Prayer Rally

The God Who Heals

(2 Chron. 7:13-16; Acts 9:1-9, 17-18; Mark 5:25-34;

Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 6:25-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The movie Simon Birch follows a boy with stunted growth who has a clear sense that God has an important plan for his life. Little Simon is often met with obstacles and opposition, but he plods on through life until he really does become a hero.

 

Simon and his friend Joe do everything together, even though they are an odd pair. The unlikely Simon is always talking about the great plans God has for his life, but Joe is always doubtful. Joe has been deeply wounded by growing up without a father, and simply cannot move from cynicism to true faith.

 

Early in the movie, Simon and Joe are heading home from the swimming hole. As Simon and Joe wander through a field of wildflowers, they turn to discussing destiny and the role of faith.

 

Simon: But things will be different…once God makes me a hero.

 

Joe: You know, you shouldn't talk about this hero stuff, Simon.

 

Simon: Why not?

 

Joe: Because it's weird. The other kids tease you enough as it is.

 

Simon: I don't care. It's the truth.

 

Joe: But you don't have any proof.

 

Simon: I don't need proof, I have faith. Your problem is that you have no faith.

 

Joe: I got faith. I just want proof to back it up.

 

In the end, Simon does become a great hero, even though it leads to his death. Many years later, as Joe reflects on Simon's life, he can't help but finally move to a place of faith as well.

 

Elapsed time: DVD scene 6, 00:17:13–00:17:43. ​​ Rated PG

 

Simon Birch (Buena Vista 1998), written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2006/february/9022706.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

 

  • WE

    • Our natural desire is to have proof of God’s existence or to have Him speak to us before we’ll take a step of faith

    • Often times, but not always, God is waiting for us to take the step of faith toward Him, before He does the miraculous or speaks to us

    • In the midst of difficulties, it can be hard to have faith in God’s ability to heal spiritually, physically, and financially

 

As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to take the necessary steps of faith, toward God, even when we have spiritual doubts, physical illness, and financial struggles. ​​ Our natural desire will be to demand signs from God before we move in faith. ​​ Now more than every we need to remember that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – ​​ God has the power to heal every area of our lives.

 

Today’s message is going to be done in a way that is different than usual. ​​ We are going to look at healing in three areas: ​​ spiritual, physical, and financial. ​​ As we complete each area, we are going to spend time praying through the Scriptures we’ve looked at and then responding in worship.

 

  • GOD

    • Spiritual Healing (Acts 9:1-19; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • There are certainly many passages of Scripture we could use to talk about spiritual healing

          • I’ve only chosen two passages

          • One will focus on spiritual healing for those who have never believed in Jesus

          • The second passage focuses on believers who have turned away from the Lord

        • Unsaved (Acts 9:1-19)

          • Read Acts 9:1-19

          • We are all familiar with this story of Saul’s conversion (we know Saul by his Greek name, Paul)

            • He was zealous for God and the Jewish way of religion, but Jesus’ arrival on earth had transformed religion to a relationship with Jesus

            • Change came hard for the religious leaders (chief priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees)

            • They continued to try to stop the spread of the Good News of Jesus Christ, and Saul was the ring leader

            • But everything changed on the road to Damascus

              • Saul had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus

              • Jesus arrested him and stopped him in his tracks

              • We see the glory of God surrounding Saul, and Jesus questioning him

              • God’s glory temporarily blinded Saul – that’s how magnificent His glory is

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s glory is beyond compare (magnificent)!

            • Ananias used by God

              • God used a follower of Jesus Christ to restore Saul’s sight

                • God used Ananias to bring physically healing to Saul’s eyes

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • This is an important principle for us to understand

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses His people to help others come to Jesus.

              • We learn from this interaction that Saul was God’s chosen instrument to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles and their kings

            • Saul was transformed

              • We see Saul praying, basically for three days’ straight

              • I’m guessing that his prayers were different now

              • After having his sight restored, Saul gets baptized

              • This was an outward expression of an inward decision

                • He was showing those, who were traveling with him and the believers in Damascus, that he had changed

                • He was now going to experience being on the other side of persecution

          • Salvation – the Good News

            • Sin

              • With Saul, we see a complete 180 degree turn from trying to kill followers of Jesus Christ to sharing with everyone about Jesus Christ

              • That is what repentance is – a 180 degree turn away from sin and running to Jesus

              • We’ve all sinned – lying, stealing, blasphemer, adulterer and murderer in our hearts (Romans 3:23)

              • Punishment for sin is eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)

            • God is loving and just

              • Loving (Romans 5:8)

              • Just – He has to punish sin

              • Ecclesiastes 3:17, I thought in my heart, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” (NIV)

            • Jesus was the perfect sacrifice

              • His death, burial, and resurrection opened the way for us to be in a right relationship with God

              • Read Hebrews 10:13-24

            • Being spiritually healed

              • 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.”

              • I encourage you to take that step of faith today into spiritual healing

              • Prayer for salvation (encourage anyone who has never believed to pray after me)

          • We looked at being spiritually healed for the first time, but we also need to look at being spiritually healed as believers (it’s different concept)

        • Saved (2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

          • Read 2 Chronicles 7:13-16

          • The Lord spoke to Solomon after he had completed the temple and the royal palace

            • God was basically telling Solomon that the Israelites would turn away from worshiping Him

            • God gave Solomon a picture of what the discipline of His children would look like

              • There would be droughts (no rain)

              • Locusts (bugs) would eat up their produce and grain

              • Plague among His people

            • God also shared what steps the Israelites would need to take to stop His discipline of them

              • Identifies those He is talking to (God’s people, called by His name)

              • What they would need to do

                • Humble themselves (put away pride and selfishness)

                • Pray – talking to God

                • Seek my face – turning to God instead of anything else

                • Turn from their wicked ways (repentance)

              • God’s promises

                • He will see and hear from heaven

                • He will forgive their sins

                  • 1 John 1:9

                  • We see here the spiritual healing that takes place

                • He will heal their land

                  • This passage really addresses all three areas of healing

                  • When God says He will heal their land, we have to go back to see what His discipline entailed – the drought and locusts would have devastated their economy/finances – and God promises to bring healing to their finances

                  • The plague would have affected their physical health and God promises to bring physical healing

                • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

                • The physical and financial healing will be developed more in the next two points

          • For now, we need to focus on the spiritual healing aspect

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that Your glory is reflected in/through . . .” (Acts 9:3)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Almighty God, thank You that You have the power to . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:13)

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, I confess that I have persecuted You when . . .” (Acts 9:4)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Righteous Father, I confess that I have not ________ (humbled, prayed, sought Your face, or turn from my wicked ways), please forgive me.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Gracious God, please help me to hear Your voice and obey Your leading with . . .” (Acts 9:17)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Loving Lord, I am committing today to __________ (seek humility, pray, seek Your face, repent of my wickedness) so that I can experience Your promise(s) of healing ___________ (spiritually, physically, financially).” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, help me to obediently take the next step of faith by . . .” (Acts 9:18)

            • Prayer Prompter: “Faithful Father, thank You that Your eyes are open and Your ears are attentive when I cry out to You about . . .” (2 Chronicles 7:15)

 

SONG: ​​ Jesus Messiah

 

    • Physical Healing (Mark 5:25-34; Mark 2:1-12)

        • I believe that as we take the step of faith into spiritual healing that God promises to sustain and provide for us physically and financially

          • Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching a prosperity gospel

          • Jesus never promised us that following Him would be easy, spiritually, physically, or financially – you won’t find that in Scripture

          • But, we know that the all-powerful, Creator of the universe is now our Heavenly Father and He watches over His children and promises to sustain us and provide for us through difficult times

          • In my experience, signs follow decisions. The way you overcome spiritual inertia and produce spiritual momentum is by making tough decisions. And the tougher the decision, the more potential momentum it will produce. The primary reason most of us don't see God moving is simply because we aren't moving. If you want to see God move, you need to make a move!

            I cannot promise that signs will follow your faith in three minutes or three hours or three days. But when you take a step of faith, signs will follow. God will sanctify your expectations, and you will begin to live your life with holy anticipation. You won't be able to wait to see what God is going to do next.”

            Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008), pp. 32-33

            [
            https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/september/5091508.html]

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when His people step out in faith.

        • Individual Faith (Mark 5:25-34)

          • Read Mark 5:25-34

          • The woman’s ailment

            • We know that this woman had been dealing with a bleeding issue for 12 years

            • She had probably sought out the best physicians of the day

            • None of them were able to help, but she kept getting worse

            • She was out of options and money

          • The woman’s faith

            • Notice that the woman isn’t seeking recognition, but simply expresses her faith in thought

            • She knows who Jesus is and His reputation of having healing power

            • She believes that simply touching His cloak will release His healing power to her

            • She is correct!

            • Immediately her bleeding stopped and she knew it physically

            • I really appreciate her incredible faith in Jesus’ healing power

            • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus realized that healing power had left His body and so He asked who touched His clothes

            • The disciples didn’t understand, because many people probably touched His clothes since they were crowding around Him

            • When the woman fearfully identifies herself, Jesus affirms her faith, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. ​​ Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

          • I like that this potentially shy and reserved woman could quietly express her faith by simply touching Jesus’ cloak

          • Mark also records another physical healing that Jesus performed, but the entrance was much more dramatic

        • Corporate Faith (Mark 2:1-12)

          • Read Mark 2:1-12

          • Faith-filled friends

            • People heard that Jesus had returned home and they wanted to be around Him

            • He was preaching to a packed house, so much so, that this group of friends couldn’t get their paralyzed friend to Jesus

            • So, they went up on the roof, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their paralyzed friend right in front of Jesus

          • Jesus’ response

            • Jesus recognized the faith of the group of friends and the paralytic, so He told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven (spiritual healing!)

            • That didn’t sit well with some teachers of the law, but that didn’t matter to Jesus

            • He then tells the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and go home, which he does

            • Jesus told the man to get up, take his mat, and go home, so that the people would understand that He was God and had the authority on earth to forgive sins

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, thank You for revealing Your omnipotence (all-powerful) in my life by/through . . .”

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Jesus, please forgive me for doubting Your ability to know everything, especially when it comes to ________ in my life.” [Mark 5:31]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I am currently skeptical about Your power to forgive the sins of __________ (name the person specifically).” [Mark 2:10]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “Dear Lord, help me to have faith in Your healing power as I struggle with . . .”

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, thank You that You promise to give me peace as I step out in faith concerning . . .” [Mark 5:34]

 

SONG: ​​ Healer

 

    • Financial Healing (Matthew 6:25-34; Luke 6:38; Malachi 3:6-12; 2 Chronicles 7:13-16)

        • Financial struggles, especially with COVID-1 (Coronavirus pandemic)

          • I think we would all be kidding ourselves if we said that we weren’t concerned about our financial future with state and federal “stay-at-home” orders.

        • God’s part (Matthew 6:25-32)

          • Read Matthew 6:25-32

            • God’s provision of food

              • He takes care of the food needs for birds, who don’t sow, reap, or store food away in barns

              • He says that we are more valuable than birds, which means that He will provide for us

              • We may not know how it will happen, but it will

                • Upper Adams Food Pantry, Gettysburg Soup Kitchen, New Hope Mobile Food Pantry

                • Generosity of family, neighbors, or friends from church

            • God’s provision of clothing

              • God provides beautiful dressings for the fields through flowers

              • The dressing of the fields is temporary and He says that He will clothe us even more

            • As God’s children He says that we are valuable to Him and He will provide for us

          • Discipline of His children (2 Chron. 7:13; Malachi 3:6-9)

            • As His children, He will also discipline us, just like a parent with their child(ren)

            • As we already saw in 2 Chronicles 7:13, He will bring about droughts, and devouring bugs, and plagues as a way to get the attention of His children, so they will turn back to Him

            • Read Malachi 3:6-9

            • In Malachi 3:6-9 we see that we are under a curse for turning away from the Lord and robbing Him by not giving our tithes and offerings

          • God’s part is to provide and discipline, but we have a part to play also

        • Our part (Matthew 6:33a; Malachi 3:10; 2 Chronicles 7:14a)

          • Mathew 6:33a

            • Seek God’s kingdom first

            • Seek God’s righteousness first

            • What has first place in your life above God’s kingdom and righteousness?

          • Malachi 3:10

            • Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

            • For the Israelites this was the first fruits of all their labors (field and flock/grain and animal)

            • To what or whom are you giving your first fruits instead of giving it to God?

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14a

            • Humble ourselves

            • Pray

            • Seek God’s face

            • Turn from our wicked ways

          • When we obediently do our part, God promises us certain things

        • God’s promises (Matthew 6:33b; Malachi 3:11-12; 2 Chronicles 7:14b)

          • Matthew 6:33b

            • All these things will be given to you as well

            • God promises to provide our every need (food & clothing)

          • Malachi 3:11-12

            • God will prevent pests from devouring their crops (livelihood)

            • God will make sure that nothing is wasted

            • Other nations will call them blessed

          • 2 Chronicles 7:14b

            • God will hear and see from heaven

            • God will forgive our sins

            • God will heal our land

          • God has the power to heal every area of our lives

        • Worship-based prayer

          • Reverence

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, since You never change, I worship You because/for . . .” [Malachi 3:6]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You that you value me more than . . .” [Matthew 6:26, 30]

          • Response

            • Prayer Prompter: “Precious Savior, I confess that I seek ________ first instead of Your kingdom and righteousness.” ​​ [Matthew 6:33]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, please forgive me for using my first fruits on _________ instead of giving them to You as a tithe and offering.” [Malachi 3:8-9]

          • Request

            • Prayer Prompter: “God, will You please help my faith to grow through _________ (difficult situation), so I will trust You more.” [Matthew 6:30]

            • Prayer Prompter: “Lord, help me to take the step of faith to test You concerning robbing You of ________ (time, talents, or resources),” [Malachi 3:10]

          • Readiness

            • Prayer Prompter: “Heavenly Father, thank You for blessing me and providing for me through . . .”

 

SONG: ​​ God Will Take Care Of You

 

  • YOU

    • My Next Step Today Is To:

        • Believe in Jesus and receive God’s gift of eternal life (spiritual healing)

        • Step out in faith and trust God to heal me physically (physical healing)

        • Trust God to provide for my every need, even during difficult times (financial healing)

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

“Every other Tuesday, Maria Lopez would come to clean my house.

 

Maria always arrived like a bubble of energy determined to restore order to my universe, scrubbing as though it were an act of worship.

As we became acquainted, I learned that Maria was a pastor's daughter from Peru who had no family in the United States. I had only been a Christian a few years and appreciated Maria's enthusiastic faith. She prayed out loud while she cleaned, and sang praise songs in Spanish while she scrubbed. She praised Jesus everywhere she went.

 

One Tuesday, Maria didn't show up for work. I anticipated seeing her cheery face the following day. But no one came.

 

When she didn't arrive the next day, I called. No one answered the phone.

 

This is so unlike her, I thought. She's so reliable. There must be a good reason.

 

On the third day, a nurse called to say Maria was at the hospital. Alarmed, I cut some flowers and drove to Northridge Hospital to find out what was wrong. I found Maria sitting up in bed, rocking back and forth with her head encased in a heavy iron cage resting on her shoulders. Her eyes were closed, and tears streamed down her cheeks. Touching her arm gently, I held out the flowers. She clutched them to her chest.

 

"What's that around your head, Maria?"

 

"Oooh, Meessus," she moaned, touching the iron contraption, "it is the torture of Satan."

 

Puzzled, I turned to the nurse. She explained, "It's called a halo. It's screwed and bolted directly into the skull in four different places. It isn't pleasant."

 

"How long must you wear it?" I asked Maria.

 

"Five months, my doctor say, maybe. But Meessus, you tell him, Maria, she no live five months with thees in her head. She die. You tell him, yes?"

 

"I'll talk to him, Maria. Anything else I can do for you?"

 

"Yes, Meessus. My Bible." She pointed to the bedside table. "Please, you read to me."

 

"Sure, Maria."

 

I started reading John 14. "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me."

 

Out in the corridor, I found Maria's doctor. "Why is she wearing that hideous device?" I asked him.

 

"Because, to put it simply, if she didn't," he said, "her head would fall off. Maria has cancer. Her neck bones have degenerated to the point where they can no longer support her head."

 

"Can they be repaired? Or regenerated?" He shook his head gravely.

 

"It means we can't ever take it off. Maria will have to get used to living with it."

 

Every week when I visited, Maria asked me to pray with her and read from the Bible. She always requested the same chapter from the New Testament: John 14. Weeks turned into months. The heavy metal halo was crippling.

 

During one visit, months after being admitted to the hospital, Maria clutched my hands and whispered, "God tells Maria it won't be long. Soon, he say, we take this off."

 

Before I left the hospital, I stopped at the nurses' desk to ask how much longer Maria would be there. A nurse said they were preparing papers to release [her]. Maria doesn't have insurance or enough money to stay in the hospital. That's why they're releasing her.

Maria panicked when the doctor told her she must leave. "No! You take new x-ray." Touching the halo she cried, "You take this torture from me! I no leave with this!"

 

"There is really no point," he insisted. "Nothing has changed."

 

When I returned to the hospital two days later to pick up Maria, I was surprised to find her sitting in a chair, beaming ear to ear. "I no leave today," she said.

 

"Why not, Maria? Have you had your x-ray?"

 

"Yes. But I stay until they take this off." She rolled her eyes toward the halo.

 

Hasn't anyone told Maria what will happen when they take the halo off? It was my turn to panic. I can't tell her. Her despair will be overwhelming.

 

I cornered the doctor. "She won't leave until you take the halo off. What do we do?"

 

"We'll take it off," he replied.

 

"You said her head will roll off without it!"

 

Suddenly, Maria's doctor began acting strangely. He looked left and right, then muttered in low tones, "It won't roll. The x-ray we took this morning indicated her neck bones have regenerated."

 

"You said that was impossible."

 

"It is impossible."

 

I shook my head, confused. "Were the original x-rays a mistake?"

 

"Not at all. They're here for anyone to see."

 

"So?"

 

Before answering, the doctor sighed. "So there are things I can't explain. Her bones have regenerated, and they are strong enough to hold her head. That's all I know."

 

"Doctor! Is this a miracle?"

 

"I don't know about miracles, that's Maria's department. She tells me Jesus healed her."

 

Adapted from Barbara Royce Extract, "Maria and the Halo," Christian Reader (Jul/Aug 2001), p. 63.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/february/14185.html].

17

 

Easter 2019

Same Power

(Matthew 28:1-10)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Nelson Mandela, who opposed the South African apartheid regime and was imprisoned for almost 3 decades, knew the power of words. He is often quoted today, but while in prison his words could not be quoted for fear of repercussion. A decade after his release he said: ‘It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are, and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.’

 

King Solomon, author of most of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, wrote often about the power of words. He said, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (Prov. 18:21). Words have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences (v. 20). They have the power to give life through encouragement and honesty or to crush and kill through lies and gossip.”

 

By Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread, August 26, 2015

 

[https://odb.org/2015/08/26/the-power-of-words-2/]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Hurting Judy with my words

        • We let our guard down when we’re at home, especially when it comes to our words

        • I know in my own life that I have said things in the past that have hurt Judy

        • It may have been the content of the what I said, but also the tone with which I’ve said it

        • I don’t intend to hurt her with my words, but it happens

    • Hurting my boys with my words

        • I’ve done the same with my boys

        • One thing I’ve learned recently is that I need to communicate with my boys in the same way they’re communicating with me

          • If they’re expressing feelings or emotions, I need to respond with feelings or emotions

          • If they’re sharing facts, I need to respond with facts

          • What normally happens is that I respond with facts, when they’ve communicating with feelings or emotions

          • I’m still learning how to do this, because it’s new to me

        • An example

          • Levi was expressing frustration with his cell phone, because it wasn’t working properly

          • He was telling me that he needed a new(er) phone

          • He was expressing his feelings of frustration about not having a phone that was working correctly

          • What I heard was, “I need a new phone!” and my response was factual, “We can’t afford to get you a new phone.”

          • My response should have addressed the feelings of frustration he was having instead of telling him, “just the facts”

          • I should have said, “I understand how frustrating it can be when something doesn’t work properly.”

 

  • WE

    • Letting our guard down at home

        • Every one of us has probably said things to our family members that we regret

        • We let our guard down at home and we don’t watch what we say

        • We may say things in the heat of the moment that show our true feelings, that we would not normally say out loud

    • Guarding our tongue

        • It happens to all of us, we sometimes don’t guard our tongue, but allow it to say things that are hurtful

        • Gossip is something that is so easy to do, because we “feel better” after we share something about someone else

        • Unfortunately, our words have the power to crush and ruin those around us

    • The great thing is that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the power within us to guard our tongue and use it to encourage and build others up, because of the Holy Spirit

 

I want us to look at how God and Jesus Christ used the power of their words to do some pretty incredible things throughout history. ​​ The greatest display of God’s power is what we’re celebrating today. ​​ We will see today that the same power, God used to raise Jesus from the dead, lives in us. ​​ Our big idea today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s power lives within us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 28:1-10)

    • Background

        • I want us to walk through Scripture for just a moment and remember how powerful God and Jesus’ Words were

        • Creation

          • And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3)

          • And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (Genesis 1:6)

          • And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: ​​ seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” ​​ And it was so. (Genesis 1:9, 11)

          • And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” ​​ And it was so. ​​ (Genesis 1:14-15)

          • And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” ​​ (Genesis 1:20)

          • And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: ​​ livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ​​ (Genesis 1:24, 26)

        • Exodus

          • Then say “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. ​​ But until now you have not listened. ​​ This is what the Lord says: ​​ By this you will know that I am the Lord: ​​ With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. ​​ The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.” ​​ (Exodus 7:16-18)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them god, I will plague your whole country with frogs. ​​ The Nile will teem with frogs. ​​ They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on hour people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. ​​ The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. ​​ The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are. ​​ But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. ​​ I will make a distinction between my people and our people. ​​ This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:20-23)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’ ​​ If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field – on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats. ​​ But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth . . . Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:13-14, 18)

          • So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. ​​ They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. ​​ They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. ​​ They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians – something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 10:3-6)

          • So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ​​ ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. ​​ Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the cattle as well. ​​ There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. ​​ But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ ​​ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. ​​ All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ ​​ After that I will leave.” ​​ Then Moses, hot with anger left Pharaoh. ​​ (Exodus 11:4-8)

        • Jesus

          • Jesus’ first miracle

            • The Gospel of John is the only Gospel that records Jesus’ first miracle

            • We know that Jesus and His disciples are at a wedding at Cana in Galilee

            • His mother is also in attendance and tells Jesus that they have run out of wine

            • “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. ​​ “My time has not yet come.” ​​ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” ​​ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. ​​ Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” . . . He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. ​​ (John 2:4-8, 11b)

            • We know that when they took the sample of the water to the master that it had been turned into the best wine

            • Jesus simply spoke the words and told the servants what to do – there was power in His words

          • Jesus casting out demons with a word

            • When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. ​​ This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ​​ “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” ​​ (Matthew 8:16-17)

            • Jesus had just crossed the Sea of Galilee and entered the region of the Gerasenes, when He was approached by a demon-possessed man. ​​ The demon, whose name was Legion, begged Jesus not to torture them or drive them out of the area. ​​ The Gospel of Mark tells us, For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” ​​ (Mark 5:8). ​​ The demons were granted their request to be sent among a herd of about two thousand pigs, which then ran into the sea and drowned

            • A Greek woman from Syrian Phoenicia heard that Jesus had arrived in the vicinity of Tyre and she went to Him to beg Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. ​​ After Jesus uses the situation to teach this woman what was right, He said, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” ​​ She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. ​​ (Mark 7:29-30)

          • Jesus healing with a word

            • Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)

              • When Jesus entered Capernaum, a Centurion asked for His help concerning his servant was paralyzed and in terrible suffering

              • Jesus told him that He would come and heal his servant, but the Centurion tells Him to just say the word

              • Jesus explained to the crowd the incredible faith that the Centurion demonstrated

              • Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! ​​ It will be done just as you believed it would.” ​​ And his servant was healed at that very hour. ​​ (Matt. 8:13)

            • Government officials son (John 4:46-54)

              • Jesus had returned to Cana of Galilee and when a royal official heard about it, he came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his son

              • The royal official wanted Jesus to come with him to Capernaum to heal his son, but Jesus had a different plan

              • Jesus replied, “You may go. ​​ Your son will live.” ​​ The man took Jesus at his word and departed. ​​ (John 4:50)

              • When the official talked with his servants on the road, they all realized that his son was healed at the exact time that Jesus said the word

            • Paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-26)

              • A paralyzed man had some very great friends

              • They brought him on a mat to Jesus, but had to lower him through the roof, because it was so crowded

              • When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” ​​ (Luke 5:20)

              • This didn’t sit well with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who were present

              • Which is easier: ​​ to say, “Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? ​​ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up take your mat and go home.” ​​ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. ​​ (Luke 5:23-26a)

          • Jesus during His passion

            • Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives

              • After the last supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples

              • During that time, Judas brings a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees

              • Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. ​​ “I am he,” Jesus said. . . . When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. ​​ Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” ​​ “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. ​​ (John 18:4-8a)

              • We see the power of Jesus’ words at His arrest

            • Jesus on the cross

              • As Jesus is hanging on the cross, He cries out to God saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ​​ (Matt. 27:46b)

              • He is offered a drink of wine vinegar

              • He then says in a loud voice, “It is finished.” ​​ (John 19:30)

              • At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ​​ The earth shook and the rocks split. ​​ The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. ​​ They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. ​​ (Matt. 27:51-53)

              • There was power in Jesus’ final words on the cross

        • All of this leads us to the culmination, the climax, of God’s power

    • Jesus is alive! (Matthew 28:1-10)

        • “One sleepy Sunday afternoon when my son was five-years-old, we drove past a cemetery together. Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, he pointed and said: "Look, Dad, one got out!" I laughed, but now, every time I pass a graveyard, I'm reminded of the One who got out.”

          Phil Callaway, from the April 16 entry of Men of Integrity (March/April 2006)

          [
          https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/april/1040609.html]

        • The empty tomb (vv. 1-7)

          • “Jesus’ resurrection had already occurred, notwithstanding the massive stone barrier (v. 6). ​​ The resurrection itself is never described anywhere in Scripture, presumably because no one ever saw Jesus leave the tomb.” ​​ [Blomberg, New American Commentary, Matthew, 427]

            • It’s likely that Jesus left the tomb prior to the stone being rolled away, as we’ll see in a moment, but we don’t know how far in advance it happened

            • We can be sure that it was not the night before, because He said, prior to His death, that He would raise up the temple again in 3 days – referring to His resurrection

            • Since Jesus’ resurrection is not described in Scripture, we can only speculate about how it took place

              • I would like to think that God simply said, “Jesus, it’s time to rise!”

              • That idea meshes well with what we’ve seen throughout Scripture about God’s power through the spoken word

            • So, by the time the women go to the tomb, it’s already empty

          • Women went to the tomb

            • The Sabbath was sacred for the Jews, which meant that nothing could be done during the Sabbath

            • While they may have finished purchasing the necessary spices after sunset on Saturday, they waited until just before sunrise on Sunday to go to the tomb

            • Most of us wouldn’t blame them for waiting until sunrise, because most people have a fear of cemeteries, especially after dark

            • At the earliest opportunity we see two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, headed to the tomb

            • Some of the other Gospel writers include other women in the group

            • There is a discussion between the women about who is going to roll the stone away, so they can complete the embalming process (Mark 16:3), but we see that they don’t have to worry about that

          • Angel rolls the stone away

            • A violent earthquake

              • Matthew’s account tells us that a violent earthquake happens when the angel of the Lord comes down from heaven and rolls the stone away

                • It could have been an aftershock from the earthquake that happened when Jesus died

                • “While not uncommon in this region, this second earthquake surrounds the supreme supernatural event, the resurrection of Jesus. ​​ A. T. Robertson quotes Cornelius à Lapide as saying, ‘The earth, which trembled with sorrow at the Death of Christ as it were leaped for joy at His Resurrection.’” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, Matthew, 937]

                • It seems clear that the earthquake was a result of the angel coming down from heaven and rolling the stone back from the entrance to the tomb

                • We see that, with the word “for,” used after the mention of there being a violent earthquake

                • The “for” means that this is the reason why the violent earthquake happened

              • Rolling this enormous stone away from the entrance of the tomb was nothing for the angel of the Lord, so he just sits on top of it and waits for the women to arrive

            • Appearance of the angel

              • The appearance of the angel should not come as a surprise to us, especially after our study in Revelation and how the New Jerusalem will not need a light source, because the glory of God is all the light that is needed

              • This angel has been in the presence of God’s glory, so his appearance is like lightning and his clothes are as white as snow, representing purity

              • The glory of God reflecting from this angel is obviously too much for the guards who were standing watch at the tomb

                • The purity of God reflected in His angel strikes fear into the guards

                • Their fear was so real that they shook and became like dead men

                • “The ones assigned to guard the dead themselves appear dead while the dead one has been made alive.” ​​ [Donald Hagner cited by Wilkins, 938]

                • We know that eventually the guards regain their composure and report what they saw to the Pharisees and religious leaders, who coach them concerning what to say

            • It appears as though the angel does not speak to the guards, but he does speak to the women when they arrive

          • The women encounter the angel

            • He tells them not be afraid, which is probably why they did not end up like the guards – shaking in fear and becoming paralyzed

            • They’re at the right tomb

              • Have you ever driven somewhere that you’ve only been to once or twice and when you arrive, you begin to second guess whether or not you’re at the right place?

              • There is no question that the women have arrived at the right tomb, because the angel tells them that he knows they are looking for Jesus who was crucified

            • Jesus has risen

              • He is not in the tomb, because He did exactly what He told them He would do – He kept His promise

              • He had shared, on multiple occasions, with the Twelve and the other disciples, who followed Him, that He would be crucified, buried, and come alive again in 3 days

              • “‘Come and see the place’ verifies that this is the correct tomb and correct location within the tomb, thus stressing that he really is alive.” ​​ [Blomberg, 427]

              • It also helps the women, and us, understand that Jesus’ resurrection was not only spiritual, but also physical – His physical body was not there

            • The angel gives them instructions

              • The women are the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – they have a responsibility as witnesses

              • The same is true when you and I witness an accident or some other crime – we have a responsibility as witnesses to tell what we saw and heard

              • The women were given the responsibility of sharing the incredible news of Jesus’ resurrection with His disciples

              • They were told what to tell the disciples – “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him.”

              • Because of the amount of time the disciples had spent with Jesus in Galilee, they probably knew right where to go – it would have been a spot where they had spent a lot of time with Jesus

            • The angel had completed his task

          • The women immediately began their task

        • Jesus appears to the women (vv. 8-10)

          • The women had two emotions running through their bodies

            • They were afraid, probably because they had never encountered an angel before

            • They were filled with joy, because Jesus was alive

            • While they were trying to deal with these opposing emotions, Jesus meets them on the path

          • Their response to seeing Jesus

            • Jesus basically says, “Hello!”

            • They obviously recognized Him immediately, because they bowed down to worship at His feet

            • This is the correct posture to have when confronted by the King of kings and Lord of lords

          • Jesus comforts them and reiterates the angels instructions

            • Knowing that the women were afraid after encountering the angel, Jesus tells them not to be afraid

            • He gives them the same instructions that the angel had given the – “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

            • He calls the disciples His brothers, which could simply mean that they are now part of the family of God through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection – God’s redemptive plan for humanity had been completed

 

  • YOU

    • Followers of Jesus Christ

        • We’ve seen today that God is all-powerful (omnipotent)

        • He has the power to simply use words to do the miraculous

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the same power living in us, through the Holy Spirit of God

        • It’s the same power that allowed Jesus to come alive again

        • Life’s difficulties

          • Financial, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual

          • God is able to help you through every one of those

          • Read Ephesians 3:14-21

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to overcome any difficulties in life.

    • Those seeking a relationship with Christ

        • If you’ve never pursued a relationship with Jesus Christ, then you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you, but you can change that today

        • Jesus died on the cross to take your punishment for sin

          • We’re all born with the same condition – sin (Rom. 3:23)

          • God is holy (perfect), so He has to punish sin (Rom. 6:23a)

          • God is also loving, so He made a plan to deal with our sin (Rom. 5:8)

          • Romans 10:9-10, 13, 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. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God used His incredible power to raise Him from the dead to take my punishment for sin so I can be saved.

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

We’re going to close this morning with the song “Arise My Love” written by NewSong and performed by The Akins.

 

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHzpzy9orZk]

10

 

I AM A CHURCH MEMBER

Treasuring Church Membership

(Matthew 13:44-46)

 

INTRODUCTION

Most of you know how a pearl is formed. ​​ A foreign object, like a piece of sand, gets caught inside the shell of an oyster. ​​ Because the oyster doesn’t have hands and can’t sweep the item out of its shell, it begins to cover it with nacre. ​​ This is the substance that creates a pearl. ​​ The irritant for the oyster eventually becomes something that is smooth and round and doesn’t cause the oyster pain and suffering anymore. ​​ It’s something that takes time and effort on the part of the oyster.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Epcot Center

        • My favorite Disney park in Florida is Epcot Center

        • There are fascinating things to see and do there

        • They always try to stay on the cutting edge of technology in their exhibits on the front side of the lake

        • But my favorite part of Epcot Center is what is on the backside of the lake – it’s all the foreign country exhibits

        • I could spend the whole day or week just exploring all the various countries and what they have to offer

        • Two times ago, when we were at Epcot Center, we spent some time in the Japanese exhibit

          • One particular thing caught my eye

          • They had a display where live oysters were kept

          • You could purchase an oyster and the Japanese lady would carefully open it and remove the pearl that had been growing there

          • Levi and I spent several minutes watching as different individuals purchased an oyster and waited expectantly to find out how big the pearl was that was inside

          • Of the ones we saw, they were about the same size – they were mid-range

          • They were not the smallest and definitely not the largest

        • God’s creation is incredible!

          • He made the oyster just this way to be able to transform something that’s an irritant into something beautiful and valuable

          • You and I are His incredible creation too!

 

  • WE

    • Irritants

        • At work

          • It’s not hard to identify the person at work that irritates the other employees

          • If you are having a hard time thinking of whom that person is, it’s probably you!

        • In your neighborhood

          • When a new neighbor moves in it can be scary

          • What are they going to be like?

          • Will they be friendly, angry, or distant?

          • Will you get along with them?

          • Will they be irritating to you and your other neighbors?

          • For a time, the houses on either side of us were vacant and I was concerned that maybe we were the irritating neighbors

        • At church

          • It can happen within the church as well

          • Certain people can irritate you

          • They can get under your skin

    • God’s work, God’s institution

        • God is the one who instituted the church

        • He has created you and I with the incredible ability to transform something that is an irritant into something valuable

        • The nacre He has given to us, is love – unconditional/sacrificial love

        • Christ sees the church as a valuable treasure, a pearl of great value

        • He is again our model for exercising and expressing sacrificial love as we’ll see in Matthew 13:44-46

        • Let’s commit this message to the Lord in prayer

 

BIG IDEA – Make love your nacre.

 

  • GOD (Matthew 13:44-46)

    • Background

        • In the 13th chapter of Matthew Jesus shares seven parables about the kingdom of heaven

        • Four of those parables He shared with a crowd of people

        • The last three He shares with only His disciples in a house

        • He begins His time of sharing with the disciples by explaining the parable of the weeds

          • His explanation is very important for our understanding of the meaning of the other six parables

          • The person who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man – Jesus!

          • The field is the world – all humanity

          • The good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom – believers/followers of Jesus Christ

          • The weeds are the sons of the evil one – those who are not believers/followers of Jesus Christ

          • The enemy who sows the weeds – the devil

        • So, keep Jesus’ explanation of the various parts and players in mind as we look at two of the parables He shares with His disciples

    • Hidden Treasure (v. 44)

        • Jesus is again trying to help us understand what the kingdom of heaven is like

        • He talks about a treasure that is hidden in a field

          • If we follow Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the weeds, then we would identify the field as all humanity/the world

          • So, there’s a treasure that’s hidden within all humanity that is obviously very valuable, because the man who found it hides it again and goes and sells all he has and purchases the field

        • What is the treasure that’s hidden in all humanity?

          • It’s not a hard question

          • It can either be the church or better yet the Israelite people

          • Exodus 19:5-6, Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. ​​ Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. ​​ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.

          • Psalm 135:3-4, Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. ​​ For the Lord has chosen Jacob to be his own, Israel to be his treasured possession.

          • God set aside the Israelites in order that they would be a showcase of theocracy to all the other nations of the world [Stedman, 4]

          • The Israelites were supposed to demonstrate what a relationship with God looks like, but they failed

          • They were supposed to show what glorifying God looks like

          • They were to model for all the other nations this incredible relationship, so the other nations would be drawn to God, but instead they kept it to themselves, they focused inwardly

            • They were a nation hidden, a treasure not being invested to produce dividends for God [Wiersbe, 47]

            • Israel was an obscure, tiny nation for hundreds of years

            • There was no voice of God in their midst

            • God was not speaking to them through the prophets during this 400 year period

        • Who is the man that hides the treasure again and sells everything to purchase the field?

          • The man would be Jesus Christ

          • When He came from heaven to earth, He briefly uncovered the glory that was Israel

            • You know what happened though

            • Most of the Israelites rejected Him

            • They didn’t believe He was the Messiah

            • He couldn’t be if He died on a cross, because He would have been rejected by God

              • Jesus eliminated this misconception when He rose from the grave

              • He won over sin and death

            • Even though they rejected Jesus, God still has an important role for the Israelites to play during the end of times

            • Romans 11:11-14, Again I ask: ​​ Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? ​​ Not at all! ​​ Rather, because of their transgressions, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. ​​ But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! ​​ I am talking to you Gentiles. ​​ Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

              • This promise from God is not only for the Israelites today

              • It’s for you as a follower of Jesus Christ

              • Have you temporarily turned away from God and giving in to your own selfish desires

              • Are you struggling in your relationship with God right now

              • Everyone goes through those times in their lives where they feel distant from God

              • Maybe you’re questioning today whether you’ve gone too far and are beyond recovery?

              • The answer Paul gives is for you – Not at all!

              • 2 Chronicles 7:13-16, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. ​​ Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. ​​ I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. ​​ My eyes and my heart will always be there.

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

              • It’s not too late, you haven’t gone too far

              • God is ready to forgive, just cry out to Him

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise to forgive me by crying out to Him and confessing that I’ve temporarily turned away from Him and have neglected my relationship with Him.

            • He has hidden them once again until His second coming

            • Until He returns, the privilege of demonstrating the grace of God has been given to the church

            • Matthew 21:43, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

          • Jesus was overjoyed when he found Israelites and gave everything He had to purchase humanity, which included them

            • John 11:51, He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation

            • Isaiah 53:8, By oppression and judgment he was taken away. ​​ And who can speak of his descendants? ​​ For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

    • Pearl Merchant (vv. 45-46)

        • Who is the merchant?

          • In the other parables the main character is represented as Jesus Christ

            • He is the sower who went out to sow

            • He is the one who scattered the sons of the kingdom throughout the world

            • He is the one who planted the mustard seed in the field

          • So, the merchant is Jesus Christ

        • Who is the pearl?

          • It is the church

          • Why a pearl to represent the church instead of another gem?

            • “. . . the pearl is the only jewel which is the product of living matter.” ​​ [Stedman, 2]

            • “Unlike most other gems, the pearl is a unity – it cannot be carved like a diamond or emerald. ​​ The church is a unity (Eph. 4:4-6), even though the professing church on earth is divided. ​​ Like a pearl, the church is the product of suffering.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 47]

            • There are times when you and I suffer through some difficult things at church – most of those are related to relationships with other people

            • Paul tells us how God desires for us to deal with those difficult relational situations

            • We are to use the nacre of unconditional/sacrificial love

            • John Oxenham wrote a poem that expresses this principle perfectly:
              He drew a circle that shut me out,
              Rebel, heretic, a thing to flout.
              But God and I had the wit to win:
              We drew a circle that took him in!

            • Sanctification is a continual growing process, it’s not a one and done kind of thing

              • You and I have to work at it

              • We can’t ignore the problems within our church – they won’t just go away

              • You and I have to step out of our cultural norms and comfort zones in order to sit down together and lovingly and patiently work out our differences

              • Is there someone within the church that’s irritating you right now?

              • You need to take time this week to meet with them and patiently and loving talk it out

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask God to give me the strength to meet, this week, with the individual(s) within Idaville Church that I’m struggling with.

            • When you and I truly grasp the great value that Christ places on the church and why it’s being formed, it should motivate us to treasure the church in the same way He does

              • Jesus is making for Himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle or any blemish (Eph. 5:25b, 27)

              • The church has been given the task of pointing the rest of the world to Jesus

              • The church is to be demonstrating what a relationship with God and Jesus looks like

              • “A pearl grows gradually, and the church grows gradually as the Spirit convicts and converts sinners.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 47]

              • Is Idaville Church doing that?

              • Are you doing that?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Look for ways this week to demonstrate to my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers what a relationship with Jesus Christ looks like.

        • What did the merchant do to obtain this pearl?

          • Jesus gave everything He had in order to obtain the church

            • He considers the church something of great value

            • The church is the vessel He is currently using to demonstrate to the rest of the world the kind of relationship He desires with them

          • He willingly sacrificed the glories of heaven to come to earth

          • He took on the form of a human being and suffered just like you and I do, yet without sin

          • He fulfilled God’s purpose for Him on earth by being falsely accused, beaten, and hung on a cross to die, to take your punishment for sin

 

  • YOU

    • Salvation

        • We’re all born with a desire to have our own way (Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: ​​ “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. ​​ All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”)

        • Because God is just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished (Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.)

        • God’s not only just, but He is also loving (Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: ​​ While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.)

        • He made a way for you to be in a right relationship with Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.)

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice to purchase me, so I can be in a right relationship with God.

 

  • WE

    • Jesus modeled love

        • It was love that motivated Jesus to give everything He had to purchase humanity so that He will be able to use Israel, an incredible treasure, when He returns again

        • It was love that motivated Jesus to sacrifice everything in order to purchase the church, which is the pearl in humanity that points to Jesus

        • It was God’s great love for us that motivated Him to fulfill His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ

    • Love is our nacre

        • 1 Peter 4:8, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

        • Make love your nacre.

        • God showed grace towards us – He didn’t give us what we deserved for our sin

        • We also should extend grace to those around us, which is an expression of love

        • When we allow love to be our nacre, it can cover over the irritation that we may be feeling toward our coworkers, neighbors, family, friends, and fellow believers

 

CONCLUSION

The Sixth Pledge

 

This membership is a gift. ​​ When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. ​​ I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. ​​ And now I am humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. ​​ I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.

9

 

Last Sunday after Pentecost: ​​ Christ the King

Jesus in Disguise

(Matthew 25:31-46)

 

INTRODUCTION

“The surprise was complete. ​​ The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 A.M., the second at 8:55. ​​ By 9:55 it was all over. ​​ By 1:00 P.M. the carriers that launched the planes from 274 miles off the coast of Oahu were heading back to Japan.

 

Behind them they left chaos, 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes, and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included eight damaged or destroyed battleships.

 

At 6 A.M. (Hawaiian time) on December 7, 1941, the first Japanese attack fleet of 183 planes took off from aircraft carriers 230 miles north of Oahu. ​​ Ironically, at 7:02 A.M., two Army operators at a radar station on Oahu’s north shore picked up approaching Japanese fighters on radar. ​​ They contacted a junior officer who disregarded their sighting, thinking that it was B-17 bombers from the United States west coast. ​​ The first Japanese bomb was dropped at 7:55 a.m. on Wheeler Field, eight miles from Pearl Harbor. ​​ No one was prepared for what was occurring. ​​ The rest is history.

 

At Pearl Harbor, the consequences for not being ready for an enemy attack was devastating. ​​ There were signs that went unheeded. ​​ Had the U.S. military been ready to spring into action, the losses at Pearl Harbor might have been greatly reduced.

 

The element of watchful waiting applies to the return of Christ. ​​ For the believer, being ready for Christ’s return involves more than not being caught by surprise. ​​ It also involves living a life in faithful obedience to God, investing our resources in the kingdom of God. ​​ Jesus will someday return. ​​ Those who are found faithful and living in obedience to God will be rewarded. ​​ Are you among the ready?”

 

[Stuart K. Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, 427-28].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Mission Trips

        • Spokane, WA – an important part of what we did was to take care of Wayne and Denise Miller and their family

        • Mississippi – we are planning a trip to Carthage, MS next summer to help at Abigail Farmer’s church (she is one of our missionaries) – part of the time will again be spent taking care of Abby and ministering to her

    • Serving others

        • Dwane

          • A friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor

          • He was a follower of Jesus Christ

          • I took him once to his experimental treatment and waited with him

          • He had helped me out before when I woke up with something in my eye in the middle of the night

        • Serving homeless in Spokane, WA

          • They were so appreciative of the food and clothing items we brought through the two organizations we served with

          • It was a joy to minister to each person

 

  • WE

    • Youth

        • Week of service this past summer (they took care of other ministries)

          • Tender Care Pregnancy Center

          • Upper Adams Food Pantry

          • Project Share

          • Laurin and Bev Fleming’s home

        • In the past

          • New Hope Ministries in Hanover

          • Adams Rescue Mission

          • Helped with other individuals within the church

    • Adults

        • Gettysburg Soup Kitchen

        • Upper Adams Food Pantry

        • In-Gathering (happened last week)

        • Individuals in our church have used their talents to help others in the church

          • Car maintenance and repair

          • Yard work and mowing

          • Cleaning

          • Financial support

          • Rides to church, doctor appointments, the pharmacy, and the grocery store

          • These are just a few of the ways that we have helped others, but there are countless other ways as well

    • Take a moment to think about how you have taken care of others

 

Jesus has been teaching on the Mount of Olives. ​​ He has been talking about the future and gives a couple parables to help His disciples understand they need to be ready and obediently working at multiplying the Gospel. ​​ He concludes His Olivet Discourse by teaching about the final judgment. ​​ Through His teaching Jesus wants His disciples and us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 25:31-46)

    • Jesus will return (vv. 31-33)

        • PROMISE/TRUTH – God will send Jesus to earth a second time

          • When God gives us a promise or truth in His Word, we can claim that promise and believe that truth, wholeheartedly

          • We can put our hope in the fact that Jesus is coming again

          • It will be in power, which is represented by all the angels coming with Him

          • He will also come in authority as He sits on His throne in heavenly glory

          • He will come with God’s glory and authority to judge

        • Nations and people

          • In the Greek the word used for “nations” is talking about all people or the Gentiles and the Jews

          • The Great Commission includes every nationality and people group in the entire world

          • While every nation will be represented, the Greek word used for “the people” is in the masculine gender and “implies that individuals and not just nations or people groups are intended.” ​​ [Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew, 376]

          • This concept agrees with all of Scripture – we are individually responsible for our salvation and how it is evidenced through our actions

        • Separating individuals

          • Jesus uses imagery that would have been familiar to those He was teaching

          • The practice of keeping sheep and goats together in the pasture is still used in the Middle East today

          • Our image of sheep and goats is different than in the Middle East and probably from what was normal in the 1st Century

            • Our image of sheep are those with pure white wool coats

            • Goats can have different colored spots and patches on their coats

            • The sheep being referenced here probably had spots and patches of different colors that made them harder to distinguish from the goats

            • Genesis 30:31-32, “What shall I give you?” he asked. ​​ “Don’t give me anything,” Jacob replied. ​​ “But if you will do this one thing for me, I will go on tending your flocks and watching over them: ​​ Let me go through all your flocks today and remove from them every speckled or spotted sheep, every dark-colored lamb and every spotted or speckled goat. ​​ They will be my wages.”

          • While sheep and goats grazed together in the fields, when it was time to separate them, they would be sent down a chute that required them to go one at time in a single line

            • A shepherd would sit on top of the fence and swing a gate back and forth to guide each animal into the appropriate pen [Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, Matthew, 424]

            • If the sheep and goats were both spotted, it would take a trained eye to quickly separate them

          • Jesus has that trained eye

            • We do not know the heart of man, but God does

            • We may think from outward actions or superficial knowledge that we know who are God’s people and who are not

            • Praise the Lord, He knows!

          • Right and left

            • Jesus will separate each individual from all nations

            • He will put the sheep, who represent those who are righteous, on His right side – this is the place of honor

            • He will put the goats, who represent those who are cursed, on His left side – in this context, it was a place of disgrace

        • Now that the righteous and the cursed have been separated, Jesus explains what will happen to each group

    • Blessed (vv. 34-40)

        • Reward (v. 34)

          • Jesus refers to Himself as the King in this parable

          • He will beckon those on His right – the righteous ones – to come and take their inheritance

          • These individuals are blessed by God the Father

            • This blessing is not the same as in the Beatitudes, where the Greek word means “happy”

            • It rather means someone who enjoys God’s good favor [France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 962]

            • It also has the idea that these individuals have received God’s spiritual and material blessing and favor already and that they will continue to receive it [Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary, Matthew, 424]

          • Their reward is the inheritance of the Kingdom of God

            • This was prepared for them since the creation of the world

            • There are two beliefs concerning the wording “since the creation of the world”

              • One belief system says that the identity of the individuals who will enjoy God’s blessing and favor have been determined before their birth

              • The other belief system is that Jesus is referring to the group of those who are saved as a whole

              • “God has prepared this kingship for those who will prove to be worthy of it, but who those people will be remains to be discovered on the basis of their response to the gospel and to the will of God.” ​​ [France, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Matthew, 963]

              • As we’ll see in vv. 35-36, how individuals respond to Jesus’ disciples who are in need, is evidence of a genuine relationship with Him

        • Service (vv. 35-36)

          • The righteous ones recognize three basic human needs (food, shelter, and companionship) and step in to help

          • These individual did not have to be told to do these things, because it was an outpouring of their love for Christ

          • Their perspective on humanity had been transformed by a relationship with Jesus Christ – they now saw each person as a valuable creation of God the Father

          • The amazing thing is that they didn’t even realize they were serving Jesus

        • Surprise (vv. 37-39)

          • These verses make it sound like the righteous are confused or surprised by the King’s statement

          • They didn’t realize that serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus

          • Jesus is saying to the righteous that they fed Him, gave Him water to drink, invited Him in to their homes, gave Him clothing, took care of Him when He was sick, and visited Him when He was in prison

            • Jesus is talking to His disciples about the final judgment

            • So, it could be confusing how these individuals had taken care of Jesus in the various scenarios outlined, since He was already back in heaven

            • I like how Wilkins addresses the surprise that the righteous ones are experiencing

            • “Such surprise indicates that these were not intentional meritorious acts to gain access to the kingdom. ​​ Rather, these acts of mercy are evidences that the sheep belong to the kingdom . . .” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, Matthew, 810]

              • The righteous were ​​ not doing these things as a way of working their way to heaven

              • They were doing these things as evidence that they were already citizens of heaven

              • They had been transformed by Jesus Christ and the proof was evident through how they served servants of Jesus

              • PRINCIPLE – Acts of service are a sign of salvation.

                • Our acts of service do not have to be “great” things

                • They are usually little things that seem insignificant to us

                • Providing food and drink to those who are need

                • Welcoming someone into our home who is a stranger

                • Offering clothing to those who need them

                • Caring for the sick or visiting those in prison

                • Perhaps the righteous didn’t even remember doing these things because they seem so insignificant

          • Application

            • Are we helping those in need?

              • There are individuals all around us who are in need

              • There are those who are hungry and thirsty

              • There are individuals who need shelter and clothing

              • There are many in our congregation right now who are sick and can use help

              • We financially support Chaplain Will Olson and his ministry at Adams County Adult Correctional Facility, but he needs volunteers to help with Bible studies to both men and women

              • There are other needs in our church and community that we can help with

                • Financial counseling

                • Those who have experienced divorce and separation (children and adults)

                • Various addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc.)

                • There a things we can do corporately as the body of Christ

              • What can you do individually?

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to helping those in my church and community who are in need.

            • What is our motivation for helping those in need?

              • The righteous in Jesus’ parable weren’t motivated by accolades or the hope of salvation by serving others

              • It was an outpouring and evidence of the transformational power of the Gospel in their lives

              • “True disciples will pass an examination not because they are trying to pass an examination but because they will love his brothers and sisters – and therefore Jesus.” ​​ [D.A. Carson cited by Boice, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2, An Expositional Commentary, 541]

              • We should be serving others, because of the salvation we have received through Jesus Christ

          • This passage has been used by many in the social Gospel movement to motivate Christians to serve the poor, but those Jesus is referring to here are not just any poor or needy person

        • Servants (v. 40)

          • Disciples of Jesus

            • The least of these brothers of mine refers to Christ’s disciples or all Christians

            • In Matthew’s gospel the Greek word used for “least” is the superlative form of the adjective “little [ones]” which without exception in the gospel of Matthew refers to the disciples (10:42; 18:6, 10, 14; cf. also 5:19; 11:11)

            • The same is true of the Greek word used for “brothers” – “when not referring to literal, biological siblings, always means spiritual kin (5:22-24, 47; 7:3-5; 12:48-50; 18:15 (2X), 21, 35; 23:8; 28:10).” ​​ [Blomberg, The New American Commentary, Matthew, 377-78]

            • John Broadus explains it this ways, “Our Lord is not expressly speaking of benevolence to the poor and suffering in general, but of kindness to his poor and suffering ‘brethren’ for his sake.” ​​ [Broadus cited by Boice, The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2, An Expositional Commentary, 541]

              • For this particular passage of Scripture, Jesus is saying that our future depends on how we relate to His followers, which is a reflection of how we relate to Him

              • The Apostle Paul reiterates Jesus’ teaching when writing to the Galatians about doing good to all

              • Galatians 6:10, Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

            • While this passage does not speak to the social justice for all people, that does not mean that God is ambivalent towards the poor and needy who are not followers of Jesus Christ

          • Importance of taking care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • There are multiple passages throughout the Old Testament that speak about God’s will concerning the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • Nearly every prophetic book in the Old Testament has a warning from the Lord concerning taking care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan

            • There are additional warnings against taking advantage of those who are less fortunate

            • The king and those in authority were not to forget about those in their kingdom who were in need

            • From those passages and others in the New Testament, we know that we have a responsibility to take care of all who are poor and needy, whether they are in our church or in our community

        • We see that the righteous are blessed and will receive the Kingdom as their inheritance, because they willingly took care of Jesus’ disciples who were in need as evidence of their salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ

        • But Jesus has something to say to those on His left who are cursed

    • Cursed (vv. 41-45)

        • Punishment (v. 41)

          • We see some mirrored opposites here

          • The cursed are told to depart from Jesus instead of coming to Him

          • They are cursed instead of blessed

          • Their destiny is the eternal fire instead of kingship

            • The eternal fire was prepared for the devil and his angels

            • We have no evidence in Scripture that the fallen angels were given a chance to repent

            • That is not the case with humanity

            • No one should have to face eternal fire – it was prepared for the devil and his angels

              • Yet there are those who have chosen hell by rejecting Jesus Christ

              • They have no one else to blame but themselves

              • God has given each of us a free will to either accept or reject His plan of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ

              • There are individuals who readily say they welcome hell as their destiny, but they don’t understand what they are saying and what’s at stake

                • Hell is total separation from those in heaven and from God – if those in hell are able to, they will understand the vastness of God’s grace and mercy because they will no longer be experiencing it – He will no longer hold back His wrath

                • Those who go to hell will be together with the devil and his angels in total rebellion against God

                • Hell is suffering – it will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30)

              • There is still hope!

                • Jesus has not yet returned the second time

                • God’s grace and mercy are still in full force

                • God’s salvation is still available to anyone and everyone who repents and submits to Jesus as their master

                • Ephesians 2:8-9, 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.

                • The beginning of our relationship with Jesus Christ comes in believing in Him, but it doesn’t stop there

                • It’s a total transformation that takes place in our lives through the Holy Spirit that now lives within us

                • Matthew 16:24-26, Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. ​​ What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? ​​ Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

                • Luke shares the same teaching from Jesus, but adds that the we have to take up our cross daily

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin my relationship with Jesus today by accepting God’s grace through faith in Jesus, and then grow in my faith by denying myself and taking up my cross daily.

          • Those on Jesus’ left did not make that decision and therefore neglected to take care of Jesus’ disciples

        • Neglect (vv. 42-43)

          • Here is the sad reality – the cursed did not do some great evil against Jesus’ disciples, they simply neglected to do good

          • The reality for us is that there are some who claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ and attend church on a regular basis, but will be separated to Jesus’ left hand

            • Their relationship with Jesus was only lip service

            • A true transformation never took place

            • The evidence is clear from what Jesus says about those individuals

            • They did not take care of the basic needs of Jesus’ disciples who were suffering

        • Surprise (v. 44)

          • This group is also surprised by Jesus’ statement of not taking care of Him

          • They also didn’t recognize that taking care of Jesus’ disciples who were suffering meant they were taking care of Jesus

          • They didn’t understand that serving servants of Jesus is serving Jesus

        • Servants (v. 45)

          • The same disciples of Jesus were around these individuals, but they refused to take care of them

          • Their perspective on humanity had not been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ

          • They perhaps looked right past or through these suffering servants of Jesus

          • Their hearts were not compassionate towards those followers of Jesus who were suffering for Him

          • They were more concerned about themselves instead of others

    • Accountability (v. 46)

        • PRINCIPLE – Every one of God’s people will be held accountable for their response to Jesus’ disciples who are in need.

        • Those who neglect to help Jesus’ disciples will experience eternal punishment

        • Those who serve Jesus’ disciples will experience eternal life

        • “The presence of kingdom life will always produce evidence in the transformed speech, thought, actions, and character of Jesus’ followers. ​​ The absence of transformation is proof that a person has not accepted the invitation to the kingdom. ​​ Reward or penalty is distributed according to the evidence.” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, 813]

 ​​​​ 

  • YOU

    • Does your life evidence a transformation by Jesus Christ?

    • If you’ve never accepted God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ are you ready to do that today?

    • If you stood before Jesus today would you be a sheep or a goat?

 

  • WE

    • We all have an individual responsibility to serve Jesus’ disciples who are in need

    • We also have a corporate responsibility

        • We need individuals who will lead various ministry aspects

        • Men’s ministry leader

        • Single’s or divorce recovery ministry for adults and children

        • Addiction recovery

        • Prison ministry

        • Many more

        • We need individuals who have a passion for these various areas to step up and lead

 

CONCLUSION

“When a friend cared for her housebound mother-in-law, she asked her what she longed for the most. ​​ Her mother-in-law said, ‘For my feet to be washed.’ ​​ My friend admitted, ‘How I hated that job! ​​ Each time she asked me to do it I was resentful, and would ask God to hide my feelings from her.’

 

But one day her grumbling attitude changed in a flash. ​​ As she got out the bowl and towel and knelt at her mother-in-law’s feet, she said, ‘I looked up, and for a moment I felt like I was washing the feet of Jesus Himself. ​​ She was Jesus in disguise!’ ​​ After that, she felt honored to wash her mother-in-law’s feet.

 

Today, might you echo my friend, who now wonders when she meets someone new, ‘Are you Jesus in disguise?’”

 

[Amy Boucher Pye, Our Daily Bread, September, October, November 2017, October 24]

12

 

How many here today have ever played Hide and Seek? Hide-and-seek is a popular game in which any number of players, ideally at least three, conceal themselves in the environment, to be found by one or more seekers. The game is played by one player chosen as being "it". This person closes their eyes and counts to a predetermined number, usually 100, while the other players hide. After reaching this number, the player who is "it" calls "Ready or not, here I come!" and then attempts to locate all concealed players. This popular game probably has been around since the second century originating in Greece. With hide and seek four things were always certain: “It” was surely coming, “It” was coming when “It” got ready, “It” was coming whether you were ready or not and if you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.

When I think of being “ready or not” I think of those times when something happens when you least expect it. You can probably think of many times in your life where something happened and you were either ready for it or you were not. For me my mind goes to July of 1999 when I was in a car accident and spent 21 days in the hospital and many more laid up at home through November of that year. You know I didn’t say to my wife Judy the day before, “Hey I hope we have that supplemental insurance, tomorrow we are going to need it” or the morning of the accident, say, “Stay close to your phone because you are going to get a call from the State Police to come meet me at the hospital”. No, it was a totally unexpected event that happened and we were either going to be ready or we were not going to be ready for the future that came with that unexpected event. Now you can never be ready for something like that but as we looked back God definitely prepared the way for us to come through that experience.

What is it for you? I am sure everyone here this morning can think of something that has happened to them or their family and you were either ready or not ready for it. Maybe, it was a financial situation that came upon you all of a sudden, maybe it was a job promotion or demotion, maybe it was finding out you were having twins, triplets or quadruplets. Sure, you have time to prepare, but ready or not those little ones were coming and you probably had to change some of the plans you had at first. Maybe it was a diagnosis, disease or illness or maybe it was a death in the family that was unexpected.

This morning we are going to be looking at two passages that you may not think are linked together but they are. The first is in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, in chapter 5. Paul had gone to Thessalonica to preach the gospel to them. In the short time he was there, before being run out of town, he told the people about Jesus’ return. Now, in Paul’s absence, the Thessalonians did not deal with this knowledge the way Paul would have hoped and this was one of the reasons for this letter to them. Paul was encouraging the church of Thessalonica and us today about the importance of being ready. That game, of Hide and Seek, reminds me of the return of Jesus.

The second passage we will look at this morning is the parable of the talents. This parable is a familiar one to us and the insights we can glean from it prepares us for our future on this earth as we await Jesus’ return. That brings us to our big idea this morning that Paul and Matthew ​​ want to us to know, and that is, being ready for Jesus’ return must be proactive not reactive. But before we start unwrapping these passages let us dedicate this morning and this message to the Lord in prayer. Please bow your heads with me.

Dear Heavenly Father, Open our ears, this morning, to hear your word and know your voice. Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills, that we may serve you today/now and always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

To understand this passage in chapter 5, we need to first go back to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 starting in verse 9. I will give you the cliff notes replay of chapter 4. When Paul was in Thessalonica he preached about the return of Jesus and this teaching had produced an odd and awkward situation in Thessalonica. The result was that many Thessalonians had quit their day job. They were getting together in crowds exciting and upsetting not only themselves but the community at large as they waited for what they thought was the imminent return of Jesus. Ordinary life had been disrupted in their communities. They had abandoned their jobs and stopped trying to make a living for themselves. Paul gave them some very practical advice in chapter 4. First, he tells them that when Jesus comes back he would want to find them quietly, efficiently and diligently working and making a living for themselves and their families. Knowing that Christ is coming back doesn’t mean we should stop our lives it means we should live our lives even harder and better and all the more faithfully. Second, he tells them the way to show others that they were Christ followers is by not allowing their Christianity to turn them into useless citizens. That would just discredit Christians and Christianity. A religion is known by the kind of people it produces. Our witness must line up with the lives we are living. Our lives must be the sermon that brings people to Christ. Third, he tells them they need to support themselves by working their jobs and not sponging off of others for charity. The effect of the Thessalonians quitting their jobs to wait for Christ’s return was that others had to support them. As Christians we need to help others who cannot help themselves but we also must be able to help ourselves and give back to the community not just take from it. We need to delight in giving and not taking especially if we can supply our own needs.

But, this idea of the imminent return of Jesus had brought another problem to the people of Thessalonica. They were expecting it to happen at any time and they definitely thought it would happen in their lifetime. They were worried about their loved ones who had died since becoming Christians. They were not sure that those who had died would join them when Jesus returned. Paul’s answer is that both those who are alive and dead will be together when Christ returns. He tells them not to sorrow about death as those who have no hope such as the pagans. ​​ In the face of death, the pagan or non-Christian has no hope. Paul lays down a great principle here that if a person has lived in Christ and died in Christ, even if he is dead he is still in Christ and he will rise with Christ. Paul in Romans 8:38-39 says this, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. The importance is that if we are in Christ nothing can break that union.

Paul goes on to draws us a picture which is his attempt to put into words what is inexpressible and indescribable. This is the picture: On the day of Christ’s return, he will descend from Heaven to earth. He will utter the word of command, and thereupon the voice of an archangel and the trumpet of God will awake the dead, and then the dead and the living will both be caught up in the chariots of the clouds to meet Christ and will be with the Lord forever.

Here is a picture of what it may look like when we meet Jesus in the air. This picture of being caught up in the air with Jesus is sometimes called the Rapture and is considered by some Christians to be the first part of the Second Coming of Jesus. The picture that Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 4 is a picture of Jesus returning but only in the sky and all of a sudden and unexpectedly. This event ushers in the Great Tribulation where we see seven years of upheaval and the rise of the Antichrist. At the end of the seven years Christ returns for the second time on the earth and conquers Satan and his forces at the Battle of Armageddon.

Let me pause here and give a public service announcement so to speak. Starting in February of 2018, Pastor Stuart will be preaching on the Book of Revelation which will flesh all this out. I am looking forward to hearing Pastor Stuart unpack it next year. So consider this morning a kind of prequel to what Pastor Stuart will be preaching next year.

Now we are ready to look at 1 Thessalonians chapter 5. If you have your Bibles or want to use one of the pew Bibles turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 and follow along with me:

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

It is hard to understand the pictures in the New Testament of the return of Jesus to get his children. It has its background in the Old Testament in a concept called the Day of the Lord. This Day of the Lord was common in the Old Testament and all the pictures which belonged to the Day of the Lord have been attached to Christ’s return. To the Jews all time was divided into two ages – the present age which was totally and incurably evil and the age to come which would be the golden age of God. In between the two ages was this Day of the Lord which would be a terrible day. It would be like birth pangs of a new world. It would be a day when God would pour out his wrath on the ungodly. When Jesus comes to take or “rapture” his people, soon after God will begin to pour out His judgments during those seven years called the Great Tribulation. Unfortunately, many people will not be prepared. They will actually be deceived and actively deceiving others. The Antichrist who steps forward after the Rapture begins to assume power all over the world. The chaotic conditions created by the Rapture will cause people to look for someone to lead them. This Antichrist will claim that he can bring "Peace and safety". In verse 3 of our scripture this morning, Paul says destruction will come on them and they will not escape.

The main characteristics of the Day of the Lord were that it would come suddenly and unexpectedly. It would involve cosmic upheaval where the universe was shaken to its foundations, and it would be a time of judgment. The New Testament writers identified the Day of the Lord with the return of Christ. Naturally, people wanted to know when that day was and the Thessalonians like us today are no different. Jesus in Mark 13:32 said “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Jesus, himself, doesn’t even know the day he will return, only God knows the time. But, that didn’t stop people from speculating in that day and it doesn’t keep us from trying to figure it out today as well. Here are a few of the predictions of Christ’s return in the past. One of the earliest predictions was in 500 AD. Three Christian theologians predicted Jesus would return in the year 500. One prediction was based on the dimensions of Noah's ark. A Spanish monk prophesied the second coming of Christ and the end of the world would take place on April 6, 793 to a crowd of people. Johann Jacob Zimmerman, a Lutheran minister, predicted Jesus would return in 1694. Charles Taze Russell, the first president of what is now the Watchtower Society of the Jehovah's Witnesses, calculated 1874 to be the year of Christ's Second Coming. There have even been people who have predicted Jesus’ return and when it didn’t happen actually predicted it again and again continuing to move the date back. One of the latest predictions was that Christ's return would correspond with the September 28, 2015 lunar eclipse. You may have heard it called the blood moon prophecy. Finally, there are future dates that have been predicted to be the day Jesus will return. The next being June 8, 2019 which corresponds to the Day of Pentecost that year.

Paul had two things to say to the Thessalonians about that day. One, the day will be sudden and unexpected but there is no reason why anyone should be caught unawares or unprepared. We can be certain that Jesus is coming back. The return of Jesus Christ is mentioned approximately eight times more frequently in the Old and New Testaments than His first coming. ​​ In fact, Christ’s return is mentioned 318 times in the New Testament alone. ​​ The only doctrine mentioned more than the doctrine of Christ’s second coming is the doctrine of salvation. ​​ All of the nine authors of the New Testament mention Christ’s second coming.

Paul knew that the Second Coming of Jesus was one of the most repeated teachings in all of scripture. He even tells the Thessalonians it is so obvious that I really have no need to write to you about these things. Here is an illustration:

There was a man who stopped at a gas station. He noticed a piece of rope dangling from a sign. The sign was labeled "Weather Forecaster." The man asked the station attendant, "How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?" The attendant smiled and replied, "When the rope swings back and forth, it’s windy. When it gets wet, it’s raining. When it’s frozen stiff, it’s snowing. And when it’s gone... it’s a tornado!" There are some things that should be obvious without even asking. The imminent return of Jesus Christ is one of those things.

Two, Paul goes on to say that the Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Just as a thief does not call you up the day before and tell you he is planning on robbing your home, so it will be when Jesus returns. ​​ It would have been helpful if the Bible gave us the exact time of Jesus’ return so we all could be ready, but that was not God’s plan. God’s plan for us was to accept his son as our Savior which would make us ready when Jesus came back for us. Jesus in Matthew 24:44, said, Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

In verses 4-7, Paul, says it is only the person who lives in the dark and his deeds are evil who will not be prepared. The Christian who lives in the light and who is watchful and sober, will be ready. The Christian must be watching and waiting for the coming of Jesus. We are to be like soldiers assigned to guard duty who are commanded to “stay alert”. One of my favorite hymns growing up was “Onward Christian Soldiers”. As Christian soldiers we are commanded to “watch”. The Greek word for watch is gregario. It means to stay awake or be on the alert. This must be a continual practice of the Christian. Roman soldiers were put to death for falling asleep on watch. The outcome of not being watchful and ready for Jesus’ return could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Jesus. Paul also tells us we need to live daily with self-control. He warns us that we must not allow anything in our lives that will influence our moral alertness. Paul talks about be sober and being drunk. We know that drinking alcohol and getting drunk greatly hinders a person’s abilities to focus and make important decisions. Likewise, sin will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions. Usually, a person does not get drunk with just one drink, but one drink leads to 2 and then to 3. Slowly the drinker becomes drunk without even noticing it. All his senses become blurred making him a danger to himself and others. Likewise, if we do not control the sin in our lives, we will soon become so overcome by its effects that we are unmindful of spiritual matters. We can become unaware of and unconcerned about the imminent return of Jesus. Just like a drunk person who is passed out and unconscious so is the uncontrolled sinner spiritually passed out. In verse 8, it says that since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. We need to live each day with the protection of God’s armor and Paul makes special mention of faith, love and salvation.

So, we have learned that no one knows when the day will come and we cannot leave things til the last second. We must be ready now because it will be too late when that day is already here. Ready or not . . . Jesus is coming. Being ready for Jesus’ return must be proactive not reactive.

In Romans 3:23 it says for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That’s all of us and because of our sin in Romans 6:23 it say the wages of our sin is death which is an eternal separation from God. But God made a way for us to be saved. In Romans 5:8 it says, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. And, finally we must trust and surrender to Jesus as Lord. In Romans 10:9-10 it says, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Which brings us to our first next step. Maybe this next step is for you which is to be ready by accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior and living my life every day for him. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be left behind. As Pastor Stuart looks at Revelation next year you will see the judgment that God has not only for this earth but for those who do not believe in him or his son Jesus for salvation. Revelation does not paint a pretty picture for those who are left behind and if you are not a Christian here this morning Revelation will be a scary ordeal. But the awesome thing about Revelation and the Day of the Lord is that if you are a Christ follower and you are ready then it is a book of hope and encouragement and it should motivate us to witness to our family, friends and co-workers etc. who do not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

So now that we have the hope of Jesus’ return how should we live out our lives as Christ followers on this earth. The answer is found in the Parable of the Talents. In 1 Thessalonians we saw that they had stopped working and were idle waiting for the Lord to return which they felt was right around the corner. I also talked about different people, who predicted Jesus’ return and probably had fallen into the same trap. And Paul told the Thessalonians they needed to be working and being good citizens and in that way they would be good witnesses of Christ and Christianity to the world. Now, Matthew gives us the roadmap of what we are to do while we wait for the Lord’s return. Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 25:14-30 and follow along as I read from God’s word:

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

In Matthew 25:13, the verse immediately before Jesus tells this parable, he said this, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." Jesus prefaced this parable with telling us he is coming again and we don’t know when. It could be tonight or tomorrow or next year! But what if it's not tonight or tomorrow or next year? -- While we wait for the Lord’s return, how are to live, what are we to do? We need to answer four questions:

The first question comes from vs. 14-15 and it is “What gifts do I have from God?” Notice here that the man gave some of His goods, (His possessions, His property) to all of His servants. They didn't all get the same amount, but all of them got something according to their abilities and then he went away. God wants us to understand that He has given us all some valuable gifts and abilities. We need to explore these gifts and abilities and to be using them for the good of the kingdom of God here on earth.

The second question comes from vs. 16-18, and it is “Am I gaining all I can for God's Kingdom?” In verses 16-18 Jesus said: "Then he who had received the five talents went and put his money to work and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord's money." “Am I gaining all I can for God's Kingdom?” God has given each of us gifts and abilities, but are we using them for his glory? We can’t bury our talents! We must be using them for God's Kingdom! We must get busy, and put our talents to work for God. In the King James Version verse 16 says the man with 5 talents "went and traded with them." The idea behind this word "traded" is somebody working, somebody carrying out a task.

Jesus told a similar parable in Luke 19. In verses 12 and 13 it says this, . . . A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. We might say: "Get an occupation" or "Get busy" or "Get a job!" Jesus Christ wants us to get enthusiastically involved in serving His cause: praying, going, giving, helping, teaching, leading, serving any way we can. So, while we wait for the Lord's return, we need to ask ourselves “Am I gaining all I can for God's Kingdom?”

The third question comes from vs. 19-23 and it is “What is our ultimate goal?” Jesus mentions what our ultimate goal should be twice in vs. 19-23. Our ultimate goal as Christians is to hear the Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." Notice here that we as Christians are accountable to God. We will give an account of our lives to God. God's Word makes this truth very clear. In Romans 14, Paul wrote these words to the Roman Christians. Starting with verse 10, But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.'' So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.”

Also in 2 Corinthians 5:8-10, the Word of God says this to us as Christians. “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” We must appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Paul is not talking about lost people, here. He is talking about saved people. God saves us to serve Him. And while we wait for the Lord, He wants all of us to be occupied in serving Him. We should be occupied serving the Lord in our church, in our communities, at our places of work, in our families, everywhere. We will stand before God one day and all our days will be laid bare before Him and we will be judged by how we lived our life on this earth while we were waiting for Jesus to return. Did we work hard? Did we use the gifts God gave us to further his kingdom on this earth? Each one of us can only you can answer that question for ourselves.

The last question we need to ask ourselves comes from verses 24-30 and it is this: “Do I really know God?” In verse 24, the wicked and lazy servant said, "Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown." But let me ask you this question: Did that man really know God? – I don’t think so. Our God is merciful, kind and gracious! Listen to part of King David's prayer in Psalm 86:

“Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord; neither are there any works like unto thy works. All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.”

Our God is merciful, kind and gracious, and He proved that forever by the cross of Jesus Christ! God is so good that He came into this world and died on the cross for our sins. He will surely save anyone and everyone who trusts in Him. This is the merciful God we know as Christians. This is the God who wants to know you as Lord and Savior, Father and friend. So, the last question is “Do you know God for who he is?”

This brings us to our second next step. Maybe this next step is for you which is to identify the talents that God has given to me and start to use them to further God’s kingdom on the earth.

I have asked Ben Verow to come and play a song for us this morning before I close. Listen to the words and search your hearts and answer the four questions we just discussed.

Far too many people today are focused on the things of this world. They do not have time to go to church on Sundays or they never pick up a Bible and read it. They care nothing for Jesus or spiritual things. They are not ready and watching for the return of Jesus. They don’t even know Jesus and do not want to know him. Unfortunately, the same thing is true of people all over the world who go to church and say they are Christians. They are so wrapped up in the things of this world, they believe it is okay to be a fan of Jesus instead of a totally committed follower of Jesus. They are like the Pharisees who say one thing and do something completely different. Their lips say one thing but their hearts are not for Jesus. No matter if you are a Non-Christian or if you call yourself a Christian, if you are not ready and watching for Jesus and using your gifts for his kingdom here on earth, when Jesus comes you could be left behind. What will Jesus find you doing when he calls out, “Ready or Not, Here I Come”?

As the ushers prepare to take up the communication cards and Doris and Gene come to lead us in our final song this morning let us pray.

Generous God, we thank you for salvation. We long for the day of your return. Help each of us to be ready for that day and to be watchful and sober. We praise you for the gifts that you have given each of us. We praise You for the gift of unity that the Spirit creates in our body of believers here! You place others perfectly in our lives, and inspire us as Christians to work together with the gifts that you have given us. Help us to use the gifts and abilities that you have given us to further Your kingdom here on this earth. Not one of us can accomplish your work in this world on our own. But together, we can complement each other’s strengths and cancel out our weaknesses. As a team, a unified body focused on the gospel of Christ, we can do great things for your honor and glory as we were purposed to do. All this we pray in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.

20th Sunday after Pentecost

Untrappable

(Matthew 22:15-22)

 

INTRODUCTION

In the recent past, we were noticing a mouse that would scurry from under the dishwasher to the stove and refrigerator. ​​ We also saw it scurry from under a side table in our dining room under the basement door.

 

We saw evidence of the mouse behind the dishwasher, because there were fresh droppings and dog food that had been carried there. ​​ Judy had cleaned all of those items up previously, so we knew they were fresh.

 

I had the old fashioned mouse traps (show picture of mouse trap) that I baited and put down behind the dishwasher and the refrigerator and one at the top of the basement stairs. ​​ It was frustrating to find the bait gone and the mouse traps still set. ​​ So, I decided to buy the newer mouse traps (show picture of newer mousetrap) that are pre-baited and have a more sensitive trigger. ​​ I even added more bait to the traps and set them in the same locations as the old fashioned traps. ​​ Still nothing!!! ​​ I finally bought the multi-use traps that have pre-baited glue traps inside them with a one-way door (show picture of multi-use trap), so the mouse cannot escape. ​​ You’ve guessed it; we still didn’t trap this mouse.

 

This mouse was untrappable!

 

VIDEO: ​​ “Hilarious Commercial! ​​ Mouse Trap Survivor – Nolan’s Cheddar Cheese” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GoSQyXBagLk)

 

One day our indoor cat had the mouse between her paws and was playing with it. ​​ When we tried to get the mouse, it scurried away. ​​ Another time I found the mouse in the cat’s litter box, where it was trapped. ​​ It was in the middle of the night and I figured that it couldn’t get out, because the cat enters from the top of the litter box. ​​ There was no way that mouse could get out. ​​ When I woke up in the morning and went to the litter box, the mouse was gone. ​​ I assumed that the cat had taken it out of the litter box and was playing with it. ​​ Finally, the cat presented the DEAD mouse to us on the kitchen floor one morning.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Hard questions from children

        • Working with Child Evangelism Fellowship for ten years allowed me to field some difficult questions from children

        • “Who is God’s father?”

        • “Can the devil be saved?”

        • “How did Noah fit all the animals on the ark? or “How did Noah get all the animals to come to the ark?”

    • Hard questions from adults

        • I’ve also heard hard questions from adults

        • “How can you believe that God brought all the animals to Noah so he could put them on the ark?” ​​ (I don’t understand how it happened, but I believe by faith that God accomplished it)

        • “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?”

        • “Why did God allow my family member or friend to die so young?”

 

  • WE

    • Trapped by children’s questions ​​ (Bruce Kluger) [http://www.parenting.com/article/the-toughest-questions-kids-ask]

        • “Why do people die?”

        • “How much money do we have?”

        • “What is God?”

        • “Why do you and Mommy fight?”

        • “Where did I come from?”

    • Trapped by skeptics questions

        • Has it ever happened to you that when someone at school or work finds out you’re a Christian, they start asking the hard questions

        • Those questions can sometimes make us feel trapped, because we don’t have the answer(s) readily available

        • Here are 7 Questions Skeptics Ask that Rusty Wright has compiled [http://www.christianitytoday.com/biblestudies/articles/evangelism/seven-questions-skeptics-ask.html]

          • Why is there evil and suffering?

          • What about all the contradictions in the Bible?

          • What about those who never hear of Jesus?

          • How can Jesus be the only way to God?

          • Isn’t Christianity just a psychological crutch?

          • I could never take the blind leap of faith that believing in Christ requires.

          • It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.

 

In the final verses of Matthew 22, the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees try to trap Jesus in His words. ​​ They use three avenues, political (22:15-22), doctrinal (22:23-33), and ethical (22:34-40) to try to trap Him so they could arrest Him. ​​ Jesus concludes by asking them a question that they cannot answer. ​​ It proved His authority as the Son of God. ​​ The religious leaders were unable to trap Jesus in His words. ​​ What we learn from these three attempts is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Jesus has the answers to our hard questions.

 

Let’s pray

 

We are only looking at the first attempt by the religious leaders to trap Jesus, but I encourage you to read the other two attempts and then Jesus’ question for the religious leaders.

 

  • GOD (Matthew 22:15-22)

    • Trap laid (vv. 15-17)

        • The reason (v. 15)

          • The religious leaders have just been reprimanded by Jesus for not leading the Jews correctly

            • He exposed their desire for financial gain, by clearing the temple

            • The religious leaders challenged Jesus’ authority

            • He used three parables to show them that His authority came from God

            • The three parables also highlighted the fact that the religious leaders’ authority was soon ending and their responsibility to show the world what a relationship with God was supposed to look like was being given to others instead of them

            • Because the religious leaders do not have eyes to see and ears to hear and are unrepentant, they begin to plot and plan

          • The Pharisees get together to plot a way to get Jesus to say something that will allow them to arrest Him

        • The trappers (v. 16a)

          • The disciples of the Pharisees

            • These men would have been those who were in training to become full initiates to the brotherhood of Pharisees [Wilkins, 719]

            • They were well versed in the law and would perhaps be perceived as less of a threat to Jesus than the Pharisees themselves

            • Perhaps this was their final test before becoming full-fledged Pharisees themselves

            • Against paying taxes (poll tax) ​​ [Wiersbe, 80]

              • They did not want to submit to a Gentile power (amazing they also did not want to submit to God’s authority through Jesus – submission problem)

              • Caesar was revered as a god (they were monotheistic – only one God)

              • They had better uses for their money than to give it to Rome (although they benefited from the advancements that Rome had provided – roadway infrastructure)

            • So, the disciples of the Pharisees were there and represented one group within the culture, but an unlikely ​​ opposing group had joined with the Pharisees against Jesus

          • The Herodians

            • They were a small group of Jews who supported the Herodian family and dynasty

            • The current leader was Herod Antipas who ruled in Galilee

            • He was ruling only a portion of the territory that his father, Herod the Great, had ruled

            • The Herodians were interested in advancing the Herod’s influence in Israel

            • The end game for them was to have the Herod’s ruling over Judea in place of Pilot, whom Rome had appointed

            • The Herodians were in favor of paying the poll tax, because Herod received his power from Caesar

            • This was all part of supporting the Herodian family and dynasty

          • So we know who the trappers are, which sets the stage for the bait and the trap

        • The bait (v. 16b)

          • The Pharisaic disciples and the Herodians speak well of Jesus – they’re trying to butter Him up

          • They call him “Teacher”

            • This title was used for Jesus in Matthew by outsiders instead of His disciples

              • In Matthew 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 22:24, 36 we see the religious leaders referring to Jesus as “Teacher”

              • In Matthew 19:16, the rich young ruler addresses Jesus as “Teacher”

            • The disciples and those who believed in Jesus addressed Him as Lord

              • Matthew 14:28, “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

              • In Matthew 15:21-28 Jesus sends a demon out of a girl after her mother approaches Jesus and addresses Him as Lord

              • In Matthew 17:4, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” ​​ (he’s talking to Jesus after His transfiguration)

            • They not only use a title of respect, but they talk about His character

          • They speak of His integrity and character

            • Man of integrity

              • It more literally means, you are true

              • He was honest in His teaching

              • He did not say one thing and do another

              • They recognized that in Jesus

            • Teach the way of God truthfully

              • This is interesting to hear them admit this

              • We realize they aren’t being truthful themselves, because they believed Jesus’ teaching was heretical

              • They called Him a blasphemer when He spoke about being the Son of God

            • You are impartial

              • The literal translation of the text would read, it is not a care to you concerning anyone, for you do not look on a person’s face

              • The way they had formed their question, was an attempt to get Jesus to be partial – to take a side

              • We’ll see that in v. 17

              • The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians were correct in their assessment of Jesus’ integrity and character, whether or not they genuinely believed it

              • PRINCIPLE – God does not show favoritism.

                • Acts 10:34-35, Then Peter began to speak: ​​ “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.

                  • Peter had experienced the vision of the sheet being let down from heaven with both clean and unclean animals in it – God told him to get up, kill, and eat, but he refused three times

                  • This was preparation for Peter to go to Cornelius’ house (a Gentile’s house) where he would experience the salvation and filling of the Holy Spirit within Gentiles

                • Romans 2:9-11, There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: ​​ first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: ​​ first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. ​​ For God does not show favoritism.

                • Matthew 5:43-45, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ​​ But I tell you: ​​ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons 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.

              • Jesus was definitely not being partial or playing favorites with the those He ministered to

              • This was all part of the religious leaders plan to trap Him – they were hoping to be able to call His integrity and character into question after He answered their question

          • The religious leaders feel confident that the trap has been baited, so they ask Jesus their question

        • The trap (v. 17)

          • Their question

            • They want to know what Jesus thinks about paying taxes to Caesar

            • Is it right or wrong?

            • The tax

              • It was either the annual head tax or the more general poll tax

              • “. . . the poll tax was a direct tax levied on every adult Jew (including women and slaves), and was a potent symbol of political subjection.” ​​ [France, 832]

              • The Romans were not the only ones taxing the Jewish people

              • The Jewish religious leaders also collected taxes from the Jews for the upkeep of the temple and other expenses

              • “Some estimate that a Jewish family paid approximately 49-50 percent of its annual income to these various taxes.” ​​ [Wilkins, 720]

            • They believed their question could only be answered one of two ways

              • “Yes, it’s right to pay taxes to Caesar.”

              • “No, it’s not right to pay taxes to Caesar.”

          • Their hope

            • They have Jesus trapped!

            • If He answers that it is right to pay taxes to Caesar, He will alienate Himself from a large part of His followers

              • The Pharisees would use His answer to accuse Him of sympathizing with the Romans

              • He would be labeled a collaborator

              • While this wasn’t a crime, it was also not a popular position with the Jews

              • If Jesus sympathized with the Romans, then He obviously could not be the Messiah or from God, because some of them believed that paying taxes to Rome was robbing from God

            • If He answers that it is not right to pay taxes to Caesar, He could immediately be arrested for treason against the Roman Empire

              • He would be labeled an insurrectionist

              • Insurrectionists were dangerous, because they threatened the Pax Romano (Roman Peace)

        • I can just imagine the delight that’s spread across the religious leaders face as they anticipate Jesus’ response, because they believe He will condemn Himself no matter what

    • Trap avoided (vv. 18-21)

        • Jesus knew their intentions

          • Whether it was a supernatural knowledge from God, or simply Jesus’ seeing through their flattery, He knew their intentions were evil

            • PRINCIPLE – God knows His people’s heart.

            • We may be able to mask our true feelings and intentions from those around us, but we can never hide them from God

            • God is omniscient (all knowing)

              • This is one of His many attributes

              • He knows us better than we know ourselves

              • Jeremiah 17:10, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”

              • Luke 16:15, He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. ​​ What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.

              • 1 Chronicles 28:9, “And ​​ you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. ​​ If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.

              • Proverbs 21:2, All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs the heart.

            • What are your intentions?

              • Perhaps you’ve been struggling with some evil intentions that no one else knows about

              • You’ve been hiding them from everyone else, but God knows those intentions

              • Examples

                • You’ve been struggling with pornography, but you haven’t been caught yet

                • You’ve been thinking about taking the emotional affair at work to the next level

                • You’ve been struggling in school and have decided to cheat on the next test to help boost your grade

                • You’ve been holding a grudge against someone else

                • You’re negative thoughts about someone else show that you’re struggling with pride in your own life

                • You’ve been contemplating cheating or your taxes

                • You’ve thought about ways to steal money or products from your employer

                • You’ve been thinking about hurting yourself or someone else

              • God knows all about those thoughts and intentions of your heart

                • He wants you to confess those before Him and find help from those around you

                • Some of those things are not easy to voice to another person, but having someone to hold you accountable helps to have victory over them

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God knows my heart, confess my evil intentions to Him, and seek accountability.

            • God knows our intentions and He knew the intentions of the religious leaders, which is why Jesus calls them hypocrites

          • He calls them hypocrites

            • They weren’t really interested in His answer, but rather in which group He was going to alienate with His answer

            • Their flattery was disingenuous – Jesus wasn’t misled by it

            • They did not really believe that He was a man of integrity, that He taught the way of God in accordance with the truth, or that He was impartial

            • They were hypocrites (they were wearing masks)

          • He asks why they are trying to trap Him

            • The Greek word behind our English word “trap” is peirazo and is the common word for “test” or “tempt”

            • “There is certainly an element of ‘testing’ here, but the malicious intent of the questioners makes this more akin to the devil’s ‘tempting,’ trying to get Jesus to do or say something which he should not.” ​​ [France, 833]

            • They obviously thought they were backing Jesus into a corner, therefore tempting or forcing Him to say something He should not

          • But, Jesus is not flustered by their question instead He asks them for something

        • Visual illustration

          • He wants them to show Him the coin that was used to pay the tax they were referring to

            • They produce a denarius (one penny coin)

            • The tribute to Rome was not too much (it was the amount of one day’s pay for a common laborer)

          • He asks them two questions

            • Whose portrait is this? ​​ Whose inscription?

              • NLT – Whose picture and title are stamped on it?

              • “A denarius of Tiberius would carry his garlanded portrait surrounded by the inscription ‘Ti[berius] Caesar Divi Aug[usti] F[ilius] Augustus’; on the reverse would be ‘Pontif[ex] Maxim[us].’ ​​ He is thus proclaimed to be not only son of the divine Augustus, but also a high priest; the two titles together could hardly be more calculated to offend Jewish piety.” ​​ [France, 833]

            • Portrait

              • The Greek word for “portrait” is eikon from which we get the English word icon

              • Blomberg explains that “‘portrait’ is, literally, image and perhaps highlights imperial ownership of the money.” ​​ [Blomberg, 331]

              • That concept will be important as we look at Jesus’ response to their question

          • The answer to Jesus’ question about the portrait and inscription on the coin is easy – Caesar’s!

        • Jesus’ response to their question

          • His response is not what the religious leaders expected

            • It was not a simple “Yes” or “No”

              • “Wait! ​​ Jesus isn’t getting trap by His words”

              • “Our plan isn’t working!”

            • The Greek word for “give” means “give back” or “pay back” what is rightfully due

          • Jesus’ answer did two things

            • It validated submitting to civil authority

              • Jesus said “Yes” to paying taxes to Caesar which endeared Him to the Herodians, yet His answer did not alienate Him from the Jews

              • “The use of Caesar’s coinage acknowledges his authority and, with it, the obligation to pay taxes. ​​ They could not benefit from imperial roads, education, justice and freedom from invasion without making their contribution . . . those who enjoy Caesar’s benefits should pay Caesar’s taxes.” ​​ [Green, 233]

              • The same holds true for us today – we must pay our taxes because we benefit from the local, state, and federal authorities

                • They provide improved infrastructure, education, justice, and freedom from invasion

                • There are many legal ways to reduce our taxable income, so we should take advantage of them

                • It is never right for us to not pay our taxes

 

“In their book Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explain how a simple change to U. S. tax rules in 1987 exposed the depth of the public's willingness to deceive for financial gain:

In the 1980s, an I.R.S. research officer in Washington named John Szilagyi (shee-la-jee) had seen enough random audits to know that some taxpayers were incorrectly claiming dependants for the sake of exemption. Sometimes it was a genuine mistake (a divorced wife and husband making duplicate claims on their children), and sometimes the claims were comically fraudulent (Szilagyi recalls at least one dependent's name listed as Fluffy, who was quite obviously a pet rather than a child).

Szilagyi decided that the most efficient way to clean up this mess was to simply require taxpayers to list their children's Social Security numbers… The idea never made its way out of the agency.

A few years later, however, with Congress clamoring for more tax revenue, Szilagyi's idea was dug up, rushed forward, and put into law for tax year 1986. When the returns started coming in the following April, Szilagyi recalls, he and his bosses were shocked: seven million dependents had suddenly vanished from the tax rolls, some incalculable combination of real pets and phantom children. Szilagyi's clever twist generated nearly $3 billion in revenues in a single year.”

 

[Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics (William Morrow 2006), p. 239; submitted by Kevin Miller, executive vice president of Christianity Today International]

[http://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=Matthew+22:15-22&searcharea=illustrations&type=scripture].

            • It also validated submitting to spiritual authority

              • While Jesus had said “Yes” to paying taxes to Caesar, He also said “No” to worshipping Caesar which endeared Him to the Jews, without alienating Him the Herodians

              • What the religious leaders and those in the crowd needed to understand is that God had provided them with many benefits also, as the Creator of the universe

              • What God required was not material, but spiritual – it was worship of Him as divine, instead of Caesar

          • PRINCIPLE – God validates both civil and spiritual authority.

            • Four options [Boice, 475-476]

              • God alone as an authority – monasticism

              • Caesar alone as an authority – secularism

              • The authority of God and Caesar but with Caesar in the dominant position – cowards

              • The authority of God and Caesar but with God in the dominant position – biblical Christianity

            • Jesus was not validating one authority in exclusion of the other

            • “The two claims by the two authorities were not in conflict with each other. ​​ Obedience to both was not contradictory. ​​ Both God and civil government were valid authorities.” ​​ [Weber, 355]

              • Read Romans 13:1-7 [#1]

              • Read 1 Peter 2:13-17 [#2]

              • “The coin bears Caesar’s image: ​​ give it back to him. ​​ You bear God’s image: ​​ so give yourself back to Him!” ​​ [Green, 234]

              • As Christians we must honor and obey our civil authorities and God

                • It goes without saying that if they are not following God’s laws, we must obey God rather than men

                • Are you obeying the civil authorities?

                • Are you obeying God?

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Give myself back to God by obeying Him and the civil authorities He has placed over me.

        • Jesus has the answers to our hard questions

    • Trapper’s amazement (v. 22)

        • His answer amazed the disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians (they simply left and went away)

        • It probably amazed the crowd that was also listening to this exchange

 

  • YOU

    • We serve an awesome God who does not show favoritism, but invites everyone to join Him in His kingdom

    • We also serve an omniscient God who knows our hearts and minds

    • Finally, we serve a Savior who has the answers to our hard questions

        • I encourage you to take time to ask Jesus the hard questions you’re struggling with today

        • He is waiting to hear from you

        • Quietly wait before Him and read His Word so you can hear from Him

        • The Bible is your guidebook for life – it has all the answers for your hard questions

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

“An unknown writer said, "This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding; its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler's map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's character. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary, to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”

[Source Unknown]

[http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/b/bible_value_of.htm].

13

 

19th Sunday after Pentecost

Prepped and Ready to Attend

(Matthew 22:1-14)

 

INTRODUCTION

“When Katie Hosking decided to break up with her fiancé, it was only 12 days before the wedding. Along with her parents, Katie had reserved a country club for the reception. With 150 invited guests, the cost was $6,200. Club policy required 60 days’ notice for any cancellation, meaning the Hosking’s were required to pay the full amount.

 

The family decided to have a party anyway. In place of wedding guests, Katie and her parents invited the residents of the Interfaith Family Shelter to a country club banquet. More than 50 close family friends joined 40 homeless people, and together they danced and feasted on baron of beef, salmon, shrimp cocktail, fettuccine, and fruit. Strawberry shortcake replaced wedding cake. Afterwards they packed up the leftover food and sent it back to the shelter. It was enough to feed the homeless for several more days.

 

When it was over, the almost-bride, Katie, said, ‘We had so much fun!’

 

[Kenneth Peterson, Omak, Washington; source: The Wenatchee World (6-29-05) (AP story)]

 

[http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/august/failedreceptionbecomespartyforthehomeless.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Aunt Diane’s wedding

        • May 23, 1981 was my Aunt Diane’s wedding at Prince Street UB Church

        • I was 11 years old and played Little League baseball at the time

        • I was one of the acolytes at her wedding and I had a baseball game that same day

        • In fact, my brother had a baseball game before the wedding and mine was after the wedding – it was a busy day for us

        • So, I wore my baseball uniform under my dress clothes, so I could leave as soon as the wedding was done and make it to my baseball game on time

        • I rode my bike from the church to Norcross Stadium in Shippensburg

        • I was prepped and ready to attend two events

          • I had the correct clothes for a wedding

          • I also had the correct clothes for a baseball game

 

  • WE

    • Have you ever felt underdressed for an occasion?

        • In most of those situations we weren’t underdressed on purpose

        • There is always some explanation

        • Something went wrong and we found ourselves having to wear clothes that we were not planning on wearing

    • Sporting event

        • If you ever played sports, perhaps you or someone you know showed up to the game missing a part of their uniform

        • Perhaps it was a jersey or the right pair of shoes

        • It’s difficult to prepare for the game mentally when you’re not prepared physically

    • Hunting/Fishing

        • Perhaps you’ve gone hunting or fishing and realized when you got there that you didn’t have everything you needed

        • It’s hard to catch fish without a fishing pole or lures

        • It’s impossible to harvest a deer without arrows or bullets

    • We have to be prepped and ready to attend whatever event we’ve been invited to

 

Jesus shares one final parable as He challenges the religious leaders concerning their failure to lead God’s people correctly. ​​ In this third parable He wants the religious leaders and us to wrestle with the concept that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 22:1-14)

    • Rejected (vv. 1-7)

        • A certain king had prepared a wedding banquet for his son

          • Jesus begins the parable with the words, “the kingdom of heaven is like”

          • Jesus is using a parable to help the religious leaders and the crowd go from something they were familiar with to something that was new for them

          • With this understanding we can assume correctly that the king represents God, the son represents Jesus, the servants represent God’s messengers, the prophets, and the guests represent the religious leaders and humanity as a whole

        • Three invitations

          • It was cultural for two invitations to be sent out in preparation for a banquet

          • 1st Invitation – it’s like our modern day “save the date” cards

          • 2nd Invitation

            • The wedding day had come and the banquet was ready

            • The king sent his servants to those who had been invited to let them know it was time to come

            • The reaction of the guests who had received the 1st invitation was a refusal to come (a more literal translation would be, “they were not willing”)

          • 3rd Invitation

            • The king is not deterred by their refusal

            • Instead he sends more servants and lets them know how great the meal is going to be

              • There was going to be oxtail soup

              • Ox tongue hors d’oeuvres

              • T-bone steaks and filet mignon

              • Ox and beef liver pâté

            • Two responses to the 3rd invitation

              • Some paid no attention to the servants and went off to take care of their farms and businesses

                • A literal translation is “they didn’t care”

                • The ordinary activities of life took priority over loyalty to their king [Blomberg, 327]

                • Matthew’s wording (“his field” and “his business”) lets us know some of the guests put their selfish concerns before their responsibilities to the king (God) ​​ [France, 824]

              • In Fast Company Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, was asked, ‘What stands in the way of people finding their mission?’ Bolles replied:

                Prior agendas. For example, my wife, Carol is a well-known career counselor in her own right. She was meeting with a client who worked in the rubber industry, let’s call him George. George told her in their first session, ‘I’ve got to get out of the rubber industry.’ So she gave him some homework to do before their next session. He came back the next week, and he hadn’t done a lick of the homework. My wife, rich with intuition, asked him, ‘What will happen if you don’t get out of the rubber industry?’ George said, ‘My wife will divorce me.’ Carol said, ‘Do you want your wife to divorce you?’

                He couldn’t keep the smile off of his face. She knew then that he would never change his job until it had given him what he wanted: a divorce, with his wife taking the initiative and the guilt. Based on his behavior, my wife named this ‘the doctrine of the prior agenda.’ You can’t help people change or find their mission when they have a conflicting prior agenda.

                People will never change until they truly want to.

                [Daniel H. Pink, "What Happened to Your Parachute?" Fast Company (September 1999)]

                [www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1999/october/12009.html]

              • The rest of the invited guests seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them

            • The kings response

              • When the king heard how the invited guests treated his servants, he was enraged

              • He sent his army and destroyed those who had killed his servants

              • He also burned their city

        • Application

          • 1st Century

            • The application is fairly straight forward for the hearers in the 1st Century

            • God had invited the Israelites to join Him in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus Christ

              • God’s plan was to involve the Jews in leading others to the kingdom of heaven

              • Paul has been called the Apostle to the Gentiles, yet at the beginning of his ministry he would go into the synagogue in a town, first, before preaching to the Gentiles

              • John 4:21-23, Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. ​​ You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. ​​ Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

              • Romans 2:9-10, There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: ​​ first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: ​​ first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

              • God’s plan was to use the Jews to model what a relationship with Him looked like, but they didn’t keep up their end of the covenant

                • In the parable of the two sons, the 2nd son initially agreed, but never followed through

                • In the parable of the wicked tenants, they broke their contract by not providing fruit as rent payment – they weren’t bearing good fruit

                • In this parable they dishonored God by refusing His invitation and being preoccupied with the things of this world

            • They refused to come to the celebration of the establishment of His kingdom through Jesus

            • He sent multiple prophets to let them know that He was ready to establish His kingdom and that they were welcome to join Him

            • The religious leaders and those who followed them were too preoccupied with their own selfish pursuits to be concerned about joining God in His plan of salvation

            • When the prophets shared God’s message with them about how they were leading incorrectly and needed to make some changes, they seized the prophets, mistreated them, and killed some of them

            • God allowed the Israelites to experience exile in foreign lands on multiple occasions, because of their rebellion and treatment of His prophets

            • Most scholars agree that Jesus’ reference to the burning of the guests’ city is an allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70

          • Principles for us today

            • PRINCIPLE – God will not force anyone to be part of His kingdom.

              • He invites us to be part of the kingdom of heaven, but He will never force us to join Him

              • We have to come to Him of our own free will

              • “God will not force Himself upon anyone against his will. ​​ It is your part to believe. ​​ It is your part to receive. ​​ Nobody else can do it for you.” ​​ [Billy Graham]

              • John 1:10-13, He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. ​​ He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. ​​ Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

              • We’ll come back to this verse in just a little while

            • PRINCIPLE – God continues to pursue His people to the very end.

              • He continues to give the Jews multiple opportunities to join Him

              • He gives us multiple opportunities to join Him, as well

              • It is never too late, you have not used up all your chances with God

              • The fact that He has not sent Jesus back to earth for the second time, means you still have an opportunity to join Him

              • Don’t squander that opportunity

              • 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. ​​ For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” ​​ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

              • He is patiently waiting for you to believe in Jesus and receive Him

              • His desire is that you are a fully committed follower of Jesus Christ

            • PRINCIPLE – God will punish those who refuse His invitation to be part of the kingdom of heaven.

              • If you squander every opportunity that God has given you to join Him in the kingdom of heaven, then there are consequences for that decision

              • The same spirit that was in the religious leaders of Jesus’ day is still found in “religious” people today

              • “Today this same class will be found among the children of godly parents; dedicated from their birth, prayed for by loving piety, listening to the gospel from their childhood, and yet unsaved. ​​ We look for these to come to Jesus. ​​ We naturally hope that they will feast upon the provisions of grace, and like their parents will rejoice in Christ Jesus; but alas! ​​ How often it is the case they will not come! . . . A preacher may be too rhetorical: ​​ let a plain-speaking person be tried. ​​ He may be too weighty: ​​ let another come with parable and anecdote. ​​ Alas! ​​ With some of you the thing wanted is not a new voice, but a new heart. ​​ You would listen no better to a new messenger than to the old one.” ​​ [Spurgeon cited by Boice, 468]

              • Many of us can get caught up in the things of this world and pay no attention to God’s invitation to join Him in His kingdom

                • We may not see it as an active refusal of His invitation, but it is a refusal none-the-less

                • “Do you fit that pattern? ​​ Are you more interested in your good credit than in Christ? ​​ Do you read the stock quotations more than you read your Bible? ​​ You do not have to murder a prophet to miss out. ​​ You have only to fritter away your time on things that will eventually pass away and thus let your opportunities for repentance and faith pass by.” ​​ [Boice, 468]

                • We started the study on the Not A Fan this past Wednesday evening

                  • Through the video, Kyle Idleman challenged us to “Define the Relationship” that we have with Jesus

                  • Are we really followers of Jesus Christ or just enthusiastic admirers

                  • Read Luke 9:18-25 [#1]

              • All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready.

        • The Jews had been invited to join God in celebrating the establishment of His kingdom, but they were not prepped and ready and consequently refused His invitation

        • We see next in vv. 8-10 what the king did in order to fill his banquet hall

    • Replaced (vv. 8-10)

        • Parable

          • The wedding banquet is ready and the king does not want it to go to waste

          • He instructs his servants to go into the streets and gather all the people they could find

          • The servants obediently went out and gathered everyone they could find – it included both good and bad

          • The wedding hall was now filled with guests

        • Application

          • 1st Century

            • Jesus had made it clear in His explanation of the parable of the wicked tenants that the kingdom of God was being taken away from the religious leaders and given to another nation that would produce good fruit

            • Jesus is again making it clear that the Jews had failed to model for the world what a relationship with God should look like, so God was going to invite others to partner with Him to share His plan of salvation

            • “Whereas those who should have been “good” (Israel, God’s chosen people) had shown themselves to be evil, the king treated all who were evil as though they were good.” ​​ [Weber, 352]

            • The reference to “anyone you find” is perhaps pointing back to what Jesus said in the explanation of the first parable concerning how the tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders

              • Those from the street corners were both good and bad

              • All are invited to be part of the kingdom of God

              • We saw in Matthew 13:24-30, which is the parable of the weeds, that the wheat and the weeds grew together until harvest time when they were separated (the wheat was saved, while the weeds were burned up)

              • We see the same scenario in the parable of the fishing net in Matthew 13:47-52 that all kinds of fish were caught in the net, the good were saved in baskets while the bad were discarded (the angels will separate the wicked from the righteous and throw the wicked into the fiery furnace)

          • Principle for us today

            • PRINCIPLE – God invites everyone to be part of His kingdom.

            • Factors that don’t matter in order to be invited

              • Good or bad

              • Wealthy or poor

              • Jew or Gentile

              • Slave or Free

              • Male or Female

              • Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, Native American, etc.

            • God invites everyone

              • John 3:16, For God so loved the world . . . that whoever believes . . .

              • John 1:12, Yet to all who received him . . .

              • Romans 10:13, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord . . .”

              • 2 Peter 3:9, . . . He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

            • “It was as shocking then as it is now that God accepts the worst sinners unconditionally. ​​ As long as a sinner shows willingness to accept God’s grace by faith, God will transform him or her into a kingdom citizen.” ​​ [Weber, 353]

        • So the king invited everyone from the street corners to come to the wedding banquet and whether they were good or bad they came

        • In the final set of verses in this parable we see that while everyone was invited to come, there was a requirement in order to remain at the banquet and enjoy the feast

        • “Although the invitation was given to all, proper attire was expected.” ​​ [Wilkins, 717]

    • Required (vv. 11-14)

        • Parable

          • The king entered the banquet hall to see the guests that had come

          • One particular guest stood out to him

            • It was a man who was not wearing wedding clothes

            • This would have been unusual for a couple of reasons

              • There is some scriptural evidence (Gen. 45:22; Est. 6:8-9) that the king would have provided festal garments for his guests

                • In the wedding feast of the Lamb it is stated specifically that garments are provided

                • Read Revelation 19:6-8 [#3]

              • Cleanest and best clothes

                • The king certainly could have provided the clothes

                • It could also be referring to the cleanest and best clothes that each person had

                • It was not their everyday work clothes

            • Declined to wear the proper clothes

              • “In either case, since the individual is addressed as ‘friend’ and is left speechless when confronted by the king, the implication is that the guest has proper clothing available but has declined to wear it.” ​​ [Wilkins, 717]

              • This man had determined that he didn’t need to put on his cleanest and best clothing or to wear the wedding clothes that were provided by the king

              • He was coming to the banquet feast on his own terms – no one was going to tell him how to dress, because he was his own man

            • The kings response

              • He asked the guest how he got into the banquet hall without wedding clothes

              • The man has not response

              • The king instructs his attendants to bind the man hand and foot and throw him outside

              • The imagery of darkness and the weeping and gnashing of teeth is representative of hell

          • Jesus concludes his parable triad with these words, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.

            • All humanity is invited to experience God’s grace and mercy through faith in Jesus Christ

            • Not everyone will accept God’s free gift of grace

              • Some will refuse it outward

              • Others will give excuses why they can’t

              • Some will think they can come to God on their own terms

        • Application

          • 1st Century

            • Jesus wanted those in the crowd, who were listening to Him, to not misunderstand what He was saying

            • He was teaching in the court of the Gentiles, so it was possible that there were Gentiles who were listening to His teaching at this point

            • The religious leaders understood clearly that Jesus was saying they had not led the people of God correctly and that they would not be part of the kingdom of heaven unless they repented

            • Jesus had said that the tax collectors and prostitutes were entering the kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders, but that was not a universal blanket of acceptance

            • The Gentiles were going to be given the opportunity to enter the kingdom of heaven, but they had to be dressed in the correct garments

              • The man in the parable and perhaps the Gentiles in the crowd thought that their best was good enough for God, but that was not true

              • The wedding clothes probably referred to the righteousness of Christ provided by God through Jesus’ death

              • Isaiah 61:10, I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. ​​ For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a ​​ robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

            • The same is true for us today

          • Principle for us today

            • PRINCIPLE – God will only accept those individuals who are clothed in Jesus’ righteousness.

            • Personal response

              • Each one of us is accountable for our own response to Jesus’ invitation

              • Donald Grey Barnhouse is the one who started asking the question “Suppose you should die tonight and appear before God in heaven and he should ask you, ‘What right do you have to come into my heaven?’ what would you say?”

              • He learned that there were only three responses a person could give

                • Many would cite their good works, saying, “I’d say I’ve done the best I can, and I’ve never done anything particularly bad.”

                  • Isaiah 64:6, All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;

                  • Romans 3:20, Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.

                  • We’ve all sinned and fall short of God’s perfection (Rom. 3:23)

                • Others would not have anything to say – they would be speechless

                  • That was what the man who was not prepped and ready did in the parable

                  • He had no response for why he was not wearing the proper wedding clothes

                  • He knew what the requirement was, but refused to comply

                • The third and acceptable answer is this, “None at all, so far as I myself am concerned. ​​ But Jesus died for my sins and has given me the covering of his own righteousness in which alone I dare to stand before you. ​​ I come at your invitation and in that clothing.”

 

  • YOU

    • God invites everyone to be a part of His kingdom and continues to pursue you to the very end, but He will not force you to join Him.

        • He provided Jesus Christ as the perfect sacrifice, so you could be clothed in His righteousness

        • Read John 1:10-13 [#2]

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept God’s invitation to be part of His family by clothing myself in Jesus’ righteousness.

    • God will punish those who refuse His invitation to be part of the kingdom of heaven, or try to enter on their own terms.

        • Are you refusing God’s invitation today?

        • Are you more concerned about the things of this world instead of eternal things?

        • Are you trying to get to heaven on your own terms?

        • The result of doing things your own way is eternal separation from God

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

All are invited, but only some are prepped and ready

 

“So the meaning of this parable is clear. ​​ God has provided the feast of the kingdom. ​​ It is the wedding feast for his Son. ​​ The invitation goes out far and wide. ​​ If you reject it, you miss the party. ​​ If you think you can get in relying on your own fitness, you will be thrown out. ​​ Many are invited, but few show, by their response, that they are chosen (14).” ​​ [Green, 232]

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18th Sunday after Pentecost

Second Chances

(Matthew 21:33-46)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Thomas A. Edison was working on a crazy contraption called a "light bulb" and it took a whole team of men 24 straight hours to put just one together. The story goes that when Edison was finished with one light bulb, he gave it to a young boy helper, who nervously carried it up the stairs. Step by step he cautiously watched his hands, obviously frightened of dropping such a priceless piece of work. You've probably guessed what happened by now; the poor young fellow dropped the bulb at the top of the stairs. It took the entire team of men twenty-four more hours to make another bulb. Finally, tired and ready for a break, Edison was ready to have his bulb carried up the stairs. He gave it to the same young boy who dropped the first one. That's true forgiveness.”

 

James Newton, Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh, 1989, p.22.

 

[http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/second_chance.htm]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Ford Bronco II

        • My father did not react how I thought he would

        • He was very gracious and merciful

    • With my boys

        • Harsh with my boys

        • Had to apologize to them and ask for their forgiveness

 

  • WE

    • Affair – Physical or emotional

        • Some of us have experienced at least an emotional affair with another coworker and especially pornography

        • When our spouse found out about it, we were hoping for grace and mercy and a second chance

        • Some of us have been given third and fourth chances

    • Failure at work

        • Depending on the circumstances of our mistake at work, our boss has given us a second chance

        • They’ve extended grace toward us

    • Failure at school

        • Our teachers or professors will sometimes give us a second chance

        • Maybe we failed a test or didn’t complete a project the way that we were supposed to

        • The teacher or professor can extend grace by allowing us to retake the test or have more time to complete the project the correct way

    • All of us can probably say that we are grateful for second chances

 

Jesus continues to teach the religious leaders in Jerusalem and the crowds about God’s plan. ​​ He exhorts the religious leaders concerning their failure to lead God’s people like they were supposed to. ​​ In this second parable of three He wants the religious leaders and us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Embracing God’s mercy is important.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 21:33-46)

    • The Parable (vv. 33-39)

        • Characters involved

          • Landowner = God

          • Tenets = Jewish religious leaders

          • Vineyard = Israelites

          • Servants = Prophets

          • Landowner’s son = Jesus

        • Landowner’s provision (v. 33)

          • The language found in this verse is very close to the language found in Isaiah 5:1-7 (read Isaiah 5:1-7 [#1])

          • We see here that the landowner provided everything that the tenant farmers needed to be successful is producing a harvest

            • Winepress to extract the juice from the grapes to make wine

            • Watchtower for shelter and burglar control

            • Wall to keep out wild pigs and other trespassers

          • God had provided everything for the Jewish religious leaders to be successful in leading the Israelites spiritually

            • He had provided the law and the sacrificial system

            • Unfortunately, they added to the law and disobeyed some of the law

            • Instead of producing good fruit, they were producing bad fruit

            • They continually went their own way

          • God has given us everything we need to be successful in producing good spiritual fruit for Him

            • PRINCIPLE – God equips His people to do His work.

              • Holy Spirit – guides, prompts, convicts, protects, teaches, and gifts us

              • The Bible – we know God’s will for us as followers of Jesus Christ (read Matthew 28:18-20 [#2]); we know His plan of salvation for humanity – the Gospel (Romans road, John 3:16, etc.)

              • The body/church – to encourage and be encouraged; to hold us accountable

              • “Has he not planted us in our lands, whatever they may be? ​​ Has he not fenced us in? ​​ Has he not watered and cared for us? ​​ Has he not built a watchtower for us?” ​​ [Boice, 461]

                • God has placed us in the job where we are to be a witness for Him

                • God protects us as we gather together as the church

                • God feeds us and takes care of us through small group Bible studies and through His messages on Sunday morning

                • He has provided the Holy Spirit to watch over us as we serve Him

            • Sometimes we do just what the religious leaders did in the 1st Century

              • We add to the Bible or take individual verses out of context to justify our beliefs

              • We time and time again go our own way instead of following God’s leading

                • We give God excuses as to why we can’t do what He is asking us to do

                • We explain that we can’t make the sacrifices He is asking us to make to be a true follower

                • We express our fear in sharing the Gospel with our neighbors, coworkers, and family members

            • What kind of fruit are we producing?

              • Since God has equipped us to be successful in producing good spiritual fruit, the question we have to ask ourselves is what kind of fruit are we producing?

              • If we are not being obedient to what God is asking us to do, then we are producing bad fruit

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God has equipped me to do His work and to be obedient to what He is calling me to do for Him.

          • The idea behind the landowner going on a journey is that he was not present during the growing and harvesting time

            • God is not present with us on earth in a physical sense

            • He has given us the Holy Spirit that lives within us as another Counselor/Helper, but again not in a physical sense

            • There is a harvest coming and God has expectations for us as His tenets or workers

          • Since the landowner had provided everything for the tenants to be successful, he expected to receive his portion of the fruit

        • Landowner’s expectation (v. 34)

          • While the landowner was not present for the harvest, he was not unaware of when the grapes were supposed to be ready

            • So he sent his servants to the tenets to collect his fruit

              • There were certain servants, in wealthy households, who were highly trusted and put in positions with great responsibility

              • They represented the master or landowner in his absence

              • To mistreat one of these servants was to mistreat the landowner

              • This information will be important when we talk about the tenants actions in vv. 35-39

            • This would have been the rent payment required from the tenets for the vineyard

              • The landowner had put up the capital to plant the vineyard, wall it in, build the watchtower, and dig the winepress

              • The fruit was the return on his investment

          • God’s expectation for the religious leaders that He would receive a good return on His investment in a spiritual sense

            • He was looking for Israelites who were dedicated to Him, because the religious leaders had carefully tended to their spiritual needs and pointed them to God

            • He was looking for Israelites who were obedient to His commands and laws

            • He was looking for Israelites who had a repentant heart and were seeking forgiveness through the sacrificial system

          • God has the same expectations of us as followers of Jesus Christ – He looking for a good return on His investment

            • He is looking for individuals who dedicated to Him, because we have been carefully sharing the Gospel with those in our sphere of influence

            • He is looking for individuals who are growing in their faith, because we are mentoring and discipling those who have repented of their sins

            • He is looking for individuals who are not just fans, but rather followers – who recognize that a relationship with Jesus requires more than just admiring who He is and what He came to do, but are willing to sacrifice everything for Him

          • God has expectations for us as His workers just like the landowner had expectations for the tenants of the vineyard, but we see that the tenants did not live up to those expectations

        • Tenant’s actions (vv. 35-39)

          • The landowner sent three different groups to the tenants in an attempt to collect the return on his investment

            • He sent, what appears to be, three servants

            • Next he sent a larger number of servants

            • Finally, he sent his own son (his son was sent with all the father’s authority)

          • The tenants mistreated all of the landowners representatives

            • They beat some of them

            • They killed some of them

            • They stoned some of them

          • The tenants were not loyal to the landowner

            • Even after the landowner had provided everything they needed to be successful, they were not loyal to him

            • They did not respect him, his son, or his servants

            • They had a false sense of entitlement over the vineyard

            • “On my side of the family there has been a steady arrival of tiny nieces and nephews. When we gather for holidays or other occasions, it is interesting to watch the toddlers handle the toys. My little nephew Bryan is about two years old, and his cousin, Kate, is four. One day Bryan and Kate were playing at my parents' home. Suddenly I heard those adamant words, "mine, mine." They were at both ends of a toy pulling with all their might. "Mine, mine," they would repeat as though no one got the point. After two days I began to understand "toddler property laws:"[1]

 

1.  If I like it, it's mine.

2.  If it's in my hand, it's mine.

3.  If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4.  If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. ​​ If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6.  If I'm doing or building something, all the pieces are ​​ mine.

7.  If it looks just like mine, it is mine.

These rules are easily observed in the lives of children. They seem to continue in force even among us adults.”

 

[The Rev. Dr. Robert G. Moore; https://soundfaith.com/sermons/61694-matthew-21-33-43-(sermoncentral)]

          • Amazingly, the landowner shows incredible grace and mercy to the tenants by giving them more than a second chance to do what is right

            • PRINCIPLE – God is infinitely gracious and merciful toward His people.

            • God gave the religious leaders multiple chances and opportunities to lead His people correctly, to repent of their sins and turn to Him

            • He sent prophets time-and-time again to call them to repentance, yet they mistreated them and even killed some of them

              • Jeremiah 20:1-2, When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and pout in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple.

              • 1 Kings 18:4, While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in tow caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.

              • 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. ​​ He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: ​​ ‘Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands? ​​ You will not prosper. ​​ Because you have forsaken the Lord, he has forsaken you.’” ​​ But they plotted against him, and by order of the king they stoned him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s temple.

            • God gives us multiple chances and opportunities to pursue, grow, and multiply disciples

              • There are family members, coworkers, and neighbors who are looking for the meaning of life

              • God has equipped us to share the Gospel with them

              • He also gives us multiple chances and opportunities to share with those around us

              • Sometimes we are so focused on ourselves that we miss the opportunities that God brings our way

              • There are times we’re simply content with the fact that we are saved and it doesn’t matter about anyone else

              • God may be sending opportunities our way to disciple new believers, but we find excuses not to get involved

            • God gives us multiple chances and opportunities to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ

              • It’s been said that it can take as many as five times of hearing the Gospel for someone to understand the Gospel and make a decision for Jesus

              • God sent Jesus to earth the first time to take our punishment for sin

                • The son in the parable represents Jesus

                • Jesus is alluding to what the religious leaders will do to Him in the not too distant future

              • God is patiently waiting to send Jesus back to earth the second time, because His desire is that no one will perish

              • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: ​​ With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

              • Admit – Rom. 3:23; 6:23

              • Believe – 1 Cor. 15:3-4

              • Call – Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

              • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

        • Jesus finishes the parable and immediately asks the religious leaders a question concerning the landowner

    • Explanation of Parable (vv. 40-46)

        • Landowner’s actions (vv. 40-41)

          • The question that Jesus asks them would have been easy for the religious leaders to answer

          • “Drawn into the movement of the story by its sheer power, they blurt out, almost against their will, the obvious answer: ​​ they knew what happened to bad tenants on estates – it was not an uncommon situation in those days.” ​​ [Green, 228]

          • The religious leaders are basically pronouncing their own sentence when they tell Jesus what the landowner will do when he comes

            • The religious leaders had been leading God’s people astray and abusing them for personal gain

            • They had killed the Lord’s prophets – the most recent one being John the Baptist

            • They were going to eventually kill the Son of God

          • Their punishment would be complete destruction

            • “A literal translation of the passage would be, ‘The bad ones, he will destroy them badly.’ ​​ Destroy here is an amplified verb meaning ‘to destroy utterly.’” ​​ [Weber, 349]

            • The responsibility for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ was no longer going to be in the religious leaders hands

            • God would use the Apostles, Messianic Jews, and Gentiles to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a dying world

            • He would use them to produce spiritual fruit that they would return to Him as an offering to Him for His glory

        • Jesus’ self-identification (v. 42)

          • Jesus asks the religious leaders a rhetorical question about Psalm 118:22-23

            • He is questioning whether or not they have every read that Psalm before

            • It’s fairly likely that they had, but they perhaps didn’t understand that it was speaking of Jesus

            • They had misunderstood or misinterpreted other OT scriptures that prophesied about Jesus, so it’s not improbable that they never made the connection in Psalm 118

          • We know that Jesus was rejected by His own hometown as well as the religious leaders and many of His own disciples

            • Luke 4:24, “I tell you the truth,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

            • John 10:30-33, “I and the Father are one.” ​​ Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many great miracles form the Father. ​​ For which of these do you stone me?” ​​ “We are not stoning you for any of these,” replied the Jews, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”

            • When Jesus started teaching hard things about His death, burial, and resurrection and what would be required of His disciples, we learn from John that many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer followed him (John 6:66)

            • They did not realize Jesus’ importance in God’s plan

              • “Back when the Old West was being settled, pioneers flocked across the country to California and Oregon. In one particular spot on the Eastern slopes of the Rockies there was a large, dirt covered rock protruding in the middle of the trail. Wagon wheels were broken on it and men tripped over it. Finally someone dug up the odd stone and rolled it off trail into a nearby stream. The stream was too wide to jump over, but people used the stone as a step to cross the cold creek. It was used for years, until finally one settler built his cabin near the stream. He moved the odd stone out of the stream and placed it in his cabin to serve as a doorstop.

                As years passed, railroads were built and towns sprang up. The old settler’s grandson went East to study geology. On a visit to his grandfather’s cabin, the grandson happened to examine the old lump of stone and discovered within that lump of dirt and rock was the largest pure gold nugget ever discovered on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. It had been there for three generations, and people never recognized its value. To some it was a stumbling stone to be removed. To others it was a stepping-stone, and to others it was just a heavy rock. But only the grandson saw it for what it really was--a lump of pure gold.

                Jesus is the precious rock God has given us to be both the cornerstone and the capstone of our lives. Will you come to the rock today? Will you build your life upon Him? One day, you will discover Jesus will either be a stepping-stone that gives you access to God, or He will be a rock over which you stumble…so close and yet so far. The choice is yours.”

                [David Dykes; https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-sermoncentral--stories-jesuschrist-83678?ref=TextIllustrationSerps]

              • Jesus is the foundation stone on which He would build His church

              • Jesus is the capstone that holds the building together

          • The religious leaders did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior of the world – they rejected Him and would suffer the consequences of their rejection

        • Punishment explained (vv. 43-44)

          • The kingdom of God was taken away from them and given to a people who would produce fruit

            • We’re not told who this people group is

            • A better translation of the Greek for “people” is “nation”

            • Jesus is probably referring to the church universal, which encompassed Jews and Gentiles

            • PRINCIPLE – God will accomplish His plans even when His people reject it.

          • Jesus then refers back to the stone imagery again

            • Jesus is the stone in this metaphor and depending on whether or not they reject or accept Him will determine how they see Him as the stone

            • To Israel, Jesus was a stumbling stone

              • Isaiah 8:14-15, and he will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel he will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. ​​ And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare. ​​ Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.”

            • To the church, Jesus is the foundation stone, the head of the corner

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

            • At the end of the age, Jesus will come as the smiting stone, destroying Gentile kingdoms

              • Daniel 2:34, While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. ​​ It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them.

              • Read 1 Peter 2:4-10 [#5]

            • PRINCIPLE – God will punish those who mistreat His messengers and reject His plan.

        • Rejecting God’s mercy (vv. 45-46)

          • The religious leaders knew that Jesus was talking about them

          • Instead of repenting of their spiritual pride and entitlement, they harbored bitterness in their hearts

          • They wanted to arrest Him, but were afraid of the crowd

          • The crowd understood who Jesus was even when the religious leaders refused to accept it

 

  • YOU

    • Embracing God’s mercy is important for the believer

        • He has been infinitely gracious and merciful toward us

        • He has given us many second chances to fulfill His plan through pursuing, growing, and multiplying disciples

        • We need to make sure that we are obediently following what He has asked us to do

    • Embracing God’s mercy is important for the unbeliever

        • He continues to patiently wait to send Jesus back to earth for the second time

        • He loves everyone so much that He is continues to woo us until the very end of time

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

VIDEO – “Mike Foster – Second Chances” ​​ [https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/VideoElement/114091].

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