, a profound feeling that there is no hope” (Encarta Dictionary).  Irish playwright & winner of the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature, George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying: “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire.  The other is to get it.”  The tragedy is discovering what your heart desired was not the source of hope you had imagined, it did not fulfill your deepest need.  And so all the hard work and sacrifice was for nothing – what a tragedy, no wonder the despair!

      The solution to despair, like doubt, is to look to our God, his character and his saving works on behalf of humanity.  This is what the psalmist does as he talks to himself in Psalm 42:5-6a. “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God.” (NLT). Listen to vv. 5-6 from the Message Translation:  “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.” Psalm 42:5–6 (The Message).

      Placing our hope in earth’s temporary, temporal things can lead to disappointment and despair.  We need God’s help to see the big picture of our situation.  This calls us to look to Jesus for our example: Hebrews 12:2. “Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right-hand side of God’s throne.” (GNB)  Jesus looked past the despair of the cross, to see the joy that offering hope to humanity would bring, and endured it.  Place your hope in Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (NIV) – I can have hope because salvation is his idea, his plan all along – I do not have to make it happen, I follow the path he has made for me, that I will dwell with him forever!

      Lose doubts and find faith.  Lose despair and find hope.  Finally:

3.   Lose discord and find LOVE.

      Doubts can lead to despair, which can cause us to lash out at others causing discord.  The solution is to give up discord and chose love.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34–35 (NIV).  God’s love was not conditioned on our response; he chose to offer to everyone.  John 3:16. “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” (The Message).   Amy Carmichael’s poem “IF” challenges us to weigh our responses to others in the light of Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. As followers of Jesus we must with God’s help lose discord and chose to live in Christ’s love.  Here is her poem:

      If I belittle those who I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting “Who made thee to differ and what hast thou that thou has not received?” then I know nothing of Calvary love.

      If I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in a cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

      If I feel bitterly toward those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know  myself they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.[2]

      With God’s help, we can win by losing – losing those things which separate us from him and from one another, and win through growing in faith, hope and love for our God.  I will close with Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians, may it be your prayer for yourself:  “12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13 (NIV).

Closing song: “In Christ alone” (click link for music: https://youtu.be/Gafy3BgThhs)

Verse 1 – In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light my strength my song. This Cornerstone this solid Ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love what depths of peace, When fears are stilled when strivings cease. My Comforter my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

Verse 2 – In Christ alone who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save. Till on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied, for every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.

Verse 3 – There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain. Then bursting forth in glorious Day, up from the grave He rose again. And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me, for I am His and He is mine, Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

Verse 4 – No guilt in life no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand, Till He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

CCLI Song # 3350395 Keith Getty | Stuart Townend © 2001 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:

Salvation belongs to the Lord—so failure is not the last word; our problems are not the last word; loneliness is not the last word; guilt and shame are not the last words—so rejoice in that.

Salvation belongs to the Lord—so rest in the Lord, even if the circumstances have your head spinning; realize that God will make a way.

Salvation belongs to the Lord—seek to be in God’s Presence—let Him be your glory and the lifter of your head—let Him do in you what will be for your best.

        Salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. Praise and glory, wisdom and thanks, honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen. (Influenced by Ps. 3)

 



[1] Swindoll, Charles R. The tale of the tardy oxcart and 1501 other stories, p. 195. ©1998 Word Publishing, Nashville.

[2] Swindoll, Charles R. The tale of the tardy oxcart and 1501 other stories, p. 356. ©1998 Word Publishing, Nashville.
To listen to this message visit:  Podbean or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).
 
“Characteristics of a follower of Jesus.”
January 31. 2021. 
Esterhazy Baptist Church.
 

Call to Worship: “God our Savior showed us how good and kind he is. He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning. God sent Jesus Christ our Savior to give us his Spirit.” Titus 3:4–6 (CEV).

Hymn: #103 “Blessed be the name” (vv. 1-3)

Verse 1 All praise to Him who reigns above, in majesty supreme.  Who gave His Son for man to die, that He might man redeem.

Chorus – Blessed be the name, Blessed be the name, Blessed be the name of the Lord. Blessed be the name, Blessed be the name, Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Verse 2 – His name above all names shall stand, Exalted more and more. At God the Father’s own right hand, Where angel hosts adore.

Verse 3 – His name shall be the Counselor, The mighty Prince of Peace. Of all earth’s kingdoms Conqueror Whose reign shall never cease.

CCLI Song # 191839 Ralph E. Hudson | William H. Clark © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Last week we saw how praise to God is important, not only because God is worthy of our praise, but because of praise of God strengthens our walk with him.  Today I would like to continue thinking about those things which will build our relationship with God by looking at characteristic of a Christian.  These are things which are foundational to our relationship with God.  What are they?

     When Jesus was asked this question: Matthew 22:36. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” (NIV) he quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and answered: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (NIV) The first characteristic of a follower of Jesus is:

1.  Love for the Lord.

     Deuteronomy 6:5 is Moses’ summary of the first commandment, which he reminded the Israelites of in Deuteronomy 5:7 as he is recalling all the Lord has done for them.  The first commandment says: “You shall have no other god before me.”  The Lord God is to be our priority for those who follow him.  The motivation for this comes out of the preface to the commandments, in the previous verse: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Deuteronomy 5:6 (NIV). God identifies himself as their God, “I am the Lord your God.”  Remember he identified himself to Moses as the God of his ancestors: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He also reminds the people that it is he who has just freed them from slavery in Egypt, and brought them to the place where he directed Moses to go and free his people.  Notice God didn’t demand his people first accept his commandments and then he would free them.  First he frees them, and then he enters into this covenant relationship with them.  God reached out to them in grace.  I’m reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)  First God extends grace, and then our reasonable response is to respond in love – Deuteronomy 6:5!  The second characteristic of a follower of Jesus is:

2.  Obedience to the Lord.

     We can say we love God, but forget that love is not an emotion, and is instead a choice which can be seen in our actions.  The clearest action which demonstrates our love for God is our obedience to him.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:21. ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (NIV)  A key characteristic of a follower of Jesus is obedience to God’s Word!

     Some of you likely noticed that in looking at Jesus’ reply to the question about which is the most important commandment, that I only gave the first half of Jesus’ answer. The full text says: “37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” Matthew 22:37–40 (NIV). 

     Luke 10:25f records a similar conversation with an expert in the Law who then asked Jesus: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answers by telling the story of the good Samaritan.  Jews and Samaritans did not get along.  A “good Samaritan” would have been considered a contradiction by most Jews.  Yet in Jesus’ story, the Samaritan is the one who sacrifices his time, money and reputation to save a dying man, and he becomes the example of to love our neighbour!  In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he tells us: “43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.” Matthew 5:43–46 (NLT).

     Wow, I want to show my love for God through my obedience to his commands, but how can we love those who hate us – it’s impossible!  Let me take a response of Jesus’ out of context because I think it also fits here: “27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”” Mark 10:27 (NIV).  It is impossible for us, but not for God.  This leads me to the third characteristic of a follower of Jesus:

3.  Reliance on the Lord.

     A follower of Jesus will seek to love the Lord with their whole being, obey him with their whole heart, and rely on him for the strength & wisdom needed.  Being a follower of Jesus requires more than knowledge of his teaching or our will power, the pre-Pentecostal disciples demonstrate this (e.g. Mt. 26:31-36, 69-75 – Jesus predicts his death & the disciple’s desertion, but Peter tells Jesus he’s wrong; then denies knowing Jesus three times).  The Gospel of John, chapter 13 ends with Jesus predicting Peter’s denial of him (vv. 31-38).  In chapter 14 Jesus comforts his disciples by telling them he is going to prepare a place for them.  Then from verse 15 to the end of this chapter Jesus promises his disciples the Holy Spirit of God (14:15-31).  Listen to how this section begins, vv. 15-16: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” John 14:15–16 (NIV).  This should sound familiar by now – if you love me you will keep my commands, then Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit as our advocate, our helper.  Jesus tells us more about the Holy Spirit in chapter 16:5-15. There we learn that not only will the Holy Spirit be at work within us, guiding us into all truth, but the Holy Spirit will be at work in the hearts of people in the world – convicting of sin and convincing of coming judgment.  In other words – we don’t have to do it all in our own strength, God will be working in us and around us as we rely on him!  Isn’t that great news?  It sure is for a follower of Jesus who loves him and loves others!

     It’s interesting that between these two sections of teaching on the coming and work of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus includes the teaching of John chapter 15 – the vine and the branches!  In it we are reminded of God the Father’s love and care for us, wanting to bring out the best in us.  Jesus makes it clear that this is only possible how?  As we rely on him, listen to John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV) 

     In the second half of John 15 (18-27) we are given addition information as to why we need to rely on Jesus – as his followers we will be hated as he was. So, depend upon him, obey him and love him and one another deeply!  To do all this for a life time, as we have seen, cannot come from within ourselves and develops as we regularly spend time with our Lord: in his Word, in prayer and with fellow believers.  This is our fourth characteristic of a follower of Jesus:

4.  Devotion to the Lord.

     Devoted to the Lord and his mission.  As we saw in John 15:5, we must remain connected to Jesus to be fruitful for him – “apart from me you can do nothing.” Psalm 127:1-2 comes to the same conclusion: “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127:1–2 (NIV) 

     The Apostle Paul, having come to understand God’s saving love for him, responded with love, obedience, reliance and devotion saying: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

     There’s a final characteristic of a follower of Jesus; it the chief characteristic of a follower of Jesus, and that is that Jesus is their LORD.  How do we show this?  We show this through:

·        Our Love for the Lord.

·        Our Obedience to the Lord.

·        Our Reliance on the Lord.

·        Our Devotion to the Lord.

     This is how we show Jesus is our LORD!  The first step is to accept Jesus as your sin forgiver and then follow him as your life leader – as your Lord – through loving him, obeying him, relying upon him and being devoted to him and his mission.

Closing Hymn: #394 “In my life Lord, be glorified” (vv. 1-3)

Verse 1 – In my life Lord, Be glorified be glorified. In my life Lord, Be glorified today.

Verse 2 – In my song Lord, Be glorified be glorified. In my song Lord, Be glorified today.

Verse 3 – In Your church Lord, Be glorified be glorified. In Your church Lord, Be glorified today.

CCLI Song # 26368 Bob Kilpatrick © 1978 The Lorenz Corporation (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.  Glory belongs to God in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time and eternity! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20–21 (GW).

 
 
 
 
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“Why we should praise the Lord.”  Psalm 113:1-6
January 24, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church
 
Psalm 113:1–6 ” Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord.  Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore.  From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.  The Lord is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.  Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high,  who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?” (NIV)
 
Hymn:  #8 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (click link for music: https://youtu.be/CYIvRRUZeUk)
Verse 1 – Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, The King of creation!  O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!  All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near; join me in glad adoration!

Verse 2 – Praise to the Lord, Who over all things so wondrously reigneth, shelters thee under His wings,

Yes, so gently sustaineth!  Hast thou not seen how thy longings have been granted in what He ordaineth?

Verse 3 – Praise to the Lord Who doth prosper thy work and defend thee. Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee. Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with His love He befriend thee

Verse 4 – Praise to the Lord O let all that is in me adore Him. All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.  Let the amen sound from His people again; Gladly for all we adore Him.

CCLI Song # 43073 Catherine Winkworth | Joachim Neander © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      As we heard in Psalm 113 and read in many other psalms, God’s people are called to praise him, now and forever more.  The Lord, whose glory is above the heavens, bends down to be involved in our lives.  He is concerned about your life and he is worthy of our praise.  We may not realize it, but our willingness to praise our God has an impact on our spiritual life.  Let’s look at some today using the acrostic PRAISE to help us remember.

1st praise P-leases God.

      It should go without saying that the Lord, who out of the love and goodness of his character created life itself and everything necessary to sustain it, is worthy of our praise.  Yet, the Lord is delighted when his people recognize this and give him praise.  Parents will understand this.  They choose to provide everything their children need because they love them; and yet they still savor those moments then their children stop to say thank you to them. 

      We see that praise pleases God through his response. For example when after the Ark of the Covenant was placed within the holy of holies in Solomon’s newly built temple: “12 All the Levites who were musicians—Asaph, Heman, Jeduthun and their sons and relatives—stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres. They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. 13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:12–14 (NIV).

In Acts chapter 4, the Apostles were beaten and threaten with arrest if they would not stop teaching about Jesus.  They gathered with the church and began to pray and worship the Lord, asking for his strength.  Verse 31 tells us how the Lord responded: “31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31 (NIV).  Clearly he was pleased with their praise!

2nd praise R-eleases Faith.

      Typically we withhold praise until we see results, such as an answered prayer.  However, coming to God in praise, for his character and his faithfulness in the past, releases and builds our faith in him.  In 2 Chronicles 20:(14-22) we read of a time when the nation of Judea was about to be invaded by vast military alliance.  King Jehoshaphat proclaimed a fast and called the people together to pray to the Lord.  He began his prayer by recalling that the Lord is the ruler of all the nations and it was he who drove out their enemies and gave them this land as he had promised Abraham.  Then he asked the Lord for help from the invaders.  The Lord responded by telling them: “14 the Lord’s Spirit suddenly spoke to Jahaziel, a Levite from the Asaph clan. 15 Then Jahaziel said: Your Majesty and everyone from Judah and Jerusalem, the Lord says that you don’t need to be afraid or let this powerful army discourage you. God will fight on your side! 16 So here’s what you must do. Tomorrow the enemy armies will march through the desert around the town of Jeruel. March down and meet them at the town of Ziz as they come up the valley. 17 You won’t even have to fight. Just take your positions and watch the Lord rescue you from your enemy. Don’t be afraid. Just do as you’re told. And as you march out tomorrow, the Lord will be there with you. 18 Jehoshaphat bowed low to the ground and everyone worshiped the Lord. 19 Then some Levites from the Kohath and Korah clans stood up and shouted praises to the Lord God of Israel. 20 Early the next morning, as everyone got ready to leave for the desert near Tekoa, Jehoshaphat stood up and said, “Listen my friends, if we trust the Lord God and believe what these prophets have told us, the Lord will help us, and we will be successful.” 21 Then he explained his plan and appointed men to march in front of the army and praise the Lord for his holy power by singing: “Praise the Lord! His love never ends.” 22 As soon as they began singing, the Lord confused the enemy camp,” 2 Chronicles 20:14–22 (CEV)

      Praise the Lord for who he is, his character – he is good, righteous, merciful, loving, patient, and holy.  Praise the Lord for what he has done.  Throughout the psalms we see examples of this, with the end result being renewed faith in the Lord God Almighty.  Praise pleases God and praise releases faith.

3rd praise A-ssures Hope.

      Our hope can fade if we fail to regularly take time to praise and thank our Lord.  As we have seen with faith, reflecting in praise on whom God is and what he has done increases our hope and trust in him: “All is not lost!”  Psalm 124, one of the Psalms of Ascents is a great example of this: “1 What if the Lord had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: 2 What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us? 3 They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. 4 The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us. 5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives. 6 Praise the Lord, who did not let their teeth tear us apart! 7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free! 8 Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124 (NLT) 

      Praise can remind us that regardless of our current situation, our God is working out his plan for us to be with him forever.  Peter begins his letter to persecuted Christians with a song of praise to remind them of what God has done for them: 1 Peter 1:3–4 “3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you,” (NIV)

Praise pleases God, praise releases faith, praise assures hope and fourthly as a result it:

4th praise I-ncreases Love

      The act of praising our God reminds us of his love, demonstrated in his actions towards us: “8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. 9 The Lord is good to everyone. He showers compassion on all his creation. 10 All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you. 11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign.” Psalm 145:8–12 (NLT).

      Our love for God increases as we reflect in praise on what he has done, is doing and will do for humanity – all because of his love!  “16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT)

As the Apostle John reminds us, we can love because God first extended his love to us (1 Jn. 4:19).

5th praise enables us to S-erve Joyfully.

      There are times when our service to the Lord can be given grudgingly or reluctantly, if it is motivated by guilt or obligation.  Our praise can serve as oil to loosen the rust and allow our inner gears of service for the Lord to turn with joy.  When you are feeling run down in your service, perhaps you need to recharge with praise (thinking of a bumble bee & honey).  The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10b).  Remind yourself of where God brought you from and how he is enabling you to serve him now – what an honour!  “9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9–10 (NIV).

A final thing to remember about praise is that it:

6th E-ndures Eternally

      Our earthly possessions are temporal; they don’t last and therefore have limited value in the light of eternity.  However, praise of our glorious God has lasting value and endures forever.  It is fitting that something that God calls us to do because it is entirely appropriate to offer him praise, is also something which benefits us as we do it!  Praise the Lord!

      Praise Pleases God, Releases Faith, Assures Hope, Increases Love, Serves Joyfully & Endures Eternally.

      The Apostle John in his vision of heaven describes breathtaking scenes of worship around the throne of Almighty God with every creature in heaven and on earth singing God’s praise (Rev. 5:13; 19:1-8).  The last psalm in the Bible’s hymn book of praise to God ends on a similar note, Psalm 150:  “1 Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. 2 Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. 3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, 4 praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, 5 praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. 6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150 (NIV).

Hymn #106 “Praise Him! Praise Him!” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/R7bQM_yARgU)

Verse 1 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Sing O earth His wonderful love proclaim. Hail Him hail Him highest archangels in glory, Strength and honor give to His holy name. Like a shepherd Jesus will guard His children, In His arms He carries them all day long.

Chorus – Praise Him praise Him, tell of His excellent greatness. Praise Him praise Him, ever in joyful song.

Verse 2 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, For our sins He suffered and bled and died.  He our Rock our hope of eternal salvation, Hail Him hail Him Jesus the Crucified.  Sound His praises Jesus who bore our sorrows, Love unbounded wonderful deep and strong.

Verse 3 – Praise Him praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring, Jesus Savior reigneth forever and ever.  Crown Him crown Him Prophet and Priest and King.  Christ is coming over the world victorious, Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong.

CCLI Song # 40409 Chester G. Allen | Fanny Jane Crosby © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. 19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:18–19 (NIV).

 
 
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“How to keep our focus on the Lord.”

January 10, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4, 6–7 (NLT).

Hymn #350 “`Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”  (click link for music: https://youtu.be/UWf3QZWE8eQ)  

Verse 1 – ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word.  Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know thus saith the Lord.

Verse 2 – O how sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to trust His cleansing blood.  Just in simple faith to plunge me, ‘Neath the healing cleansing flood.

Chorus – Jesus Jesus how I trust Him, How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er.  Jesus Jesus precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.

Verse 3 – Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, Just from sin and self to cease.  Just from Jesus simply taking

Life and rest and joy and peace.

Verse 4 – I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus Savior Friend.  And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

CCLI Song # 22609 Louisa M. R. Stead | William James Kirkpatrick © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     2020 was a tough year for many people due to the effects of covid-19.  2021 brings hope for improvement, but many places look to face harder times before things will get better.  What can each of us as Christians do to ensure that we grow in 2021 in spite of what may come?  We must keep our focus on our Lord.  Let me suggest four things we need to be doing to keep our focus on the Lord.

1.  Keep dedicated to the Lord. 

     In Romans 14:8 the Paul Apostle reminds us: “If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (NLT).  There are so many other voices, distractions and worries that call for our attention and can get our focus off of Jesus, as Lord of our lives; we need to remember whose we are!  “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.” 1 Peter 1:18–19 (CSB). 

     God gave his best for you out of love.  Respond in obedient love by dedicating yourself to his service.  “Brothers and sisters, because of God’s compassion toward us, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.” Romans 12:1 (GW)

2.  Keep dependent on the Lord. 

     Our North American culture teaches us to be independent.  You may not notice this leaning towards individualism until you spend time with those from other cultures.  There are pluses and minuses to all cultures, and one danger our love of independence is the sin Adam & Eve gave in to was to be self-sufficient from God.  To decide themselves what was right and what was wrong, rather than take God’s Word for it!

     2020 may have revealed areas where you tend to lean on your own plans and wisdom, rather than upon the Lord.  Proverbs 3:6-7 in the Message translation reminds us to:  “Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil!” Proverbs 3:6–7 (The Message)  Keep Jesus the Lord of your life; involve him through prayer in all your decisions and live dependent on him!

3.  Keep delighted in the Lord. 

     Not only does our culture prize independence, we also seem to enjoy complaining.  In many of our casual conversations we lament over the weather, politics, work, our relationships and our health.  While this may simply be an attempt to find something in common to talk about, a negative outlook on life may result from this bad habit.  Someone may object and say “I’m simply stating the truth about life as I see it.”  Well yes, that’s the problem; negativity gets you so focused on what’s wrong, that that’s all you begin to see!  The other day I opened the refrigerator freezer looking for the toast bread and it wasn’t there!  The freeze wasn’t full, I could see everything at a glance, it had to be there, I scanned twice, even checked the door incase Karin had moved it, but it wasn’t in the freezer.  I hadn’t finished it, so I blinked a few times and took a careful scan of everything, and there it was!  Had it just appeared?  No, it was in a different colored bag than I thought and therefore I didn’t even see it!  We can become so focused on what’s wrong around us that we don’t even see the good that God is doing right under our noises.

     The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:4 encourages us to: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (NIV)  This is a familiar verse, but when we are in an unhappy place we may respond with: “That’s easy for you to say, you’re not dealing with…” and then whatever it is we are facing.  Before we dismiss the Apostle Paul’s words as irrelevant to our struggles, let’s remember where he was when he wrote these words.  Paul was writing from a Roman prison.  He wasn’t in prison for assault or theft; he was imprisoned for preaching about Jesus.  He was locked up because some people didn’t like what he was saying and they were the ones rioting.  It wasn’t fair, the conditions were terrible and Paul wasn’t able to do what God had called him to do.  How could Paul tell us to rejoice in the Lord always?  He had learned that God could make use of any situation.  The Church in Philippi would remember that as Paul & Silas sang while in their prison, the jailer and his family were saved!  Now in Philippians 1:12-14, Paul’s imprisonment gave him opportunity to share with the palace guard, the elite unit which also guarded the Emperor and his family.  So, he rejoiced, even while his freedom was restricted, because it didn’t stop God from working around him and through him!  God is worthy of our praise no matter our circumstances for he promises never to leave us or forsake us.  “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NIV).  Continue to delight in your Lord.

4.  Keep diligent for the Lord. 

     Why did Paul endure all he did for the Lord?  He was dedicated to the one who gave his life for him, dependent upon God, and delight in the Lord his Saviour (sin forgiver).  Jesus had told his disciples to expect persecution.  He reminded them that they should expect to be treated with the same contempt as he, for following him.  Although Paul faced many challenges (2 Cor. 6:4-5; 11:23-27) he did not give up because he had dedicated his life to the Lord Jesus, who gave his life for him.  He walked in dependence on the Lord, seeing him work through his weakness and struggles (2 Cor. 12:7-10).  Paul delighted in the Lord because he saw him saving lives.  We hear the joy he and his team have in 1 Thessalonians 3:6a, 7-9 when they hear that these young believers are staying strong in their faith. “But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love…Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” (NIV)  This news inspired Paul and his team to further diligence on behalf of their Lord. 

     How about you?  Where are you focusing?  The virus of 2020 continues to impact us in this New Year.  2021 will no doubt include additional challenges for each of us.  Are you prepared?  As a Christian our only hope and our greatest joy lies in keeping our focus on Jesus our Lord.  Keep dedicated to him, live dependent on him, delight in him and purpose to be diligent in your daily life for him.

Hymn: #2 Come Thou fount of every blessing” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/uD3Xv6CON4s)

Verse 1 – Come Thou fount of ev’ry blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace. Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.  Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above.  Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Verse 2 – Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Hither by Thy help I’m come.  And I hope by Thy good pleasure Safely to arrive at home.  Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

Verse 3 – O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.  Let Thy grace Lord like a fetter Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.  Prone to wander Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.  Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above.

CCLI Song # 108389 John Wyeth | Robert Robinson © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13. “And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Amen.” (CSB)

To listen to this message visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/  or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).
 
 

Luke 1:46-55.  “My response to our promise keeping God.”

January 3, 2021.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to worship: “All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.  For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.” Psalm 145:10, 13 (NLT)

Hymn #461 “He leadeth me” (click link for music: https://youtu.be/OpC78nfVdfY)

Verse 1 – He leadeth me! O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught! Whate’er I do where’er I be, Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me!

Chorus – He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me: His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me.

Verse 2 – Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom, Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom, By water’s calm o’er troubled sea, Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me!

Verse 3 – Lord I would clasp Thy hand in mine, Nor ever murmur nor repine, Content whatever lot I see, Since ’tis my God that leadeth me!

Verse 4 – And when my task on earth is done, When, by Thy grace, the victory’s won, E’en death’s cold waves I would not flee, Since Thou through Jordan leadeth me!

CCLI Song # 5717008 Camp Kirkland | Joseph Henry Gilmore | William Batchelder Bradbury © Words: Public Domain Music: 2010 Van Ness Press, Inc. (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     During the Advent we were reminded that God keeps his promises. As we begin a new year I would like us to reflect on our response to this truth.  What is your response to our promise keeping God?  How about when the answers don’t come as quickly as you would like?  At those times we can struggle to maintain a hopeful attitude.

     Dr. Alexander Whyte of Edinburgh was famous for his pulpit prayers because he could always find something to thank God for. One stormy morning a member of his congregation thought to himself, “The preacher will have nothing to thank God on a wretched morning like this.” But Whyte began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.” [1]

      Dr. David Soper, in the book “God Is Inescapable” suggests that basically the difference between a prison and a monastery is only the difference between griping and gratitude. Imprisoned criminals spend every waking moment griping; and self-imprisoned saints spend every waking moment offering thanks. Dr. Soper says that when a criminal becomes a saint, even a prison may become a monastery; and when a saint gives up gratitude, even a monastery may become a prison. [2] These are words for us to consider and reflect on!

     An attitude of thanksgiving & gratitude is vital.  Now, realize we are not talking about a gratitude that is solely based on emotion, how we feel at that moment, but a gratitude which grows out of an appreciation of what our Lord God has done for us.  This is what we hear in Mary song of praise to God.  We are going to begin with her encounter with God’s messenger to give us some context: Luke 1:34-56.  34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. 39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” 56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.” Luke 1:34–56 (NIV).

     Elizabeth and Mary were each carrying a child which was a miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises and they understood what it was to have a grateful attitude towards the Lord their God.  We see this attitude of joy as we read of Mary’s visit to see Elizabeth.

     Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and blesses Mary and the baby she is carrying. She also blesses Mary for her obedience expressed in her belief of God’s promise to her.  Mary believed God would do in her what He promised, and this is why she experienced God’s blessing.

     Mary responds to Elizabeth’s words by expressing praise from her inner most being – “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  She goes on to praise the Lord God for His great power, might and mercy.  It is enlightening to see how easily the Word of God flows from Mary’s lips. Pastor Warren Wiersbe notes that “Mary knew the Scriptures, for there are at least fifteen OT quotations or allusions in her song. (See 1 Sam. 2:1–10.) She praises God and eight times tells us what God has done.[3]

     Mary ends her song with the same theme that we looked at during the Advent season – “God keeps His promises.”  He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”  (Lk. 1:54,55 NIV) 

     Mary’s response to the good news that God keeps His promises was to rejoice with her whole heart, as the Psalmist said “Praise the Lord, my soul! Praise his holy name, all that is within me.” Psalm 103:1 (GW).  The question I would like each of us to ask ourselves is:  “What is my response to our promise keeping God?” or “How do I respond to the good news that God does what He says?

     As we reflect on Mary’s song, especially the opening lines, it seems to me that they can be our song too!  My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”  Luke 1:46-48a (NIV).  Remember, Mary hasn’t given birth to Jesus, yet she is already anticipating God will fulfill through her what he has promised!

     As you begin this New Year, have you taken that step of faith to believe that God can accomplish in you, what He has promised? To forgive your sins and remove your hard heart of sin? To make you whiter than snow? To guide you by the Holy Spirit and give you his words to say when you need to speak up for him? Are you living like its true?  Are you singing Mary’s song and praising God for what He has done in you – in salvation – Romans 10:9 (NIV) says: “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”      Are you rejoicing for what the Lord God is doing in you as a Christian – sanctification – the cleansing and pruning that comes as we give up our old habits and attitudes and put on the new attitudes and actions of Christ?  “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 

     Why has God made this promise to draw humanity back to Himself?  Because he desires a relationship with all of us and with you!  He is pursuing you!  He is in love with you and He longs for a relationship with you!  Wow “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” 

     As you begin this year, reflect on what it means that God the Father loves you so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to die for your sins, in your place, and by accepting Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader, you have received the Holy Spirit of the living God.  It is awesome and incredible that he loves us so much!  Rejoice with Mary and all the saints – “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant” 

Hymn: #43 “Great is Thy faithfulness.” (click link for music: https://youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o)  (vv.1 & 2)

Verse 1 – Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus – Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning New mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Verse 2 – Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above join with all nature In manifold witness To Thy great faithfulness, Mercy and love.

Verse 3 – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, With ten thousand beside!

CCLI Song # 18723 Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: Let us hold firmly to the hope that we have confessed, because we can trust God to do what he promised. Hebrews 10:23 (NCV)



[1] #6577 – Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[2] #6574 – Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations.  Garland TX: Bible Communications.

[3] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997, c1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (Lk 1:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

To listen to this message visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/  or call our Dial-a-sermon number for the weekly sermon: 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).
 

Luke 2:10-11.  God’s promise of a Saviour is fulfilled.

Dec. 24, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10b-11(NASB95)

Hymn: #125 “Joy to the world” (Click on link to listen to the music: https://youtu.be/kyciMYZq2-Y)

Verse 1  – Joy to the world the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King; Let ev’ry heart prepare Him room, And heav’n and nature sing, And heav’n and nature sing.  And heav’n and heav’n and nature sing.

Verse 2 – Joy to the earth the Savior reigns; Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods,Rocks hills and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat repeat the sounding joy.

Verse 3 – No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as far as the curse is found.

Verse 4 – He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, And wonders of His love, And wonders of His love, And wonders wonders of His love.

CCLI Song # 24016 George Frideric Handel | Isaac Watts © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Hymn:  #145 “O Come all ye faithful” (Click on link to listen to the music: https://youtu.be/Y3egGjeiWEA)

Verse 1 – O come all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant, O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem!  Come and behold Him, Born the King of angels!

Chorus – O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!

Verse 2 – Sing choirs of angels, Sing in exultation, O sing, all ye bright Hosts of heav’n above!  Glory to God, all Glory in the highest!

Verse 3 – Yea Lord we greet Thee, Born this happy morning, Jesus, to Thee be all glory giv’n; Word of the Father, Now in flesh appearing!

CCLI Song # 31054 C. Frederick Oakeley | John Francis Wade © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

      The purpose of Advent is to remind us to Remember, Rejoice, and Respond – Because God has kept His promises to humanity.  With the birth of Jesus, we see God the Father actively fulfilling His promise to save His people from their sins.  God has been at work from the very beginning to make returning to Him possible!

      In Genesis chapter three at the time of Adam and Eve’s greatest failure, God reveals that He has a plan, there is still hope for humanity.  God promises that one day, a descendent of Eve’s would defeat the devil (Genesis 3:15). 

      Abraham & Sarah were not flawless, but they learned to live by God’s promises.  God told them, while they were still childless, that one of their descendents would be a blessing to all nations on earth.  Through Jacob it was prophesied that the promised one will come through the tribe of Judah.  Later the Lord got more specific telling King David, from the tribe of Judea, that the promised one will come from his line and will rule eternally.

      God’s prophets continued to remind the people that He had not forgotten his promise to them.  The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Micah, Zechariah, Malachi as wells some of the Psalms, prepared the people for the one the Lord God would send as their Saviour.

      God’s good news of the promised saviour, born to the virgin Mary: came to three groups of people.

1st  The Angel messenger visits Mary:

      Mary is told that she has found favour with God and would through the power of the Holy Spirit give birth to a son.  She is to name him Jesus. 

30 Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Luke 1:30–33 (NLT) Fulfilling the prophecies! Mary is told the gender of the child she and what to name him.  The Gospel of Matthew confirms that this is what Joseph was also told.

2nd The Angel messenger visits Joseph:

Matthew 1:20-23  20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesusbecause he will save his people from their sins.”  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”  (NIV)

      Joseph, the man Mary was engaged to, also had a visit from an Angel, and was told what to name the baby boy and why: “you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  The name “Jesus” is the Greek version of the Hebrew name “Joshua” meaning, “the Lord saves”.  Mary’s Child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, is to be called “The Lord Saves” because he WILL save His people from their sins.  There is a third visit by God’s messenger:

3rd The Angel messenger visits The Shepherds:

      The Angel’s message to the Shepherds is:  Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10b-11.  NIV)

      A Brahmin once said to a Christian missionary in India, “There are many things which Christianity and Hinduism have in common.  But one thing Christianity has that is not found in Hinduism is a Savior.”  He was right.  Christianity is different in that Christ did not come as a social or economic reformer but as a Savior of individuals.  God came to earth, not to change the adverse conditions under which people live but to change the sinful hearts responsible for such evil in the world. [1]

      God’s plan first promised to us in the Garden of Eden is coming to pass.  The one, who will defeat the deceiver and be a blessing to all the nations, is coming as Saviour. He will save His people from their sins.  God knew from the very beginning that we would need a Saviour, and so the second person of the Trinity came and lived among us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV). God’s love motivated Him to action.  God has not acted from a distance to save us, He became one of us in order to save us.  This is the awesome message of Christmas.

      Radio Story teller, Paul Harvey told this story: One cold winter night a man heard an irregular thumping sound against the kitchen storm door.  He went to a window and watch as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

      Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn for the struggling birds.  He turned on the lights, tossed some hay in a corner, and sprinkled a trail of saltine crackers to direct them to the barn.  But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, still hid in the darkness, afraid of him.

      He tried various tactics: circling behind the birds to drive them toward the barn, tossing cracker crumbs in the air toward them, retreating to his house to see if they’d flutter into the barn on their own.  Nothing worked.  He, a huge alien creature, had terrified them; the birds could not understand that he actually wanted to help.

      He went back to his house & watched the doomed sparrows through a window.  As he stood there, pitying the poor birds, a thought hit him: “If only I could become a bird – one of them – just for a moment.  Then I wouldn’t frighten them so.  I could show them the way to warmth and safety.”  At that moment, another thought dawned on him.  He now understood the principle of the Incarnation.

      A man becoming a bird is nothing compared to God becoming a man.  The concept of a sovereign being as big as the universe He created, confining Himself to a human body was and is too much for some people to believe.  But this is what God has done for us. [2]

      This year’s Advent Series started with the question: Should we cancel Christmas?  “Since we can’t celebrate the usual way, let’s cancel it until we can do it right!”  Perhaps Christmas 2020 is showing us what the true gift of Christmas is and what is only gift wrap and ribbons.  It may be that Jesus’ birth has become familiar and ordinary to you.  It’s like that predictable gift you get every year that you pick up, give a squeeze and say, “You know what? I’ll wait and open this gift when I need a new pair of socks” and everyone laughs.

      The image of the farmer wishing he could become a bird to save the freezing Sparrows only gives us a hint at the enormity of the second person of the Trinity becoming human.  Yet the baby in the manager is such a quaint familiar gift, that he gets overlooked and undervalued.  Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, lived and died for the sins of humanity, the prophet Isaiah was given these prophetic words in Isaiah 53:1-9.  It foresaw that while Jesus ministered on earth, he would be seen a too plain a gift to be worth opening, and yet, he was the perfect gift, exactly what each of us needed.  He came to give himself up for us as our Saviour.  Listen to Isaiah 53:1-9 from the Message Translation: “Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.” Isaiah 53:1–9 (The Message).

      The good news of Christmas is that God has reached out to us and sent us a Saviour, Jesus the Christ is here with us.  The wait is over and the promises have been kept. We do not need to go through life alone.  Your worries, struggles, frustrations, pain, and loneliness – don’t need to be faced alone, for God is here in Jesus Christ. 

      The gift he offers us is priceless, how can we ever express our thanks?  The greatest gift you could give God, is to give Him your heart, your life, your all – and in doing so you will receive your greatest gift – a renewed relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is the fulfillment of God’s plan for you from the very beginning.  As you understand this you can’t help but respond with joy!

Hymn #147 “Silent night, holy night” (Click on link to listen to the music: https://youtu.be/-pEndgvJe2s)

1   Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright. Round yon virgin mother and child!  Holy Infant so tender and mild, Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

2   Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight. Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly host sing alleluia, Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born.’

3   Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light. Radiant beams from Thy holy face, With the dawn of redeeming grace, Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth, Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.

CCLI Song # 27862 Franz Xaver Gruber | John Freeman Young | Joseph Mohr © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  The one who is God, who was born as a Babe that long-ago night reflects the light of his Father’s love to you now.  Receive the love – and pass it on!  And may God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bless you all with a very Merry Christmas.  Amen and good night.

 

Here’s a bonus Christmas Song you may enjoy: https://youtu.be/182xcb3GyOg It by Chris Tomlin and called- “Christmas Day” (Official Music Video) featuring We The Kingdom.



[1] #56, pg 19 – “Illustrations of Bible Truths.” AMG Publishers 1995.

[2] Paul Harvey (From The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart. C. Swindoll,  p. 295)

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

God’s love overcomes the darkness of our sin. 2 Samuel 7.8-13; Isaiah 11.1-2.

Dec. 20, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: 6 Turn to the Lord before it’s too late. Call out to him while he’s still ready to help you. 7 Let the one who is evil stop doing evil things. And let him quit thinking evil thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord. The Lord will show him his tender love. Let him turn to our God. He is always ready to forgive. Isaiah 55:6–7 (NIrV)

Hymn: #128 “It came upon a midnight clear” (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/tJbNRtPVjZI)

Verse 1 – It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old, from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold: “Peace on the earth good will to men, from heaven’s all gracious King!”  The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.

Verse 2 – Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long.  Beneath the angel strain have rolled two thousand years of wrong.  And man at war with man hears not the love song which they bring. O hush the noise ye men of strife and hear the angels sing.

Verse 3 – And ye, beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow, Look now!  For glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing: O rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing.

CCLI Song # 31078 Edmund Hamilton Sears | Richard Storrs Willis © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      The Apostle Paul began his letter to the Christians in Rome by introducing himself, who he served and the message of good news: Romans 1:1–3 “From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. God chose me to be an apostle, and he appointed me to preach the good news that he promised long ago by what his prophets said in the Holy Scriptures. This good news is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ! As a human, he was from the family of David.” (CEV).  Paul celebrated the coming of Jesus the Messiah as good news which had been promised long ago in the Scriptures and now is fulfilled. 

      The promise began with Adam and Eve.  God told them he would send a deliverer from the seed of Eve to crush the head of the deceiver.  Later Abraham was promised: Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:18 GW) God renewed this promise to Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob.  Through Jacob’s blessing on his son Judea we learn that the promised deliverer will come from the tribe of Judea and be a ruler the nations of the world will obey. 

      Today we see that God’s promise becomes more specific within the tribe of Judea.  The deliverer will be a descendent of David, Israel’s second king. In 2 Samuel 7:8–13 we read: 8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9 I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men of the earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. “‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (NIV)

      God promised to make David’s name great, that from him would be a dynasty and that from among his descendants would be a king who will rule forever.  This is promise seems impossible, however so did the likelihood that someone like David could become king; yet as God reminds David, He made it happen!  8 “Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture and from following the flock to be ruler over my people Israel. 9a I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. 

       David’s journey from the youngest of 8 sons to King was not a quick, easy or pain free journey. It took 20 plus years and for many of those David lived as a wanted man hiding in caves and foreign lands!  We often look at the Biblical characters as finished products – strong, wise, and good – and forget the journey the Lord took them on!  We also tend to forget that God uses difficult challenges in our lives, to, over time; develop a Christ-like character in us.  We must remember that staying faithful to the Lord is the only way that will lead us to true fulfillment!  The Lord won’t abandon us!  As you look back, you will see that difficult times do strengthen your faith as your lean on the Lord!

      The 2 Samuel 7 promise to David’s line became a main source of messianic hope.  After David died and successive kings followed him, some wondered if God’s promise could ever come to pass.  The kings after David were inconstant in their obedience to God’s commands.  The nation of Israel grew divided and weak.  What would come of God’s promise to David?  Through the prophet Isaiah the Lord spoke of certain judgment coming, the tree of David’s dynasty would be cut down. Yet, God had not left them, there was still hope concerning his promise to David.  Isaiah 11:1-2, 10 “1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.10 In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.” (NLT).

      Isaiah 11 foresaw the collapse of the Davidic monarchy yet encouraged the faithful that God’s promise to David had not been forgotten.  The Davidic stump is not dead, a shoot will grow – the promised one will come!  This is why Jesus’ genealogy is so important; it confirms that the promise has been fulfilled!  The first verse in the first book of the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew says: “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” Matthew 1:1 (NIV).

       When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he said to her: “Don’t be afraid! God is pleased with you, 31 and you will have a son. His name will be Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of God Most High. The Lord God will make him king, as his ancestor David was. Luke 1:30b–32 (CEV).  When the Angel Gabriel also told Mary that her elderly relative Elizabeth was six months pregnant, Mary left to visit Elizabeth & her husband Zechariah and spent time in their home. 

      Luke 1:5-25 records the Angel Gabriel’s visit with Zechariah in the Temple. When Zechariah sought proof that his wife would have a son, he was told he would remain unable to speak until God’s plan unfolded.  Luke 1:57-66 tells what happened when their son was born and on the eighth day named John – Zechariah began to speak again!  Listen to Zechariah’s first words after 9 months of reflecting on what God was doing:  Luke 1:67–73. “Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant— the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham.” (NLT).  God has remembered his covenant with Abraham and David, and he has sent the promised one!

      The Apostle John, writing in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible quotes these words of Jesus:  16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” Revelation 22:16 (NIV)

      The good news is that God does keep his promises – He does not forget them – even if to us, they seem forgotten or impossible to fulfill.

      A lesson we from can learn is that if God has a promise, He has a plan!  If God’s got a promise for me, He’s also got a plan to get it done!  My job is not to come up with a plan to fulfill God’s promise it is His promise after all!  My job is to do what he has asked me to do – and looking at Abraham, Jacob & David – that is to obey Him and walk in His ways – even when it is hard and the outcome seems doubtful!  Trust & obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!

Hymn: #141 “O little town of Bethlehem” (Click on link for music: https://youtu.be/4uLELfqlntI)

Verse 1 – O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie!  Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.  Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Verse 2 – For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above, While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love, O morning stars, together proclaim the holy birth!  And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth.

Verse 3 – O holy Child of Bethlehem!  Descend to us we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in; Be born in us today.  We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel.

CCLI Song # 27879  Lewis Henry Redner | Phillips Brooks  © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you always to do and say what is good.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 GNB).

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

Genesis 49:10. “God works in spite of our messes!”

December 13, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow down before him.  For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules all the nations.” Psalm 22:27–28 (NLT).

Hymn: #131 Angels from the realms of glory – (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/B4CPa_H0GEk)

Angels from the realms of glory, Wing your flight over all the earth; Ye, who sang Creation’s story, Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:  Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds in the fields abiding, Watching over your flocks by night, God with man is now residing,
Yonder shines the Infant light:  Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Sages leave your contemplations, Brighter visions beam afar; Seek the great Desire of Nations
Ye have seen His natal star:  Come and worship, come and worship, Worship Christ, the newborn King.

     In this year’s advent messages we are remembering that God’s promise to send a deliverer, the Messiah Jesus – had been made long ago in the Scriptures. We have seen that his plan began back at with Adam and Eve. God promised to send deliverer from the seed of a woman to crush the head of Satan the deceiver.

     Later, Abraham was promised that one of his offspring would be a blessing to every nation on earth: “Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18 (GW).  God’s promise to Abraham was extended to his son Isaac and then Isaac’s second born son Jacob.

Today we turn our attention to Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, whose name God later changed to Israel. Jacob had 12 sons, and their descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel.

     Jacob got his name, “grasper of the heel” when as the second born of twins, he was seen grabbing onto his brother’s heel as Esau was born first (Gen. 25:26). The name Jacob also has the figurative idea of “deceiver” and Jacob lived up to his reputation as a schemer in his early years. Jacob bought the rights of the first-born son for a meal from his brother Esau when he was too hungry to think straight.  But his biggest grab was when he deceived his father and stole the blessing his father thought he was giving to Esau, his eldest son.  The stolen blessing resulted in Esau doing some scheming of his own – he planned to kill his brother after their father had died!  Jacob was sent away to find a wife among his mother’s relatives, but the true reason was to escape his brother’s vengeance – what a mess!

     As Jacob was escaping this mess of his own making, he had a dream in which and God extended the same promise he had made with Abraham & Isaac to him (Gen. 28:13-15) and included a promise to bring Jacob back to this land, ending with the words: “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:15b (NIV) – what grace!  When Jacob returned to Canaan years later, God renewed His covenant and changed Jacob’s name from “He grasps” to Israel “he struggles with God” Gen. 35:9-12.

     Jacob had 12 sons with his 2 wives and 2 of their servants, each acting as a surrogate for their respective mistresses. Jacob struggled to father his 12 sons.  He openly preferred the sons of his beloved wife, which enflamed the jealousy of his 10 other sons.  Jacob fell into years of depression on the news that his favourite son Joseph had been killed by wild animals while on an assignment for Jacob to report on the work of his brothers – what a mess! 

     It is only when news comes that his son Joseph is still alive as a ruler in Egypt does Jacob begin to come alive again. And Joseph is providing for the whole family move to Egypt to escape the famine which is far from over. What grace on God’s part; he remembered his promise and is preserving Jacob’s descendants!

     Genesis 47 records Jacob meeting one of the most powerful men in the world – The Pharaoh of Egypt. Amazingly it is Jacob who blesses the rule, Pharaoh (v. 7), a reminder of the role the Lord had given Abraham and his descendants. Jacob is witnessing God’s grace on his life when he had almost given up because of his countless failures. Now he is becoming what God planned for him to be!

     The 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, followed the life of two men who ended up winning gold medals in the 1924 Paris Olympic for the British team.  Early in the movie we see one of the men, Eric Liddell, compete in a regional race where he is favored.  As the 440-yard race begins, Liddell is bumped and falls to the ground – the crowd groans with disappointment.  But to their amazement, Liddell rises to his feet, leans his head back and in characteristic fashion, strides even harder, and catches his opponents from twenty yards back to win the race.

     This became Liddell’s signature – not the way he began his races, but the way he finished them: head tilted back, mouth wide open, body in full stretch, and feet moving faster than those of any other man in the world! He is a classic example of the saying “It’s not how you begin the race but how you finish it that is important.”[1]

     As we come to the final chapters of Genesis, we also come to the end of the life of Jacob. The New Bible commentary says: The extended description of Jacob’s death and burial looks like morbid melodrama. It is, in fact, a celebration of the fulfillment of the promises.[2]

Jacob has lived in Egypt for 17 years and is coming to the end of his life. He calls his sons together to give them some final words. He still must have marvelled at God’s ability to work with him and his family.  Just when it looked like they would perish in the famine, God saved them through a son he thought had died. Oh, the mysteries of God!

     Jacob has something to say to each of his sons –what is especially important for us to hear during the Advent season are his words to his son Judea, in Genesis 49:8-10. “Judah, your brothers will praise you; your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, 0 Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is his.”  (NIV)

     Judea is the fourth son, but his tribe will rule the other tribes and will hold the sceptre for one to whom it belongs. Which tribe was King Saul from? Benjamin. Did he have a dynasty? No. How about King David, what tribe was he from? Judea. Jacob was foreseeing the royal line of David, yet there is more!  What is verse 10 saying? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is his.  Judah will rule until the “rightful” ruler comes and he will rule what? Israel?  It says: the obedience of the nations is his. This is a continuation of the promise God made in the Garden of Eden and to Abraham that he is sending a deliverer to all of humanity.  This is another prophecy regarding the Messiah: he will rule the nations.

     In Isaiah 55:8-9 God reminds us of something we often forget: “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NLT)

     We don’t like unanswered questions.  We think everything should be knowable and make sense to us! Jacob is an example of someone who learned over time, that the best way to live life, is to trust God to work out His promises rather than trying to figure out how to make them happen yourself! 

     Hebrews chapter 11 is a record of people who pleased God – not because they figured him out or his plan. They pleased God because they believed He had a plan and believed it was the best plan. They trusted Him and allowed Him to work that plan through their lives. The Bible defines this action as “walking by faith“. They didn’t live a flawless life, have all the answers, nor could they foresee how it would all end. Many of them suffered because of this choice but they still choose to believe by faith and trust God’s plan.

     Today, we know more of God’s plan, we know the deliverer has come and he is Jesus Christ the Lord. Yet we still don’t have all the answers and we too must choose to put our faith in God and walk by faith – through times of plenty, in suffering, loss, struggles with family & friends but we don’t let anything take our eyes off our choice to live a life of faith – even when it’s not easy, especially when it’s not easy!

     The Book of Genesis ends with God continuing to reveal his plan to send a deliverer who would be not just for the Jews, but for all humanity. This is what Paul often referred to as the mystery. Romans 16:25-26 says: “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him (NIV)

…The key to Jacob’s happy ending was not mainly that he was happy. That was most obvious. He was thrilled to have his whole family together again. But that is not what was most important. What was important was that he finished his life in an all-out sprint, serving the Lord. Murmuring had been replaced with praise. Accusations had been replaced with blessings. Passivity and reclusiveness had been replaced with action. And fear had been replaced with faith (46:4)! Jacob had finished well.[3]

     How will you finish your walk of faith? Are you tempted to give up because all the messes in your life – your own doing or because of others?  We don’t have all the answers, but we know that our God is worthy of our trust. He has been at work amongst us from creation, to bring us back into relationship with himself; he is worthy of our trust.

     How will you finish? There are so many distractions in life. Christmas itself shows how easy it is to let the good, distract us from what is most important – making God’s gift known. How are you doing? When you fall, do you give up or get up and with God’s help keep going? Hebrews 11 still has room for your name in it!  Keep walking in faith right to the finish line!

Hymn: #117 “We come O Christ to you” (click on link for music: https://youtu.be/xQ10rn5G4Wg)

Verse 1 – We come O Christ to You, True Son of God and man, by Whom all things consist, in Whom all life began:  In You alone we live and move and have our being in Your love. 

Verse 2 – You are the way to God, Your blood our ransom paid; In You we face our Judge and Maker unafraid.  Before the throne absolved, we stand, Your love has met Your law’s demand. 

Verse 3 – You are the living truth!  All wisdom dwells in You, The source of every skill, The one eternal True!  O great I Am!  In You we rest, Sure answer to our every quest. 

Verse 4 – You only are true life, to know You is to live the more abundant life That earth can never give:  O risen Lord!  We live in You, in us each day Your life renew! 

Verse 5 – We worship You Lord Christ, Our Savior and our King, To You our youth and strength adoringly we bring:  So, fill our hearts, that all may view Your life in us, and turn to You!

CCLI Song # 3680735 Margaret Clarkson © 1957. Renewed 1985 InterVarsity Press. Assigned 1987 to Hope Publishing Company For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

[1] Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (169-173). Leominster Day One Publications.

[2] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed.) (Ge 48:1-50:26). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, III., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.

[3] Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (169-173). Leominsten Day One Publications.

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

Genesis 12:1-3. “The impact of faith in the one true God – Abraham.”

December 6, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.  Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Isaiah 60:1, 3 (NRSV)

Hymn #127 “Thou didst leave Thy throne” (click link for music Thou didst leave Thy throne – YouTube)

Verse 1 – Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me; but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for Thy holy nativity.  O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 2 – Heaven’s arches rang when the angels sang, proclaiming Thy royal degree; but in lowly birth

Didst Thou come to earth, and in great humility. O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 3 – The foxes found rest, and the birds their nest in the shade of the forest tree; But Thy couch was the sod, O Thou Son of God, In the deserts of Galilee.  O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 4 – Thou camest, O Lord, with the living word that should set Thy people free; but with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn they bore Thee to Calvary.  O come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.

Verse 5 – When the heavens shall ring and the angels sing at Thy coming to victory, Let Thy voice call me home, Saying, yet there is room, there is room at My side for thee.  My heart shall rejoice Lord Jesus, When Thou comest and callest for me.

CCLI Song # 91977 Emily Elizabeth Steele Elliott | Timothy Richard Matthews © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We have now entered the season of Advent, a time of preparation for coming of Jesus.  Last week we saw in Genesis 3:15 that even before Adam & Eve hear the judgment on their sin, God gives them a message of hope that all is not lost!  Within the curse upon the serpent is a promise that God is going to send someone, a seed of Eve who will be able to free humanity from Satan’s grip.

     Today we are going to look at the good news from God promised through Abram or as God later named him, Abraham.  This promise forms the backbone of God’s plan to bring humanity back into relationship with Himself.

     We first meet Abraham in the last verses of Genesis chapter 11.  Consider all that is included in the first 11 chapters of Genesis: Creation, the fall, humanity’s growing sinfulness, the judgment of the flood, Noah & his family’s salvation, the re-population of the world and the confusion of languages which comes upon humanity at the tower of Babel due to its growing pride.  Finally at the end of chapter 11 in the genealogy of Shem Abram is introduced and then chapter 12 begins with God’s invitation to Abraham to trust him.

     Before we look this invitation, think what it means that the next 12 chapters, Genesis 12 to 23, focus on the later years of one man, Abraham (He’s 75 years old in Gen. 12)! In addition, Chapter 24 is about fulfilling Abraham’s wish to find a wife for son Isaac and chapter 25:1-8 records Abraham’s final years and death.  This man must have a very significant role in God’s plan in order to get this much attention!  Now, let’s look at Genesis 12:1–3 1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (NIV)

     Verse 1 explains what Abraham needed to do.  God wanted him to leave his country, his culture and family, and travel until he told him to stop.  If Abram would do this, trust God with his life, family & livelihood, God promises to bless him and his children, what a promise!  This required faith, since Abraham & Sarah were older and didn’t have any children!  God continues, saying that He will take how people treat Abraham personally; to bless or curse Abraham was to bless or curse God!  And God continues: “and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (NIV)  Don Richardson in his book Eternity in their hearts says this about Genesis 12:1-3, “He is not blessing Abram to make him egotistical, arrogant, aloof, or self-centered.  Yahweh blesses him to make him a blessing – and not just to his own kin!  This blessing is targeted to nothing less than all peoples on earth!  And nothing could be less selfish or less provincial!”[1]

     God’s promise to bless Abraham’s off spring and through them all the nations of the earth, is repeated twice more to Abraham (Gen. 18:18; 22:17-18), to his son Isaac (Gen. 26:4) and to his grandson Jacob (Gen. 28:14). Throughout the history of Israel, continued to God keep his covenant with Abraham.

     Shortly after the church was established the Apostle Peter pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.  In Acts 3:24–26 we read: “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.” (NLT).

     As the early church grew beyond the borders of Judea, it struggled with how to treat the Gentiles.  Paul (Saul) was called by God to be the Apostle to the Gentiles and this meant he needed to understand what God required for membership in the church.  Paul’s pharisaic training taught him the Gentiles should first become Jews to be accepted by God.  The only problem with this plan was God; he was “breaking the rules!”  When the Good News of salvation through faith in Jesus was proclaimed to the Gentiles, those who responded were receiving God’s Holy Spirit before they could be properly inducted into Judaism (Acts 10:44-48; 11:19-25)!  The church’s leadership met and concluded that God was making it clear that conversion to Judaism was not required to become a Christian. 

     This didn’t satisfy the legalists who continued to tell Gentile Christians that they need to conform fully to the laws of Moses.  To counter these claims Paul went back to be beginnings of Judaism: not to Moses and the Law, but to Abraham.  Abraham was the first to be told by God to circumcise all the males in his household as a sign they belonged to him.  Paul then reminds us that God’s promise to bless Abraham took place long before he told Abraham to get circumcised (Gen. 12:4 – Abraham is 75 years old. He is 99 years old when he is circumcised in Gen. 17 – and thus becomes “Jewish”). Paul then concludes that the true “Children of Abraham” were those who followed God by placing their faith in him, and not in their own external actions (like circumcision).  In Galatians 3:26–29 Paul writes: “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (NLT).

     Those who God considers “Abraham’s seed” are those who approach him in faith.  In Romans 3 we read that the only way to have our sin removed and our relationship with God restored is to come to him in faith, trusting his grace provided though Jesus. Romans 3:22–24: “22 God treats everyone alike. He accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ. 23 All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. 24 But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, he freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins.” (CEV).

     The good news God promised through Abraham concerning his seed, Jesus, is to bless the whole world, and he is at work now doing that through us!  God’s plan was not just to save one family or even one nation, but that all of the people on earth would have an opportunity to respond to his saving grace.

     In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John recorded a vision of the last days.  Listen to how God’s people gathered in heaven are described:  “Then they sang a new song, ‘You [Lamb of God] are worthy to receive the scroll and open its seals, because you were killed. And with your own blood you bought for God people from every tribe, language, nation, and race. You let them become kings and serve God as priests, and they will rule on earth.’” Rev. 5:9–10 (CEV)

     Listen again to Don Richardson: “John could as easily have described the scenes mentioned with a single Greek noun for mankind. Instead he ransacks the entire Greek language and musters every noun available to denote the kind of ethnic subdivisions of mankind which were the original God-ordained targets of the Abrahamic ‘blessing’.” [2]

     As God promised Abraham and showed John, his plan is to reach all the people groups of the world with the Gospel message.  All who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed, and heirs of God’s promise and using us God wants to bless all the families of the earth.  This good news, this is great news – we are part of God’s plan! 

Hymn #138 – “Go tell it on the mountain” (click link for music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hh1pNRznPcQ)

Chorus – Go tell it on the mountain, Over the hills and ev’rywhere; Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is born.

Verse 1 – While shepherds kept their watching O’er silent flocks by night, behold throughout the heavens there shone a holy light. 

Verse 2 – The shepherds feared and trembled when lo above the earth rang out the angel chorus that hailed the Savior’s birth.  Chorus

Verse 3 – Down in a lowly manger the humble Christ was born and God sent us salvation that blessed Christmas morn.  Chorus

CCLI Song # 1869562 Geron Davis | John W. Work Jr. © Words: Public Domain  Music: 1995 DaviShop Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Gaither Music Company (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: 16 May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, 17 put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 The Message)

 

[1] Richardson, Don Eternity in their hearts, p. 6, Regal Books, 1983.

[2] Richardson, Don Eternity in their hearts, p. 131, Regal Books, 1983.

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.
 

Genesis 3:15.  “The first promise of hope.”

Nov. 29, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship The One who was sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!”…  The One on the throne said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End…    Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.” Revelation 21:5a, 6a; Deuteronomy 31:6 (NCV)

Hymn: #124 “Come, Thou long expected Jesus.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.  Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth Thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver, born a child, and yet a king.  Born to reigh in us forever, now thy gracious kingdom bring.  By thine own eternal Spirit rule in all our hearts alone, by thine all sufficient merit, raise us to thy glorious throne.

    

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent, which comes from the Latin “adventus” and means “coming” or “arrival”, takes place over the four Sundays before December 25.  Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus.

     2020 has been, at best, a strange year.  “Social distancing” entered our vocabulary and altered our interactions.  Even our most significant times together had to change: Celebrations of birth and marriages and the ability to grieve together in sickness or death.

     The 2020 Advent season begins with strong recommendations that we don’t have anyone beyond our immediate household in our home for the next 3-4 weeks.  What is our Christmas going to be like if these restrictions need to remain in place through December?  It wouldn’t surprise me, if some people decide to cancel Christmas this year – If we can’t do it Right, we won’t do it at all! 

     How about you, are you going to cancel Christmas?  The Christian’s response is to remember that Christmas is more than a celebration of family – it is about celebrating the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise of hope to humanity.  The Apostle Paul tells us about this good news from God: “2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures—3 concerning his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord,” Romans 1:2–3a (CSB).  Why did Jesus need to come?  To answer that question and also understand our current crisis, let’s start at the beginning, Genesis 3.

     Genesis 3 begins with a choice that the first humans needed to make.  Whose word would they believe as truth, God’s or Satan’s?  Satan came in the form of a serpent to tempt them to do the one thing God had told them not to do because it would result in death.  Satan raised doubts about God’s goodness & truthfulness – “You won’t die! It’s not that he’s protecting you from death, he just doesn’t want you to be like himself.”

     Adam and Eve decided to reject God and chose to live independent from their creator.  As a result they and all of creation faced the consequences of their choice: pain, suffering, sickness, and death.  Covic-19 is just one of countless illness that have afflicted mankind ever since. Yet within the judgment God spoke on the Serpent was a hint of hope, God had not given up on us! “14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. 15 I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:14–15 (CSB).

     What is the good news here?  The focus in verse 14 on the animal seems to change in verse 15 to the one controlling the animal, Satan.  In v. 15 God is promising he will act (I will), as a result, a descent of Eve’s will have the ability to defeat Satan hold over us!  This ‘hope’ in the curse of the serpent was remembered and then recorded by Moses.  This is the first promise that God will send us a saviour!  Generations to come wondered who that would be. 

     The Gospel of Luke records that God’s messenger, an angel made the news public by announcing it to a gathering of shepherds the night Jesus was born: “10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Luke 2:10–11 (NIV).

     The Savior has been born – this is Good News?  Jesus was born, lived, taught, was crucified and rose on the third day, conquering death.  Satan struck his heel on the cross, but was struck a blow to the head.  The penalty of sin has been paid; death will no longer separate followers of Christ from God for eternity.  Join in the angels’ song: 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”” Luke 2:14 (NIV).  

     However, death still stocks us.  Sickness, hatred and the effect of sin still remain.  What has happened?  Fear not, God’s plan is still unfolding.  The Scriptures make it clear that the Christ will return as king, defeating sin, death and Satan once and for all (Rev. 20:10, 14).  This is our reason to hope!  We follow in the footsteps of those who take God’s Word as truth and walk in faith that he will keep his promises (see Hebrews 11).

     This brings us back to Advent and our promise keeping God.  Advent is not just about celebrating the birth of a baby in a manger 2000 years ago. It is a time to reflect on the “big picture” of God’s plan.  This passage reminds us that the good news announced by the Angels in Bethlehem had been planned by God long before.  Our advent focus has tended to be on Jesus’ birth, but for most of the church’s history that was considered only the first advent.  The season of advent also calls us to prepare for Jesus’ return, his second advent.  How are we to do that?  I read this statement about Advent: ‘The season of Advent in the Christian calendar anticipates the “coming of Christ” from three different perspectives; three perspectives?  What is this third coming of Christ which Advent calls us to prepare for?  This third advent is essential if Jesus’ birth and return is to have true significance to us.  It is “the coming of Christ in our hearts.”  Accepting Jesus personally, within your own heart!

     From the moment we fell into Satan’s clutches, God has been preparing to secure our freedom.  Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and committed to him as your life’s leader?  Listen to God’s Word as recorded in Romans’ 10:9-10, 13 9 If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. 10 For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved.” 13 As the scripture says, “Everyone who calls out to the Lord for help will be saved.”” (GNB).   

     This is why we can’t cancel Christmas!  This is the gift we have to share with everyone – the truth that God hasn’t given up on humanity.  The inner darkness so many people are experiencing makes the light of God’s love expressed through Christ all the more attractive.  Those of us between Jesus’ first and second coming who daily experience his advent within our lives are to share the hope of Christ with all we meet.  Listen as Paul continues in Romans 10:14 & 15: 14 How can people have faith in the Lord and ask him to save them, if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear, unless someone tells them? 15 And how can anyone tell them without being sent by the Lord? The Scriptures say it is a beautiful sight to see even the feet of someone coming to preach the good news.” Romans 10:14–15 (CEV).

     Yes some of our Christmas traditions will change this year.  Phone and video calls may replace our Christmas gatherings, but the true reason for the season hasn’t changed.  In fact, the message of the good news of Jesus’ coming is needed more than ever.  Explain why you can’t cancel Christmas: God has seen our needs, heard our cries and has draw near – Now is the time to ask him to come into your life and give you his peace.

Closing song: The light of the world is Jesus (vv. 1,2). https://youtu.be/ACLntTuo8mQ

Verse 1 – The whole world was lost in the darkness of sin; The Light of the world is Jesus; Like sunshine at noonday His glory shone in The Light of the world is Jesus.

Chorus:  Come to the Light, It’s shining for thee; Sweetly the Light has dawned upon me; Once I was blind But now I can see; The Light of the world is Jesus.

Verse 2 – No darkness have we who in Jesus abide, The Light of the world is Jesus; We walk in the Light

If we follow our Guide, the Light of the world is Jesus.

CCLI Song # 4855332 Nathan Partain | Philip Paul Bliss © Words: Public Domain. Music: 2003 Partain, Nathan. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  20 The God of peace brought the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, back to life through the blood of an eternal promise. 21 May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20–21 (GW)

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

Psalm 134 – “Come, Bless the LORD.”

November 22, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

Call to Worship:  “A psalm of thanksgiving. Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are his— his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.” Psalm 100 (CSB).

Hymn: #2 “Come, Thou fount of every blessing” (click link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfXOUTaONoI)

Hymn: #4 “How great Thou art” (click link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IA5F9KC5eEM)

 

      Today we are looking at Psalm 134, the last psalm in the 15 song hymn book called “The Songs of Ascents.”  While the pilgrims of Israel on their way to the Temple in Jerusalem may have literally been ascending to Mount Zion as they sang these songs, we have also been ascending towards God as we have looked at each of these psalms in order.  Psalm 120 begins with a change of heart.  Perhaps the attaining of a long held dream has left us empty and unsatisfied.  Our goal has been met, but the inner meaninglessness remains.  Now we realize the sacrifices and compromises were for nothing!  What am I doing here? This is not where I want to be! I feel like I’m in a distant land, a self-serving, “dog eat dog” way I life I want nothing more to do with. I then do the only thing I can think of the will change things, I cry out to God for help – and he answers me!  Psalm 120 begins our journey back to God. 

      Rev. S Conway in his sermon on Ps 134 gives this helpful overview:  Ps. 121 tells of God’s continual preservation of his people; Ps. 122, of the joy and delight realized in the worship of the Lord; Ps. 123, of waiting continually upon God in times of trouble; Ps. 124, of deliverance from fierce foes; Ps. 125, of experience of God’s guardian care; Ps. 126, of the joy of God’s salvation; Ps. 127, of the Lord alone being our sure Keeper; Ps. 128, of God’s grace and goodness sweetening the home; Ps. 129, of afflictions many, but of preservation in them all; Ps. 130, of God’s blessed uplifting; Ps. 131, of the soul kept in the peace of God; Ps. 132, of the prosperity of the faithful [Church]; and Ps. 133, of [her] the blessings of unity; and now in Ps. 134 there is, as there well may be, the command to bless the Lord. What a long list it is of mercies, and help, and deliverances, and blessings unspeakable! If people will look back along their lives, they too will bless the Lord.[1]

      Listen to Psalm 134: “1 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. 3 May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 134:1–3 (NIV).

      The original setting for this psalm is not certain.  The call to praise the Lord in vv. 1 & 2 may have been given by priests who served during the day to the Levities who were responsible for the Temple grounds during the night.  Their work is mentioned in 1 Chron. 9:26-27 & 33 “The four full-time guards were Levites, and they supervised the other guards and were responsible for the rooms in the temple and the supplies kept there. They guarded the temple day and night and opened its doors every morning.” 1 Chronicles 9:26–27 (CEV).  “The Levite family leaders who were the musicians also lived at the temple. They had no other responsibilities, because they were on duty day and night.” 1 Chronicles 9:33 (CEV).

      In verse 3, the servants of the Lord on the night shift respond with a version of the priestly blessing on the speakers in vv. 1 & 2 as they depart: “May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.”

      One can see how this psalm would be a fitting song for worshippers at the Temple after joining in the evening prayers and before leaving for their nearby lodgings.  It may also be that this was sung as they were leaving the Temple at the completion of a festival.  James Boice, in his commentary says: “As they leave the city, they are encouraged to know that the priests will be remaining behind to represent them at the temple and so they will be worshiping God there continually.”[2] 

      Let’s take a closer look at the meaning of this psalm and its application for us today.  The best place to start is to ask: What is the main theme of this passage?1 Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord who minister by night in the house of the Lord. 2 Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. 3 May the Lord bless you from Zion, he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.” Psalm 134:1–3 (NIV).

      We could answer: “The Lord, praise or worship.”  The theme is clearer in Hebrew text through the use of the same word in each of the three verses. Let’s look at another English translation of the Bible which translates the Hebrew word the same all the way through this psalm.  Here it is in the NRSV translation: “1 Come, bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, who stand by night in the house of the Lord! 2 Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord. 3 May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.” Psalm 134 (NRSV).  Did you hear the repeated word?  It is “bless”.

      “Come, bless the Lord.”  There is a chorus based on this psalm that we used to sing in young peoples, and I used to wonder “How do I bless the Lord?”  Have you wondered that?  How do we bless the Lord?  When I think of blessing someone I think of wishing them wellness, contentment or happiness –   clearly God is not lacking in anything, so my definition needs adjustment!

      The problem is that our English word “bless” is used to translate two different Hebrew words.  The definition I just used of “bless” is for a Hebrew word that is used in Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,” (NIV).  This “blessed” is also translated as “happy is…” and describes the sense of well-being that comes when we are living in tune with God and experiencing his blessings.  The word in Hebrew is only used of people and never for God.

      The second Hebrew word translated as “bless” has the idea of kneeling or bending down, which is the appropriate attitude to have when approaching God.  When it is directed towards God, carries the idea of submissive praise as in Ps. 134:1, 2.  Mark Futato in his commentary on this psalm says: To bless the Lord is to confess our ultimate dependence upon him for all that we are, do, and have in this life. [3]

      Now, what does this word mean when the blessing is from God as in Ps. 134:3?  When this word refers to God, it pictures Him as bending down, getting on our level and sharing himself with us.  “May the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion.” (NRSV).  The one who spoke all that is into being, is not far away, but has come among us to bless us!  This is the gospel, the good news; that God has come to us, understanding our struggles and our needs – the WORD became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn. 1:14)!

      What should be our response?  We bless the Lord / we praise the Lord as the ultimate source of all blessings. Paul in Ephesians 1:3 writes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (NIV)

      How can we apply this passage to ourselves?       We can apply it literally – when we are up during the night or cannot sleep, we can also praise the Lord for his grace, mercy and love to us; just as we would do during the day.

      We can apply this passage missiologically.  At times when I cannot sleep, I pray for our missionaries and our fellow Christians on the other side of the world.  Perhaps the Lord is inviting me to pray because of a need they are experiencing!

      We can apply this passage personally. 

There are times life which seems very dark. Psalm 134 tells us to praise God in life’s dark moments also. Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” was probably inspired by an earlier hymn entitled, “O That I Had a Thousand Voices,” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cr4r6DQHytI) by Johann Mentzer who pastored a church in the village of Kemnitz, Germany (1696). Most of his parishioners were poor serfs whose hard work benefited their wealthy masters. Mentzer’s heart went out to his people, toiling in poverty and trouble, and he often counseled them to praise the Lord whatever the circumstances. One evening as Johann returned from a Bible study he grew alarmed at a frightening red glow in the sky. Hurrying onward, he found his own home ablaze. It had been set afire during his absence. As he later inspected the ruins, he was disturbed and downhearted. It was then that a serf reportedly tapped him on the shoulder, saying, “So, Pastor, are you still in the mood for praise and thanksgiving?” Johann offered a silent prayer, and at that moment, his whole attitude changed. It seemed to him that a Christian’s praise to God should be louder than the sound of the tongues of flame that had just consumed his home. The next day, he composed this hymn: “O that I had a thousand voices/and with a thousand tongues could tell/of Him in whom the earth rejoices/who does all things wisely and well.” [4]

Conclusion: If you can’t sleep at night, get up and bless the Lord. If you find yourself working for Christ in a dark area, learn to praise the Lord in the darkness. If you’re facing difficulty right now, try praise and thanksgiving.

      We are able to praise the Lord because he has poured out his blessings on his servants!  Thank you Lord.  Come, let us bless the Lord!

Hymn: #76 – O for a thousand tongues to sing (click link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Bm0b1745vA)

Benediction: “‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’” (Numbers 6:24–26, NLT)

[1] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Psalms (Vol. 3, p. 276). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary (p. 1167). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Futato, M. D. (2009). The Book of Psalms. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs (p. 401). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] Morgan, R. J. Nelson’s annual preacher’s sourcebook. 2005 Edition. (144–146). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

 

 

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.
 
Psalm 133.  “In harmony for God.”
November 15, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

 

Call to Worship: 1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the Lord’s house.””  3 Proclaim with me the Lord’s greatness; let us praise his name together!” Psalm 122:1; 34:3 (GNB).

Our God reigns (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px_MIcIwLEw)

Verse 1 – How lovely on the mountains are the feet of Him Who brings good news good news, Announcing peace Proclaiming news of happiness, Our God reigns our God reigns.

Chorus – Our God reigns our God reigns, Our God reigns our God reigns.

Verse 2 – He had no stately form He had no majesty That we should be drawn to Him. He was despised and we took no account of Him, Yet now He reigns with the Most High.

Verse 3 – Out of the tomb He came with grace and majesty, He is alive He is alive. God loves us so see here

His hands His feet His side, Yes we know He is alive.

CCLI Song # 8458  Leonard E. Smith Jr.  © 1974, 1978 New Jerusalem Music  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

Take us to the river (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6zfXz4wXTw)

Verse 1 – Take us to the river, Take us there in unity To sing a song of Your salvation, To win this generation for our King. A song of Your forgiveness, For it is with grace that river flows, Take us to the river, In the city of our God.

Verse 2 – Take us to Your throne room, Give us ears to hear The cry of heaven, For that cry is mercy, Mercy to the fallen sons of man, For mercy has triumphed, Triumphed over judgement by the blood. Take us to the throne room In the city of our God

Chorus – (For) the Spirit of The Sovereign Lord Is upon us. This is the year of the Lord. (2x)

Verse 3 – And take us to the mountain, Lift us in the shadow of Your hands.  Is this Your mighty angel Who stands astride The ocean and the land?  For in His hand Your mercy, Showers on a dry and barren place. Take us to the mountain In the city of our God.

Ending – Take us to the river, In the city of our God. Take us to the throne room In the city of our God.

CCLI Song # 2607692 Robin Mark © 1998 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

Psalm 133 A song of ascents. Of David. 1 How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.” Psalm 133 (NIV).

     Psalm 133 is the second last of the 15 psalms of ascent which were song by Hebrew pilgrims on their way to one of the three great annual festivals to the Lord.  Imagine the people are nearing the end of their journey to Jerusalem, to worship the Lord in the Temple.  The last Psalm, 134, focuses on the Lord and ministering in His presence.  This psalm, 133, celebrates their time together.  They have sung songs of repentance, songs of lament, and songs of praise to the Lord, all while worshipping together.  As they approached the Temple, I imagine there were some farewells spoken to their new friends – “This has been good! May the Lord bless you and have a wonderful festival…”
     Perhaps you have experienced this kind of closeness after a church retreat or a conference. Maybe you’ve had the thought, “I wish it could always be like this” – confirming what verse 1 says: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  Psalm 133 tells us about unity.  Unity is pleasing. Unity is beautifully refreshing and unity is life giving.
     Unity is wonderful; however, is this kind of harmony easy? Truthfully, unity is something that we struggle with, even within our own families!  The Bible is honest about humanities struggles to live in harmony after sin entered the world. The first murder occurred when Cain killed his brother Abel.  Jacob’s dysfunctional family led to Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery out of hatred & jealousy.  At one point even Jesus’ brothers criticised him, saying he was crazy! “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” This IS worthy of celebration because clearly, it doesn’t just happen!
Let’s take a closer look at Psalm 133:

1.  Unity is Pleasing (v. 1).   How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (NIV)

In the Hebrew, this verse begins with an emphatic cry, which is not in most translation: “Look” to draw our attention to what’s coming! The NASB does translate this word, using “behold” “ Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1 (NASB95).  In the very first breath we see unity is something worth celebrating!
     The Hebrew word translated “good” in verse 1 is “tob” and it is also used in verse 2 where the NIV translated it as “precious,” linking these two verses.  It is interesting to note that this word “tob” – is the very same word which is used in the creation story of Genesis 1, to express how God felt about what he had made: “And God saw it was good.” (Gen 1:9, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).  In Genesis 2 we see there is one thing which is not good – for man to be alone (2:18).  We were made to be in a relationship with God and with one another!   How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! (NIV)

 

This brings us to our second point:

2.  Unity is Sweet-Smelling. (v. 2)   It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.
     It is suggested that the repetition of the word “down” in this verse and the dew falling in v. 3 is to remind us that unity is something which comes down to us as a blessing from God.
     The oil poured on Aaron, the first High Priest is likely the anointing oil used for the priests. It was a unique combination of spices that was only worn by them.  In a crowd you might smell the presence of God’s representative, a priest, before you saw him!
     Jesus didn’t use the image of us as having a fragrance, however he did use the word pictures of us being like salt and light, in order to to call us to impact our world and draw people’s attention to God being with us:  “You are the salt of the earth…“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:13a,14,16 (NIV). Thirdly we see:
3.  Unity is life giving (v. 3)  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.
     Unity is not only described as being as pleasant to experience as a wonderful fragrance, it is also as valuable and refreshing as having the dew of Mount Herman, (the tallest mountain in the region at almost 10,000 feet) fall upon the much drier area of Mount Zion.  This word picture is to remind us that as water brings life to the desert, so unity in Christ brings life to relationships.  Remember, Jesus promises that as believers unite in prayer, he is there.  Matthew 18:19-20 (The Message)  When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”

 

     In Acts 1:8 Jesus said to his disciples: “You [all of you collectively] will be my witnesses.”  We have been given the privilege of bringing the life giving good news of Christ to the world!  God plans for us to work together in his strength to bring people back to God. Unity in Christ brings his  presence and his power!
     Notice the final sentence of this psalm, v. 3b: For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.  At first it may seem that the phrase “for there” refers to Mt. Zion.  However, remember the writer has been using similes in vv. 2 & 3a (precious oil & dew) to try to describe how wonderful unity is among God’s people.  As this psalm ends, we are told that unity among the people of God brings his blessing, now and in the life to come!  Thank you Lord!

Application:

     Psalm 133 is a celebration of unity, but is it realistic for us in our fragmented and divided world?  Some people have concluded that Psalm 133 is too idealistic so they worship God alone.  They say they love the Lord, but they don’t love the church because it has hurt or disappointed them.

     Eugene Peterson in his reflections on this psalm addresses this issue directly: “God never makes private secret salvation deals with people.  His relationships with us are personal, intimate, but not private.  We are a family in Christ.  When we became Christians, we are among brother and sisters in faith.  No Christian is an only Child.
      But, of course, just because we are a family of faith does not mean that we are all one big happy family.  The people we encounter as brothers and sisters in faith are not always nice people.  They do not stop being sinners the moment they begin believing in Christ… Some of them are cranky, some of them are dull and others a drag.  But at the same time our Lord tells us that they are brothers and sisters in faith.  If God is my father, then this is my family.” (pp. 169-170)
      However this idea of unity “must not be treated as something to put up with, one of the inconvenient necessities of faith in the way that paying taxes is an inconvenient consequence of living in a secure and free nation.  It is not only necessary; it is desirable that our faith have a social dimension, a human relationship: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (p. 171).
      “So the question is not, ‘Am I going to be part of a community of faith?’  But, ‘How am I going to live in this community of faith?’” (p. 170.  Eugene H. Peterson. “A long obedience in the same direction.” 1980, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois)
     Key to answering that question correctly is to answer it Biblically!  We need to remember that since our unity is God’s idea, we need to look to him for the wisdom and strength to live harmoniously.  Jesus prayed that we would be united as he and the father are united; so he is not talking about a superficial unity, listen to his prayer: “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.” John 17:11b (NIV).  Our unity is to be modeled after that between the members of the Trinity!  While this may feel impossible for us, since it is God’s plan, we can be sure that it can be done in his power and under his direction!
     Unity is a blessing which comes down from God, yet we are not passive participants, we must do our part to live in unity with each other.  How are we to do that?  We are to love one another!  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 (NIV).  For those who wonder what love has to do with living in unity, listen to 1 John 4:20 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (NIV).
     It’s not surprising if some of you are wondering what love has to do with unity.  That’s because we think of love as a warm fuzzy emotion and forget how the Bible defines it.  Listen to how 1 Corinthians chapter 13 describe love, remembering that Paul wrote this a church that was struggling with unity.  The love that Paul is describing is a love that nurtures unity.  Here it is from the Philips translation: If I speak with the eloquence of men and of angels, but have no love, I become no more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal. If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my mind not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all. If I dispose of all that I possess, yes, even if I give my own body to be burned, but have no love, I achieve precisely nothing. This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience—it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive: it is neither anxious to impress nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance. Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not keep account of evil or gloat over the wickedness of other people. On the contrary, it is glad with all good men when truth prevails. Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. (PHILLIPS)  This is the love we need to show one another in order to build unity!
     Clearly we don’t need to be convinced that unity is a good thing; the question is how can we achieve it?  Listen to Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (NIV)  Notice the similarity between this list and 1 Cor. 13’s description of unifying love.  God has not left us to struggle on our own, His Spirit, when allowed freedom to work within us, produces these unity building characteristics.
     Where God’s people dwell together in unity it’s a good and precious thing.  It is sacred, it is refreshing and it is blessed by God.  Unity is God’s idea and can only be accomplished in his strength through his Holy Spirit.  How do we do it?  Deepen your relationship with God and with the people of God! 

Closing Song: Bind Us Together (click link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuhIBLp5aHM)

Chorus – Bind us together, Lord; Bind us together with cords that cannot be broken.  Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord: Bind us together with love.

Verse 1 – There is only one God, There is only one King.  There is only one body; That is why we can sing.

Verse 2 – Made for the glory of God, Purchased by His precious Son.  Born with the right to be clean, For Jesus the vict’ry has won.

Verse 3- You are the fam’ly of God, You are the promise divine.  You are God’s chosen desire.  You are the glorious new wine. 

CCLI Song # 1228 Bob Gillman. © 1977 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing). For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6 NIV).

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

Psalm 132.  “Live today, remembering and hopeful.”

November 8, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name. For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness, through all generations.” Psalm 100:4–5 (CSB)

     We are continuing our look at the Psalms of Ascents, with today’s examination of Psalm 132.  The psalms gathered to form this collection call us to continue to rely on God. Why do we need to be reminded to keep growing spiritually?  Because our “world’s system” is not focused on pleasing God, and certainly not on acknowledging him as the leader of our life.  The world tells us we need to be our life’s leader, the individual is king – “it’s all about me.”

     I want to look at a couple of assumptions from our world system that we need to be aware of or they will weaken our spiritual maturity.

     The first is the idea of living for the moment.  “Just be in the moment.”  While most of us enjoy spontaneity in life, and stores count on it for increased sales, we are talking about something else.  This call to “just live for the moment” means to stop thinking about the past or worrying about the future and just enjoy “right now.”  Yes, it’s not healthy to get stuck in the past or to only dream about the future; yet ignoring both and focusing only on the emotions of the moment could lead us to make choices without considering the costs or consequences.  It becomes a repackaging of the phrase “If it feels good, do it!”

     A second assumption is “You have to do what’s best for you.”  All of life is to be evaluated by how it impacts you as an individual.  “How is this going to make me feel?”  “How is this going to help me?”  “How will doing this benefit me?” 

     What you would you think of a pollster who issued a report on how Canadians felt about a new show, only to find out they interviewed only one person who hadn’t watched the whole show?  We would have been given inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information!  That is what we are doing when we base our conclusions on prayer, giving, God’s forgiveness, eternal salvation etc., on our own personal findings.  To get a more complete picture we need the experiences of others – brothers and sisters in the church and the centuries of experience provided by our biblical ancestors and especially God’s Word.

     Psalm 132 shows mature obedience as a lively, adventurous response of faith that lives in the present, but is also grounded in historical fact and reaches upward to a promised future based on God’s Word. 

     Psalm 132 is the longest of the Psalms of Ascent.  The first half is a prayer remembering the oath David made to the Lord and the second half recalls the oath the Lord made to David concerning his descendants.  Listen to Psalm 132:

“A song of ascents. 1 Lord, remember David and all his self-denial. 2 He swore an oath to the Lord, he made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob: 3 “I will not enter my house or go to my bed, 4 I will allow no sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5 till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.” 6 We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: 7 “Let us go to his dwelling place, let us worship at his footstool, saying, 8 ‘Arise, Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. 9 May your priests be clothed with your righteousness; may your faithful people sing for joy.’ ” 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not reject your anointed one. 11 The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath he will not revoke: “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne. 12 If your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.” 13 For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling, saying, 14 “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it. 15 I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor I will satisfy with food. 16 I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy. 17 “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. 18 I will clothe his enemies with shame, but his head will be adorned with a radiant crown.”” Psalm 132:1–18 (NIV).

Psalm 132:1-10A prayer remembering David.

  1. 1-5 Remembers David’s deep desire to honour the Lord with a proper dwelling place.
  2. 6-9 Is designed to remind the Israelites of story they knew well, of when David moved the Ark of God from the countryside of Jaar (Kiriath Jearim) to Jerusalem, their new captial.
  3. 10 Builds on the thought introduced in v. 1, but with greater detail. The Lord is asked to recall David’s passion for God, so the Lord will not reject the ‘anointed one’ – a reference to the Davidic King. This verse leads into the next section.

Psalm 132:11-18The promise made to David and his dynasty.

  1. 11-12 God promised David he would place one of his descendants on the throne, and if David’s sons are faithful to obey what God has said and taught them, their sons will also reign.
  2. 13-16 The Lord confirms that Jerusalem is where He will rule from and as a result will bless the city and its residents. “16 I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her faithful people will ever sing for joy.” I am reminded of the words of 1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)
  3. 17-18 God’s promise to David will be fulfilled through his anointed one. We know this promise came true in Jesus! The horn mentioned in v. 17 means strength and represents the king who will rule.  The Lord’s enemies will be humbled (v. 18) as he is glorified!

     What can we learn from psalm 132?  We can see that God’s promises to David have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus:

     The promises of Psalm 132:11–12 are heard in the words of the angel spoken to Mary: Luke 1:30–33. “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”” (NIV)

     The promises of Psalm 132:17–18 are declared in Zachariah’s song of praise when, after the naming of his son, John, his speech is restored: Luke 1:67–71. “His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us” (NIV)

     Let me urge you to resist the tendency to treat this like it is ‘old news’, because this is great news!  It wonderful to be reminded that God kept a promise made to King David approximately one thousand years before the birth of Jesus, in David’s birth place, Bethlehem! 

     As we read Ps 132 we rejoice that the Messiah has come and yet we know we have more promises to look forward to, in this passage and others.  Our faith is not just about what happened in the past.  Our faith is anchored by the fulfilled promises of the past and it is energized by the future and what God has promised is awaiting those who trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord.

     This psalm is a great reminder of what is required for our Christian faith to grow and mature. If we simply live for the moment or just focus on ourselves and what we have experienced we doom ourselves to repeat mistakes of the past.  Living without an understanding of history can cause us to chase fads, and life becomes a huge puzzle which can lead you to feel like you are walking through a mine field, not know where it’s safe to step next.  Living without knowledge of God’s future promises of hope can make life bleak, rutted and hopeless. Many people today are asking: “What’s the point in life, why go on if this is all there is?”

     Psalm 132 cultivates the memory of God’s faithfulness and nurtures the hope for the future, which leads to mature obedience.  Christian, if you want to mature in your Christian life, you have to know your Bible and those who interacted with God before you.  Spend time reading it and reflect on what you are reading.  Look for lessons from history.  Look at God’s interaction with the people in the Bible.  Also listen for God’s promises – notice when they are answered – what does this mean for us?  Notice too, if there are promises still to come – is this a promise to look forward to?

Closing song: #406 “My hope is in the Lord” (vv. 1,2,4)

Benediction: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.  1 Corinthians 16:13, 14, 23. (RSV)

 

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.
 

John 12:23-26; Psalm 131.  “Humble obedience.”

November 1, 2020. Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: Psalm 9:1–2. “I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.” (NLT)

Song: #105 “He Is Lord” (click on link for music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ0XrNqrKVA)

Verse 1:  Emptied of His glory, God became a man, to walk on earth in ridicule and shame.  A Ruler yet a Servant, a Shepherd yet a Lamb, a Man of Sorrows agony and pain.

Chorus:  He is Lord He is Lord, He is risen from the dead and He is Lord.  Ev’ry knee shall bow, Ev’ry tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Verse 2:  Humbled and rejected, beaten and despised, upon the cross the Son of God was slain.  Just like a lamb to slaughter, a sinless sacrifice, but by His death His loss became our gain.

Verse 3:  Satan’s forces crumbled, like a mighty wall.  The stone that held Him in was rolled aside.  The Prince of Life in glory was lifted over all, now earth and heaven echoes with the cry.

CCLI Song # 1515225  Claire Cloninger | Linda Lee Johnson | Tom Fettke  © 1986 Curb Wordspring Music (Admin. by W.C.M. Music Corp.)  Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Our journey through the Psalms of Ascent started out with receiving correction in Ps. 120 where we saw it is good to be told when you are heading off track.  As we continued through these psalms we were encouraged to stay on course by those who came before us.  Their examples proclaimed that the Lord IS faithful to keep his promises so do not give up or lose faith, regardless of how bleak the circumstances may appear.

      Last week we saw that Psalm 131 dealt with spiritual maturity.  We are to come into God’s presence, not with pride or presumption for self-serving reasons, but in trust that God knows what he is doing and his ways are best.

      Today, being the first Sunday of the month, I want to focus our thought on communion and look at our Lord Jesus as he drew into the Father’s presence, knowing his crucifixion was only days away. 

      The Gospel of John, chapter 12 begins with a clear time and location reference:  It is only 6 days before the Passover, only 6 days before Jesus breaks bread and shares the cup with his disciples, telling them to remember his death until he returns.  Then in the pre-dawn hours Jesus is arrested and found guilty of crimes they deem worthy of crucifixion – He claimed to be the Son of God.

      John 12:1 tells us that when Jesus arrived in Bethany he is guest of honour at a dinner along with his dear friend Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  Lazarus’ sisters are also there: Martha is serving and Mary honors Jesus by anointing him with 500 ml of pure nard, a very expensive perfume worth a year’s wages.  Her extravagance draws the criticism of Judas Iscariot and the praise of Jesus.

      The next day is the event we refer to as the Triumphal entry.  When Jesus approached Jerusalem, his followers and other Passover travellers placed him on a donkey and began to shout out 13b Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  It was only after resurrection Sunday that Jesus’ disciples realized this moment had fulfilled Biblical prophecy!

      John tells us in 12:17-19 that the incredible response to Jesus’ arrival for the Passover greatly disturbed the Pharisees.  They are quoted in verse 19 as saying: “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him.”  John highlights this statement to introduce what happens next.

      In verse 20 some Greeks (Gentiles, pagans) who had come to worship at the feast, approach one of Jesus’ disciples requesting to meet with Jesus, “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus.’” John 12:21b (NIV). We don’t know anymore about that request, except that John focuses on what Jesus said to his disciples: “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” John 12:23 (NIV).  What’s the connection between the request and Jesus’ response?  From this point forward, the followers of Jesus would come to see that God’s plan in sending Jesus was not only to offer salvation to the Jewish nation, but to the entire world – all of humanity.  The interest of these Greeks was a sign to Jesus that another prophetic promise was coming to pass – God was drawing the gentiles to himself! “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”  Something big is about to take place, something great.  We lean in, along with the first disciples, wondering what that will be.  Listen carefully, this is very important, but not what most of us expect or want!     John 12:24–28. “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”” (NIV)

      The illustration Jesus uses in verse 24 is easily understood and visualized – it is common sense, when applied to wheat, barley or corn; but it takes on a whole different application when applied to human beings!  Jesus is not only foreshadowing his death and resurrection, as we see in vv. 27-28, but he is also speaking to us, those who wish to be his disciples (vv. 25-26).  Jesus has repeatedly taught his disciples about humility, that those who wish to be greatest must be the least, like a child.  In John 20, this now includes be willing to let go of their life, according to what this world says is important.  I am reminded of Psalm 131 and its picture of a contented weaned child.  This is a picture of someone who has released themselves to God’s care, rather than demanding they get their own way.

      As we prepare to celebrate communion and remember our Lord Jesus’ death, we remember that his death was an act of submissive obedience to the will of his Father.  In doing so, Jesus honours his Father and is himself glorified.  His willingness to face death, take the shame and the pain and the punishment that we deserved, breaks the power and grip of sin and opens the door for us to receive eternal life.  Jesus’ submission to death, like a seed, has produced a harvest of which we who have accepted him as our sin forgiver and life leader are a part! 

      Today, as we prepare to celebrate communion, remember, this is Jesus’ table.  He is the host, he is present, and it is our Lord’s Table.  Where do you stand with him?  John 12:26 says “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (NIV)  Are you following Jesus?  Are you allowing him to wean you off of your self-centred attitudes, to focus on loving and loving others with the same intensity you love yourself? “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.”  Are you following Jesus?  Are you serving him?  Are you going where Jesus is at work around you?  He will provide what you need if you step out in faith with him.

      Jesus’ understanding of being glorified turns the world’s definition on its head!  It is not about making oneself comfortable or famous or powerful, it is about doing the Father’s will.  Will you join Jesus in using your life to glorify God the Father?  Let’s close this time by saying the prayer our Lord taught us to pray:  “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Song:  #106 “Praise Him! Praise Him!” (click on link for music https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sRHedB3pRB4)

Verse 1:  Praise Him, praise Him, Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Sing O earth His wonderful love proclaim. Hail Him, hail Him highest archangels in glory, Strength and honor give to His holy name.  Like a shepherd Jesus will guard His children, In His arms He carries them all day long.

Chorus:  Praise Him, praise Him, tell of His excellent greatness, Praise Him, praise Him, Ever in joyful song.

Verse 2:  Praise Him, praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, for our sins He suffered and bled and died. He our Rock our hope of eternal salvation, Hail Him, hail Him Jesus the Crucified.  Sound His praises Jesus who bore our sorrows, Love unbounded wonderful deep and strong.

Verse 3:  Praise Him, praise Him Jesus our blessed Redeemer, Heav’nly portals loud with hosannas ring.  Jesus Savior reigneth forever and ever.  Crown Him, crown Him Prophet and Priest and King.  Christ is coming over the world victorious, Pow’r and glory unto the Lord belong.

CCLI Song # 40409  Chester G. Allen | Fanny Jane Crosby  © Words: Public Domain. Music: Public Domain. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “Now I am putting you in the care of God and the message about his grace. It is able to give you strength, and it will give you the blessings God has for all his holy people. Acts 20:32 (NCV)

 
 

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

Psalm 131.  “Measuring your spiritual growth.”

October 25, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship:6 What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship the Lord God Most High? Should I try to please him by sacrificing calves a year old? 7a Will thousands of sheep or rivers of olive oil make God satisfied with me? 8 The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”” Micah 6:6, 7a,8 (CEV).

Hymn: #213 “Because He lives” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sm2wLKZoGPY)

Verse 1: God sent His Son they called Him Jesus, He came to love heal and forgive. He bled and died to buy my pardon, An empty grave is there to prove My Savior lives.

Chorus: Because He lives I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future, And life is worth the living Just because He lives.

Verse 2: How sweet to hold our newborn baby, And feel the pride and joy he gives. But greater still the calm assurance, This child can face uncertain days Because He lives.

Verse 3: And then one day I’ll cross that river, I’ll fight life’s final war with pain, And then as death gives way to vict’ry, I’ll see the lights of glory And I’ll know He lives.

CCLI Song # 16880  Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither  © 1971 Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      How does one measure growth?  For most children its all about their height, they can see they are growing by the changes in their height.  Some of you may have had or still have a spot in your house where you measured the growth of each child or grandchild.  As kids get older, they love to measure their growth compared to their parents (I’m taller than mom!). 

      Now some kids think that when they reach a certain height or age that they should be able to do exactly what their siblings or friends got to do at that age.  However, parents know that physical height or age does not determine a child’s maturity.  For that parents are measuring different things.  For example, one would be your willingness to obey.  That means following instructions even if you do not “see the point” or how it will benefit you.  Another gauge of maturity is knowing when to take age appropriate responsibility and when to check with your parents.  A third indicator of growing maturity is your willingness to cooperate with others and encourage them to do the RIGHT thing.

      We will come back to these thoughts later, but today we are looking at how to measure our spiritual growth.  How do you know if you are maturing in your Christian life?  Is there a ruler somewhere we can stand next to and check?  Is it how many times you’ve read through the Bible?  Is it the number of times you attend church in a year?  Or how long you pray each day?  The number of doors you knock on?  The things you don’t do because you are a good Christian? {By the way, whose list should I follow? There are so many opinions!}

      In the 1960’s Fritz Ridenour wrote a little book on Romans for Bible study which he entitled “How to be a Christian without being religious”.  The author agrees that Christianity is a religion, but he defines “religious” as us trying to reach God, find God or please God through our efforts in the hope He will respond with grace and mercy. 

      Christianity, on the other hand is God reaching out to us and our responding to His grace, mercy and love by receiving His forgiveness through Jesus Christ.  The religious person is trying to win God’s approval through their actions and sacrifices.  A Christian realizes that they cannot earn God’s approval, but they can receive it from Him as a gift given through the sacrificial death of Christ Jesus on the cross for our sins.

      So, how can we measure our Christian maturity if not by our outward actions?  Let me suggest you have a talk with God about the attitudes of your heart.  For example, your willingness to obey God’s instructions, or knowing when to check in with Him about something or your willingness to cooperate with others while encouraging them to do the right thing.  This morning we are going to observe how to do that by “listening in” on someone as they reflect with God on their spiritual growth.  Listen as I read Psalm 131.  “A song of ascents. Of David. 1 My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. 3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Psalm 131 (NIV).

      Psalm 131 is the 12th of the 15 psalms of Ascent.  Psalms 120 – 134 were likely sung by those on their way to one of the three great annual festivals to the Lord held in Jerusalem.  Charles H. Spurgeon in his three volume commentary on the Psalms said that Psalm 131 “is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.  It speaks of a young child, but it contains the experiences of a man in Christ.”  Let take a look at this psalm.

Verse 1 – My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. (NIV)

      At first glance you might think that this verse is the introverts dream verse – I don’t need to get involved in life!  Yet this verse is not about avoiding the challenges of life, it is about facing life with the right approach: A God focused attitude.  This begins by joining the psalmist in avoiding two common sins of life; pride, and presumption!

      Pride undervalues other people in the attempt to boost your own value.  The answer to pride is found in Jesus’ example as told in Philippians chapter 2: “Don’t be jealous or proud, but be humble and consider others more important than yourselves.  Care about them as much as you care about yourselves and think the same way that Christ Jesus thought:  Christ was truly God. But he did not try to remain equal with God.  He gave up everything and became a slave, when he became like one of us.” Philippians 2:3–7 (CEV).

      The second sin the psalmist draws our attention to is presumption, “my eyes are not haughty”.  This is a feeling of contemptuous superiority over others.  Presumption is when one overvalues themselves.  This causes us to be hard to live with, and easily offended when we think we have not been treated as highly as we deserve!  Romans 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 (NIV).

      The psalmist rejects pride and presumption in his own life by keeping a proper perspective on his God – “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” (Ps. 131:1b).  This sounds like Job 42:3b after Job is confronted in chapters 38-41 with how little he (we) know about our world:  “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” Job 42:3b (NIV).

      The psalmist realizes like Job, there are countless things he does not understand and determines to stop second guessing God.  How about you?  Have you learned to stop second guessing God?  How can we do this?  By following Jesus’ example by constantly checking with the Father and the following his plans to begin with!  Are you obedient to God’s will?  This is a sign of spiritual maturity.

Verse 2 –  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (NIV)

      This is a beautify, intimate picture of peace that the psalmist gives us.  Does this describe you?  Do you draw into God’s presence to enjoy him and see life from his perspective?  Or are you only going to him when you are hungry for what you want from him: “Here’s my list – satisfy me!”  Knowing when to act and when to wait is a sign of relationship and maturity!

      This psalm reminds us of Jesus’ object lesson in Matthew 18:1–4 “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a little child and had him stand among them.  And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (NIV)

      The writer uses an easily understood illustration to picture an inner change that his soul was growing into.  The image of weaning includes with it a growing willingness to trust God with my life.  I will trust that He will provide what I need, when I need it as opposed to me fusing, crying & demanding He do something right now!  This theme of God’s tender care for His people is seem throughout the Bible: Deuteronomy 1:31 “And you saw how the Lord your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness, just as a father cares for his child. Now he has brought you to this place.” (NLT)

Isaiah 46:3–4 “Listen to me, descendants of Jacob, all you who remain in Israel. I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born.  I will be your God throughout your lifetime— until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (NLT)

The Psalmist is sharing the peace Paul describes he came to learn – Philippians 4:11–13  “I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have.  I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little.  Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” (CEV)

Verse 3 –  O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. (NIV)

      How do you know if you are maturing in the Lord?  Check to see where your focus is and what you do about it: “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.”  Are you sharing the hope you have found in the Lord with others and encouraging them in their journey back to him?  This is another sign of spiritual growth.

      Where are you now in your relationship with the Lord?  Close?  Distant?  Whose wisdom are you trusting in right now?  Is there something God is weaning you away from?  If so, do not fuss; he has something better to take its place – himself!

      Put your hope in the Lord:

Not in yourself, your plans, or your goodness (v. 1)

Not in God’s blessings & gifts (v. 2)

But in Him, in the Lord alone (v. 3)

      We tend to evaluate our spiritual maturity by what we do.  This psalm reminds us that maturity is seen in how we respond to life’s temptations and trials.  The psalmist had learned not to focus on personal accomplishments and status, but to find quietness of soul in trusting oneself to God’s care. 

Closing Song: #347 “Be still my soul” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDNxo_aIZQw)

Verse 1: Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide; In ev’ry change He faithful will remain.  Be still my soul thy best thy heav’nly Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Verse 2: Be still my soul thy God doth undertake To guide the future as He has the past.  Thy hope thy confidence let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last.  Be still my soul the waves and winds still know His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Verse 3: Be still my soul the hour is hast’ning on When we shall be forever with the Lord, When disappointment grief and fear are gone, Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored.  Be still my soul when change and tears are past, All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

CCLI Song # 96910  Jane Laurie Borthwick | Jean Sibelius | Kathrina Amalia von Schlegel  © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394 Benediction: “‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’” (Numbers 6:24–26, NLT)

Benediction: “‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’” (Numbers 6:24–26, NLT)

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.
 

Please NOTE: Since we have a guest speaker next week there will be no sermon from Pastor Robert emailed or posted for the Oct 18 service.

 

Psalm 107:1-32 “The secret to a thankful heart.”

October 11, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Shout praises to the Lord! He is good to us, and his love never fails.” “You should praise the Lord for his love and for the wonderful things he does for all of us.” Psalm 107:1, 8 (CEV).

Hymn #564: “We Are So Blessed” (click on link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh-FRgBB06Q)

Verse 1: We are so blessed by the gifts from Your hand, I just can’t understand why You’ve loved us so much.  We are so blessed, we just can’t find a way or the words that can say, thank you Lord for Your touch.

Chorus: When we’re empty You fill us ’til we overflow, When we’re hungry You feed us and cause us to know; we are so blessed, take what we have to bring; take it all ev’rything, Lord we love You so much.

Verse 2: We are so blessed by the things You have done, the vict’ries we’ve won and what You’ve brought us through.  We are so blessed, take what we have to bring; take it all ev’rything, Lord we bring it to You.

Bridge: More than ever before, Lord, I love You. More than ever before, Lord, I love You. More than ever before, Lord, I need You.  More than ever before, Lord, I want to tell You, I love you now more than ever before. (Repeat)

Ending: We are so blessed, take what we have to bring; take it all ev’rything, Lord we love you so much.  Lord we love You so much.

CCLI Song # 15991 Gloria Gaither | Greg Nelson | William J. Gaither © 1982 River Oaks Music Company (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today is Thanksgiving Sunday yet it has been such a strange year because of Covid-19 that one may not even feel like giving thanks.  Times of celebration such as weddings, birthdays and anniversaries have had to be drastically modified.  Times of grief have had to pass without the usual coming together of family and community for mutual support. Is it realistic to give thanks in the midst of times like these?  Today we turn to Psalm 107 for answers.  It deals with four difficult situations.  In each case, when the individuals finally choose to call out to God for help, he does help, and thankfulness is the appropriate response. The ability to give thanks is ultimately based on our choices. Today we will look at Psalm 107 for some of the secrets to having a thankful heart.

The 1st secret to a thankful heart is to celebrate the Character of God.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 (NIV)

     We give thanks because Our God is good and he is loving. God’s character is seen throughout this psalm; he is the God who responds to his people’s heartfelt prayers: vv. 6, 9, 14, 20, 29.  Notice that God’s character is celebrated by his people: “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,” Psalm 107:2 (NIV). Redemption means a change of ownership from one person to another after the payment of a purchase price. It also has the idea of “ransom” referring to paying for a slave or a prisoner under the sentence of death.  The loving character of God is highlighted in Romans 5:8. God the Father has already paid the cost of our sin in sending Jesus to die in our place (“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8 NIV). We only need to accept our need for his forgiveness and submit ourselves to his leadership.

     Note also that this psalm is not intended to be a ‘solo’ piece; it is to be sung by the full choir of God’s redeemed people, giving praise to God for his loving goodness demonstrated to his people.  Ephesians 1:7 also celebrates God’s character: “Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness.” (GW)

The 2nd secret to a thankful heart is to focus on the essentials of life vv. 4, 10, 17, 23-27).

     This psalm gives four different situations which forced people to reconsider what was most important in life.

     First there are the travelers attempting to cross a desert wilderness to find a place for them to settle (v4).  They are homeless, lost, helpless, hungry, thirsty and at the point of death.  When they called to the Lord he led them to a place of safety (v.7).  Asking for directions and help takes humility.  Humility is good, for God loves a humble heart!

     The second picture we have is of people who were determined to follow to their own wisdom, despising that found in God’s word.  Just as the Book of Proverbs warns, they find themselves in the darkness & gloom of a prison of their own making.

     The third situation mentioned are people, who because of their foolish, rebellious choices have become sick and find themselves at the point of death. Though not all sickness is a direct result of sin, some sinful activities lead to vulnerability to deadly illnesses.  Choices they felt would give them life need to be rejected, because they instead brought them to the point of death!

     The fourth situation is of merchant sailors who are in a huge storm which leaves them and their vessel of valuable cargo tossed about completely helpless. Calamities have a way of highlighting our frailties and refocusing our priorities.  We find that those things which we once were vital to bringing us happiness lose their significance.  Knowing the difference between necessities and luxuries helps one to be thankful for the basic joys of life itself.

     Remember that in Jesus hope is found for all who are trapped in the dangers and despair mentioned in this psalm. For those who have lost their way in life, Jesus is the good Shepherd and the Way (John 10, 14). For those captive in sin’s prison, Jesus is the one who gives ‘freedom to the prisoners’ (Luke 4:18). For those who are sick, Jesus is the great physician. For the helpless in life’s storms, Jesus is the one, who calmed the storm with a command: ‘peace, be still’ (Mark 4:39).

     Alford ‘Butch’ Summers, 30, was buried under tons of rubble when a Joplin, Missouri, hotel collapsed while he was working there as a welder. He said “There was no warning. All I could remember was all of a sudden, blam! It just collapsed.  No warning. There was no way of warning anybody. Everything was dark…

     “Did I panic? Oh, there was a time when I thought I might not make it. But I just kept pounding the pipe and praying a lot and hoping. I mainly lay down and prayed. I did an awful lot of praying. I prayed to Jesus, because He was the only one I knew could get me out of this. I’m not much of a religious man, but if anyone could get me out alive, it had to be Jesus.” (Fort Worth Star Telegram, Nov. 16, 1978, p. 3a).

     Three and a half days after the collapse of the hotel, Summers was rescued from the two-foot-high cavity where he had been trapped. From his hospital bed Summers said, “I don’t know how long I was there. All of a sudden the world caved in one me.” When the world caves in on you, as it did on Butch Summers, or as it did on the people described in the Psalm, we cry out to the Lord in our distress and He does hear us. The secret of thanksgiving is partly discerned when we have faced trouble and realize that all things are not equally important. When the basics of life are provided, it is time for great thanksgiving.

A Third secret to a thankful heart is to – Focus on the source of our help vv. 7, 14, 16, 20, 29-30

     Although ‘Butch’ Summers said he was not much of a religious man, he did know the source of help. He knew that if ‘anyone could get me out alive, it had to be Jesus.’ The people of Israel understood, as this Psalm so clearly shows, that God was the source of their strength and deliverance. He had brought them out of bondage, He had led them through the wilderness; He would bring them finally, safely home. If we are to be thankful, we must remember who the source of our blessings is; the Lord!

     A man, who had been an atheist, explained how he came to believe in God, this way. As he thought about the beauty of the dawn, the glory of the birth of a child, the love in the eyes of his wife; he didn’t know who to thank. On reflection, he had to admit to himself that this astonishing joy of life was so magnificent that nothing less than a God could have made it possible. This came from his desire to say thank you.

The fourth secret to a thankful heart is to practice the habit of gratefulness (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31).

     Did you notice in this psalm that after every time God saved his people there is a call for them to give thanks?  In Luke 17:12-19 we read the story about the ten men with leprosy that Jesus healed, but only one came back to him to say thank you? We can be just as careless with God’s blessings and not take the time to say “thank you” for all he does for us each day.

     In 1860 a boat sank in Lake Michigan, and of the 393 passengers only 114 survived.  In the midst of this immense loss, there was a story of amazing bravery and selflessness. A young man, Edward Spencer, swam out 17 times, each time bring some else to safety. After the seventeenth time he became delirious from the strain and had to stop. As a result of that night Spencer became sick and was confined to a wheelchair. Some years later, on Spencer’s birthday, a reporter asked him his most vivid memory of that heroic date in his life. His answer? “I remember that not one of the seventeen returned to thank me.” (Proclaim, Oct. – Dec. 1978, p. 30).

     Without thinking, we too can be ungrateful.  We need to think, we need to take time and choose to be grateful.  Psalm 92:1 reminds us: “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, 0 Most High” (NIV84).  Hebrews 13:15 says: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (NIV84)

     As I draw this message to a close, remember how Psalm 107 begins: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.” Psalm 107:1–3 (NIV).  The secret to a thankful heart begins with being one of the redeemed.  We need to ask ourselves, am I one of the redeemed?  Have I acknowledged my sin and need of God’s help?  Have I asked Jesus to be my sin forgiver and the leader of my life?  If you cannot count yourself as one of the redeemed: Admit your sin to God. Believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died in your place and rose victorious over death. Commit to following Jesus as your life leader.

     If you have accepted Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader then you should thank God and tell others that God IS good and how you have experienced his enduring love.  It may be helpful to recall that according to Romans 1:21 a mark of the unregenerate heart is that “they neither [glorify God] as God nor [give] thanks to him.”

     The secret to a thankful heart is to: Celebrate the character of God, remembering his goodness & love towards us. Focus on what really matters in life, instead of what won’t last. Remember that your help comes from God. In addition, be willing to take the time to reflect on God’s goodness and say thank you. As you look back on the tough times of our life look for God’s unfailing love in all the twists and turns your life has taken, and give thanks.  Psalm 107 concludes with these words: “Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 107:43 (NIV).  As we do, we can turn every day into Thanksgiving Day regardless of the circumstances.  “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Ps. 107:1 (ESV)

Hymn: #563 “Count your blessings (click on link for music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YinABKpI_JM)

Verse 1: When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged, thinking all is lost Count your many blessings, Name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Chorus: Count your blessings, Name them one by one; Count your blessings See what God hath done; Count your blessings, Name them one by one; Count your many blessings, See what God hath done.

Verse 2: Are you ever burdened with a load of care?  Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?  Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, and you will be singing as the days go by.

Verse 3: When you look at others with their lands and gold, think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold; Count your many blessings, Money cannot buy your reward in heaven, Nor your home on high.

Verse 4: So amid the conflict, whether great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all; count your many blessings, angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

CCLI Song # 40416 Edwin Othello Excell | Johnson Oatman Jr. © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain.  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: Go forth joyfully. God is with you. Bring peace and hope to all you meet. And may God’s eternal love shine through you always. AMEN.

You may also visit:  https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message and during the week of Oct. 4, 2020 by calling our Dial-a-sermon number 1-306-985-9001 (this is a Regina number and long distance charges may apply).

 

“John 17 – Jesus’ prayer”

Oct. 4, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church

Call to Worship: “The Almighty himself will be your treasure. He will be your precious silver! Then you will take delight in the Almighty and look up to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows to him.  You will succeed in whatever you choose to do, and light will shine on the road ahead of you.” Job 22:25-28 (NLT)

Hymn: #66 To God be the glory (https://www.hymnsite.com/baptist/tbh004-to-god-be-the-glory.shtml)

1.  To God be the glory, great things He hath done; So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life an atonement for sin, And opened the lifegate that all may go in.  (Refrain)

Refrain:   Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice!  Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!  O come to the Father thro’ Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory, great things He hath done!

2.  O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood, to every believer the promise of God; the vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.  (Refrain)

3.  Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done, and great our rejoicing thro’ Jesus the Son; but purer, and higher, and greater will be our wonder, our vict’ry, when Jesus we see.  (Refrain)

CCLI Song # 23426 Fanny Jane Crosby | William Howard Doane © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

     Today on the first Sunday of the month, we will pause from our study of the Psalms to reflect on communion, a time to remember our Lord’s death and what it means to us.  On the night Jesus was betrayed he told his disciples to remember his death in this way until he returned.  Afterward he spent considerable time preparing them for what was coming.

     The Gospel of John records that after Judas left the upper room gathering to carry out his plan to betray Jesus (Jn. 13:31), that Jesus taught his disciples to the end of chapter 17.  In John 18:1 Judas arrives and betrays Jesus to those who arrest him.  In the 4 ½ chapters prior to chapter 18, Jesus prepares his disciples for what is coming by explaining:

–       He will be leaving them: “I will be with you only a little while longer” (13:33)

–       About heaven: “I go, to prepare a place for you” (14:2)

–       His return: “I will come back and take you to be with me” (14:3)

–       The coming of the Holy Spirit: “Obey what I command, and I will ask the Father and he will give you another counselor…the Spirit of Truth” (14:15-16)

–       Being fruitful: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (15:15)

–       Being persecuted by the world: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (15:20)

–       Finally, he prayed for his disciples in John 17.

     This morning we are going to look at this prayer of Jesus, the longest of his recorded prayers.  Bible scholars have noticed “a very interesting parallel between this and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9–13, with only one element (“forgive us our sins”) omitted:

Our Father in heaven // “looked up to heaven … Father” (17:1a)

Your name be kept holy // “give glory back to you” (17:1b)

Your Kingdom come // “gives eternal life” (= “kingdom” in John) (17:2)

Your will be done on earth // “on earth by completing the work” (17:4)

Give us today the food we need // “All who are mine belong to you” (17:10)

Don’t let us yield to temptation // “protect them by the power of your name” (17:11)

Rescue us from the evil one // “keep them safe from the evil one” (17:15)[1]

     You might assume that this would be a gloomy prayer since Jesus knew he was going to be arrested and crucified.  However, just before Jesus begins this prayer he says to his disciples: ““A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”” John 16:32–33 (NIV).  Jesus knows his disciples are going to leave him, yet he is at peace because he knows his Father is with him.  He also encourages the disciples to find the peace they will need in him, because he has overcome the world!  The prayer of John 17 comes as Jesus is anticipating fulfilling the plan and purpose his Father had for him which leads through his being lifted up on a cross to die, in order make our forgiveness possible.  Let look at his prayer.

1st Jesus prays for the completion of his mission (Jn. 17:1-8):

1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.” John 17:1–8 (NIV)

     Jesus begins this prayer by praying for himself, but not in the way we typically pray for ourselves, which is to avoid hardships.  When Jesus says “the hour has come” he is referring to his death.  John 7:30 & 8:20 tell of Jesus escaping attempts on his life because “his hour had not yet come.”  William Barkley says: “By going to the Cross Jesus showed that there was nothing that the love of God was not prepared to do and suffer for men, that there was literally no limit to it.” [2] Rather than pray to avoid the cross, Jesus asked that he might be glorified through his sacrifice, that in doing so, the Father will be glorified in giving eternal life to all who follow Jesus.

     Notice Jesus’ definition of eternal life; it does not begin at death; rather it is to know God and Jesus Christ right now!  Eternal life begins when you put your trust in Jesus as the one sent by God the Father to be your sin forgiver and life leader: John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.” (GNB).  John 5:24 “I am telling you the truth: those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged, but have already passed from death to life.” (GNB)

2nd Jesus prays for his disciples (Jn. 17:9-19):

Let’s begin by looking at verses 9-12

9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” John 17:9–12 (NIV)

     N.T. Wright tells an interesting story to illuminate this section: In the newspapers recently a mother was punished by the courts. She had left her two young children entirely by themselves, while she went off for a foreign holiday with her new boyfriend. (The father, it seems, was nowhere to be found.) It is hard to believe that a mother could do such a thing. One wonders what she thought she would find when she got home. Tragically, such things happen in our world today.

      But supposing she herself had had loving parents who were only too glad to look after the children while she was away? That would have made all the difference. She could have entrusted the little ones to them, safe in the knowledge that they would care for them as much as she did. One can imagine a mother in that situation giving her parents detailed instructions as to how each child should be looked after, not because she didn’t trust her parents to look after them but because she did.

      What Jesus now prays grows out of the fact that he is going away. He is entrusting the disciples to the father he has known and loved throughout his own earthly life, the father who, he knows, will care for them every bit as much as he has done himself. [3]

     Jesus prayed that the Father would protect his disciples so they would remain unified, one as Jesus and the Father are one (17:11).  When we think of asking God for protection, we might think of freedom from pain, hardship, and persecution, yet Jesus has just told his disciples to expect these things for following him (15:18-16:6).  Jesus’ concern is his disciples to remain united, and for that all of us NEED God’s help!

     John 17:13-19 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” John 17:9–19 (NIV)

     Verse 13 tells us that Jesus prays this prayer for our benefit, and that we may share in his joy.  How can there be joy in knowing what is coming, for it is the cross!  Ah, Jesus is saying, soon you will look beyond the cross to the empty tomb.  Then you will see death has lost its sting, sanctification is possible through the truth of God’s Word and eternal life is available to all humanity.  This is the reason for joy!

     This section concludes with Jesus asking his Father to watch over his disciples.  N.T. Wright says: What Jesus has already done for them is to ‘keep’ them in the father’s name (verse 12) and to give them his word (verse 14). In other words, when he now entrusts them to the father, this won’t mean a sudden change, like a mother entrusting her children to someone of whom they’ve never heard and whose house will be run on quite different lines to their own home. He has already taught them, so to speak, the table manners appropriate for the father’s house. In praying for them now, he is simply praying that what he has begun, the father will gloriously complete.[4]

     Jesus is not asking for his disciples to be taken out of the world, rather that the Father protect them as they continue Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the Word of Truth.

3rd Jesus prays for his future followers (Jn. 17:20-26):

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. 25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”” John 17:20–26 (NIV)

     Jesus’ mission for those who come to believe in the Gospel message preached by the disciples is also based on unity.  Paul explained this in Colossians 3:11 “In the new life there is no difference between Greeks and Jews, those who are circumcised and those who are not circumcised, or people who are foreigners, or Scythians. There is no difference between slaves and free people. But Christ is in all believers, and Christ is all that is important.” (NCV). This unity comes through believing in Jesus through the Gospel message (vv. 20-21).  How does Jesus illustrate what this harmony is to look like?  By pointing to the unity between the Father and the Son, one of love and humble service!  All of us are also united with the God head.  This unity of heart and purpose from such a diverse group of humanity will confirm to the world that Jesus was in fact sent by the Father!

     This prayer of Jesus teaches us to begin with ourselves, “Lord, make me a vessel of your grace to those I meet” and then grows to include reaching out to the whole world.  When Jesus prayed this he prayed for you, and for those who will hear the gospel through us.  May we work together in unity to glorify God through our lives!

     When Jesus was preparing to go to the cross, he was praying for his disciples.  He knew what they would be facing in the days, months and years following his death and resurrection.  As you eat the bread and drink the juice, remember what your Lord did for you, and what he prayed for you!  Depend upon him for all you need, for in him IS all you need!

Closing Hymn: #446 I will serve Thee (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiWJma2uhUA )

I will serve Thee because I love Thee, You have given life to me; I was nothing before you found me, you have given life to me.  Heartaches, broken pieces, ruined lives are why you died on Calvary; your touch was what I longed for, you have given life to me. (repeat)

CCLI Song # 14040 Gloria Gaither | William J. Gaither © 1969 Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5–6 (NLT).

 


[1] Osborne, G., Philip W. Comfort. (2007). Cornerstone biblical commentary, Vol 13: John and 1, 2, and 3 John (p. 242). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1975). The Gospel of John (Vol. 2, p. 206). Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press.

[3] Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21 (pp. 94–95). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

[4] Wright, T. (2004). John for Everyone, Part 2: Chapters 11-21 (p. 96). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Visit: https://esterhazybaptistchurch.podbean.com/ to listen to a recording of the message.

To hear this week’s sermon over the phone call: EBC Dial-A-Sermon – 1-306-985-9001, long distance charges will apply.

Psalm 130.  “Out of the depths.”

September 27, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Wait with hope for the Lord. Be strong, and let your heart be courageous. Yes, wait with hope for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 (GW)

Hymn: #89 “Our Great Saviour” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nx9B6qaAvg0)

Verse 1 – Jesus what a friend for sinners!  Jesus lover of my soul; Friends may fail me foes assail me, He my Saviour makes me whole.

Chorus – Hallelujah what a Saviour!  Hallelujah what a friend!  Saving helping keeping loving, He is with me to the end.

Verse 2 – Jesus what a strength in weakness!  Let me hide myself in Him; Tempted tried and sometimes failing, He, my strength my vict’ry wins.

Chorus

Verse 3 – Jesus what a help in sorrow!  While the billows o’er me roll, even when my heart is breaking, he, my Comfort, helps my soul.

Chorus

Verse 4 – Jesus what a guide and keeper!  While the tempest still is high, storms about me, night o’er takes me, He, my pilot, hears my cry.

Chorus

Verse 5 – Jesus I do now receive Him, More than all in Him I find, He hath granted me forgiveness, I am His and He is mine.

Chorus

CCLI Song # 4925358 Dave Williamson | John Wilbur Chapman | Rowland Hugh Prichard © Words: Public Domain  Music: 2006 Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are continuing our look at each of the 15 Psalms of Ascents. These psalms were collected and likely used during the three great annual festivals in Jerusalem as the people remembered and celebrated what the Lord had done for them.
      As we look at Psalm 130 today, notice that it contains within itself a song of ascent.  It begins with the singer helpless in the depths of despair. It ends with confident praise in the Lord’s enthusiasm to save all who will call on him for redemption. 

     The question which may be on many of our minds is “How did he do this, how did he find freedom from his despair?”  We have this question because we understand the hopelessness that comes when we find ourselves feeling like we are going to go under.

     Contrary to what we may have been lead to believe; despair, hopelessness and tragedies are not exceptions for an unlucky few.  They are the normal consequences of living in a sinful fallen world, with sinful fallen human beings.  So how do we deal with it?  In Psalm 130 the writer doesn’t pretend everything is ok, keeping his suffering to himself.  As a person of faith, he acknowledges his struggle, calls on God and waits for his word in hope.  Let’s take a look at this psalm.

Psalm 130 — A song of ascents. 1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; 2 O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. 7 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. (NIV84)

1.  Crying for help.  Psalm 130:1-2
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
     I’ve referred to “the depths” of verse one in an emotional sense, as being in the depths of despair.  “In Hebrew being in “the depths” refers specifically to being caught in dangerous and deep waters, a powerful image for a people who were largely land-based and not at all seafaring.”[1]  Psalm 69:1-3 describes someone who is struggling in the depths: Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Psalm 69:1–3 (NIV)
     The Psalmist is a situation where self-help is of no help, we cannot help ourselves.  Everyone gets into the depths and reaches a dead-end, but not everyone chooses to reach out to God. Someone wrote with a marker on a “Dead End” sign the words: “What isn’t?” To some people, every road is a Dead End.  Some will try to mask their pain with drugs or alcohol.  Others surrender to the pit, thinking it is hopeless to fight it.  Here the psalmist tells us where to find hope.  We need to cry to God for a way out of the depths. When we reach bottom, it is there that we realize our need for mercy and call on God to reach down and rescue us from our troubles

2.  Asking for forgiveness.  Psalm 130:3-4
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.

     These verses seem to be in answer to those thoughts of doubt that pop into one’s head.  Does that ever happen to you?  “Lord help me,” You cry.  Then comes the thought – “Why would He help you after what you did!  This trouble is the consequences of your sin!  You are getting what you deserve!” Stopping here and believing this thought, would leave us hopeless in the depths.  Yet in these verses the psalmist shows us a better way.  He reminds himself of God’s character and God’s promises. 
     Verse 3 sounds like what the Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans 3:23, “Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard,” (NCV).  Yet the Lord does not treat us as our sins deserve (Ps. 103:10), for he is merciful.  In Exodus 34:6 we read of what the Lord said of himself as he revealed himself to Moses: “Then he passed in front of Moses, calling out, “The Lord, the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God, patient, always faithful and ready to forgive.” (GW).
     Verse 4 says we can count on the mercy of God – “But with you there is forgiveness”.  Romans 5:8 confirms this: “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT).  God’s forgiveness is unconditional, and undeserved. Forgiveness is for all who want it and who ask God to forgive them, and when you do, He will, the record of your sin is gone!  God stepped in and paid our debt – why?  John 3:16“God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him may not be lost, but have eternal life.” (NCV)
     What is our response?  Verse 4, says: “therefore You are feared.” Or as the latest NIV says: “But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” Psalm 130:4 (NIV).  One of the goals of God’s forgiveness is the restoration of our relationship with him.  To fear the Lord involves our walking in his ways (Ps. 128:1).  He forgives so we may leave the paths of destruction and follow him. When we truly understand God’s forgiveness and the cost of it, in sending Christ to the Cross, may we respond with brokenness and humility, as we bow in awe before God!  There is no presumption here. There is no flippancy here. We deserve judgment, yet as we seek forgiveness through the saving work of Jesus, we receive mercy.  Like the returning prodigal son, we are staggered by the grace of the Father who welcomes us home as his dearly loved child (see Lk 15:11ff.).

3.  Waiting on the Lord.  Psalm 130:5-6
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

     We counter despair with two words in verse 5: “wait” and “hope”. We respond to suffering by turning to God, not by denying our pain, and not by trying to fix things ourselves. The message to self-reliant people is: “You’re not the One who can fix it.” At the same time, there is no simplistic, quick cure offered. What is offered is a process. We are convinced that God is vigorously at work rebuilding our lives, cleaning up the mess we’ve made.  Because we’re sure of God and His plan, we don’t give up; we trust even though we don’t understand.
     The imagery of a watchman is one of hope that will not fail.  Night may seem endless, but morning is constant and its time is determined.  So too we can trust in God’s faithfulness and wait in hope.

4.  Encouraging others.  Psalm 130:7-8

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
     When you find a cure, you want to share it.  When you find hope where once there was despair, you want to share that too.  The psalmist now calls for the community to put their hope in the Lord, for in Him there is unfailing love and full redemption. 

     If we’re not eager to share the hope that has transformed us, I wonder if we fully understand the depths of our forgiveness. We need to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks concerning the hope that we have” (I Pet 3:15).
     We put our hope in the Lord because we trust God’s “unfailing love”. The Hebrew word for love here (hesed) means compassion and commitment. We can be assured that for the rest of our lives we will experience a constant overflow of his steadfast love.
     Verse 7 assures us that God has already provided salvation: “with the Lord is full redemption.” The word redemption (pada) means a change of ownership from one person to another after the payment of a purchase price. The word could also be translated “ransom”, usually referring to paying for a slave or a prisoner under the sentence of death.  How do we know that God is committed to giving us hope?  He has already paid the cost (Rom. 5:8).

     Abraham Lincoln went down to the slave block to buy back a slave girl.  As she looked at the white man bidding on her, she figured he was just another white man, going to buy her and then abuse her.  He won the bid, and as he was walking away with what the world called his property, he said, “Young lady, you are free.”

      She said, “What does that mean?”  He said, “It means you are free.” 

      “Does that mean,” She said, “that I can say whatever I want to say?”  Lincoln said, “Yes, my dear, you can say whatever you want to say.”

      “Does that mean,” She said, “That I can be whatever I want to be?”  Lincoln said, “Yes, you can be whatever you want to be.”

      She said, “Does that mean I can go wherever I want to go?”  He said, “Yes, you can go wherever you want to go.”  And the girl, with tears streaming down her face, said, “Then I will go with you.”

     Christ paid the price for us on the cross. He redeemed us from the kingdom of darkness and we are part of His family – how can we not go with him?  How can we not tell others about the hope we have found in him?

     In this psalm is an expectation, a hope that God will act and save.  But this expectation is not based on the assumption that we have earned the right of God’s help, for we cannot.  The hope we have for God’s help is based on: his mercy (v. 2), his forgiveness (v. 4) and his unfailing love which gives us full redemption (v. 7).  This hope is based on God’s character and His promises.  Where is your hope anchored?

     A Grandmaster chess champion was examining a painting in an art gallery. The artist had painted a match between the devil and an outwitted young man. The painting showed the two engaged in a chess game being played for the man’s soul. The man is in panic as the devil appears ready to make his final move. The painting was titled Checkmate. The chess champion stood observing the painting for several minutes, then smiled slightly. He turned to the curator and said, “I have good news for the man in the picture—he still has a move.”

      The father of lies has convinced too many people that he has placed them in checkmate, but the grace of God has provided us the hope that we still have a move. We can cry out to God; He will hear our cry for help; He will raise us from the depths.  Cry out to him and receive his help!


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 1138–1139). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

 

Closing Hymn: #404 The solid rock (vv. 1-4) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBfSH4dsWUw )

Verse 1 – My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

Chorus – On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand – All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.

Verse 2 – When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace; In ev’ry high and stormy gale My anchor holds within the veil.

Chorus

Verse 3 – His oath His covenant His blood support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

Chorus

Verse 4 – When He shall come with trumpet sound, O may I then in Him be found; Dressed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne.

Chorus

CCLI Song # 25417  Edward Mote | William Batchelder Bradbury  © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

 

 

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Psalm 129.  “Persevere: Because the Lord is righteous.”

September 20, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “The stone that the builders tossed aside has now become the most important stone. The Lord has done this, and it is amazing to us. This day belongs to the Lord! Let’s celebrate and be glad today.” Psalm 118:22–24 (CEV).

Hymn #4: How Great Thou Art (music link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuqGMf4vSLI&list=PL6Cp-rbTHKx2bOPvPKE2r1avSehF1vN8Y&index=36)

Verse 1 – O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Chorus – Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art!  Then sings my soul, My Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Verse 2 – When through the woods and forest glades I wander and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees, when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.

Verse 3 – But when I think That God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in, that on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.

Verse 4 – When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!  Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim, “My God how great Thou art”.

CCLI Song # 14181 Stuart Wesley Keene Hine  © Copyright 1949 and 1953 Stuart Hine Trust CIO Stuart K. Hine Trust (Administration: USA All rights by Capitol CMG Publishing, except print rights for USA, North, Central and South America administered by Hope Publishing. All other non USA Americas rights by the Stuart Hine Trust. Rest of World – Integritymusic.com.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are looking at the 15 psalms of ascents, sung by those on their way to celebrate at one of the great feasts in Jerusalem.  Last week we looked at Ps. 128 & its theme of joy.  We saw that this joy is not dependent upon our immediate circumstances but is based on the faithfulness of God’s character. The Psalms of Ascents encourages the reader to look back and remember your great salvation, look ahead and realize what is awaiting you, and now in the present, to sow the seeds of your life, in faith, even during times of tears because of God’s assurance to us that there will be a joyous harvest!

     What does it take on our part to put our faith into practice and sow seeds even while it seems hopeless?  We will look at the answer to that today.  The remnant of Israel had it; the early church had it; and Christians throughout history have had it.  What is it? I am talking about perseverance and we will see it is the focus of Psalm 129.

     In my preparation I came across a few statements about perseverance to get us thinking:  God is with those who persevere. – Anonymous

     Henry W. Austin wrote, Genius: that power which dazzles mortal eyes, Is oft but perseverance in disguise. –”Perseverance Conquers All.”  For example: George Stephenson spent fifteen years to perfect the locomotive. James Watts worked for thirty years on the condensing engine, and inventing hard rubber cost
Charles Goodyear ten years of study, poverty and public ridicule.

      Cyrus Field crossed the ocean fifty times to lay a cable so men could talk across the oceans. Luther Burbank the plant wizard who introduced over 800 new plants, at one time personally conducted over 6,000 experiments before finding the solution.

      George Westinghouse was treated as a mild lunatic by most railroad executives. “Stopping a train with wind! The man’s crazy!” Yet he persevered and finally sold the air-brake idea.[1] – 4333 Famous Scientists

     This one might describe you: Today’s mighty oak, is just yesterday’s little nut, that held its ground. – Anonymous.  Persistence – listen for it in Psalm 129:

      Psalm 129: A song of ascents. 1 Since my youth they have often attacked me— let Israel say— 2 since my youth they have often attacked me, but they have not prevailed against me. 3 Plowmen plowed over my back; they made their furrows long. 4 The Lord is righteous; he has cut the ropes of the wicked. 5 Let all who hate Zion be driven back in disgrace. 6 Let them be like grass on the rooftops, which withers before it grows up 7 and can’t even fill the hands of the reaper or the arms of the one who binds sheaves. 8 Then none who pass by will say, “May the Lord’s blessing be on you. We bless you in the name of the Lord.” (CSB)

     Verse one begins with a singer making a statement that sounds like he is talking about himself, until he invites his listeners to join him, then it becomes clear they are referring to the people of Israel. In verses 1 & 2 we see that while “most nations tend to look back on what they have achieved, Israel reflects here on what she has survived.”[2]  2they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.”  The phrase “from my youth” likely refers to Israel’s time of slavery in Egypt and then the countless events which have followed.

     James Boice in his commentary on this psalm says: The Jews are the longest-enduring distinct ethnic people on the planet. They have been slandered, hated, persecuted, expelled, pursued, and murdered throughout their long existence, but they have survived intact. In fact, many are now back in their own traditional homeland of Israel. They are a brilliant, talented people, but survival has been their chief achievement.

      Near the end of the last century (19th) Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia, was having a discussion with his chaplain about the truthfulness of the Bible. The king had become skeptical and unbelieving, largely due to Voltaire, the famous French rationalist skeptic. He said to his chaplain, “If your Bible is really true, it ought to be capable of very brief proof. So often when I have asked for proof of the inspiration of the Bible I have been given some enormous volume that I have neither the time nor disposition to read. If your Bible is really from God, you should be able to demonstrate the fact simply. Forget long arguments. Give me the proof of the Bible’s inspiration in a word.”

      The chaplain replied, “Your Majesty, it is possible for me to answer your request quite literally. I can give you the proof you ask for in a single word.”

      Frederick looked at the chaplain skeptically and asked, “What is this magic word that carries such a weight of proof?”

      The chaplain answered, “‘Israel,’ your Majesty.” Frederick, the story goes, was silent.

      The intent of the chaplain’s argument is what Psalm 129 describes, the survival of the Jews in spite of centuries—even millennia—of persecutions, thanks solely to the sovereign will and protecting presence of God. Nothing else can explain the Jews’ survival.[3]

     Verse 3 uses the metaphor of plowing a field to describe the deep wounds on their backs as Israel is lashed by her enemies.  This graphic picture of suffering flows into the thoughts of verse 4.  3 Plowmen plowed over my back; they made their furrows long. 4 The Lord is righteous; he has cut the ropes of the wicked.”  The “plows” have disabled, releasing them from their oppressors.  The righteous Lord has kept his Covent with Israel and rescued them. 

     Verses 5-8 are directed at all who hate Zion.  While it is true that Zion is another term for Jerusalem, it reminds us that this is the city where the Lord God chose to reign from on earth.  Hatred for Zion is in fact hatred for the Lord!  Verses 6-8 continues to use an agricultural theme, by picturing the fate of those who hate Zion as some withering, fruitless grass which is not worthy of the effort of harvest and thus not worthy to receive the traditional harvest blessing.  Those who hate Zion, who fight against God, will find their efforts fruitless, they will not dominate Israel forever, but rather be disgraced.

     I began this message by saying that perseverance is what is required on our part to turn our head faith into a “faith that sows even while weeping,” even when things are hard or seem hopeless.  This kind of perseverant faith is one of the marks of discipleship; a “stick-to-it-iveness” that refuses to stop trusting that God will persevere in the end, because you are in His hands.  Horace Mann is quoted as saying “Patient perseverance in well doing is infinitely harder than a sudden and impulsive self-sacrifice.”

     Remembering the truth of verse 4 is key to our “stick-to-it-iveness.”  We are to remember that no matter what is being done to us:  “the Lord is righteous”.  The picture of the withered fruitless grass on the roof top is a reminder that the evil which seemed so strong, so unstoppable – will not gain victory over me because my Lord is righteous.

     We seem to so quickly forget this truth.  If we see a problem – job loss, sickness, relationship loss, persecution… as certain to destroy us, it has already begun to achieve its desired effect.  If we start to doubt God, His promises & His character then the enemy has succeeded without “firing a shot!”

     The Bible’s answer to this is to remember Romans 8:38–39I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord! (CEV)

     Nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from God’s love – not bluster, not persecution.  2 they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me!

     On April 18, 2007, three Christians in Turkey were killed for their beliefs. One of them was a thirty-five-year-old pastor.  Five young men had expressed an interest in the Christian faith. But they brought more than questions. They brought guns, knives, ropes, and towels.

     The attackers brandished their weapons and told them to pray the Islamic prayer of conversion.  When they refused, the torture began and lasted for an agonizing hour. Finally, with the police pounding on the door, they sliced the throats of the victims. The last word heard from the office was the cry of an unswerving Christian: “Messiah! Messiah!”

    There are Christians throughout the world this very day facing persecution and death because of their faith, but they refuse to give up.  Their lives declare boldly Psalm 129 verse two “they have not gained the victory over me!”  Pray for them, and claim this truth & desire for godly perseverance for yourself.

     I was out in my backyard at noon and heard the United Church chimes begin to play a hymn. As I listened the words of that tune which was drifting over the town came to mind, it was “Jesus is Lord of all.”  For me, that is the message of Psalm 129.  With everything that The World, The Flesh and The devil can throw at me, none of it will change this truth – Jesus, IS Lord of all!  Millions of Christians have gone to their death rather than deny this truth, because they made it personal! This Jesus, who is “Lord of All” has become MY Lord as I invite him into my life and follow him. (#359) 

All my tomorrows, all my past, Jesus is Lord of all. I’ve quit my struggles; contentment at last, Jesus is Lord of all.

All of my conflicts, all my thoughts, Jesus is Lord of all. His love wins the battles I could not have fought, Jesus is Lord of all.

King of kings, Lord of lords, Jesus is Lord of all; all my possessions and all my life, Jesus is Lord of all.

     Before I conclude, I have you ask you:  Have you made this personal?  Have you asked Jesus to be “Lord of all” in your life?  Christian, are you allowing Him to be the “King of kings and Lord of Lords” in your life?  Until you do, you will struggle with being able to stick with your faith when life’s pressures grow: 2 they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me!  You cannot do this in your own strength!  Let Jesus be Lord, trust Him with your life, and then no matter what comes at you, you will be able to sing the words of our closing song: “It is well with my soul.”

Hymn #493 “It is well with my soul” (music link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dpkhg6Y2U_A)

Verse 1 – When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows Like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, It is well with my soul.”

Chorus – It is well with my soul, It is well, It is well with my soul.

Verse 2 – Though Satan should buffet, Tho’ trials should come, Let this blest assurance control, That Christ has regarded My helpless estate, And hath shed His own blood For my soul.

Verse 3 – My sin – O, the bliss Of this glorious thought, My sin – not in part But the whole, Is nailed to the cross And I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord, O my soul.

Verse 4 – O Lord, haste the day When my faith shall be sight, The clouds be rolled back As a scroll, The trump shall resound And the Lord shall descend, “Even so” it is well With my soul.

CCLI Song # 2648266 Horatio Gates Spafford Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you always to do and say what is good.” (2 Thess. 2:16-17 GNB).



[1] Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (p. 997). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.

[2] Tyndale OT Comm. On Psalms vol. 2., pg. 444).

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Psalm 128. “How to be happy.”

September 13, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.  He grants the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. Psalm 145:18–19 (NLT)

Opening Song: “10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jzMjfXFwijo

Chorus – Bless the Lord O my soul O my soul, Worship His holy name. Sing like never before O my soul, I’ll worship Your holy name.

Verse 1 – The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning, It’s time to sing Your song again. Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me: Let me be singing when the evening comes.

Chorus –

Verse 2 – You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger, Your name is great and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.

Chorus –

CCLI Song # 6016351 Jonas Myrin | Matt Redman © 2011 Atlas Mountain Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     What does it take to be happy?  What kind of answer would you get if you asked that question to the people you work with? How about to your friends or family members?  Material things and social or economic position can provide short-term joy, but lasting happiness which is not dependent on circumstances comes from somewhere else.

     Today we are looking at Psalm 128 and it deals with the question of how to be happy.  Listen to Psalm 128 from the New Revised Standard version:  A Song of Ascents. 1 Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways. 2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. 4 Thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord. 5 The Lord bless you from Zion. May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. 6 May you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel! Psalm 128 (NRSV)

     What is the Psalmist’s answer to the question “How can we be happy?”  He says in verse one: “Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways.”  It sounds strange to our ears to hear that fear can bring happiness, so we obviously need to understand what is meant here by the “fear of the Lord”.  A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament says: To fear God means to acknowledge His superiority over man, to recognize His deity and thus respond in awe, humility, worship, love, trust, and obedience. The fear of God, “properly understood, was no mere ‘attitude,’ [it] involved the full range of humanity’s response to the deity.” Such response to God results in wisdom, in wise, skillful living.” [1] 

     Verse 1 is saying that relating to God correctly brings happiness (blessing).  The 1st appropriate action is a holy reverence, described in verse one as fear or as the CEV translates it: respect.  Millard Erickson in his book “Christian Theology” explains the need for reverence in our relationship with God:  Although there are love and trust and openness between us and God, we are not equals. He is the almighty, sovereign Lord. We are his servants and followers. This means that we will submit our wills to God; we will not try to make his will conform to ours. Our prayers will also be influenced accordingly. Rather than making demands in our prayers, we will pray as Jesus did, “Not my will, but thine, be done.” [2]

     The 2nd appropriate action to take towards God, which leads to happiness is to walk in his ways or as the latest NIV says to “walk in obedience to him”.  It’s important not to miss this!  This means taking God’s Word seriously and putting it into practice in your daily life through your actions, words and attitudes.  Sadly, studies show that many Evangelical Christians aren’t doing this and don’t live any differently than their non-Christian neighbours.  This explains the lack of blessing and subsequent frustration that they are experiencing in their life.  When we “walk in His ways” we are confirming that we get who God is! 

The story is told about a Sir Leonard Wood who once visited the King of France and the King was so pleased with him he was invited for dinner the next day.

Sir Leonard went to the palace and the King, meeting him in one of the halls, said, “Why, Sir Leonard, I did not expect to see you. How is it that you are here?”

“Did not your majesty invite me to dine with you?” said the astonished guest.  “Yes,” replied the King, “but you did not answer my invitation.”

Sir Leonard replied, “A king’s invitation is never to be answered, but to be obeyed.” [3]

If we truly ‘get’ who God is, isn’t it natural that we would believe He knows what He is talking about and obey His word?

     What is the consequence of having a right understanding of God and walking in obedience to his ways?  Verses 2 & 3 answers this question by listing some specific blessings.

     First there is the blessing of finding personal satisfaction and sufficiency through your hard work and the promise that you will get to enjoy it.  Ps. 128:2 “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.” Those who honour the Lord through obedience will find they are not working in vain. We are reminded of the words of Psalm 127:1-2a — Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.  It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil”. Psalm 127:1–2a (NRSV). Clearly any labor which ignores the Lord’s principles will not bring the lasting satisfaction you seek.  Work blessed by the Lord will! 

     Verse 3 uses agricultural terms to describe the peace and hope someone who walks in the ways of the Lord bring into their home.  3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.  The psalmist tells us, you become a blessing to those around you, especially those closest to you.

     The opposite effect is seen in the story about a rice farmer who inherited a field.  The 1st year he watched as the water covered his field and gave him an abundant harvest. He was troubled however; as he noticed that the water flowed from his field onto his neighbour’s field making that field just as productive as his own.  So the next year he cut off the flow of “His” water into his neighbour’s field, but his field remained flooded and his crop was ruined.  The lesson is that withholding a blessing not only harms the other person, it also damages us.  It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

     In verse 3 notice how the man with a reverent and obedient attitude towards God impacts his family.  His wife is pictured as a fruitful vine, implying the bearing of children, but even more is involved.  Husbands, this passage is saying that your faithfulness to your heavenly Father is a blessing to your wife.  This enables her to be fruitful with all the gifts and abilities that God has given her; an example of this is the women described in Proverbs 31.  In the Hebrew, the writer emphasises that this happens “Within your house” – this means she is secure, at peace and happy to be YOUR wife!  You have heard the phrase “Happy wife, happy life.” Husbands, here is the biblical way to achieve that.  You set the example by fearing the Lord, and walking in his ways.  Your obedience to God blesses your wife!

     Not only will your wife be blessed and a blessing, happy in your home, you will see your children as a blessing.  Verse 3 pictures children as olive shoots – you are excited by their potential, what they can become.  Don’t you love to see the green shoots sprouting out of the ground in the spring as you look across a farmer’s field?  There is life, growth, potential for the future.  Through the family that the Lord blesses, the godly person derives both present and future joy and blessings.

     Verse 4 affirms that the promise of blessing given to the individual in verse 1 will in turn bless the family:  “This is how the Lord will bless the person who fears him.” (GW).  Now, what if you are not married?  The promise of blessing remains.  As you give God the proper place in your life and live in obedience to Him, you will find satisfaction in your efforts and see that you bring peace, life and growth to your relationships.  Happiness doesn’t come from the outside or from things, it comes from understanding – I am loved by God and He is pleased with my love for him and how I show that love with my obedient actions.

     Verses 5 & 6 are a prayer for a broadening of God’s blessing on the person who fears him and walks in his ways.  The Christian Standard Bible describes the end-results of the Lord’s blessing from Zion: May the Lord bless you from Zion, so that you will see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life and will see your children’s children! Peace be with Israel.” Psalm 128:5–6 (CSB).  Zion was considered the home of God on earth, explaining why the blessing was coming from there.  The outcome of the Lord’s blessing was the prosperity of Jerusalem and to see your grand children as well as peace/shalom upon the nation (Israel).  The circles of blessings keep expanding to touch a city, future generation and even countries!  How is this happening?  It begins with a choice that you and I make to take the Lordship of Jesus Christ seriously in our own lives.  Have you asked Jesus to forgive your sins – is he your sin forgiver?  Next, is he your Lord – your life leader?  He needs to be in charge, this is essential! Jesus in Matthew 7:21 says: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who does what my Father in heaven wants. Matthew 7:21 (GW).  What is it that our Heavenly Father wants?  Psalm 128:1 expresses it in a blessing:  “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” Psalm 128:1 (NIV).  Walk in reverent obedience to him!

     So how do you get in on this blessed life?  There are no tricks, no luck required – simply choose to submit your life to Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader and begin the life of obedient faith.  Happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways.

Hymn:  “Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYrTqBioaZ4

Verse 1 – Come Thou fount of ev’ry blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above; Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Verse 2 – Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’m come; And I hope by Thy good pleasure Safely to arrive at home.  Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wand’ring from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

Verse 3 –  O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be!  Let Thy grace Lord like a fetter, Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee: Prone to wander Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

Prone to wander Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

CCLI Song # 108389 John Wyeth | Robert Robinson © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

Benediction:  “‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’” (Numbers 6:24–26, NLT)

 

[1] Zuck, R. B. (1991). A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 215). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, p. 318. ©1985 Grand Rapids, Mi. Baker Book House.

[3]Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). #3929 King’s Invitation To Be Obeyed. Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workersGarland TX: Bible Communications.

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Psalm 127.  “What are you working for?”

September 6, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Psalm 89:8, 15 (NIV).

Song: “He’s everything to me” (click link for music & words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqME-xBIY-k)

In the stars His handiwork I see, on the wind He speaks with majesty, Tho’ He ruleth over land and sea; What is that to me?

I will celebrate nativity, for it has a place in history; Sure, He came to set His people free; What is that to me?

‘Til by faith I met Him face to face, And I felt the wonder of His grace, Then I knew that He was more than just a God who didn’t care, that lived away out there and, now He walks beside me day by day, Ever watching o’er me lest I stray, Helping me to find that narrow way, He’s everything to me (repeat 2x’s)

     “What are you working for?”  As we go through life, our answer to that question might change.  When young and asked by a puzzled friend What are you working for?” We might say because our parents made us.  As a teen, when working at a fast food restaurant, we might say it was to get experience.  Eventually the answer becomes: to pay for school, then to pay off school, then to pay off a car, a house, trips, retirement, cars, more trips, treatments… It never seems to end does it? There always seems to be a need to seek satisfaction in something more!  Today we are going to consider how to find enduring purpose in our life & work.

     We are continuing our look in the book of Psalms at the 15 songs of Ascents – today our focus is on Psalm 127.  This psalm is attributed to Solomon.  This may be since King Solomon wrote part of Proverbs and psalm 127 contains thoughts about sensible godly living which are like those found in Proverbs. 

     Psalm 127’s attention to work today is especially appropriate since tomorrow is Labor Day.  Listen as I read Psalm 127 from the New International Translation: “1 Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2 In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. 3 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”  Psalm 127 (NIV)

     At first glance some may erroneously conclude that Psalm 127 is warning about the folly of working too hard.  Tales abound from our local potash mine about those who hold firmly to this belief about the foolishness of hard work!  However, this psalm does not speak against hard work, rather it is warning us about allowing work to become how we try to give our life meaning!

     Psalm 127 is not about being lazy or about over working; it is about how to experience fullness in life through all that you do, including your work.  The Hebrews called this “Shalom” – peace, the absence of harm and the presence of tranquility with prosperity. 

     Key to understanding Psalm 127’s focus is the very first word “unless” and it is used twice in verse 1.  “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.”  Unless what?  Unless you involve the Lord in your quest for shalom – fulfillment and peace, you will discover you are laboring in vain, whether constructing a house or defending a city. The phrase “in vain” appears twice in verse 1, and begins the second verse where it tells of someone working from first light ‘till night only “to eat the bread of painful labors” (NASB95) or “anxious toil” (ESV).  “In vain” is translated “useless” in other Bibles, meaning the activity is not producing their desired results.  Why do people build houses, protect their communities or toil to earn a living?  In the long run, it is a longing for peace and security – shalom in life.  Psalm 127 says people trying to find this peace without involving God in their lives are laboring in vain – they will not find what they are seeking.  However, v. 2b tells us that those whose hard work is grounded in their relationship with the Lord will not be left awake and anxious at night but will sleep peacefully.  They are confident the Lord knows what they need and rest in his shalom.  We are reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples in Matthew 6:31–33 “31 So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLT) 

          Verses 3-5 appear to change the subject from work to children, but in fact these verses illustrate the shalom that comes from giving God and his kingdom first priority in one’s life.   Eugene Peterson says of these verses: “In contrast to the anxious labor that builds cities and guards possessions, the psalm praises the effortless work of making children. Opposed to the strenuous efforts of persons who, in doubt of God’s providence and mistrust of man’s love, seek their own gain by godless struggles is the gift of children, born not through human effort, but through the miraculous processes of reproduction which God has created among us.  The example couldn’t have been better chosen.  What do we do to get sons?  Very little.  The entire miracle of procreation and reproduction required our participation, but hardly in the form of what we call our work.  We did not make these marvellous creatures that walk and talk and grow among us.  We participated in an act of love which was provided for us in the structure of God’s creation.[1]

     The New American Commentary sees the mention of children in this passage as also showing hope for a future that intense labor cannot give.  Speaking of verses 4 & 5 it says: “In vv. 4–5a the image of the arrow is used to elucidate (explain) how children provide significance for the parent. For the ancient warrior the arrow was a primarily offensive weapon intended to be used against a long-range target, in contrast to weapons such as the sword or the spear that were used for short-range battle. Arrows are propelled by the strength and according to the aim of the archer. Similarly, children can extend the influence of a parent beyond what the parent can do personally.[2]

     Eugene Peterson adds this thought in reflecting on Psalm 127: Jesus leads us to understand the psalmist’s “son’s” in terms representative of all intimate and personal relationships.  He himself did not procreate children, yet by his love he made us all sons and daughters (Mt. 12:46-50)… By joining Jesus and the psalm we learn a way of work which does not acquire things or amass possessions but responds to God and develops relationships.  People are at the center of Christian work.[3]

     For all of us, with or without children, Psalm 127 is a reminder to invest in people as our priority, not things – all the while focusing on following the Lord.  Remember the words of Deuteronomy 6, expressing our love for the Lord and his laws was to be part of our day from morning till night.  “Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” Deuteronomy 6:7 (NLT).  

     Remember, God is not opposed to hard work.  In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis we see God is at work.  He is at work in creation, redemption, compassion, comfort and salvation through Jesus Christ.  Our study of God’s Word is to understand Him and learn how we can work in the name of Jesus towards those things which he tells us will give life eternal meaning.

     The Apostle Paul reminds us that our “work” isn’t what saves us: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV).  However, because of the saving work of God within him, Paul worked to honour God with all his strength – not to earn grace, but because he had received God’s grace!  In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul writes: But God’s kindness made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted on me. Instead, I worked harder than all the others. It was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me. (GW)

     God’s work within us makes all the difference! “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” Psalm 127:1 (NIV). Who is constructing your house?  You or is the Lord guiding the direction of your life?  Is Jesus the Lord, the leader of your life?  Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.  Live for the Lord today, and make honouring Him through your work today and everyday your goal!

Hymn: #43  “Great is Thy faithfulness” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_D6mqh_jLLI&list=PL6Cp-rbTHKx2bOPvPKE2r1avSehF1vN8Y&index=27)

Verse 1:  “Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not; As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus: “Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!” Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— “Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Verse 2:  Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest, Sun, moon and stars in their courses above, Join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Verse 3:  Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Songwriters: William M. Runyan, Thomas O Chisholm, Eric Allyn Schrotenboer  © Warner Chappell Music, Inc. For non-commercial use only.

Benediction: So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation ⌊of your faith⌋. Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (GW)

[1] Peterson, pp. 105-106 “A long obedience in the same direction. Discipleship in an instant society.”  Inter Varsity Press, 2000.

[2] Estes, D. J. (2019). Psalms 73–150. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (Vol. 13, p. 481). Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

[3] Peterson, p. 106 Ibid.


 

 

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Psalm 126.  “The God who restores.”

August 30, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “12 Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.” 14 Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.” 16 Let your work be seen by your servants, and your splendor by their children. 17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish for us the work of our hands— establish the work of our hands!” Psalm 90:12, 14, 16–17 (CSB).

Song: “Give thanks with a grateful heart” (Instrumental) (Click on link to hear:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JENnvQiCpjI)

Verse – Give thanks with a grateful heart. Give thanks to the Holy One. Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son. (repeat)

Chorus – And now let the weak say I am strong. Let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us. (2x)

Verse –

Chorus – (3x)

Ending – Give thanks, give thanks

CCLI Song # 20285 Henry Smith © 1978 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook)) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394


Introduction:

     How do you deal with an impossible situation in your life?  I usually try everything I can think of and then resort to sharing my woes with others.  Some don’t want to hear about my problems.  Others try to encourage me by telling me of those who survived far worse, this rarely helps me.  A few wise counselors will hear me out and then say: “Now, can you tell me of a time when your life when you made it through a hopeless situation?”  While my answer to that question may not come immediately, it can begin a process of healthy reflection.

     Today we are looking in our Bibles at the seventh song of Ascents, Psalm 126.  Let me suggest that you imagine a setting where after listening to the details of a dire situation, a wise counselor has just asked the author of this psalm, “Can you tell me of a time when you survived a helpless situation?  How did you feel then?”  After getting a response the counselor then asks, “How does remembering that time make you feel about your current situation?  How are you going to respond to it in light of your past experience?”  Now let’s read Psalm 126:  “1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3 The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126 (NIV).

I.  Psalm 126 in its context:

     The psalm begins by recalling the nearly indescribable joy that was experienced when the Lord intervened on behalf on Zion.  We are not sure of the specific event in mind, although a likely setting is the return from Babylonian captivity. 

     Verse 1 is a picture of a 180 degree change of emotions.  That they said at first thought they must be dreaming, suggests their ability to return to Zion had been seen as impossible.

     Verse 2 describes the delight they experienced was expressed with uncontrolled laughter and songs belted out in joy!  This verse also celebrates that their return to Zion was recognized by the gentile nations as a great work of the Lord on their behalf. God received glory among the nations through this incredible act of mercy.

     Verse 3 brings the psalmist into the present, as he affirms God’s continued goodness, The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.  It’s important to see that the psalmist avoids the temptation to get stuck in the nostalgia of the past. Instead he uses God’s amazing work in the past to remind his listeners that the Lord continues to do great things for them now, and this gives them joy right now!

     Verse 4 – after placing his situation in the context of God’s caring, powerful hand, the psalmist presents his request – his prayer.  “Restore our fortunes, Lord, like streams in the Negev.”  He uses the same phrase as in v. 1 “when the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion.”  In faith he is calling out to God for his restorative blessings once more.  The word picture he uses “like streams in the Negev” is a description of the renewing that water brings to the dry deserts of Israel’s south.  The NLT says “Restore our fortunes Lord, as streams renew the desert.”

     The first halves of verses 5 & 6 give us a glimpse of how desperate their situation was.  Usually sowing was a time of optimism and hope, for they were planting a crop which would provide food.  However, something was taking place that made sowing seem like such a hopeless cause that the farmer is bawling while sowing the seed.  Clearly the risks seemed much greater than the expected results.  One would have to conclude from these verses that although they sowed, a harvest was not expected and to actually be harvesting would have felt like they were in a dream!

     This psalm encourages them to not let their discouraging circumstances and the resulting tears stop them from doing the right thing.  They are to call out to God (v. 4) then use the resources they have to do what they can and leave the results to God.  Verses 5 & 6 promises that when this is done: the one who sobbed while sowing will be singing songs of praise and the weeper holding a bag of seed will become a rejoicing reaper holding an arm full of sheaves. 

     Verses 1-3 are likely describing the response to when the Persian king Cyrus II, after defeating Babylon, issued a decree restoring the Jews to their homeland.  It’s important to remember that Jeremiah had prophesied that this would happen. Many who followed him sowed tearful prayers to the Lord for that day to come and after 70 years, it did!

II.  An Application of Psalm 126 to us:

     With Covid-19 continuing to limit our interactions, we find ourselves in a time of uncertainty and this is causing frustration and anxiety for some of us.  As a church family it may feel like we are losing our connection with one another and our community.  This form of relational solitary confinement is wearying for many.  How are we to respond when it feels like there is nothing we can do?  Psalm 126 gives us a model to follow.  The ultimate Wise Counselor, the Holy Spirit of God reminds us to recall those times when God helped us through impossible situations.  Clearly the Lord was with us, and he hasn’t changed – he is still on our side.

     Psalm 126 calls us not to give up on today by remembering God’s amazing acts in the past and anticipating further blessings in the future.  The ultimate act of restoration that any of us can experience was accomplished through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection from the grave.  Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5 describes the transformation this way: “1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (NLT).

     When you accept Jesus as your sin forgiver and follow him as the leader of your life, everything changes – you are free from sin’s prison!  Your relationship with the Lord has been restored and you have moved from death to life!

     Don’t let the tears from a current hardship stop you from sowing – from doing what you can, what you know you should for the Lord – sow even with tears.  I was reminded of what Jesus said and prayed shortly before his arrest and crucifixion:

34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”” Mark 14:34–36 (NLT).  Jesus was tearful, crushed with grief, yet still wanting to see the Father’s will accomplished – he was sowing with tears to reap a harvest with joy.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us: “2 We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (GW).

     Follow the Lord’s will, sow your life’s seed, even in times of tears, knowing that He will bring a harvest and one day you will be rejoicing with Him as that harvest comes in!

     Let me close with words from the Apostle Paul, who endured great suffering for following Christ Jesus and yet focused on the harvest to come:

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 These little troubles are getting us ready for an eternal glory that will make all our troubles seem like nothing. Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen. (CEV)

          If you have accepted Jesus as you Savior and been forgiven of your sins, celebrate your freedom from captivity to sin.  If you haven’t made that decision yet, He is waiting in love for you, don’t delay any longer!

Hymn: “When God revealed his gracious name” by Isaac Watts (To tune of #76 “O for a thousand tongues” – here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vga38imC9Q)

1 – When God revealed his gracious name, and changed my mournful state, my raptures seemed a pleasing dream, the grace appeared so great.

2 – The world beheld the glorious change, and did thy hand confess; my tongue broke out in unknown strains, and sung surprising grace.

3 – The Lord can clear the darkest skies, can give us day for night; Make drops of sacred sorrow rise to rivers of delight.

4 – Let those who sow in sadness wait till the fair harvest come: They shall confess their sheaves are great, and shout the blessings home.

1 – When God revealed his gracious name, and changed my mournful state, my raptures seemed a pleasing dream, the grace appeared so great, my raptures seemed a pleasing dream, the grace appeared so great!

 

Benediction: “57 Thank God that he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation ⌊of your faith⌋. Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless.” 1 Corinthians 15:57–58 (GW).

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Psalm 125.  “Secure in the Lord.”

August 23, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: Psalm 92:1–2. “How good it is to give thanks to you, O Lord, to sing in your honour, O Most High God, to proclaim your constant love every morning and your faithfulness every night,” (GNB)

Opening song:Great is Thy faithfulness” 

Verse 1 – Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father. There is no shadow Of turning with Thee. Thou changest not Thy compassions they fail not, as Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus – Great is Thy faithfulness, Great is Thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Verse 2 – Summer and winter and springtime and harvest. Sun moon and stars in their courses above, join with all nature in manifold witness, to Thy great faithfulness mercy and love.

Chorus –

Verse 3 – Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth. Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

Chorus –

CCLI Song # 18723 Thomas Obediah Chisholm | William Marion Runyan © Words: Public Domain  Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

          Where do you look for your security?  Some people hope to receive security in their work.  Work is good, it was assigned to us by God from the very beginning (Gen. 2:15).  It can provide us with satisfaction and purpose when we see positive results, but it was not meant to replace God.  Some hope to get security through their relationships.  At our creation God encouraged marriage and family relationships, but they were not intended to replace an individual’s relationship with God.  People have looked for security in accumulating land, animals, businesses and money.  Today, stocks and bonds are classified as “securities” even though a dip in the stock market shows how insecure they ultimately are!

     Where can one find true security in a world where the strong take from the weak and the wicked take advantage of the righteous? Today as we look at Psalm 125, we’ll see that security is its primary focus.  In the Hebrew text, the word translated “trust” is the very first word of the psalm.  Psalm 125 describes those who trust in the Lord as “his people” (v2), “the righteous” (v 3), “those who are good… upright in heart” (v 4) and Israel (v5).  Those who trust in the Lord are contrasted with “the wicked” (v3), “those who turn to crooked ways” (v5a) and “evildoers” (v5b).  Let’s read the psalm:

Psalm 125 A song of ascents. 1 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. 3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil. 4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. 5 But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers. Peace be upon Israel. (NIV)

     The Psalmist in verse 1 clearly states where true security lies: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”  The writer uses the simile “like Mount Zion” to express the security available to us as we trust the Lord.  The NLT says “Those who trust in the Lord are as secure as Mount Zion; they will not be defeated but will endure forever.Psalm 125:1 (NLT). 

     Those who trust in the Lord can rest secure, they need not fear.  Is this true of you?  Have you asked the Lord to forgive you of your sin and accepted Jesus as the risen Son of God who died for your sins and in whom you put your trust as your sin forgiver and life leader?  If so, you are secure in his care!

     Imagine you were in a group of pilgrims, traveling to Jerusalem, and you have just crested the final hill and now you are looking down on the city and the surrounding area.  You see Jerusalem built on Mt. Zion, and surrounding it are higher hills.  To the east is the Mount of Olives – 66 meters higher, to the north, Mount Scopus – 76 meters higher, and to the west and south are other hills, all higher than Mount Zion.  So the city of Jerusalem is on a mountain which is encircled by other mountains giving it great natural defensives.  The writer in verse 2 uses another simile to remind us of the Lord’s encircling protection towards who trust Him.  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.   

     We are secure because the Lord surrounds us, he is our fortress.  It is He protects us.  Our security is not based on our feelings, but on whom God is; and He keeps His promises!  The history of the nation of Israel is full of ups and downs.  Remember, just days after the victory of crossing through the Red Sea the Israelites want to return to Egypt.  Eugene Peterson writes: “All persons of faith I know are sinners, doubters, uneven performers.  We are secure not because we are sure of ourselves but because we trust that God is sure of us.” [1]  When you find yourself feeling helpless and struggling, remind yourself of God’s protecting care:  Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (NIV).  In John 17:11, 15 Jesus prayed for us: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.”   “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (NIV)

     As we read verse three, it may have been that the psalmist needed to remind himself of the truth of verse two during a time when Israel was being dominated by foreign powers.  In spite of the immediate circumstances, he knew evil would not rule them forever: “The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.”

     The key word is “remain.”  Evil is not permanent, nothing counter to God’s justice has any eternity to it.  The Apostle Peter learned to trust God and grow through his trials and share this with the church: 1 Peter 1:3–7. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (NIV)

     Next, in verse 4 the psalmist demonstrates what to do when faced with a situation beyond our control or understanding:  He looks to God and prays!  4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart. 5 But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers.  Peace be upon Israel.  When things are out of your control, remember who is in control and bring your concerns to Him. 

Philippians 4:6–7 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus. (GW)

     Being a Christian is not like walking a tight rope.  Psalm 125 says it is like sitting in the middle of the fortified city of Jerusalem, secured by the Lord Himself.  There will be doubts, there will be ups and downs and slips, there will times when evil seems to reign, but remember, you are secure in the Lord.  The psalm ends with the words: Peace be upon Israel.  In the context this can be translated “Relax.”  We are secure.  God is in control and as we come to Him through Christ Jesus the Lord, we are secure.  Are you at peace regardless of the circumstances?  You can be if you surrendered your life to Jesus, don’t delay.  Christian, if you are struggling to find peace in your circumstances – stop focusing on the circumstances and look up – see that you are surrounded and held by the everlasting arms of almighty God – you ARE secure in HIM!

Closing Song: I know who holds tomorrow 

(This video was uploaded in 2017 by David Hill who writes: This is a home recording of my wife Melinda. She died two years ago after a nine-month battle with cancer. During her struggle she repeatedly said that her life was in God’s hands. Anything He allowed to happen to her was for her own good. So she chose to focus on the things for which she was thankful. I put this together in her memory. I hope it will bring comfort to all of us, for we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. But we can choose to know One who will be with us no matter what happens.)

Verse 1 – I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from its sunshine for its skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry o’er the future, for I know what Jesus said, and today I’ll walk beside Him for He knows what is ahead.

Chorus – Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds tomorrow, And I know who holds my hand.

Verse 2 – Ev’ry step is getting brighter As the golden stairs I climb. Ev’ry burden’s getting lighter ev’ry cloud is silver-lined. There the sun is always shining; there no tear will dim the eye, at the ending of the rainbow where the mountains touch the sky.

Chorus –

Verse 3 – I don’t know about tomorrow, it may bring me poverty; but the One who feeds the sparrow is the One who stands by me. And the path that is my portion May be through the flame or flood, But His presence goes before me and I’m covered with His blood.

Chorus –

CCLI Song # 17982 Ira Stanphill © 1950 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NIV)

Bonus Song: “He will hold me fast” 

Verse 1 – When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast. When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast. I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path, for my love is often cold, He must hold me fast.

Chorus – He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast. For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

Verse 2 – Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast. Precious in His holy sight, He will hold me fast. He’ll not let my soul be lost, His Promises shall last. Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.

Chorus –

Verse 3 – For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast. Justice has been satisfied, He will hold me fast. Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast. Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last.

Chorus –

CCLI Song # 7016161 Ada Ruth Habershon | Matthew Merker © 2013 Getty Music Publishing (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Matthew Merker Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. CCLI Licence No. 1348394

 

[1] Eugene H. Peterson (p. 86)A long obedience in the Same Direction.  1980, IVP

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Psalm 124.  “The Lord is on our side.”

August 16, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: 1 Sing God a brand-new song! Earth and everyone in it, sing! 2 Sing to God—worship God! Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea, 3 Take the news of his glory to the lost, News of his wonders to one and all! 4 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs. His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;” Psalm 96:1–4 (The Message).

Song: Still, My Soul Be Still – Keith & Kristyn Getty. 

Verse 1 – Still my soul be still and do not fear, Though winds of change may rage tomorrow.  God is at your side no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

Chorus – God You are my God, And I will trust in You and not be shaken.  Lord of peace renew a steadfast spirit within me, To rest in You alone.

Verse 2 – Still my soul be still do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.  Hold on to His ways with shield of faith against temptation’s flaming arrows.

Verse 3 – Still my soul be still do not forsake the truth you learned in the beginning.  Wait upon the Lord and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

CCLI Song # 5469284 Keith Getty | Kristyn Getty | Stuart Townend © 2008 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Today we are looking at Psalm 124.  It is the fifth psalm of ascents, a group of 15 psalms, (120 – 134), which we believe were sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three yearly festivals.

     It’s been suggested that these 15 psalms may form 5 sets of 3.  Generally the first psalm in the set is deals with some distress, followed by confidence in God and lastly, security in the Lord.[1]  Remember these psalms were likely read in close succession, not a week apart as we are looking at them.  You may want to try reading these psalms in their groups of three.   As we’ve seen:

  • Psalm 120 is a psalm of repentance I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.” (NIV)
  • Psalm 121 is a psalm of trust. I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?” (NIV)
  • Psalm 122 is a psalm of worship. I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” (NIV).
  • Psalm 123 depicts the attentive service of those waiting upon the Lord for his mercy: 1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. (NIV)

     Psalm 124 is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s protection.  The annual festivals brought the 12 tribes together to celebrate they were one people under God.  This psalm reinforces that truth as they remembered and celebrated that had it not been for God’s faithfulness they wouldn’t still exist!  The history of Israel is full of the stories of God’s saving mercy: giving old Abraham an heir, preserving Jacob’s family through famine, liberation from years of slavery in Egypt, safe passage through the Red Sea, preserved for 40 years in the wilderness, the conquest of Jericho and the rest of the promised land. Also during the time of the kings great armies overran the land and threatened to destroy them.  Again and again, against all odds the Lord has preserved Israel as His convent people.  The nation could say with confidence God IS on our side! 

     Let’s read Psalm 124: 1 What if the Lord had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: 2 What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us? 3 They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger. 4 The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us. 5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives. 6 Praise the Lord, who did not let their teeth tear us apart! 7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free! 8 Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 124 (NLT).

     Psalm 124 begins with a worship leader calling for the people of Israel to imagine what their lives would have been like if the Lord had not been on their side.  Verses 2 & 3 speak of being attacked by those with burning anger.  Verse 3 describes the enemy’s desire as that of a wild animal with a voracious appetite.  We see something similar in Jeremiah 51:34 where the destroyer of Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is pictured as a serpent that swallowed them up.

     Verses 4 & 5 draws on the image of a flash flood, to describe the destruction their enemies sought to bring on them.  Those living in Israel’s dry, hilly land with its many wadi’s (ravines) were familiar with sudden flooding as a result of thunder storms. 

     Verse 6 praises the Lord, for preventing the teeth of their vicious enemy from tearing them apart!  Verse 7 pictures Israel as completely helpless before their attackers, like a bird in a trap, until the Lord broke the trap, freeing them!

     Verse 8 concludes this psalm with a declaration of trust in the Lord who made heaven and earth.  As creator of all, the Lord can do all that is needed for his people!  He is on our side!

     It is important for us to notice that this Psalm isn’t claiming that the Lord kept difficulties away from them, look at verse 2: What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us?  They were attacked and feared for their very existence!  Their testimony is that they survived the worst and made it through, because it was the Lord who was on their side.  However, notice that this is not a psalm which focuses on the hazards, but rather on the help given.  The hazards are not the subject of this psalm, just the setting for this psalm. 

     Can you say the same thing about the “hazards” you have experienced in your life?  Sometimes we don’t like to reflect on our struggles and hardships, those times when we didn’t think we were going to make it.  Psalm 124 teaches us to review those hardships, while looking for the hand of God, for likely the situation could have been far worse.  What do you learn as you do that?

      Daniel Estes says: From Psalm 124 God’s people see that he uses yesterday’s troubles to build in them trust for today and tomorrow. They learn through the traumas of life that they can trust the Lord.[2]

     Eugene Peterson says on this subject:  Faith develops out of the most difficult aspects of our existence, not the easiest.  The person of faith is not a person who has been born, luckily, with a good digestion and sunny disposition.  The assumption by outsiders that Christians are naive or protected is the opposite of truth: Christians know more about the deep struggles of life than others, more about the ugliness of sin.

     A look into the heavens can bring a breathtaking sense of wonder and majesty, and, if a person is a believer, a feeling of praise to the God who made heaven and earth.  The psalm looks the other direction.  It looks into the troubles of history, the anxiety of personal conflict and emotional trauma.  And it sees there the God who is on our side, God our help.  The close look…into the …terrors, the flood’s waters and the imprisoning trap, sees the action of God in deliverance.[3]

          The theme of Psalm 124 – Do not lose hope, God is on our side, remember what he has already done for us – is reflected in Romans 8:31-32 & 35-39, listen to it from The Message translation:  “31 So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? 32 If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?”  35 Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: 36 They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. 37 None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. 38 I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, 39 high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.” Romans 8:31-32, 35–39 (The Message).

     Praise God – the Lord is on our side – can anything that comes against us ultimately succeed with the Lord at our side?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!  Isn’t that great news?  Doesn’t that change how you see the enemy’s attack?  The devil means to discourage and destroy you – the Lord allows him to try, because he knows as you trust in him, the trials will instead develop and strengthen your faith.  What the enemy means for evil, God uses for our good!

     Let me close this encouraging message with a sobering question.  What would it be like to face the things you have gone through without the Lord?  I’ve been with Christians who have been going through some of life’s worst experiences, and in the midst of their grief, they pause and say, I don’t know how anyone could go through this without the Lord?   The sad truth is people all around us are going through life without the Lord, without his comfort and guidance.  What can be done to help them?  That’s why we Christians are still here, and are going through life’s struggles alongside them.  Not only do our trials give opportunity for our faith to develop, they make us living examples of God’s faithfulness!!! 

     When the Lord gives us a point of connection with someone, possibly around a similar experience, we can share about the difference having a relationship with the Lord made in our life.  I remember seeing this happen in Japan.  Many churches there are small, Christians few, and I struggled with why the Lord would allow some wonderful Christian women to struggle with terminal cancer?  I stopped asking why, when after their deaths, others came to be baptized – some also with cancer, because of the Christian testimony of these ladies!  How did you survive?  The Lord was on my side!  Don’t be shy to share the Good News of what the Lord has done and is doing in your life!

Closing: “Today Tomorrow & Forever” – Sanctus Real – 

Verse 1 – Through every trial, through every circumstance, still Your mercy covers me.  Through every battle, I don’t have to understand, still I lift my voice and sing

Chorus – Today, tomorrow, and forever I will live for You. Today, tomorrow, and forever I will worship You.

Verse 2 – You have been faithful, You have been kind to me, You hold my future in Your hands.  When the world is shaking, the ground beneath my feet, You’re the solid rock on which I stand.

Bridge – I’ll worship You on the mountain and in the valley.  I’ll worship You in the calm and in the storm

Ending – Today, tomorrow, and forever I will worship You.  Oh I will worship You.  Jesus I worship You.

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Benediction: “10 The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 (The Message).


[1] Wilcock, M. (2001). The Message of Psalms: Songs for the People of God. (J. A. Motyer, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 220). Nottingham, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

[2] Estes, D. J. (2019). The New American Commentary: Psalms 73–150. (E. R. Clendenen, Ed.) (Vol. 13, p. 468). Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

[3] Ibid, p. 74-75.

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Psalm 123.  “Living as a servant of the Lord.”

August 9, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: 1 I will sing forever about the evidence of your mercy, O Lord. I will tell about your faithfulness to every generation. 2 I said, “Your mercy will last forever. Your faithfulness stands firm in the heavens.”” Psalm 89:1–2 (GW).

Song: Make me a servant 

Make me a servant humble and meek.  Lord let me lift up those who are weak, and may the prayer of my heart always be: Make me a servant, make me a servant, make me a servant today.

CCLI Song # 33131 Kelly Willard © 1982 CCCM Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Willing Heart Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No1348394

     We are continuing our look at Psalms 120-134, the Songs of Ascents. Today we are looking at Psalm 123.  Let me begin by reading it:

Psalm 123.  A song of ascents. 1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3 Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. 4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant. (NIV)

     What do you do when something is not working properly or breaks down?  Most of us will look for help by calling the service department.  If the power is out here in a Saskatchewan neighbourhood, the people might gather on the street and ask if anyone called SaskPower on their cell phone? Yea, well, where are they?  When are they going to get here? What kind of service is this?  Our town of Esterhazy currently has very hard water and it is brutal on plumbing, especially hot water tanks – ours seem to barely last five years! When the hot water stops working or the tank starts leaking, you want a plumber right away; and the plumbers in our town give great service when we call!

     I tell you all this to ask this question.  Do we sometimes carry this attitude of expecting to be served into our relationship with God?  Do we treat God like a spiritual Mr. Fix-it whom we call to repair things using the “911 prayer line”?  If you look at your prayer requests lately, it may look like a “to do” list for God to come to your aid!  

     It seems at first glance that this is what Psalm 123 is saying as well – “Lord, I’ve got a problem, fix it.  We’re all overwhelmed with contempt; we can’t handle it any more – fix it!”  Yet, could it be that with our twenty first century perspective we have reversed the roles?  This psalm may not be about God serving us after all!  Let’s take another look.  1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3 Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. 4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant. Psalm 123 (NIV)

     The word ‘eyes’ is used four times in these first two verses.  What are the eyes looking at?  Their focus is on the hand of the master, the hand of the mistress and on the Lord.  The setting is that of offering service – the attentiveness of a slave and a servant to those they serve.  Although the word service isn’t used, this is a psalm which teaches us about service.  Like many of the psalms, the instruction is not through description, but by demonstration.  When I got a job at a printing plant, it began with me spending the day with the fellow whose job I would be taking over, he was moving to another position.  That day I learned what to do, by watching & learning from him, rather than reading a manual.  Psalm 123 is like that, we learn about service as we ‘watch’ the psalmist.

     First notice the posture of service.  God is not our servant, nor is he our equal.  Service to God begins with our upward look to God as we acknowledge that he is worthy of our service: “1 I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.  2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God”. The writer is not speaking of God as being distant and far away when he looks up to heaven, rather he speaks to God giving him honor.  The posture of a servant is to look up to God, in order to honor and worship Him.  

     In this psalm I learn that God is my Lord and He is to be the focus of my attention. This is what is to be learned from the example of the slaves and the mistress. My service to God is not about me being noticed or what I will get out of it; it is about obeying the Lord and honoring him.  Jesus taught us to pray with this same God centred attention: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hollow be Thy nameThy kingdom comeThy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9.

     The second element in our service has to do with expectations.  We have lifted our eyes to God in heaven; does that mean he is distant?  Verse two closes with the phrase “so our eyes look to the Lord our God.” The Lord is in heaven, yet we know he cares, for he is “the Lord our God.”  Although there is much about God that is beyond our comprehension, that doesn’t mean that God is unknowable to us.  As Christians we know that God wants good for us; for in grace, he does not punish us according to what we deserve.  Three times in this psalm there is the plea for mercy.  We know that mercy is something that God the Father is willing to give to us as we come to him through Jesus the Son.

     Eugene Peterson says: The word mercy means that the upward look to God in the heavens does not expect God to stay in the heavens, but to come down, to enter our condition, to accomplish the vast enterprise of redemption, to fashion, in us, his eternal salvation. [1]

     We serve a God who loves us and in mercy is working in us to shape us into the character of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.  As we look to God in faith we receive what we need: mercy.

     A third element in service is urgency.  The psalmist calls on the Lord for mercy because: “…we have endured much contempt. 4 We have endured much ridicule…”  The NASB says: 3 Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us, For we are greatly filled with contempt. 4 Our soul is greatly filled with the scoffing of those who are at ease, And with the contempt of the proud. Psalm 123:3–4 (NAS).  The Hebrew word we translate as “endured” or “greatly filled” contains the idea of something being saturated or filled to the brim.  The psalmist is saying that they have had it with contempt & ridicule and are calling out to God believing they will receive mercy.

      The psalmist lived at a time when the position of slave and servant were institutionalized.  It was how the world ran at that time.  In our day we no longer have institutionalized slavery.  Freedom is essential to us!  We must be free live where we want and do what we want, when we want to do it!  However, do you find that people are happy?  NO, we remain habitual complainers!  The weather is lousy; the government is worse; I don’t have enough money; I don’t have enough time; I can’t be myself, others are telling me how to live.  So how have we responded to our unhappiness?  We look for relief & escape – people are addicted to alcohol & drugs (I just need to relax or I need more energy); to compulsive work habits (I want to feel better about myself) and to obsessive consumption (More things will make me happy).  Do you realize what has happened?  We are not free! We are still enslaved, we have only traded masters! 

     Peterson says: “The Christian is a person who recognizes that our real problem is not in achieving freedom but in learning service under a better master.  The Christian realizes that every relationship that excludes God becomes oppressive.  Recognizing and realizing that, we urgently want to live under the mastery of God… ‘Speak Lord, for thy servant hears.’”[2]

     The final element of service we will look at today is that it is Sensible Service.  This psalm concentrates on our being a servant of God yet doesn’t mention the serving of others.  Does that mean it can be excluded?  A great place to answer that question is to look at the book of Romans chapters 12 -16 which begins in chap. 12:1 of the New International Translation with the words: Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1 (NIV)

The Message translation says: “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1 (The Message).

The Contemporary English Version says it this way:  Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That’s the most sensible way to serve GodRomans 12:1 (CEV)

     Paul urges us to offer our bodies as our worship offering to God or as the CEV says, this whole life worship is “the most sensible way to serve God.” This is in keeping with the psalm’s emphasis on actual service, not just intention or desire. 

     Going back to Romans, in the verses & chapters which follow 12:1 it becomes clear that presenting ourselves to God as living sacrifices occurs as we use the gifts He has given us to serve others. In other words, this is the sensible way to serve God!

     If you are still trying to decide if this idea of servanthood really needs to have a place in your life as a Christian, let me remind you of the words and example of Jesus. 

Matthew 20:27–28. “and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (NLT)

Luke 22:27. “Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” (NLT)

Philippians 2:5–7a. “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.” (NLT)

John 13:4–5, 12–17. “So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”  “After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” (NLT)

  • Servanthood begins with an upward look to God – It is not about me, but about my God.
  • Servanthood looks to God in faith expecting, knowing that in mercy He hears us.
  • Servanthood involves urgency, knowing that the Lord is our only hope and the only one we want to serve.
  • Finally servanthood is sensible service, done in our day to day living.  We serve our God as we follow the example of our Lord Jesus.

Closing songs: #1  Here’s a different “Make me a servant” song that was written for children, but it speaks to all of us – 

Verse 1 – Make me a servant, humble and kind, giving to others, not keeping what’s mine.  You, God of Heaven came wrapped as a babe; you lived in humility and showed me the way.  

Chorus – Make me a servant, Jesus, like you, help me show humility in all that I do.  It’s not about living just to please me, but it’s about giving as I have received!

Ending – Yes, it’s about giving as I have received!

3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 (NIV).

#2 – Servant Song: 

Verse 1 – What do you want of me, Lord?  Where do you want me to serve you?  Where can I sing your praises?  I am your song.

Chorus – Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord.  Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.

Verse 2 – I hear you call my name, Lord, and I am moved within me.  Your Spirit stirs my deepest self.  Sing your songs in me.

Verse 3 – Above, below, and around me.  Before, behind and all through me, your Spirit burns deep within me.  Fire my life with your love.

Verse 4- You are the light in my darkness.  You are my strength when I’m weary.  You give me sight when I’m blinded.  Come see for me.

Verse 5 – I am your song and servant, Singing your praises like Mary.  Surrendered to your spirit, let it be done to me!

Chorus 2 – Jesus, Jesus, let it be done to me!  Jesus, Jesus, you are the way.
Written by Sr. Marie Mcgargill

Benediction: The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58 (TNIV)

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Psalm 122.  “Worshiping God.” 

August 2, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship: “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”” “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord!” “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!” Psalm 122:1; 96:1, 4a (NLT)

Song: The name of the Lord 

Chorus 1 – Blessed be the name of the Lord!  Blessed be the name of the Lord!  Blessed be the name of the Lord most high!  (REPEAT)

Chorus 2 – Holy is the name of the Lord!  Holy is the name of the Lord!  Holy is the name of the Lord most high!  (REPEAT)

Verse – The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and they are safe!  The name of the Lord is a strong tower.  The righteous run into it and they are safe!

Chorus 1

Chorus 3 – Glory to the name of the Lord!  Glory to the name of the Lord!  Glory to the name of the Lord most high!  (REPEAT)

CCLI Song # 265239 Clinton Utterbach © 1989 Universal – Polygram International Publishing, Inc. (Admin. by Universal Music Publishing Group) Utterbach Music Publishing Company (Admin. by Universal Music Publishing Group) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No1348394

     Today we are looking at Psalm 122; the third psalm in the 15 Songs of Ascent (Ps. 120-134) which are thought to have been sung by those on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three major yearly festivals.

     As we have seen, Psalm 120 commences our journey to God.  This journey starts with a frustration over life as we have attempted to craft it without God.  It begins with repentance, a turning away from that which is wrong and walking towards God for help.

     Psalm 121 is a psalm of trust.  When this life does not go as expected, a disciple is faced with the temptation to look for quick fixes instead of relying in the Lord.  Psalm 121 reminds us the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth watches over us, walks with us and will not let evil separate us from him.

     Psalm 122 brings us to Jerusalem. The rabbis referred to Jerusalem as the “navel of the universe”, and it is amazing that after so many years this ancient city still plays such a key role in modern life. Sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, Jerusalem is still the destination of pilgrims from around the world as it was the destination of Israelites in ancient days.[1] 

     Psalm 122 begins with the words: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” They have gone to the city of Jerusalem, but their attention in on the Lord whose throne on earth is there; He is the focus of their journey.  Psalm 122 is a psalm of worship. 

     As diverse as the church is around the world, one thing you will always find present is worship.  The people of God enjoy gathering together to worship their God, not because they have to but because they want to. 

     The word “worship” comes from an old English word “worth-ship”, meaning that God is worthy and is deserving of our praise. Worship describes our response to the Lord who has revealed himself to us. When in our hearts we believe God is worthy and deserves our worship, then nothing will stop us from doing so; it’s simply a matter of our priorities.
     Worship can take many forms.  Of late, worship has come to be defined as singing. Singing is one way we can express our worship, but certainly it is not the only way, which is good news for non-singers!  We can express God’s worth-ship through our giving, our prayer, our reflection, our sharing, the reading & expounding of God’s Word and many other things. In essence, we worship as we give adoration, humility, submission and obedience to our God.

     Jerusalem, for a Hebrew, was the main place to worship.  In Jerusalem during the feasts, the great works of God were remembered and celebrated: God created you, God redeemed you and God provides for you.  It was also to Jerusalem that you went to offer sacrifice for your sins – a reminder of God’s grace and forgiveness.

     Jerusalem drew the 12 diverse tribes together into one people to worship their God as a united people.  In worship the same thing happens for us.  We come from many different back grounds and experiences and yet we leave those differences behind and come for the common purpose of worshipping our God together. 

     For the Christian, worshipping God helps give our life the balance it needs – it’s not all about me – I remember God’s grace & mercy, past,  present and future.  Theologian Karl Barth described Worship as “the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in human life”.

      Let me read Psalm 122 from the NIV:  A song of ascents. Of David. 1 I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” 2 Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. 4 That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord— to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. 5 There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” 8 For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” 9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.” (NIV).

     The pilgrims were going to Jerusalem, for there they knew they would find:

1.  A place of safety.

3 Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. Psalm 122:3  (NIV)

3 Jerusalem is a well-built city; its seamless walls cannot be breached.” Psalm 122:3 (NLT).

     Jerusalem as the capital was the country’s principle fortress.  Jerusalem had strong walls, however the people recognized its true security came not from its fortifications, but from the Lord.

     How about for us now with Temple gone, where can one to look for the peace and safety of the Lord’s presence?  Jesus gave us the answer to that question in his discussion with a Samaritan woman in John 4:19-24: “19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”” John 4:19–24 (CSB).

     God has made it possible for us to approach him directly, no matter where we are.  We can have a personal relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus; a heart to heart, spirit to Spirit relationship. How? Humble yourself and admit you need God’s help. Ask him to forgive your sins and receive Jesus as your sin forgiver. Surrender your will to Him as your life leader and the Holy Spirit of God will come to dwell within you; then you can experience the peace and security symbolized by Jerusalem through of the presence of the Spirit of God within.

     As I come before the Lord in acts of worship I claim his peace, because I know that even in life’s uncertainties he is still in control.  This pandemic did not surprise him; I am safe in his care no matter the circumstances.  The Apostle Paul shared how this truth guarded him with God’s peace, in Philippians 4:8-9 “6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6–7 (CSB).

     As we come to God in worship, recalling what he has done, is doing and will do; we can be secure in his peace.  Remind yourself, life is not about me, nor is this all there is; the Lord is in control!

     The pilgrims going to Jerusalem also knew they would find:

2.  A Place of Praise.

 “That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.” Psalm 122:4 (NIV)

4 All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people— make their pilgrimage here. They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord, as the law requires of Israel.” Psalm 122:4 (NLT).

     The Lord had commanded that the Israelites meet together regularly, through the festivals.  The focus of these pilgrimages was to give thanks and praise to the Lord; not to ask for unity or prosperity.  Yet, these gifts were given by God over and above the occasion.  Pagan worship on the other hand is focused on doing what you think your god wants in hope of you getting what you want.

     What if you say, “I don’t feel like worshipping and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.”  What does the Psalm say?  Israel came because God in his law required them to gather to praise the Lord.  Likewise, we are to choose to worship, not because we feel like it, but because we should.  When we know something is the right thing to do, we do it, rather than wait until we feel like it!  If not, many meals would go unprepared, much laundry undone, and many red lights run – if we only did those things when we felt like it!  Worshipping God is the right thing to do.  As we begin to praise God for who he is and what is has done, we will discover the feelings will follow. 

     Finally, Jerusalem was seen as:

3.  A Place of Justice.

     Verse 5 describes Jerusalem as the place where “the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.” Psalm 122:5 (NIV).

     Jerusalem was not only the religious centre of Israel, but also its political centre where the Davidic kings reigned.  However, these kings were to rule as administrators of the Lord’s justice.  The divine King was the one the people ultimately looked to for justice.  We are reminded of God’s promise to David that one of his son’s would rule justly from his throne forever over all of creation, praise God!

     Eugene Peterson tells us: The biblical word judgment means “the decisive word by which God straightens things out and puts things right.”  The thrones of judgment are a place where the word of action is announced.  Judgment is not a word about things; it is a word which does things, “putting love in motion, applying mercy, nullifying wrong, and ordering goodness.  This word of God is everywhere in worship – from the call to worship to the benediction, we hear God’s word to us; in scripture, in prayers, in song (inspired by scripture) [2].  Every time we worship our minds are reminded of the acts of God, the Words of God, what God has said and what God has done.  Worship is the place where our attention is centred on these personal and decisive words of God.

     “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let’s go to the House of the Lord.’” (GW)  This Psalm is a beautiful reminder of what we receive as we draw near to the Lord in worship, whether that be in Jerusalem, Esterhazy or anywhere else: safety, praise and justice.  As you conclude your specific activity of worship, leave remembering that you are to represent your Lord wherever you are! 1 Peter 2:9 says: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (TNIV)  Worship him with the offering of your life today!

Closing Song: Come Thou Fount (I Will Sing) 

Verse 1 – Come Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing, Tune my heart to sing Thy grace; Streams of mercy never ceasing, Call for songs of loudest praise.  Teach me some melodious sonnet, Sung by flaming tongues above; Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it, Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Verse 2 – Here I raise my Ebenezer, Hither by Thy help I come; and I hope by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.  Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God; He to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.

Chorus – How your kindness yet pursues me.  How your mercy never fails me.  ‘Til the day that death shall loose me, I will sing, oh I will sing.

Verse 3 – Oh to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!  Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee:  Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

Chorus – (2x)

Ending – Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.  Here’s my heart Lord take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.

CCLI Song # 7072572 Chris Tomlin | Robert Robinson © 2016 S. D. G. Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) sixsteps Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Worship Together Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  The God of peace brought the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, back to life through the blood of an eternal promise.  May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20–21 (GW)

                                                                              


[1] Futato, M. D. (2009). The Book of Psalms. In Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 7: The Book of Psalms, The Book of Proverbs (p. 378). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[2] Peterson, Eugene H., A long obedience in the same direction.  Pg. 50, IVP

Check for new sermon podcasts each Sunday at: Podbeam 

Psalm 121 “Where to find help.”

July 26, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship“Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!”  Psalm 43:3–4 (NLT)

Opening Song: “You’re worthy of my praise” 

Verse 1 – I will worship (I will worship).  With all of my heart (with all of my heart).  I will praise You (I will praise You).  With all of my strength (all my strength).  I will seek You (I will seek You).  All of my days (all of my days).  I will follow (I will follow).  All of Your ways (all Your ways).

Chorus – I will give You all my worship.  I will give You all my praise.  You alone I long to worship.  You alone are worthy of my praise.  

Verse 2 – I will bow down (I will bow down).  And hail You as King (and hail You as King).  I will serve You (I will serve You).  Give You everything (everything).  I will lift up (I will lift up) .  My eyes to Your throne (my eyes to Your throne).  I will trust You (I will trust You).  Trust You alone (You alone).  

CCLI Song # 487976  David Ruis  © 1991 Shade Tree Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Publishing (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

      Why do some… people, find it hard to stop and ask for directions?  “I hear” it is because they don’t like to admit they are wrong, that they don’t know the way and are lost.  To have to admit we are wrong can be embarrassing and humiliating and so, foolishly, we often avoid it.  Yet there are times when finding out we are wrong can result in relief – for it means we can stop doing something that just isn’t working!

     Eugene Peterson gives an example of such a situation in his book “A long obedience in the same direction.”  Peterson was trying to remove his lawn mower blade, first with a wrench, then he added a 3 foot pipe, finally he was banging on the pipe with a rock.  His neighbor looked over the fence at his torment, and suggested that he had had a similar lawn mower, and had discovered that the bolt which held the blade in place was treaded in the opposite direction.  

      When Peterson tried turning the nut in the other direction, it came off.  He was glad at the moment to be told that he had been wrong; it saved him from frustration and failure.  There was only one way to do it.  As hard as he tried turning it the other way, it would not loosen.  God knows about life, and that life is like that – there is a way that works, and everything else only brings frustration for wasted effort.[1]

     Psalm 121 is like that neighbor who tells us, that we are going about our Christian life in the wrong way, and then shows us the right way.

     Psalms 120 through 134 are in a subgroup within the Book of Psalms called the Psalms of Ascent.  These songs, written by various authors, were collected together and sung by pilgrims on their way up to one of the three great worship festivals held each year in Jerusalem.

     Last week we saw Psalm 120 expresses frustration with the world’s lies and deceptions.  We have repented – said ‘NO’ to the way of life that ignores or rejects God, and started our pilgrimage journey of faith in Jesus Christ.

     Our rejection of the world’s system with its lies and deceptions led us to turn our back on it and return to God.  However, some of us may have the left the world with the impression that we were also leaving its troubles and struggles behind as well.  But no sooner do step out on the road of faith than we trip and fall hard.  We may think: This is not what I was expecting!  I thought God was going to clear all life’s obstacles out of my way!  We pick ourselves up and look around for someone to help us.  “I lift my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?”  Psalm 121 is written to those who would look for their help in the wrong places or try to do it themselves, and as a result are ignoring God.  Let me read Psalm 121.

Psalm 121:1-8   A Song of Ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.  From whence does my help come?  2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.  3 The Lord will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.  4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  5 The Lord is your keeperthe Lord is your shade on your right hand.  6 The sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night.  7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.  8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore. (RSV)

     In looking to the hills the traveler may have been concerned there were thieves and robbers present or the hills may have been seen as a place to hide for safety.  Some suggest they were seeing Mount Zion in the distance, we are not sure.  

     A traveler in Palestine 2500 years ago looking up to the hills would have had many sources claiming to offer “help”:  Pagan shrines to Baal, Asherah, sun priests, moon priestess – all inviting people to engage in worship and receive protection from evil – from the demons in the rocks, to protection from the sun god or to keep the moon god from driving you crazy (moonstroke – from which we get lunacy).  A traveler in trouble would have been aware of their offers of help.

     However a look to the hills for this kind of help will end in disappointment.  Psalm 121 rejects the worship of nature, a religion of stars and flowers, and looks to the Lord who made nature, the heavens and earth.  Help comes from the Creator, not from the creation.  The god Baal was known for wild drunken parties and one of the principle jobs of his priests was to wake him up when someone needed his attention (cf. Elijah).  The Lord, Our Creator is always awake:  He will not slumber.    

     Psalm 121 is a rejection of looking to that which has been created for help (self-help; others, things, drugs etc.) and instead call of dependence upon the Lord God, creator of all, for our help and strength.

     Six times in Psalm 121, God is referred to with the personal name LORD (Yahweh).  Six times He is described as our keeper or the one who watches over us – it is the same word and means to guard or protect.  The frequent repetition in this short psalm of these two terms highlights the Lord’s concern in a very personal way.  Listen to Psalm 121 from God’s Word Translation: 1 I look up toward the mountains. Where can I find help? 2My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let you fall. Your guardian will not fall asleep. 4 Indeed, the Guardian of Israel never rests or sleeps. 5 The Lord is your guardian. The Lord is the shade over your right hand. 6 The sun will not beat down on you during the day, nor will the moon at night. 7 The Lord guards you from every evil. He guards your life. 8 The Lord guards you as you come and go, now and forever.” Psalm 121 (GW).

     The Lord is not distant and uncaring, rather, He is present every step of your journey; keeping us from evil.  Nothing can separate you from God’s call and purpose.  Psalm 121 isn’t promising that when we become a Christian we shall no longer experience troubles or hardships, but rather that we will not be alone, the Lord will walk with us through them.  In fact, life’s trials will strengthen our relationship with God as we draw the strength to go through them, from Him.

          This is the message of Romans 8:28,31,32  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? 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, along with him, graciously give us all things? (NIV)

      Psalm 121 makes it clear that God’s interest in us is constant.  He will watch over your coming & going both now & forevermore.  The Christian life is not an escape from the realities of life.  The Christian life is walking with God through all that life brings.  Christians travel the same roads, breath the same air, pay the same prices, and are subject to the same pressures and fears as everyone else.  The difference is, in each step & each breath; we know God is with us.  We are preserved by God, we are ruled by God, and He promises He will keep our life!  

     When you face trouble, where do you look for help?  The Creator of the heavens and the earth – is your keeper.  Also, remember this – this is not a message just for big problems – Psalm 121 reminds us that the same faith works in the little things of life.  So don’t give into the temptation to turn to your own “home remedies” for the small stuff, the God who spoke creation into being in Genesis one, is also the God who guards you from evil – both now and forevermore!  Look to Him!

Closing song: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” 

Verse 1 – A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing; our helper He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe – His craft and power are great, And armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.

Verse 2 – Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing, were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is He – Lord Sabaoth His name, From age to age the same and He must win the battle.

Verse 3 – And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, For God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.  The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him – His rage we can endure, for lo his doom is sure: One little word shall fell him.

Verse 4 – That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth.  Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also – The body they may kill; God’s truth abideth still: His kingdom is forever.

CCLI Song # 2184098 Frederick Henry Hedge | Martin Luther | Tommy Walker © Words: Public Domain  Music: 1997 Universal Music – Brentwood Benson Songs (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)

This is the beginning of a new series from The songs of Ascents, Psalms 120-134.
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Psalm 120.  “Our journey back to God.”

July 19, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church. 

Call to Worship:  “What should I bring before the Lord when I come to bow before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings, with year-old calves?” “Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:6, 8 (CSB).

Song: Be still and know 

Verse 1 – Be still and know that I am God (3x)

Verse 2 – I am the Lord that healeth thee  (3x)

Verse 3 – In Thee O Lord I put my trust  (3x)

Verse 4 – Be still and know that I am God (3x)

CCLI Song # 583265 Lee Herrington | Tom Fettke © Words: 1992 Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.) Music: 1986 Curb Word Music (Admin. by WC Music Corp.) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights eserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     We are going to spend some time in the book of Psalms, which is the hymn book of the Bible, specifically with a collection of psalms known as “The songs of ascents” found in chapters 120 to 134. 

     We are not certain why these songs, written by different authors with a variety of themes were placed together.  Some feel “a song of ascents” referred to the tune or style of music.  I am following a common view that these songs were collected into a ‘chorus book’ to be sung by the pilgrims on their way up to one of the three great annual festivals held in Jerusalem. 

     In the spring, there was the Feast of Passover as the people remembered God how saved them from slavery in Egypt.  Early summer fifty days later was the Feast of Pentecost where they renewed their commitments as God’s covenant people.  In the fall, they celebrated God’s harvest blessings during the Feast of Tabernacles. At that time they built shelters and remembered they had once been a wandering people without a country until God led them to this land he had promised to their forefathers.

     Psalm 120, is the first of 15 Psalms of Ascents (120-134).  We aren’t certain who wrote it.  Some feel it was written by King David as he lamented the time Doeg the Edomite, told King Saul that the priest Ahimelech had helped David escape, leading to the slaughter of 85 priests and their families.  Other commentators say that this psalm comes from the opposition Nehemiah experienced as he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem following the Babylonian exile.  Although determining the author of this psalm is difficult, what is clear is that the emotion it expresses crosses the centuries into our own.  Let’s read it. 

Psalm 120 A song of ascents.

1 I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me. 2 Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. 3 What will he do to you, and what more besides, you deceitful tongue? 4 He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom bush. 5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar! 6 Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. 7 I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.” (NIV).

     At first glance Psalm 120 is surprising since it was clearly written as a very personal psalm. Yet, it was later seen as the perfect song to behind this special collection. It’s not the hymn that many of us would choose to begin our journey to Jerusalem, yet we will see that it is a song that really needs to be sung first on our journey back to God.  A good question to ask ourselves is:

How do we humans begin our journey to God?

  • Have you ever thought about that? 
  • What led you to God? 
  • What brought you to the point where you were willing to begin the journey to approach Him? 

     What is it that motivated the Psalmist?  Look at the 1st verse:  “1I call on the LORD in my distress” – Does that sound familiar?  Often it is the times our distress that causes us to give up on our own efforts and instead call to the Lord for help. 

What is the psalmist experiencing? (vv. 2-7)

2 Save me, Lord, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. 3 What will he do to you, and what more besides, you deceitful tongue? 4 He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows, with burning coals of the broom bush.” Psalm 120:2–4 (NIV).

     He is struggling with those who say one thing and do something else, then deny making their promise. This is hurtful in a personal relationship, but in a business or community connection lying lips and deceitful tongues can be financially devastating and life threatening!  Who can you trust to confide in?  The wisdom on the street says to survive you have to respond in kind, but is that who I want to be?  In verses 3 & 4 the psalmist remembers that God will punish these sins “in kind”. Ps. 64:3 & Prov. 25:18 describe the words of the wicked as being as devastating as lethal arrows.  Wood from the broom tree makes high grade charcoal – Prov. 16:27 & James 3:6 describe evil words as deadly fire.

     The psalmist may not want to join in the evil practices, but he sees it all around him!  5 Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech, that I live among the tents of Kedar!  6 Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. 7 I am a man of peace; but when I speak, they are for war. Psalm 120:5–7 (NIV).

     It seems his circumstances have finally become too much for him and he’s beginning to see them for what they are!  Meshech is the name of a far-off tribe along the Black Sea in southern Russia and Kedar is an Arabian Desert tribe.  Apparently, both of these tribes had reputations for being barbaric.  Today we might paraphrase these thoughts by saying: I live among hoodlums and thugs!   

     By now it is becoming apparent why this psalm, with such a personal message, speaks to each one of us.  This life I thought would give satisfaction has left me emptier than ever.  Often it is moments such as this that cause us to cry out to God for help when we realize how low we have sunk.  The distress that begins and ends this psalm comes from a realization that we have been lied to.  We are told:

–   Human beings are basically good.

–   The world is a pleasant place.

–   We are born free, and if we are in chains now, it is someone else’s fault, and we can correct that with just a little more intelligence, a little more effort and a little more time.

     Yet, from birth we have been taught to compete, to demand our rights and no one seems to know how to live in healthy relationships.  The whole world seems restless, looking for a fight.  Even so, we still believe the lie that things will get better.  A cure will be discovered, the economy will improve, the right book will be written to help you…  But what do we do when things don’t get better?  We complain, resentment builds up, anger takes root and violence erupts.  Why?  Because we have believed the lie that what we are experiencing is unnatural and not how things should be! Advice is all around us: Change your circumstances to change your life! Change your job, move away, or go on holidays!

     What the Psalmist discovers in Psalm 120, is that the first step towards God, is a step away from the world and the lies which point to solutions which exclude God.  Saying NO to the world’s lie and YES to God’s truth is described in biblical terms by the word repentance. Repentance is the beginning of our journey to God.  It is the point where we cry out to God for help and say: “I’ve had it with the world and its lies and empty promises.  Lord God, I need you.  Help me.”

     Eugene Peterson in his book “A long obedience” says this about repentance:

     Repentance is not an emotion.  It is not feeling sorry for your sins.  It is a decision.  It is deciding that you have been wrong in supposing that you could manage your own life and be your own god; it is deciding that you were wrong in thinking that you had, or could get, the strength, education and training to make it one your own; it is deciding that you have been told a pack of lies about yourself and your neighbours and your world.  And it is deciding that God in Jesus Christ is telling you to trust.  Repentance is a realization that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, or thinking the same old thoughts.  Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.[1]  

     This is where the Christian life begins, with an admission of our total need for God’s help.  We to be saved from this world, we need a Saviour!  The good news if that He is here and He is Christ the Lord.  How about you?  Have you finally gotten to the point where you will give up on the world and its promises of short-cuts and easy answers to life?  Are you willing to say NO to the world and the lie that you can make it without God?  The sooner you do (and no one knows how much longer we have), the sooner you can begin the pilgrimage to God and with God. 

     The journey to God begins with a moment of clarity, of coming to your senses when you realize that where you find yourself is a place of death, not life!  Verse one says: “I call on the Lord in my distress, and he answers me.” Psalm 120:1 (NIV).  This is how the journey to God begins – call on the Lord and he will answer you!

Closing song:Just as I am” 

Verse 1 – Just as I am without one plea but that Thy Blood was shed for me, and that Thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God I come I come!

Verse 2 – Just as I am and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to Thee Whose Blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God I come I come!

Verse 3 – Just as I am though tossed about with many a conflict many a doubt, fightings and fears within without, O Lamb of God I come I come!

Verse 4 – Just as I am Thou wilt receive wilt welcome pardon cleanse relieve; Because Thy Promise I believe, O Lamb of God I come I come!

CCLI Song # 23206 Charlotte Elliott | William Batchelder Bradbury © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17 


[1] Peterson, pp. 25-26. A long obedience in the same direction.  Discipleship in an instant society.  1980.  IVP

For sermon podcasts: Esterhazy Baptist Church Podcasts

2 Samuel 11-12.  “Sin – the illusion of self-sufficiency.”

July 12, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Opening Hymn: I Stand Amazed (My Saviour’s Love)

Verse 1 – I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean.

Chorus – How marvelous how wonderful!  And my song shall ever be: How marvelous how wonderful is my Saviour’s love for me.

Verse 2 – For me it was in the garden He prayed not My will but Thine, He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat drops of blood for mine.

Verse 3 – He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calvary, and suffered and died alone.

Verse 4 – When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see, ‘Twill be my joy though the ages to sing of His love for me.

CCLI Song # 25297 Charles Hutchinson Gabriel © Words: Public Domain Music: Public Domain For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Call to Worship: “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Psalm 89:8, 15 (NIV).

     Today we turn our attention to 2 Samuel chapters 11 & 12.  King David has now come to the place where many of us in 21 century North America “live.”  Life is predictable and pleasant.  I can pretty well “run” the day to day things all by myself!  For David the thorny problem of the Ammonite uprising is being handled by general Joab.  Last year their mercenary allies were defeated (2 Sam. 10), this year their country has been taken and their capital city Rabbah is under siege.  Their defeat is just a matter of time (2 Sam. 11:1).  Like most kings, David’s presence isn’t required until the city is about to fall, he should be busy with other things. 

     Yet David allows himself just a little liberty, after all, he is the King!  Just a little peak from the roof top.  Just a few minutes watching.  Just want to know her name.  Just a friendly meeting.  Just one night together.  David allowed himself to be enticed by temptation, which leads to sin, which leads (as we shall sadly see) to death!   

     David gave into the temptation we all face – to let down our guard for a moment and “just let yourself be king of your life for a day.”  But you say, “David was king, he could literally do whatever he wanted, when he wanted, couldn’t he?”  Well, yes, but no!  As a king David’s word was law.  However, as Israel’s king, David was in a covenant relationship with Israel’s true ruler, the Lord God.  David and his subjects had agreed to live under the terms of the covenant made long before under Moses & Joshua.  But now, just for an evening, David is ignoring the commands of God and living to please himself – what harm can come from that?

     A number of weeks after coveting another man’s wife (breaking the tenth commandment – Ex. 20:17) and committing adultery (breaking the seventh commandment – Ex. 20:14), David gets a brief message from Bathsheba, the women he slept with – I’m pregnant!  David is now faced with a choice.  He must own up to his sin of adultery with the wife of one of his top officers. Uriah the Hittite is included in the list of David’s thirty chief men (2 Sam. 23:39) and so is Bathsheba’s father, Eliam (2 Sam. 23:34) whom also happens to be the son of David’s top advisor Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23)! Oh my, there must be a less embarrassing option?  Instead of owning up to his sin, David’s solution is simple; bring Uriah back for a report.  While he’s here he’ll sleep with his wife, everyone will assume he’s the father; and this will be all behind me!  However, Uriah turned out to be a more honourable man than his king. He refused to be with his wife while is brothers in arms were apart from their wives.  David’s simple solution had failed.  It won’t be long before Bathsheba’s pregnancy becomes obvious and the truth will come out, so David writes a letter for Uriah.  However, this letter is not a confession of David’s sin to Uriah; it is a letter to be given to commander Joab ordering him to put Uriah in a situation where the Ammonites will kill him in battle!  The general follows his king’s orders and Uriah and others died while battling at the gate of a city they have locked down under siege – a needless waste!

     David’s little sin of lust has grown to murder (breaking the sixth commandment – Ex. 20:13)!  Does David finally confess?  No, there’s still a bit more to his cover-up.  After the widow Bathsheba has completed the expected days of mourning, the “benevolent” King David takes her into his own home to care for her!  Now, this mess is taken care of his life can get back to ‘normal’.  This is what we read in 2 Samuel 11:26–27. “When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son.”  But there is one more sentence in this last verse of chapter 11.  It reads: “But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” (NIV)

     Chapter 12 begins with the words: “The Lord sent Nathan to David.”  We met Nathan the prophet in chapter 7.  Nathan tells David a story of a greedy, self-centred man who takes and eats a poor man’s pet lamb rather than use one from his own flock.  David as a former shepherd is outraged at such heartless cruelty.  As David passes judgment on the rich man, Nathan, beginning in verse 7, reveals to David that: “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.” 2 Samuel 12:7b–9 (NIV) The Lord knows everything that David has done!

     Remember, this isn’t happening the day after David slept with Bathsheba or the week after Uriah’s death.  A baby has been conceived and born – it has been at least nine months that David has been hiding this sin!  It is the Lord who confronts David through sending Nathan.  David has refused to own up to his sin and now in the King’s court the truth AND GOD’S Judgment come out for everyone present to hear!  God doesn’t do this to embarrass, he knows sin grows in the shadows; it must be exposed and judged.

     Nathan now begins to give God’s judgment on David: 2 Samuel 12:10. “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’” (NIV).  Sin shows contempt for God’s Word (v. 9) and for God (v. 10)!  Do not treat sin lightly!  There is no sin that is “not a big deal” for the sinner is despising God and His Word!

     The Lord’s judgment continues in the following verses and David confesses that he has sinned against the Lord – and offers no excuses.  He is told the Lord has taken away his sin and he will not face death, but his new born son will die.

2 Samuel 12:11–14. ““This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’ ”   “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”” (NIV)

     2nd Samuel chapter 12 closes with David defeating the Ammonites.  Then chapters 13-20 tell us one story after another of strife within David’s kingdom as a direct result of strife within David’s household!  These events have been included in the bible to teach us how terrible, deadly and far reaching the effects of sin is!   

     Here’s a lesson someone learned as a child:  During my early childhood I had a fiery temper which often caused me to say or do unkind things.  One day, after an argument had sent one of my playmates home in tears, my father told me that for each thoughtless, mean thing I did he would drive a nail into our gatepost. Each time I did a kindness or a good deed, one nail would be withdrawn.

     Months passed. Each time I entered our gate, I was reminded of the reasons for those ever-increasing nails, until finally, getting them out became a challenge.

     At last the wished-for day arrived—only one more nail! As my father withdrew it I danced around proudly exclaiming, “See, Daddy, the nails are all gone.”  Father gazed intently at the post as he thoughtfully replied, “Yes, the nails are gone—but the scars remain.” [1]  David had been forgiven – Psalms 32 & 51 tell of David’s experience, but the scars remained – on his family and on his country.

What can I do about the temptation to sin?

     Temptations to sin are all around me, is there really anything can I do?  Well, that depends…on you – how serious are you about not giving into sin?  If you are serious about living a God honouring life then you will start by admitting the problem starts within me.  James 1:14–15. “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” (NLT)  This should lead you to realize you need God’s help.  Jesus also faced temptations, but he did not sin (Heb. 4:14-16) – go to him for your help.  Ask Jesus to be your sin forgiver and follow him as your life leader. 

     1 Corinthians 10:3 tells us that temptation is something we all experience, but that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  More good news is that he will always provide a way for us to endure it – so watch for it. 1 Cor. 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (NIV)

     Jesus taught us ask God the Father in prayer to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (MT. 6:13).  When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness he taught us by example how to resist temptation (MT. 4:1-11).  We must know God’s Word and put serving and honouring him above all else!  The devil offered Jesus the freedom to look after his own needs, receive the acclaim of people and rule the nations; all for only bending the knee to him.  Jesus refuses by reminding himself of what God’s Word says about each area of temptation.  Prepare yourself to be tempted!  Develop and grow your relationship with God.  Spend time with him in prayer and reflecting on his Word.  Use your Bible concordance and prepare yourself with verses from the bible on those areas you know you can be enticed, such as: pride, greed, lust of the flesh, envy, gossip, jealousy…  Ephesians 6:10–13. “Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.” (CEV)

     Finally, stay away from bad influences.  The old joke still has a lot of wisdom: Doctor, I broke my arm in two places – Well, stay away from those places!  Don’t choose to put yourself in situations or with people where you know you will be tempted, think ahead.  Proverbs 4:14–15. “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way.” (NIV).  Proverbs 3:5–8. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” (NLT)

Closing Hymn: Grace Greater than our sin

Verse 1 – Marvellous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!  Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Chorus – Grace, grace God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within.  Grace, grace God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.

Verse 2 – Dark is the stain that we cannot hide, what can avail to wash it away.  Look there is flowing a crimson tide, Whiter than snow you may be today.

Verse 3 – Marvellous infinite matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe!  All who are longing to see His face, Will you this moment His grace receive?

CCLI Song # 31690 Daniel Brink Towner | Julia Harriette Johnston © Words: Public Domain

Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16–17. (CSB)

Bonus song – Cochren & Co. –  Who Can? 

Intro – Who, who, who can love me like you do?

I can be prone to wander. Too full of pride sometimes. Don’t make it easy to love this heart of mine. I can get so distracted, Caught up in doubt and fear, but every time I think you’ve left me, You’re still right here.

Chrous – Who, who, who can love me like you do? I’m a mess, I confess, but you carry me through. Who who who can calm my weary soul?  When I’m lost and alone Thank God that I know, Who can.

Only you can hold my head up Only you can set me free Only you can break the grip that sin had on me. And I know I don’t deserve it, But that’s why you call it grace. You covered a debt that I could never repay.

Chrous

Bridge – Even when I’m hard to hold you stay faithful You’ll never let me go.  Even on my darkest day you light my way.  Forever I will say. Only you only you can.

Chorus

Written by Michael Cochren, Bryan Fowler and Christopher Stevens (C) 2020 Maison de Emack / Michael Cochren Music Company (ASCAP) / Relwof (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes (SESAC) / Hot Mess Music International / Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI)

[1]Tan, Paul Lee. #4971 The Scars Remain in Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: A Treasury of Illustrations, Anecdotes, Facts and Quotations for Pastors, Teachers and Christian Workers. Garland TX : Bible Communications, 1996, c1979

For sermon podcasts: Esterhazy Baptist Church Podcasts

2 Samuel 7 – Overwhelmed by Grace.  July 5, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Call to Worship:  “You know me, Master GOD, just as I am. You’ve done all this not because of who I am but because of who you are—out of your very heart!—but you’ve let me in on it. This is what makes you so great, Master GOD! There is none like you, no God but you, nothing to compare with what we’ve heard with our own ears.” 2 Samuel 7:21–22, (The Message).

Song: Your grace still amazes me 

Verse 1 – My faithful Father enduring Friend, Your tender mercy’s like a river with no end.  It overwhelms me covers my sin.  Each time I come into Your presence I stand in wonder once again.

Chorus – Your grace still amazes me.  Your love is still a mystery.  Each day I fall on my knees, ‘Cause Your grace still amazes me.  Your grace still amazes me.

Verse 2 – O patient Saviour You make me whole.  You are the Author and the Healer of my soul.  What can I give You, Lord what can I say?  I know there’s no way to repay You, only to offer You my praise.

Bridge – It’s deeper, it’s wider, it’s stronger it’s higher.  It’s deeper, it’s wider, it’s stronger it’s higher.  Than anything my eyes can see.

CCLI Song # 3262500 Connie Harrington | Shawn Craig © 2001 Ariose Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) PraiseSong Press (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Little Cricket Music (Admin. by Words & Music, a Division of Big Deal Music, LLC) Remaining portion is unaffiliated. For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No1348394

      When Saul is rejected by God as Israel’s king for refusing to submit to God’s instructions, God indicates the heart of the individual he will choose as the next king is what is important.  

1 Samuel 13:14. “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”” (NIV)

1 Samuel 16:7. “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” (NIV)

     In 1 & 2 Samuel as we follow David, the one chosen by God to replace Saul, we catch glimpses of his heart for God:  As a young man willing to fight the warrior Goliath, believing the Lord God will enable him to defeat the Philistine; and later as a man on the run, yet still seeking God’s direction in his decisions.  Certainly David is not flawless, as his first attempt at moving the Ark of the Lord in 2 Samuel 6 demonstrated, however, he doesn’t give up, learns from his ignorance and succeeds in moving the Ark to Jerusalem.

I.       Another glimpse of David’s heart (vv. 1-3).

     2 Samuel chapter 7 is a continuation of David’s desire to honour the Lord as Israel’s true ruler.  The achievement of peace mentioned in 7:1 come as a result of battles recorded in upcoming chapters (8, 10-12), yet the writer of 2 Samuel wants us to see chapters 6 & 7 as closely linked.  Peace has come upon the land and David is no longer sleeping in tents, yet the Ark of the Covenant, representing the Lord God still is!  Israel’s true ruler deserves better than a tent, and David, in reverence is moved to do something about it!  David consults with a prophet of the Lord, Nathan and is given the ok.  However, that night, the Lord gives Nathan a message to take back to David.

II.      The Lord’s answer to David (vv. 4-17).

1.  David is reminded who is really in charge! (vv. 5-7)

2 Samuel 7:5–7. ““Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” ’” (NIV)

     As the Lord tells David he hasn’t required or asked for a house of cedar, he also reminds David that he has been active among HIS people, nonetheless.  Israel’s previous rulers were leading under the Lord command, as HIS shepherds

2.  David is reminded who has been directing his life! (vv. 8-11a)

2 Samuel 7:8–11a. ““Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.” (NIV)

     The Lord next reminds David that he has been guiding him from the pasture to peace in the palace and will continue to make his name great.  The Lord is also granting peace and a home for his people Israel to live in safety.

3.  The revealing of God’s plans for David (vv. 11b-16)

2 Samuel 7:11b–16. “‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ ”” (NIV)

     In the Hebrew the word house “beth” (as in Bethlehem – house of bread or Bethel – house of God) has two meanings.  It can mean a physical building or it can refer to people, family or descendants.  In these verses the Lord uses this word play to tell David that he is going to build a house (dynasty) for him, and that David’s son would be the one to build a house (temple) for the Lord.

     The Lord’s words that David’s house and kingdom will endure forever before him continued to stir in the hearts of the psalmists and prophets who pointed to God’s promised Messiah (Isa 9:7; 16:5; Jer 23:5–6; 33:15–16).  The Gospels tell us that Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary is the promised one.  Matthew 1:1. “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:” (NIV)

Luke 1:30–33. “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”” (NIV)

III.    David’s response (vv. 18-29).

     Upon hearing God’s answer to his plan, David goes and sits before the Lord in humble reflection.

1. Who am I?  (vv. 18-24)

2 Samuel 7:18–24. “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human! “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant. “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.” (NIV)

     When you spend a life time becoming who you are, it is good to stop and reflect.  David realizes that his journey from the pasture to the palace is all because of God; it’s all been a gift from him.  And to think that there are yet even greater gifts to come – David is left virtually speechless!  All he can do is praise God – there is no one like you – notice he uses the phrase “Sovereign Lord” seven times in the NIV. 

2. Yes Lord, do it!  (vv. 25-29)

2 Samuel 7:25–29. ““And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight. “Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”” (NIV)

     David closes his time with the Lord by agreeing with the Lord and declaring that his will be accomplished – Yes Lord, do it!

3. He prepared for the building of the temple (1 Chron. 22-26, 28:1-29:20) 

     There is a final response of David which is recorded in 1 Chronicles, chapters 22-26 and 28 & 29.  David wasn’t to build a temple for the Lord; that was for his son to do.  However, that didn’t stop David from doing everything in his power to assist in the preparations.  Treasures from military conquests were dedicated to the Lord (2 Sam. 8:9-12) and David gave from his personal wealth and also encouraged his leaders to do the same (1 Chron. 29).  David developed details plans for the temple & its fixtures (1 Chron. 28) and organized the Levites & priests for service in the temple (1 Chron. 23-26) to avoid tragedies as happened earlier with Uzzah.

IV.    Lessons for us.

1. Who am I?

     Have you accepted God’s offer of his son Jesus as your sin forgiver and life leader?  If you have, he has changed your life FOREVER!  In humility sit before your God and reflect on the priceless gift of salvation that has been extended to you through the Son of David, Jesus the Christ.  Thank God for his guiding hand on your life from birth to right now.  Marvel that the Lord has saved you, not only for this time on earth, but promises you will be with him in eternity!  Who am I?

2. Yes Lord, do it!

     Live a life aware of God at work in and around you.  God does not live in a house of stone, rather he dwells within his people by his Spirit (Jn. 4:21-24).  He is building you and I into a spiritual house to the praise of his glory (1 Cor. 3:9).  We are the church; be the church of Christ to your family, friends, neighbours and community.

3. Live with a focus on God’s plans.

     David planned for and gave to the temple, even while knowing he wouldn’t live to see it built.  Are we willing to support or dream for those things which God can use in the lives of those we may never meet?

     Let me close with some thoughts from the Preacher’s Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:  David’s spirit is revealed in the fact that he was willing to lay foundations on which others would ultimately have the privilege of building. The world has too many people who won’t plant trees unless they are going to be around to eat the apples. The church needs more people who are planning and praying with the future needs of the church in mind. There are many things we would like to do and can’t, but all of us can be a part of laying the foundations for the future of our children.

      The Scripture indicates that God blesses not just the things we do but the things we would like to do. God blesses our intentions. When the temple had been built and the ark was being brought to its new home, Solomon made a speech in which he told how God had blessed his father David because it was in his heart “to [build] a house for My name” (1 Kings 8:18). This is an early reminder that God’s interest is not just in our actions but in the interests of our hearts. The kingdom needs scores of people who fill their minds with things they would like to do for God.[1] 

     Live your life with a focus on seeing God’s plans come closer to fulfillment, rather than living just for yourself.  Like David, you will find yourself overwhelmed by the grace of your loving Lord!

SongWho am I? 

Verse 1 – Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt?  Who am I that the Bright and Morning Star would choose to light the way for my ever wand’ring heart?

Pre-Chorus – Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done.  Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.

Chorus – I am a flower quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind.  Still You hear me when I’m calling, Lord You catch me when I’m falling, and You’ve told me who I am.  I am Yours.

Verse 2 – Who am I that the eyes that see my sin would look on me with love and watch me rise again?  Who am I that the voice that calmed the sea would call out through the rain and calm the storm in me?

CCLI Song # 4196651  Mark Hall  © 2003 My Refuge Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)  Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” Psalm 72:18–19 (NIV).


[1] Chafin, K. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). 1, 2 Samuel (The Preacher’s Commentary, Vol. 8, p. 260). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.

For podcasts of the sermons go to: Podbeam

2 Samuel 6:1-15.  “Doing God’s work God’s way.”

June 28, 2020.  Esterhazy Baptist Church. 

Call to Worship:  “I am the high and holy God, who lives for ever. I live in a high and holy place, but I also live with people who are humble and repentant, so that I can restore their confidence and hope.” Isaiah 57:15(GNB) 

Song: “You Are My All In All.” {Music link – 

Verse 1– You are my strength, When I am weak, You are the treasure That I seek, You are my all in all.  Seeking You as a precious jew’l, Lord to give up I’d be a fool, You are my all in all.

Chorus – Jesus Lamb of God, Worthy is Your name.  Jesus Lamb of God, Worthy is Your name.

Verse 2– Taking my sin, My cross my shame, rising again I bless Your name, You are my all in all.  When I fall down You pick me up, when I am dry You fill my cup, You are my all in all.

CCLI Song # 825356 Dennis Jernigan. © 1991 Shepherd’s Heart Music, Inc. (Admin. by PraiseCharts Publishing, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  all rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

We are continuing our look at main characters in the books of Samuel, focusing on David in 2nd Samuel chapter 6.  In chapter 5 David was anointed King by the elders of Israel (v. 5).  David’s next step is to conquer the Jebusite fortress of Zion and which he renamed Jerusalem. Jerusalem, situated along the border between Judea & Benjamin, but belonging to neither tribe would serve as his new capital to unite the country.

When the Philistines learn that David is trying to unite Israel based out of Jerusalem, they come up the Rephaim Valley southwest of Jerusalem to attack him.  David consults the Lord and with His help, overwhelms the Philistines in two major battles (1 Sam. 5:17-25)

After defeating the Philistines, David decides to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  The Ark was a wooden box covered with gold inside & out, made during the time of Moses according to God’s instructions.  Inside the Ark were the two stone tablets inscribed with the 10 commandments that Israel agreed to follow as they made their covenant with the Lord God.  On its lid were two cherubim, angelic beings with their wings spread out over it.  The Ark was considered God’s throne on earth and the Lord’s presence would appear over it.

1 Chronicles 13:1 tells us David consulted with his military leaders, and then suggested to the rest of the country that the Ark of God be moved to Jerusalem.  David then brought together 30,000 men to join him in escorting the Ark from Baalah of Judah to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:1)

The Ark was being moved to Jerusalem with great celebration – there was singing, music, dancing and great praise. This all stopped when the Ox pulling the new cart which held the Ark stumbled.  As the Ark shifted, one of the men guiding the cart, Uzzah, reached out to steady it and when he touched it, he died (2 Sam. 6:6-7).   David became both angry and afraid of the Lord and decided to take Ark no further.  It was brought to the home of Obed-Edom, a Levite and left in his care. 

Three months later after reports that the keeper of the Ark was being blessed by its presence, David feels it is safe to try to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.  This time it is moved without incident.  What changed?  This time the Ark was carried by Levites rather than placed on a cart and pulled by an ox!  What’s the difference?  The difference is this is how God had instructed that the Ark be moved in the first place (Numbers 3:29,31; 7:8-9)!

The first time the Ark of God had ever been on a cart was after the Philistines had captured the Ark in battle.  After they began to get sick, in fear they sent it back to Israel on a cart hoping the illness would stop (1 Samuel chapter 4 – 6).

The Ark had been designed specifically to be carried.  It had rings on the side where carrying poles were placed, and it was to be transported on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites (Numbers 4:4-20).  It was covered from sight and only the priests could to touch it as they were preparing it for transport (Ex. 25:14-15; Num. 3:30-31; 4:15; 7:9).  There is no record of King Saul visiting the Ark, and it seems people forgot how to treat it.

The book of 1 Chronicles chapters 13 & 15 also has the account of David moving of the Ark of God. In 1 Chronicles 15:13, David states what they had done wrong: “It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” (NIV)

What David was trying to do was good.  He wanted The Lord God to rule in the new capital city of the country.  He himself wanted to be close to God, and he wanted his people to join him in worship of God.  This was a great desire.

God created all of us with what has been called a “God shaped vacuum,” which only he can fill. This realization that there is someone beyond us has lead millions of people to satisfy their spiritual emptiness through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Reflecting on who God is and what he has done for us, should lead us to want to express our thanks to him.  This response to his amazing love and grace can and should be expressed in specific actions and our life goals. 

What can we learn from this event in 2 Samuel 6?

1.  Enthusiasm + ignorance = leads to death.

David wanted to move the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, but it seems no one thought to check if there were specific instructions as to how the Ark was to be moved. However, God had told his people how the Ark was to be treated specifically to avoid such tragedies; ignorance of those facts was no excuse!  This suggests not only had the Ark been neglected, but so had God’s Word (The Pentateuch – the first five books of the Bible Moses complied). May this serve as a word of caution to us not to ignore God’s Word!  Enthusiasm plus ignorance leads to death. Proverbs 19:2 confirms this.  It says: “Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes.” (NLT)

People may be passionate about seeking God, but if they search in ignorance, they are still lost and still in trouble. Don’t ignore God’s Word!  Christian, as powerful as the urge to “just do something” might be, never act without consulting with the Lord.  Remember, He is already at work all around us, and he is waiting for us to be willing to join him in what he is doing.

What is the answer?

2.  Enthusiasm + knowledge = leads to joy.

David saw what happens when you don’t do things God’s way, even if done in ignorance.  He had been so focused on the end goal, getting the Ark to Jerusalem that he rushed and didn’t check with God.

When David was informed by God’s Word, he could plan and organize with certainty, knowing what God required, and this brought great joy.  The journey to Jerusalem then became an opportunity to praise God!  Following God’s way makes all the difference!

God has explained in His Word how we can live a life that pleases Him, beginning with putting our faith in His Son, Jesus as our sin forgiver and life leader.  Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” (NLT)

Don’t let your focus on the ‘end goal’ blind you to the importance of the process involved in getting there.  How we do what we are called to do is important, because WE represent the Lord God Almighty.  It is not only the task or the destination which is important to God, but how we accomplish the task or reach our destination.  As we strive for the goal of the upward calling, to reach heaven, the Lord wants us to learn and to represent Him well, all along the way!

Let me leave you with some important questions to ask yourself:

-1-  Do I know God the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ?  Is he my sin forgiver and life leader?  This is a step you dare not skip or rush for the sake of your eternal soul! Where do you stand with God?

-2-  Am I doing God’s work?  If I am one of his people, I belong to him.  Am I representing him?  Am I going about my day conscious that I want to service Him or am I focused on doing my own thing?  How am I serving him?

-3-  Am I doing God’s work God’s way?  Am I doing what He called me to do, the way He wants me to do it? 

Sometimes we find it easier to give God our money than ourselves and our time.  With people, some of us would rather leave a tract than take the time to listen and share.  In those times, send out a silent prayer – “Lord, what is Your plan for this moment?

Although it wasn’t required, David decided that every time the Levites had taken six steps, a sacrifice would be offered to God.  This meant the whole way to Jerusalem became a time of thanking God for his mercy and grace!  Don’t let yourself become so busy doing things for God that you don’t take time to praise and thank him for who he is what he is doing! 

Are you using your daily journey with the Lord as an opportunity to worship him?  Praise him with your whole life, for your whole life!  Because of what Jesus has done for us as our sin forgiver and life leader we can now come into God’s presence without fear!  Ephesians 3:10–12. “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. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” (NLT)

Hymn:Take my life and let it be” {Music link: 

Verse 1 – Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.  Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love, at the impulse of Thy love.

Verse 2 – Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.  Take my voice and let me sing, always only for my King, always only for my King.

Verse 3 – Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee.  Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold, not a mite would I withhold.

Verse 4 – Take my love my Lord I pour, at Thy feet its treasure store.  Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.

Verse 5 – Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee.  Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.  

Ending – Take myself and I will be ever only all for Thee, ever only all for Thee.  

CCLI Song # 1390  Frances Ridley Havergal | Henri Abraham Cesar Malan  © Words: Public Domain

Music: Public Domain   For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 1:5–6 (NLT).

For sermon podcasts 

“David’s Lament.” 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27.  July 1, 2018.  Esterhazy Baptist Church.

Main characters in the books of Samuel: David about to become king. 

Call to Worship:  “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:1416 NIV)

Opening Song: Amazing Grace (My chains are gone) – 

Verse 1:  Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.

Verse 2:  ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.

Chorus:  My chains are gone I’ve been set free.  My God my Savior has ransomed me, and like a flood His mercy rains, Unending love amazing grace.

Verse 3:  The Lord has promised good to me. His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.

Verse 4:  The earth shall soon dissolve like snow. The sun forbear to shine. But God who called me here below, will be forever mine. Will be forever mine. You are forever mine.

CCLI Song # 4768151 Chris Tomlin | John Newton | Louie Giglio © 2006 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Vamos Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) worshiptogether.com songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394             

     The end of 1 Samuel records the crushing defeat of Israel’s army and the final end of King Saul.  He died by falling on his own sword, knowing three of his sons were dead and his army scattered.  The book of Second Samuel begins with a record of David’s response after hearing the news of Saul and his sons’ death.

      2 Samuel 1:1, 17–27  “After the death of Saul, David returned from his victory over the Amalekites and spent two days in Ziklag.”   “Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, and he commanded that it be taught to the people of Judah. It is known as the Song of the Bow, and it is recorded in The Book of Jashar. Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills! Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen! Don’t announce the news in Gath, don’t proclaim it in the streets of Ashkelon, or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice and the pagans will laugh in triumph. O mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor fruitful fields producing offerings of grain. For there the shield of the mighty heroes was defiled; the shield of Saul will no longer be anointed with oil. The bow of Jonathan was powerful, and the sword of Saul did its mighty work. They shed the blood of their enemies and pierced the bodies of mighty heroes. How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! They were together in life and in death. They were swifter than eagles, stronger than lions. O women of Israel, weep for Saul, for he dressed you in luxurious scarlet clothing, in garments decorated with gold. Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies dead on the hills. How I weep for you, my brother Jonathan! Oh, how much I loved you! And your love for me was deep, deeper than the love of women! Oh, how the mighty heroes have fallen! Stripped of their weapons, they lie dead.” (NLT).

     2 Samuel 1:19-27 is a beautiful song of lament given by David upon the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan, David’s close friend.  While this lament was first given spontaneously out of great grief, we see from verse 18 that David intended that it endure and be taught to his tribe.

     If all we knew of David was that Saul was his king and that Jonathan was his friend, you might find nothing unusual about this lament.  However we know King Saul considered David a threat to his throne, and he was obsessed with capturing and killing David.  Things got so bad that David & his men finally had to seek refuge among the Philistines, foreigners who often raided Israel to keep it weak.  David’s decision to look for safety among those whom he had fought in battle tells us how relentless Saul’s pursuit of David really was.

     We can understand that David would grieve the death of Jonathan his dear friend, but it is almost beyond belief that he could show respect for the man who separated him from his wife, his parents and his country simply out of paranoia!  Most people would respond to hatred aimed at them, with hatred in return.

     According to studies mentioned in the article “Fighting fire with fire;” our typical response to rudeness is rudeness!  Yet, studies show that rudeness doesn’t stay just between the two “combatants.” Trevor Foulk, who researches organizational behaviour at the University of Maryland, likens rudeness to the common cold: It’s contagious.  “When it comes to incivility, there’s often a snowballing effect. The more you see rudeness, the more likely you are to perceive it from others and the more likely you are to be rude yourself to others,” he said.    …In a 2016 study, Christopher Rosen, an organizational scientist at the University of Arkansas, tracked employees over the course of their work days. He and fellow researchers found that individuals who experienced a perceived insult earlier in the day would later strike back at co-workers. Using psychological tests, the researchers linked that reaction to lowered levels of self-control.

      “When someone is uncivil to you, it forces you to spend a lot of mental energy trying to figure out what’s going on, what caused the rudeness, what it means,” Rosen said in an interview Monday. “All that thinking lessens your capacity for impulse control. So you become more prone to be rude to others… People in a way ‘pay it forward.’”  …two studies in 2015 and 2017 found that doctors and nurses in neonatal intensive care units who were scolded by an actress playing the mother of a sick infant performed much more poorly than those who did not — even misdiagnosing the infant’s condition.

      “The results were scary,” one of the authors told the Wall Street Journal. “The teams exposed to rudeness gave the wrong diagnosis, didn’t resuscitate or ventilate appropriately, didn’t communicate well, gave the wrong medications and made other serious mistakes.”

      Researchers have struggled in vain to come up with ways to stop the spreading effects of rudeness. Those who studied the hospital neonatal staffs, for example, tried having the doctors and nurses write about their interaction from the perspective of the rude mother. Doing so made no difference. [1]

     Now in David’s case we are dealing with something far beyond rudeness!  However, if being treated rudely can affect us to the extent that it impacts our ability to function normally, how was David not completely consumed with hatred, let alone able to respectfully mourn Saul’s death?  We could conclude David is either very strange not to hold a grudge or we could place him on a pedestal because he is extraordinary and that’s why God chose him.  The benefit of either of these choices is that they free us from having to examine our hearts and ask why we struggle to forgive those who wrong us.  It feels safer for us to say: “I can’t do that because I’m not like David!”  Yet, if he wasn’t born this way or instantly given the gift to forgive, how was David able to write the lament of 2 Samuel 1?  I feel David’s times hiding in the deserts from Saul taught David to trust God’s ways over listening to his gut or the guidance of others.  A look at some of psalms makes it clear he didn’t bury his pains and fears within, but instead he took them to God and processed the frustration he was feeling (eg. Psalms 54-57, 59).  As he wrote, he was reminded that the Lord was with him, was aware of his situation and would at the right time, rescue him.  I’m not suggesting David was perfect, but in this situation, he is modeling something that followers of the Lord God are called to do.

     Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount said: “You have heard people say, “Love your neighbors and hate your enemies.” But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectors love their friends.” Matthew 5:43–46 (CEV). 

     Clearly Jesus expects us to forgive not only those who haven’t earned it, but also those who actively mistreat us!  As we know, this is NOT the way we are wired!  How can we do that?  Colossians 3:12–15 provides the answer, we are to remember whose we are and what he (the Lord) has done for us:  “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” (NLT). 

     The Apostle Paul tells us that we, who have responded to God’s invitation and received his forgiveness, are to forgive others just as the Lord has forgiven us!  It’s clear that David’s response to Saul is to be our ‘normal’ response, not the exception – “forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Many of us struggle to remember if we go to the store without our shopping list, but it is amazing how good our memory can be when it comes to recalling personal offenses against us, but this is not what God wants for us.  Listen to verses 12 & 13 from the Message Translation:  “So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline.  Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” Colossians 3:12–13 (The Message).

     As we remember how quickly and completely our Master forgave us, we see an even greater injustice than David had with Saul. In our case, we the created said to the sinless creator, I don’t believe you are good, truthful or trustworthy and I will do whatever I feel is right!  Eventually humanity took Jesus, the only Son of God the Father and put him to death.  You and I deserve God’s judgment, but because in love Jesus willing laid down his life in our place we are offered forgiveness and grace!  Romans 5:6–8 says:  “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV).

     In the fore mentioned Newspaper article, researchers continue to struggle to provide us with solutions to being offended:  Rosen… suggests: “When you experience incivility, it’s important to take a step back and not act on your impulses. Do things that help you recover your ability to self-regulate, like exercise or taking a break,” he said.

      At the same time, he acknowledged, “Our research shows people are often not even aware of their reactions and the way they spread negativity. So some of these recommendations for how to stop it are easier said than done.” [2]

     Easier said, than done, what an understatement!  The truth is you cannot find the ability within yourself to forgive someone fully and completely.  You must learn to first trust that God’s ways are best for you, and then ask him to teach you how to forgive someone else just as Christ forgave you.  As you submit to Christ’s guidance you will begin to find release from your prison of unforgiveness and also stop hurting those around you. Let us put in to practice the words of Colossians 3:13 “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT).

Closing Songs:

 Verse 1: Forgive our sins as we forgive, You taught us Lord to pray. But You alone can grant us grace, To live the words we say.

Verse 2: How can Your pardon reach and bless the unforgiving heart, that broods on wrongs and will not let Old bitterness depart?

Verse 3: In blazing light Your cross reveals the truth we dimly knew.  How small the debts men owe to us, how great our debt to You.

Verse 4: Lord cleanse the depths within our souls, and bid resentment cease.  Then reconciled to God and man, our lives will spread Your peace.

CCLI Song # 5772593  Rosamond Eleanor Herklots | Thomas Ravenscroft  © Words: 1969 Oxford University Press  Music: Public Domain  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Verse 1:  It’s the hardest thing to give away, and the last thing on your mind today, It always goes to those who don’t deserve.  It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they caused is just too real; it takes everything you have to say the word: Forgiveness, forgiveness.

Verse 2:  It flies in the face of all your pride, it moves away the mad inside, it’s always anger’s own worst enemy.  Even when the jury and the judge say you’ve got a right to hold a grudge, it’s the whisper in your ear sayin’ set it free.  Forgiveness, forgiveness, Forgiveness, forgiveness.

Chorus 1:  Show me how to love the unlovable.  Show me how to reach the unreachable.  Help me now to do the impossible.  Forgiveness, forgiveness.  Help me now to do the impossible.  Forgiveness.

Verse 3:  It’ll clear the bitterness away; it can even set a prisoner free.  There is no end to what its power can do.  So let it go and be amazed, by what you see through eyes of grace.  The prisoner that it really frees is you.  Forgiveness, forgiveness.  Oh forgiveness, forgiveness.

Chorus 2: Show me how to love the unlovable.  Show me how to reach the unreachable.  Help me now to do the impossible.  Forgiveness.  I want to finally set if free.  Show me how to see what Your mercy sees; help me now to give what You gave to me.  Forgiveness. Oh forgiveness.

Ending: Forgiveness, forgiveness, Forgiveness

CCLI Song # 6423944  Matthew West  © 2012 Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing (Admin. by CURB / Word Music Publishing)  Songs for Delaney (Admin. by Downtown Music Publishing, LLC)  One77 Songs (Admin. by One77 Songs c/o Kobalt Songs Music Publishing (ASCAP))  Remaining portion is unaffiliated  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction:  “May our dependably steady and warmly personal God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us all. Then we’ll be a choir—not our voices only, but our very lives singing in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” Romans 15:5–6 (The Message).


[1] William Wan, Washington Post, June 26, 2018, 10:36 AM EDT as in the June 26, 2018 National Post.

[2] Ibid.

ntent

An audio recording of this message is available at: Esterhazy Baptist Church Podbean Channel

Lessons from the deserts of 1 Samuel 23 & 24.

Main characters in the books of Samuel: David in the deserts.

Call to Worship:  Psalm 5:7–8. “Because of your great mercy, I come to your house, Lord, and I am filled with wonder as I bow down to worship at your holy temple. You do what is right, and I ask you to guide me. Make your teaching clear because of my enemies.” (CEV)

Opening song:Whole World” by Jonny Diaz – 

Verse 1: Who makes the sun rise up at dawn and run through the afternoon? Who keeps the light of a distant star reflecting off the moon? Who waters earth with summer rain and brings the winter wind? Who makes the flowers fall away and spring to life again?

Chorus: It’s the Lord our God Almighty and it’s all at His command. He’s got the whole world in His hands

Verse 2: Who hears our cries of hunger and gives us daily bread? Who looks inside our longing hearts and fills the emptiness? Who’s a comfort to the broken And Who makes them whole again? Who has the power to reconcile the soul of every man?

Closing: When it seems that sun is setting on all the dreams you had, and the prayers that you offer up

They get no answer back.  When the weight of this whole broken world’s too much for you to stand and you’re dying for the kind of peace that you can’t comprehend.  You sang it as a little child and you still can, He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands.  CCLI Song # 7022228 Andy Gullahorn | Jonny Diaz © 2013 Centricity Music Publishing (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) The Gullahorns Music (Admin. by Me Gusta Music LLC) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

     Last time we saw David, the whole country was celebrating that God had defeated the Philistine Goliath using a young shepherd and his sling!  David continued to be used of God to win difficult battles against the better armed Philistines.  David was showing his countrymen what he had experienced while he was with his sheep, the Lord is the All-powerful God who guides and protects those who put their trust in him!

     After God enabled David to defeat Goliath, David’s popularity grew, but so did Saul’s jealousy of David.  Saul felt that only he, as king, should be the people’s hero and he sees David as a threat to his reign.  Soon David finds himself wanted by Saul as a criminal.  Most of the country is now afraid to have anything to do with David because of Saul’s anger and his many spies.

     David’s life has been thrown into confusion.  He has done nothing wrong, what has happened?  The Lord is taking David through the desert, a time where David will learn lessons about himself and God that only come through these times of testing.  These are lessons that we too will need to learn in order to grow more like our Lord Jesus in our character.  Let’s look at some of these lessons as we join David in the deserts of 1 Samuel chapters 23 & 24.

I.  THE DESERT OF ZIPH – (23:14-20) David learns to depend upon God’s strength.

A.  David’s situation:

     Chapter 23 begins with David being directed by God to save the town of Keilah from Philistine raiders. This was a dangerous mission, but the Lord gave David and his men success.  One would assume that David would be appreciated for his bravery; however King Saul makes plans to surround Keilah and capture David.  When David asks the Lord, he is told the people would surrender him to Saul, so he is forced to leave hoping to find safety in the desert of Ziph.

     Verse 14 tells us that Saul was relentless as he searched for David and his men day after day.  Imagine how frustrating this must have been for David and his men, after all, they had done the King of Israel’s job by saving the town from Philistine raiders! What a discouraging time it must have been.

     How do you feel, when you are innocent but you are falsely accused, and many assume that you are guilty?  It’s both frustrating and emotionally tiring, yet David and his 600 men must be constantly on the move (v. 13) trying to stay hidden from Saul and his troops.  It is during this time of discouragement in the desert of Ziph that the Lord sent Jonathan to David, to encouragement and help him “find strength in God” (v. 16).  Jonathan can’t change Saul’s mind, but he reminds David of God’s promises to him, and Jonathan pledges his allegiance to David as the next king!  Remember, Jonathan is Saul’s son, heir to the throne, this is incredible support!

B. What do we learn about God?

     God knows what each of us needs to learn through trials and what each of us can handle.  David faces the harsh ugliness of Saul’s jealousy, but God doesn’t allow Saul to lay hold of David.  The Lord sends Jonathan to remind David that God’s plan for him will ultimately succeed, so he is not to lose hope but to keep relying on God’s strength.  God does not leave us to struggle on our own, but always has ways of reminding us that he is still with us in the midst of the trial.

C. Application for us:

     In those times when life seems unfair and spinning out of control, we need to learn to depend upon God’s strength.  We do this by getting our encouragement from Lord – through his Word or his people.  Jonathan reminded David of God’s faithfulness and his promises to David.  We need to claim the promises God’s of presence and protection from his Word rather than only focusing on our current problem.

  • Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
  • A psalm of David. The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1 (NIV)
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
         Do not let fear overwhelm or paralyze you and keep you from going to God.  Find the source of your fear and give it over to God.  Claim God’s promises of protection and then commit your life to Him, in order to grow in your trust and love for Him.

II.  THE DESERT OF MAON – (23:19-28) David learns to trust God and His timing!

A.  David’s situation:

     King Saul is told by residents of Ziph that David is hiding in their area.  Saul is delighted and asks them to uncover David’s hiding places.  Saul then sets out to trap David, and was closing in on him.  Saul and his army were on one side of the mountain and David and his men were on the other side, hurrying to get away and stay out of sight.  Just as it seemed that David would be caught, Saul took his men left!  What happened?  God changed Saul’s plans.  The king received a message that the Philistines were raiding the country and he had to go and stop them.  In this desert situation, David had run out of options; his skill could only get them so far, but God stepped in.

B.  What do we learn about God?

     God allows David to exhaust all his evasive tactics and realize that he is going to get caught, unless God does something, and he does!  God allows this to happen in order for us to learn to rely on him, we don’t know as much as we like to think!  God works in ways far beyond what we can imagine.  David learned to trust God and his timing!   

C. Application for us:

     We will all have our desert of Maon times when we run out of ideas and have no where left to turn.  We may begin to ask ourselves: Where is God?  Does He have any idea how desperate my situation is?  Does He care?

     I can’t speak for you, but for me, this is a time for me to wake up and learn to stop relying on my own resources.  I’ve only made things more difficult for myself by not fully trusting in God’s timing, resources and care in the first place!  It is one thing to say I trust God; it is another thing to choose to do it, when “the pressure is on.”  Truthfully, this is when it really matters; it must be my actions and not just my words that show my obedience to God!  We need to trust God, that His timing is best.

     Are you in a desert of Maon time?  Do you need to learn to trust God and his timing in your life?  For many of us this covid-19 virus is trying our patience and our frustration is building.  Could it be that God wants to use this time to teach us something personally, and corporately as a church family?  Definitely this is the case because God never misses an opportunity to refine us for the better.  Perhaps the Lord wants to teach you draw your peace & purpose from him and not other people or activities?  Perhaps the Lord wants you to learn to enjoy time with Him, growing in His Word.  Perhaps the Lord wants to teach us the importance of “being the church” through our care for others, rather than just “going to church.”  What is the Lord trying to teach you?  Are you willing to learn?

III.  THE DESERT OF EN GEDI – (24:1-22) David learns to do things God’s way!

A.  David’s situation:

     David is in hiding, this time 3000 elite troops are looking for him!  As soon as Saul finished dealing with the Philistine threat, he is back trying to kill David.  Yet in chapter 24, the tables are turned, it is now Saul who is vulnerable.  Saul is alone in the very cave that David is hiding in.  “Kill him” some of his men whisper, “obviously God has given you this opportunity to end this misery for all of us!” 

     We see that David is tempted because he sneaks over undetected and cuts a piece off of Saul’s robe.  But then David is convicted that he is wrong.  David realized this was not an opportunity, but a test; a test of his character.  It seems he ask himself the question “Is this how I want to become king?”  David decides that if God wants him to be king, then God is going to have to remove Saul from the throne, David is not going to do it through murder!  Listen to part of what he said to King Saul:  1 Samuel 24:11-13  “See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. Now understand and recognize that I am not guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life.  May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.  As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.” (NIV)

B.  What do we learn about God?

     We learn that we better not presume to know God’s plans without checking with him.  God is testing David’s heart – checking his motivates and his willingness to stand up to pressure from others.  When we see an open door that offers us a way of escape that seems out of character with God – you can be sure God didn’t open that door!  It is not a door to freedom; it is a door to a cell called sin.  The Bible makes it clear, God does not tempt us to sin (James 1:13). 

C.  Application for us:

     The desert of En Gedi reminds us that God is sovereign and we need to learn to trust His way of doing things by following His timing and His ways!

     David faced a temptation that we often face; the temptation of taking a short cut. However, there are no short cuts to obeying God’s will – you either obey or you don’t.  Jesus showed us this as he faced the devil’s temptations to act outside of God’s plan by trusting in God’s Word (Matthew 4:1-11).   Continue being faithful, day by day, learning in the process that God’s ways are best.

     Are you willing to do this?  To trust God and not take matters into your own hands?  Trust that God’s ways are best, that he knows what he is doing and learn to depend upon him.  Are you learning through your desert times?  I’ve found that if I don’t learn and apply the lessons the first time, Lord will have me take that “class” again until I get it – so now I try to pay more careful attention!  Use those times when things seem out of your control to remind yourself and reaffirm that God is in control of your life.  You know that He hasn’t forgotten you, so don’t act like He has!  Remember, stay away from the short cuts and do things God’s way!

Closing Songs: “Teach me Thy Way, O Lord” 

Teach me Thy Way, O Lord, teach me Thy way! Thy guiding grace afford—teach me Thy way! Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight; lead me with heav’nly light—teach me Thy Way!

When I am sad at heart, teach me Thy Way! When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy Way! In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress, in failure or success, teach me Thy Way.

When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy Way! When storms o’er spread the skies, teach me Thy Way! Shine thru the cloud and rain, thru sorrow, toil and pain; make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy Way!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy Way! Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy Way! Until the race is run, until the journey’s done, until the crown is won, teach me Thy Way.

In The Hands Of The Potter – Casting Crowns – 

Verse 1: I still remember when I heard You call me by name.  I’d follow You anywhere knew I could trust You in anything.  But now sorrow beats down on me waiting for You to come through.  I’m all alone with my questions I’m dry and cracked open, And I thirst for You.

Chorus: And as I fall apart Come flood this desert heart, Fall like the rain Living Water.  And I know Your way is best, Lord help me find my rest, And I’ll be the clay In the Hands of the Potter.

Verse 2: My world is spinning my life seems so out of control.  Nailed scarred hands tell the story of love that will never let go of me.  Through the sunshine or rain I know where my hope is found.  What You started in me I know You will complete from the inside out.

Bridge: My world is breaking me, Your love is shaping me, And now the enemy is afraid of what You’re making me.  When my world is breaking me Your love is shaping me, And now the enemy is afraid of what You’re making me.  My world is breaking me Your love is shaping me, And now the enemy is afraid of what You’re making me.  CCLI Song # 7121817 Jonathan Smith | Mark Hall © 2018 My Refuge Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Be Essential Songs (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Hickory Bill Doc (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.  CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and in his grace gave us unfailing courage and a firm hope, encourage you and strengthen you always to do and say what is good.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 GNB).

Main characters in the books of Samuel: “David is introduced.” 1 Samuel 16 & 17.

Pastor Robert’s Podcast

Call to Worship: “11 The Lord is our protector and glorious king, blessing us with kindness and honour. He does not refuse any good thing to those who do what is right. 12 Lord Almighty, how happy are those who trust in you!” Psalm 84:11–12 (GNB).

Opening song: “Found in you” – 

IntroAh ah ah ah ah ah

Verse 1We’re reaching out to welcome You God.  Fill this place again with Your song.  Flood our thoughts with wonder and awe. Give us a greater glimpse of a never changing God

Chorus(Sing) (‘Til) – All we want and all we need is found in You, Found in You.  Jesus ev’ry victory is found in You, Found in You

Interlude(Ah) ah ah ah ah ah

Verse 2Open wide our hearts now to Yours. Ev’ry fear bow down to Your love, that we would see like never before. Give us a greater glimpse of a never changing God

BridgeAnd in Your presence there is freedom, In Your presence we are made whole.

CCLI Song # 7005969 Andi Rozier | Jason Ingram | Paul Baloche © 2013 Integrity Worship Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook)) Leadworship Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music, David C Cook)) All Essential Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) HBC Worship Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Jingram Music Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Open Hands Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Song: Unstoppable God  – 

Verse 1I wish I knew when this mountain, in my way is gonna move.  Hope it’s okay to tell the truth.  Sometimes the doubt starts to win.  Yeah I’d be lying if I told you I was anything but weak.  Right now my struggle is all I see, but I’m not giving in, my story will not end in defeat.

Chorus(‘Cause) Nothing can stop an unstoppable God.  He’s not afraid of impossible odds. This is the promise that I’m standing on, nothing can stop an unstoppable God.

InterludeThis is the promise that I’m standing on, nothing can stop an unstoppable God.

Verse 2I will not listen to the lie that says it can’t be done. I know my war’s already won, And I’m claiming victory, ‘Cause I know who’s fighting for me.

BridgeWhere does my help come from. Where does my help come from. My help comes from the Lord.

CCLI Song # 7129887 AJ Pruis | Chris Rohman | Dustin Lolli | Matthew West © 2019 1978 Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Bluehouse Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Caelum Terra Music (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC) Fair Trade Tunes (Fair Trade Music Publishing [c/o Essential Music Publishing LLC]) Combustion Five (Admin. by Me Gusta Music LLC) Third Story House Music (Admin. by Me Gusta Music LLC) Highly Combustible Music (Admin. by One77 Songs c/o Kobalt Songs Music Publishing (ASCAP))  One77 Songs (Admin. by One77 Songs c/o Kobalt Songs Music Publishing (ASCAP))  Two Story House Music (Admin. by One77 Songs c/o Kobalt Songs Music Publishing (ASCAP)) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved. CCLI Licence No. 1348394        

     Before we begin our look at the young David in 1 Samuel chapters 16 & 17, it is important we remember what took place in chapter 15, God’s rejection of Saul as Israel’s king.  Saul refused to follow God’s specific directions; instead he rationalizes and blames others for his decisions.  When Saul finally admits he HAS sinned, he can’t undo his choices.  Saul begs Samuel to stay, even tearing his robe in the process.  Verse 30 reveals why: “Saul said, “I did sin, but please honor me in front of the leaders of the army and the people of Israel. Come back with me, so I can worship the Lord your God.”” 1 Samuel 15:30. (CEV)  Saul was concerned with what everyone would think of him if Samuel didn’t come to their celebration!  Notice it still didn’t cross Saul’s mind to execute the defeated king as God had ordered, so Samuel did it!  Samuel left Saul, never to go to see him again; these were dark days for Israel.  Israel had a king, just like the other nations; a man who acted independent of God’s directions whenever it best served his personal goals!

     This leads us to chapter 16, which shows us how David was chosen to be Israel’s next king.  Notice who initiated the search, verse one: “The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”” 1 Samuel 16:1 (NIV).  Samuel hadn’t spent days pleading for God to do something; it’s the Lord who gets Samuel moving, because he’s already chosen the next king!  While Samuel is mourning God is moving! 

     Do you know what?  Nothing has changed; it is still the same for us today!  We may be mourning and in despair over the conditions we see around us, but even the bleakest of times can’t stop God from working out his plan.  Remember, 2000 years ago when the Romans were attempting to convert the Jews to their pagan culture, God was at work!  From the wombs of an old woman and a young virgin he brought forth the messenger and the long awaited Messiah to forever change the world!  When things look at their worst, don’t give up, your God is at work!

     Now back to 1 Samuel 16.  When it looked like the cycle of the judges was going to repeat itself again under Saul, we see that God is working out his plan through a young man named David.

  1. The Lord sees David’s heart – 1 Samuel 16.

     As you read of Samuel’s assignment to anoint the next king, notice that the Lord is not done teaching his prophet, and through Samuel he teaches us!  The Lord told Samuel the town to go to and even which family, so couldn’t he have just given him David’s name?  Of course he could have, but Samuel (and us) needed to learn the lesson that a person’s outward appearance isn’t what determines their eligibility to be used by God; it is the individual’s heart!  1 Samuel 16:6–7 “When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” (NIV). 1 Samuel 16:10–13 “Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.” (NIV).

     Wow, David wasn’t even invited to the ceremony by his own father, yet he was the one God had chosen as Israel’s next king because his heart was right.  What is meant here by heart?  Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines heart as: The inner self that thinks, feels, and decides. In the Bible the word “heart” has a much broader meaning than it does to the modern mind. The heart is that which is central to a person. Nearly all the references to the heart in the Bible refer to some aspect of human personality.[1]

     In the rest of chapter 16 we learn from others that David was known as a skilled musician, brave and that the Lord was with him (v. 18).  In chapter 17, after we are introduced to the dilemma created by the Philistine army and Goliath, we finally get to hear David speak and begin to get a glimpse of what God saw in his heart.

  1. We see David’s heart – 1 Samuel 17.

     Chapter 17 is a study in contrasts between Saul and David.  The Spirit of God had left Saul and he is fearful.  The Spirit of God has come upon David and he is outraged at Goliath’s insults against the Lord God.  Saul tries to motivate a warrior to fight through offering him material rewards.  David is motivated to fight by a desire to restore God’s honour and demonstrate God’s power.  Saul offers David his own armor in an attempt to match Goliath’s armor.  David chooses to leave room for God to help and offers the skill God had helped him with before, his sling.  Some wonder if David was being reckless in facing Goliath with only a sling.  The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary offers this thought: Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” If a farmer waits for 100 percent certainty in planting and reaping, he will never do either. Just as the farmer must take some risk in order to accomplish his task, so the work of the Lord’s Kingdom often requires people to risk failure, with the result that they experience the Lord’s power in their lives. That is precisely what David chose to do by going against Goliath armed only with five stones, his staff, and his sling.[2]

     Now a question we should ask ourselves is, “How could David do this?”  There were men all around him with far more life experience.  First of all, let’s remember this is not a story about a man’s courage; it is about our God, His strength and a man’s faith in the all powerful God!

     Yet where did David’s faith come from?  David had developed a relationship with God that was real, practical and loving.  How?  First, David had grown up hearing the stories of the Almighty God.  Stories about:  Abraham, Moses and the Exodus (we used to be Egypt’s slaves you know…), Joshua and the conquest of the land (see those stones by the Jordan, they were taken out of the river during the flood season because the Lord has stopped the river and we walked across to take the land; and look – there are the remains of Jericho…), The Judges (God remembered us and saved us from our enemies even when we had forgotten Him).  No doubt David knew these stories of God’s power.

     David also had also heard the family stories, his great grandparents were Boaz and Ruth.  Finally, David’s faith was also based on a loving relationship with the Lord God developed through the trials he faced (cf. James 1:2-3).  All these things gave David the courage to stand before King Saul and say: The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.” 1 Samuel 17:37 (NIV)

     Notice that David’s faith is not in himself and his own abilities, but in God.  David is not bragging about himself, he is bragging about God.  “The Lord protected me then and He can handle Goliath!  He will give us the victory!”  David carried this assurance onto the battle field when he faced Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-50).

III.     Application.

     Clearly the Lord sees and knows our heart.  What does he see in your heart?  Other people as they spend time with you, especially when under stress, will get a glimpse of your heart; what do they see?  The heart represents who we truly are, what we really believe in our core.  Proverbs 4:23 tells us:  “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (NIV) 

     Jesus warned us of the danger of having an unguarded heart in Matthew 15:18-20 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’ ” (NIV).  What can I do to ensure or improve my spiritual heart health?  The remedy, Jesus tells us is to focus our heart on God.  Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NIV)

     The focus of our heart, of our life makes all the difference.  Saul was focused on what was best for him and so he bowed to pressure from those who we wanted to keep happy, rather than obeying God.  David was focused on what was important to God.  We see this in 1 Samuel 13:14b: “the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”(NIV).  The heart represents who we truly are, what we really believe at our core.  Put your faith in Jesus and choose to put God first in your life, then his love will grow in your heart and change it.  David was someone after God’s own heart, is that your desire also?  Begin to show it through your obedience to God.

Closing:Today Tomorrow & Forever” – Sanctus Real – 

Verse 1 Through every trial, through every circumstance, still Your mercy covers me.  Through every battle, I don’t have to understand, still I lift my voice and sing
Chorus – Today, tomorrow, and forever I will live for You. Today, tomorrow, and forever I will worship You.
Verse 2 You have been faithful, You have been kind to me, You hold my future in Your hands.  When the world is shaking, the ground beneath my feet, You’re the solid rock on which I stand.
Bridge I’ll worship You on the mountain and in the valley.  I’ll worship You in the calm and in the storm
Ending Today, tomorrow, and forever I will worship You.  Oh I will worship You.  Jesus I worship You.

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Bonus Song: “One day” – Cochren & Co. (A needed reminder to us for these days!) 

Verse 1One day there’ll be no more waiting left for our souls.  One day there’ll be no more children longing for home.  One day when the kingdom comes right here where we stand. We will see the promised land, Oo

Verse 2One day there’ll be no more lives Taken too soon.  One day there’ll be no more need for a hospital room.  One day every tear that falls will be wiped by His hand. We will see the promised land, Oo

Chorus –  Hallelujah. There will be healing from this heartbreak we’ve been feeling.  We’ll sing in the darkest night ‘Cause we know that the light will come And there will be healing. Hallelujah

Verse 3One day there’ll be no more anger left in our eyes.  One day the color of our skin won’t cause a divide.  One day we’ll be family standing hand in hand, and we will see the promised land.  We will see the promised land.

Verse 4One day every knee will bow every tongue will confess.  One day when our tired and weary bones find their rest.  One day when the power of evil’s brought to an end.  We will see the promised land.  We will see the promised land.

CCLI Song # 7130583  Bryan Fowler | Matt Armstrong | Michael Cochren  © 2019 CentricSongs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)  Peanut Line Songs (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)  RELWOF (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)  So Essential Tunes (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)  Maison de Emack (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)  Michael Cochren Music Company (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)  For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use.  All rights reserved.   CCLI Licence No. 1348394

Benediction: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:16–21 (NIV).

[1]Youngblood, Ronald F.: Bruce, F.F. (Hrsg.): Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary : An Authoritative One-Volume Reference Work on the Bible With Full Color Illustrations. electronic ed. of the revised ed. of Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995

[2] Vannoy, J. R. (2009). Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1-2 Samuel (Vol. 4, p. 170). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.