Treasuring Church Membership

(Matthew 13:44-46)



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.



  • 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



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.




Modeling Church Members

(Ephesian 5:22-33)



Show video interview of Candace Cameron Bure concerning a small section in her book, Balancing It All, about submission to her husband. ​​ [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyoeCnbe_TA]



  • ME

    • Our situation is the same

        • Judy and I are communicating all the time about finances, the boys, other major and minor decisions that need to be made

        • When the final decision needs to be made about a major purchase or life change, then Judy looks to me to make that decision as the leader of the household

        • Fortunately I’m not making that decision in a vacuum – I know her thoughts and feelings about it

        • Career change

          • When I accepted the State Director position with Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) in Ohio, Judy and I prayed about it together and talked through what that would look like – but when the decision had to be made, Judy accepted God’s leading in my life

          • When we moved to Missouri to work at the headquarters of CEF and then when we moved to California to work with Every Generation Ministries (EGM), Judy and I prayed together about these two significant moves, and again she rested in God’s leading in my life

          • When Idaville Church (IUB) called us to serve here, Judy and I prayed together and discussed the logistics of the move and God’s leading and we trusted in God’s leading for my life

          • God has blessed our family through this model


  • WE

    • Submit

        • There is one scripture that most men know by heart whether they are Christians or not

        • It’s Ephesians 5:22a, Wives, submit to your husbands . . .

          • With men who are not Christians they use this as God’s law for their wives to be submissive to them no matter what

          • They become dictators and the wife has no say whatsoever

          • In some Christian homes, this passage of scripture has been misinterpreted and only certain parts of it are quoted in order to accomplish the same thing – for women to be obedient to their husband’s every wish and command

          • This is not done out of love

          • The rest of Ephesians 5:22 says, as to the Lord

            • The Lord is talking to women through Paul

            • Ephesians 5:25 then addresses husbands, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . .

          • If both the husband and wife are acting as Jesus Christ did, then love will rule the day

            • The wife will willing submit to her husband, because she knows that he loves her like Christ loved the church

            • The husband will love his wife, because he feels respected by his wife as she submits to him

            • It’s a mutual give and take

    • Embracing the cultural norms theologically

        • In the passage of scripture we’re going to look at today Paul does not reject the cultural norms of the 1st Century, but rather teaches a Christ-like perspective for household codes

        • It’s amazing how he is able to accomplish this

        • It only comes from the Holy Spirit of God and a desire to love and serve Jesus Christ and learn from His modeling

        • Paul is going to be talking about household codes for husbands and wives

        • He will be encouraging husbands to think differently about their role as the head and leader of the family, now that they are followers of Jesus Christ

        • He is encouraging them to model something different than the Greco-Roman world, considered the norm

        • As church members, you and I have a responsibility to model and lead our families to be healthy church members

          • We’ll see that whether your whole family are believers and attend church, or you’re the only one who is a believer and attends church, you have a responsibility before God

          • If you’re single, you also have a responsibility before God

          • Paul is using the analogy of marriage to communicate about the church


BIG IDEA – Leave a legacy of love for the church.


  • GOD (Ephesians 5:22-6:4)

    • Background – wives

        • Wives and women in general were not highly regarded in the Greco-Roman world

          • They could not testify in a court of law

          • They were minimally educated

          • They could not adopt children or make a contract

          • They could not own property or inherit anything

          • They were expected to adopt the religion of their husband when they got married

          • They were under the authority of their father, husband, or another male relative’s authority all their lives

        • Wives and women today

          • We’re not too far off from this in our culture today

          • There are still “glass ceilings” for women

          • There is still unequal pay

          • Wives are being abused (physically, emotionally, mentally, and verbally)

          • Women are being raped and sold into sexual slavery all over the world

            • Did you realize that one of the largest sex rings involving young girls and women, from the US and other countries, is centered around the venue where the Super Bowl is played

            • Men who exploit girls and women will be filtering them into the Minneapolis area as the Big Game gets close

        • Paul speaks into a culture that is dealing with these issues in the family and he shares with them the Christ-like way of love – unconditional/sacrificial love – the most excellent way (1 Cor. 13:1)

        • Ephesians 5:21, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    • Husband and wives (vv. 22-33)

        • Paul teaches two principles here

          • Mutual subjection

          • Connection with Christ

        • Submission of wives (vv. 22-24)

          • Paul addresses the cultural norm – wives submit to your husbands

            • This was the normal Greco-Roman expectation

            • Unfortunately it could mean, with or without love

            • The wife could submit out of obligation

          • He takes it a step further and teaches them to do it in a Christ-like way – as to the Lord

            • “W. O. Carver has observed that subjection is to be ‘voluntary, personal, and having full ethical value for the one who subjects himself/herself and for others whom he/she serves in spiritual surrender.’” ​​ [Beacon Bible Commentary, 239]

            • As a submissive wife, you should be doing it out of your love for Jesus Christ and not out of obligation to your husband

          • God-given responsibility

            • From creation on down God instituted the role of “head of the household” to the husband and father

            • As husbands you have to take this role seriously, just as Jesus takes His role, as head of the church, seriously

            • The church is Christ’s body and He takes care of it

            • Paul states that Christ is the Savior of His body, the church

              • Christ has such an incredible love for the church and for human beings in general that He willingly came from heaven to earth to die on a cross to bring salvation to those who are imprisoned by sin

              • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: ​​ While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

              • He sacrificed His rights and privileges in order to provide protection for you from the penalty of sin

              • Through the Holy Spirit of God living in you, you have the power to defeat sin in your life

              • You and I should follow Christ’s example of submitting His will to the Father

              • When you submit to God, you become more willing to obey His command to submit to others, to subordinate your rights to theirs

              • As church members, you and I are the bride of Christ and we need to submit to His headship

            • Husband is not a savior

              • It’s easy to see that the husband doesn’t have any redemptive ability to save his wife from the penalty of sin

              • You can be your wife’s protector and provider just like Christ

              • Christ protected you and me from the penalty of sin

              • He provided a way for you and me to be saved

              • Guys you know the quickest way to your wife’s heart is to do something selfless without being asked

              • It’s talking about a man here, “Any sacrifice and self-giving that create a sense of well-being and security will normally evoke free and loving submission from his wife.” ​​ [BBC, 240]

            • “Paul redefines being head as having responsibility to love, to give oneself, and to nurture. ​​ A priority is placed on the husband, but, contrary to ancient society, it is for the benefit of the wife.” ​​ [Snodgrass, 295]

          • Church submits to Christ

            • As church members, you should be giving first place to your devotion and service to Christ

            • You and I should be serving each other and Christ out of love and not obligation, just as a wife should submit to her husband out of love for Christ and not obligation or pressure

            • Perhaps you’re serving here at IUB out of obligation or pressure and not love – perhaps you’re not serving at all

              • It’s important for that attitude to change

              • Perhaps what needs to change is your understanding and perspective of who the head of the church is

              • It’s not the pastor, it’s not the board members, or the commission chair people – it’s Jesus Christ

              • God has appointed those individuals to positions of leadership and He speaks to and through them

              • They are there to help the church find the purposes of Christ [Snodgrass, 317]

              • The reason you may be struggling today is that you aren’t submitting to Christ’s headship as you should

              • It’s two-fold

                • If you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you haven’t submitted to His headship in your life at all

                • You serve at the church because you think it’s the right thing to do, but it’s not out of love for Jesus Christ

                • You’re hopeful that your service will counter balance all the bad you’re doing

                • This is a works mentality and it doesn’t result in entrance into heaven

                • You have to submit to Christ’s headship in your life – repent of your sins and turn to Him

                • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Stop trying to work my way to heaven and accept God’s gracious gift of salvation through believing in Jesus Christ by faith.

              • Perhaps you’re not submitting to Christ’s headship in this church through His chosen leaders

                • We’ve been learning about this through the book I Am A Church Member

                • Perhaps you’ve fallen prey to the misconception that the church is here to serve you and to meet all of your preferences

                • When that doesn’t happen you’ve given in to the temptation of gossiping and speaking negatively about those in the church who believe differently than you

                • You’ve stopped praying for the leadership of the church and for those who believe differently

                • You’ve stopped serving at the church, because you don’t like the direction the church is going

                • Maybe you’ve even stopped giving

                • This is not modeling for your family how to be a healthy church member

                • It doesn’t show a submission to the headship of Christ

                • “A greater sense that Christ leads the church, joined with mutual submission in finding his purposes, will move the church past many of its current problems.” ​​ [Snodgrass, 317]

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess to God that I’ve been fighting against His will for IUB and have not been submitting to the headship of Christ.

                  • Lord willing, on February 4, 2018, you will be receiving a comprehensive document concerning the G.R.O.W. capital campaign that will outline the vision God has given the leadership of the church to expand

                  • Each Sunday in February, you will hear a short devotional from different leaders concerning growth and faith

                  • We’ll have our regular quarterly Mission Possible Meeting on March 4, 2018 where we will field your questions

                  • Then on March 25, 2018 we will have a special Commitment Sunday where you will be able to make a faith promise commitment to the G.R.O.W. campaign

                  • God is asking us, as a congregation, to take another step of faith – will we follow?

        • Love of husbands (vv. 25-33)

          • Paul is talking about an unconditional love, a sacrificial love

          • This was definitely antithetical to the cultural norm of the day

          • However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband ​​ (Eph. 5:33)

          • This is the principle of mutual submission that Paul is trying to communicate to the Ephesian believers

          • “Rather than being guided by self-interests, the husband is asked to place the well-being of his wife first and to give himself to caring for her.” ​​ [Snodgrass, 296]

          • He does this because of ​​ his connection to Christ – it’s transformed him into who God desires him to be as a husband to his wife

          • Christ’s example

            • Christ has an unconditional love for the church

            • Christ sacrificed Himself for the church so she would be holy and blameless

          • Husband’s responsibilities

            • Follow Christ’s example of unconditional love

            • Be willing to sacrifice for your wife

            • Paul says he is talking about Christ and the church

          • Church member’s responsibilities

            • Love the church unconditionally

            • Be willing to sacrifice for the church

            • Take care of the church like you would your own body – feed it and care for it out of love for Christ, the Head

            • Leave a legacy of love for the church

              • We do that by praying together for the church

              • By worshiping together in the church

              • By serving together in the church

              • Asking Christ to help us fall deeper in love with the church


  • YOU

    • All believers and attend church

        • If your whole family are believers and attend church, you still have a responsibility to lead and model love for the church

        • This is done by having your family pray together for the church as a whole and the leadership of the church

          • Last week we looked at areas where you can pray for the pastor, board members, commission chair people, and teachers

          • Spiritual protection; Protection from moral failure

          • Preaching/teaching the Word; Their families

          • Encouragement; Physical strength; Courage

          • Discernment; Wisdom

        • Worship together

          • What you model for your spouse and children is what they will do

          • If you are enthusiastic and find joy in serving the church, that’s what your spouse and children will do

          • If you’re apathetic and angry about church, then your spouse and children will be too

        • Fall deeply in love with the bride of Christ

          • This means to love the church and its members no matter what

          • You are going to encounter disagreeable people – no one is perfect

          • So, you’re not always going to agree, but you must always love

    • Only believer and attend church

        • If you are the only believer in your immediate family, you still have a responsibility to model love for the church

        • You are a testimony of Christ to the unbelieving spouse and any children in the family

        • 1 Corinthians 7:14a, For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.

        • God has given you an incredible mission field – your family

        • You’re love for the church is being watched by your spouse and children

        • How you pray for the church and its leaders will be how they pray for the church

        • How you love the church will be how they love the church

        • How often you attend church and how you worship at church will be how often they attend church and how they worship at church

    • Single

        • Perhaps you’re here today and you’re single

        • You have the responsibility to model prayer, worship, and love for the church with your extended family, friends and neighbors

        • They are watching how you pray for the church and its leaders

        • They are watching how often you attend church

        • They are watching how you worship at church

        • They are watching how you love church and the people of the church


  • WE

    • Correct modeling

        • When we model love for the church and the people of the church then the community around us will notice that

        • It can be the catalyst that changes their mind about church

        • We’ve all heard individuals say that they will never set foot in a church again, because of things they’ve seen and heard coming out of the church

          • They’ve seen and heard hatred coming out of the church

          • They’ve heard gossip from those within the church about other church members

          • They’ve experienced disunity and criticism coming out of the church

          • It’s no wonder they don’t want to be a part of the church, especially when they experience that at work or in their home

        • We have to model something different

        • We have to model Christ to the world!

        • Leave a legacy of love for the church



What kind of legacy do you want to leave?


“His name was Bob.

He died a few years ago, but, if he influenced just a few people like he influenced me, this relatively unknown and quiet man changed the world.

Bob always seemed to be at the church. ​​ I understand that some people show up at church every time the doors are open out of guilt or legalistic obligation. ​​ Not Bob. ​​ He was always joyous, always serving, always kind. ​​ You could just tell he loved serving the church.

The same could be said about Bob’s wife and two sons. ​​ They too seemed to love the church and to find joy in serving. ​​ The whole family was, well, different. ​​ But different in a good kind of way, if you know what I mean.

I was a young businessman in my early twenties. ​​ I had been married for three years and had just become a dad. ​​ Fatherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. ​​ I wanted to be a good husband and a good dad. ​​ And that meant getting involved at church. ​​ Really involved.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Bob was watching me. ​​ He was concerned for me. ​​ He loved my youthful enthusiasm, but he knew what was coming. ​​ The more I got involved, the more I would see the imperfections of the church, the pastor, the staff, and other church members. ​​ Bob had seen the pattern repeatedly. ​​ Get excited about church. ​​ Get more involved. ​​ Discover the imperfections of the church. ​​ Get discouraged about the church. ​​ Leave the church.

Bob took me under his wing. ​​ When I would begin to get angry, frustrated, or discouraged about something at the church, he would talk to me. ​​ He would explain that no church is perfect. ​​ No pastor is perfect. ​​ No church member is perfect. ​​ And he would gently remind me that I was not close to perfect either.

He told me that we were to find joy in serving the church and those in the church. ​​ We were not a part of the church to see what we could get out of it. ​​ We were part of the church to serve and care for others. ​​ Our perspective should always be on giving, not receiving. ​​ And if someone did something that disappointed or frustrated us, that was God’s way of telling us to pray for that person.

Bob told me that we could never have the perfection of Christ but that we could strive to be more like Him. ​​ He reminded me that Christ died on the cross for people who rebelled against Him. ​​ We should be able, therefore, to love the seemingly unlovable at our church.

Through Bob’s patient biblical teaching, I learned to love the local church. ​​ I learned to love the people despite their imperfections. ​​ Bob would teach me to look at the ‘log’ in my eye (my own imperfections) before I judged the ‘speck’ in other’s eyes (Matt. 7:3-5).

I wish my own parents had taught me how to love the local church. ​​ But Bob was a good spiritual father to me.

By the way, Bob’s two sons are grown men now. ​​ And it’s no surprise. ​​ They are serving and loving their local churches just like their dad.

After all, he taught them well.”


[Thom Rainer, I Am A Church Member, 55-57]


The Fifth Pledge


I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. ​​ We will pray together for our church. ​​ We will worship together in our church. ​​ We will serve together in our church. ​​ And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church because He gave His life for her.




Praying Church Members

(1 Timothy 3:1-7)



“It’s Thursday morning. ​​ Pastor Mike has a clear calendar, an aberration in his busy schedule. ​​ Actually, the calendar is not really clear. ​​ He has set aside time to finish his sermon for Sunday. ​​ His Bible is open. ​​ Study aids are nearby. ​​ He begins to study.

Then the phone rings.

His assistant tells him about a car accident involving a family in the church. ​​ The ambulances are already on the way to the hospital. ​​ Mike leaves all his study material on his desk and jumps into the car.

On the way to the hospital, his assistant calls him again. ​​ The entire Godsey family of five were in the car. ​​ None are seriously hurt except Gary, the father and husband of the family. ​​ His condition is grave.

Pastor Mike walks into the emergency room. ​​ The family has just been told that their husband and father did not make it. ​​ They see their pastor and run to him sobbing, in total shock. ​​ Mike is there for them. ​​ He stays with the entire family for three hours until he is certain enough people are around to care for them.

He stops by his home to see his wife and grab a quick sandwich. ​​ It is now afternoon. ​​ He’s not sure if he can return to his sermon preparation, but he knows he must. ​​ He must fight the emotional exhaustion of the morning and finish the message. ​​ But as he walks back to the church, his assistant apologetically tells him that two people need to speak with him. ​​ They consider it urgent.

Mike meets with the two men. ​​ One of them is the worship leader of the church. ​​ He is struggling with his ministry and is considering giving up. ​​ For two hours Mike listens, consoles, and attempts to encourage the staff member.

The next visitor then catches Mike off guard. ​​ George is one of the key lay leaders in the church. ​​ Mike considers him a friend and an incredibly vital person in the overall leadership of the congregation. ​​ George struggles to speak: ​​ ‘My wife is having an affair . . .’ There are no more words for five minutes. ​​ Just tears and sobs.

Mike stays with George for over two hours. ​​ They pray together and talk about next steps.

It’s nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. ​​ Mike is too drained to attempt to get back to his sermon. ​​ Instead he begins to look at his crowded e-mail inbox. ​​ He cringes when he sees one of the senders of an e-mail. ​​ But he cannot stop himself from opening the message. ​​ It’s from one of Mike’s most frequent critics in the church. ​​ She has two complaints. ​​ The first irritation was something he said in last Sunday’s sermon. ​​ The second complaint addressed Mike’s failure to visit her sister-in-law who had minor outpatient surgery yesterday. ​​ The woman is not a member of the church. ​​ And Mike knew nothing about the surgery.

Pastor Mike shuts the laptop cover and moves to his car slowly. ​​ He’ll stop by the house to grab a quick bite to eat. ​​ Then he needs to check on the Godsey family. ​​ He will stay with them for a while, but he must leave prior to 7:30, when he is to give the invocation for a local high school basketball game.

Several people corner him at the game, so he doesn’t get home until after nine o’clock. ​​ He goes to his small study in his home, shuts the door, and begins to cry.

Gary Godsey, the father and husband who was killed in the car accident, was Mike’s best friend.

This was the first chance Mike had to grieve.”

[I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer, 43-46].

That seems daunting doesn’t it? ​​ Now that’s not Mike’s schedule every day or even every week, but there are times in ministry when those kinds of days hit.


What we need to understand is that these kinds of days are not exclusive to the pastor, but also to those in spiritual leadership within the church. ​​ There are those within the church right now who are serving in leadership and have had long days, working their regular job and then attending meetings or meeting with individuals from the church. ​​ As we continue to develop elders within our church, they will find themselves in similar situations. ​​ Our current board of administration understands the pressures. ​​ We need your prayers on a daily basis.



  • ME

    • One of those days

        • Over the past 8 years, I can say that I’ve experienced one of those days on several occasions

        • It’s the emergency surgery, death of a loved one, or family situation that supersedes all other priorities

    • God’s grace

        • It’s easy to feel the pressure of completing God’s message for Sunday with little time, emotional strength, and focus available

        • It’s during those times that God’s Holy Spirit supernaturally intercedes and provides just the right words and ideas to communicate God’s message

        • I’ve been blessed to experience those times of God’s movement in my heart and mind


  • WE

    • There are those in the congregation that understand the pressures of serving during urgent and critical times

    • Volunteer firefighters

        • When the sirens sound, those who volunteer for the fire department have to sacrifice family time and sleep in order to serve their community

        • They have to drop everything they’re doing and go to the fire station or the scene of the emergency and spend multiples hours helping those in need

    • On-call positions

        • Doctor/Nurse

          • If you work in the medical field and are scheduled to be on-call that means your beeper or cell phone could ring at any moment

          • There is someone who is in urgent need of your help

          • You have to drop everything and go immediately to the hospital in order to serve

          • You sacrifice time with your family and sometimes sleep

        • Utilities

          • As an employee of the utility company or an employee of a heating and cooling company there are times when you have to be on-call

          • For some reason people want electricity, gas, oil, water, heat, a/c, etc.

          • There are times when the need for air conditioning and heat are critical and when the units stop working or run out of oil or gas, you have to jump into service

          • It requires you to miss family activities and sometimes sleep in order to serve

    • Praying Church Members

        • We’ve been discovering the attitudes that make the difference in church membership

        • We’ve discovered how to be a functioning, unifying, serving church member

        • Today we’re going to be focusing on being a praying church member – especially praying for the leadership of the church

        • One of the passages of scripture that addresses the qualifications of eldership is 1 Timothy 3:1-7

        • As we look at this passage this morning we’re going to see some important things that we as church members should be praying about for the leadership of Idaville

        • Being an elder and a board member carries with it very important opportunities for serving and shepherding the congregation


BIG IDEA – Prayer support is valuable support.



Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7


  • GOD (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

    • Noble Task (vv. 1)

        • Paul begins this section on overseers and deacons with a common/popular saying of his day and age

        • The NEB translates it this way, To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition ​​ [Beacon Bible Commentary, 578]

        • NIV – noble task

        • Paul is defining this position of leadership in terms of function and not status or office [Liefeld, 116]

          • Paul is talking about having a desire to serve the church in a way that individuals grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ – this sometimes requires exhortation/admonition, which can be difficult

          • It’s not easy, but it’s important

          • It should never be a popularity contest to serve as an elder, deacon, or on the Board of Administration

          • There has to be a heartfelt desire, a calling, to serve the individuals of the church – selflessly

          • He is not encouraging people to seek status but responsibility.” ​​ [Liefeld, 116]

            • I’m willing to get my hands dirty to serve the church

            • I’m willing to offer my time, talents, and resources to help the church be healthy

            • I’m willing to hang in there and work out any differences that arise

          • “The offices of God’s Church are not honorary positions bestowed on individuals who have attended church faithfully or who are senior in years. ​​ Nor are they board positions to be filled by good friends, rich donors, or charismatic personalities. ​​ Nor are they positions that only graduate seminary students can fill. ​​ The church offices, both eldership and deaconship, are open to all who meet the apostolic, biblical requirements.” ​​ [Strauch, Biblical Eldership, 68]

          • This is what we’re going to look at next

    • Biblical Qualifications

        • Must be or have: (vv. 2, 3, 4-5, 7)

          • Be above reproach (v.2)

            • It means to be above finding fault

            • It does not mean being perfect, because none of us would qualify – that’s not attainable this side of heaven

            • “It means that a leader in the Church of Christ must have no obvious defects in his character and must be a person of unsullied reputation. ​​ He could hardly be expected to be faultless, but he must be blameless.” ​​ [Beacon Bible Commentary, 579]

            • I’m sure you know of a pastor or spiritual leader within a church who has not been blameless

            • In some cases it has made them unfit for service as a spiritual leader

            • What Paul does with the following qualifications is not describe a person totally without sin, but one morally careful and responsible [Liefeld, 118]

            • “When an elder is irreproachable, critics cannot discredit his Christian profession of faith or prove him unfit to lead others (Neh. 6:13). ​​ He has a clean moral and spiritual reputation.” ​​ [Strauch, 189]

            • So, as a church member you should be praying that the spiritual leaders of Idaville Church are ones that are morally careful and responsible

          • Be the husband of but one wife (v. 2)

            • Many people want to know how this applies to divorce and remarriage, but Paul is not addressing that issue at this point

            • He is primarily focusing on the individuals marital and sexual life and seeing if it is clean morally and spiritually

            • “The point is not how often one can be married, nor precisely what constitutes a legitimate marriage (that the marriage of the candidate is legitimate is assumed), but rather how one conducts himself in his marriage.” ​​ [Towner cited by Strauch, 192]

            • “Whether or not a person has been divorced is not the major issue. ​​ That issue is whether the individual’s life and care of his family now exemplify Christianity.” ​​ [Liefeld, 129]

            • It is supposed to be a positive statement concerning the man’s faithfulness in a monogamous marriage [Strauch, 192]

            • From a negative position it prohibits any deviation from faithful, monogamous marriage, including polygamy, prostitution, homosexuality, and/or any questionable sexual relationship [Strauch, 192]

            • In the first century among the wealthy families, the wife was there to provide legitimate children, but other women could be used to satisfy sexual desires and to have on your arm during gatherings

            • You may be married to one wife and never been divorced, but still struggle with other sexual sins – pornography and lust, etc.

            • If you even look at another women with lust, it’s as though you’ve committed adultery with her in your heart

            • You haven’t been faithful to your wife

          • Be temperate (v. 2)

            • It can mean abstaining from wine entirely or the overuse of it, but Paul says later “not given to drunkenness” so it is probably referring to the other meaning of the word

            • It denotes self-control, balanced judgment, and freedom from debilitating excesses or rash behavior [Strauch, 193]

            • Pastors and Elders need to be mentally and emotionally stable, because they will face many serious problems, pressures, and decisions

          • Be self-controlled (v. 2)

            • It has been translated as prudent

            • It’s means to be sound-minded, discreet, and sensible, able to keep an objective perspective in the face of problems and disagreements

            • Exercising good judgment and common sense

            • This meshes well with temperate

          • Be respectable (v. 2)

            • Someone with a good reputation, well behaved

            • It conveys the idea of self-control, proper behavior, and orderliness

            • As praying church members, you and I need to be praying for self-control for the spiritual leaders at Idaville Church

          • Be hospitable (v. 2)

            • It’s more than an handshake and a smile on Sunday morning

            • It’s more than just having your friends over for dinner

            • It’s an expression of Christian love and care for others

            • It’s not just sharing your home, but also your life with others

            • The elders home is one of his most important tools in reaching out and shepherding the flock

            • As praying church members we need to pray for the spiritual leaders and their spouses as they open their homes and lives with you

          • Be able to teach (v. 2)

            • This is very important

            • Paul expands on this when he writes to Titus, He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught (Titus 1:9a)

            • Paul is referring to ability, not knowledge

            • “New Testament elders are both guardians and teachers of sound doctrine.” ​​ [Strauch, 80]

            • The Bible should be the prospective elder’s continual course of study

              • Some people have been learning God’s Word from a very early age from their parents

              • Sound biblical teaching from the church is another source of learning God’s Word

              • Consistent personal study and the ministry of the Holy Spirit

              • You can’t learn it if you’re not reading it

            • It seems as though not all elders were teachers in the early church, The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those who work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17)

            • “An elder who doesn’t know the Bible is like a shepherd without legs; he can’t lead or protect the flock.” ​​ [Strauch, 80]

            • “The real strength of the Church is not the amount of its work but the quality of its faith. ​​ One man who truly knows his Bible is worth more to the Church’s real strength than a crowd of workers who do not.” ​​ [Forsyth cited by Strauch, 80]

            • I think that many people shy away from the position of elder because they feel like they don’t know the Bible well enough

              • We forget about the Holy Spirit’s ability to illumine our minds and give us the words to speak when we don’t know the answer

              • The apostles were encouraged that when they didn’t know what to say that the Holy Spirit would give them the words

            • You know what God has taught you through His Word, so be willing to share that with others and teach them the lessons you’ve learned through it

            • As praying church members, you and I need to pray for the spiritual leaders as they study God’s Word and learn from the Holy Spirit

              • I know I need your prayers each week as the Lord guides and directs me in preparing His message for you

              • Please pray for God’s wisdom, insight, and the words to preach

              • There are spiritual leaders who are preparing Sunday school and small group lessons each week

              • They need your prayers for God’s wisdom, insight, and words to speak

          • Be gentle (v. 3)

            • Equitable, fair, and mild

            • The ability to endure when the pressure is on [Beacon Bible Commentary, 582]

            • Forbearing

            • “Yielding wherever yielding is possible rather than standing up for one’s rights.” ​​ [Strauch, 197]

          • Be able to manage his own family well (vv. 4-5)

            • This includes having a reputation of providing for his family, financially, emotionally, and spiritually

            • His children must obey him with proper respect

              • The context involves children who are living at home under their father’s authority

              • It’s not referring to grown children who are living on their own

              • Every parent has times when their child(ren) treat them with disrespect or are disobedient

              • It’s how the parent deals with the situation that is an indication of their ability to manage their own family well

            • If they aren’t able to manage their family well, how can they take care of God’s church? – the answer is, they can’t

            • As praying church members, we need to be praying for the families of the spiritual leaders here

              • Satan will and does use situations in our family to distract us from serving the church well

              • I know that I worry about neglecting Judy and the boys, because of the pressure of expectations that are on me

              • It’s always a concern how you all and the community view our family – it’s the glass house syndrome

              • I’m concerned about my own health – I’m on the edge of having to start taking blood pressure medication (some of it is hereditary, but some of it is stress related)

              • The other spiritual leaders in our church are dealing with similar situations in their families and they need our prayers

          • Have a good reputation with outsiders (v. 7)

            • Most people spend more time with their coworkers and relatives than they do with their fellow church attenders

              • Those coworkers and relatives probably know them better than church attenders do

              • “Paul is concerned that those who may judge less sympathetically but perhaps also more realistically and knowledgeably will render a ‘good’ . . . verdict both from the perspective of their own consciences . . . and also from their awareness of the particular man’s commitment and consistency in terms of his Christian faith.” ​​ [Knight cited by Strauch, 201]

              • Idaville Church’s evangelistic credibility and witness is tied to the moral reputation of our leaders in the community

            • The devil’s trap

              • A trap is something that is set intentionally

              • The devil has devised a plan to bring the pastor and spiritual leaders of the church down

              • When the pastor and spiritual leaders of the church are above reproach, self-controlled, hospitable, studying God’s Word, etc., they are a threat to the devil

              • The devil wants to tempt spiritual leaders with greed, adultery, anger, addiction, you name it, to catch them in his trap so their reputation is harmed and they are ineffective and eventually removed from service

            • And so, as praying church members, we need to bathe our spiritual leaders in prayer as they represent Idaville Church at their work place and in their neighborhood – we need to pray that they will not get caught by the devil’s trap

        • Must not be: (vv. 3, 6)

          • Given to drunkenness (v. 3)

            • Paul uses strong language here that means not preoccupied or overindulgent with wine

            • He is not saying it is an absolute prohibition, but you have to be careful concerning your testimony for the Lord

            • Scripture warns leaders about the dangers of alcohol

            • It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
              It is not for kings to drink wine,
              Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
              Lest they drink and forget what is decreed,
              And pervert the rights of all the afflicted

              (Prov. 31:4, 5; cf. Lev. 10:8, 9; ​​ Isa. 28:1, 7, 8; 56:9-12)

          • Violent (v. 3)

            • It is also translates not pugnacious

            • A man who is pugnacious is a fighter, bad-tempered, irritable, and out-of-control

            • The Greek word is derived from the verb “to strike” and suggests a violent person who is prone to physical assault on others

          • Quarrelsome (v. 3)

            • Also translated “uncontentious”

            • Titus 3:2, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men

            • Spiritual leaders need to peaceable

            • 2 Timothy 2:24, 25a, And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. ​​ Those who oppose him he must gently instruct . . .

          • A lover of money (v. 3)

            • In the 1st Century, it was the bishop’s responsibility to care for the funds of the church

            • The false teachers were more concerned about developing a gathering so they could get paid

            • The Pharisees loved money (Luke 16:14; Mark 12:40)

            • The chief religious leaders of Jesus’ day turned the temple area into a money making market (Mark 11:15-17)

            • The spiritual leaders of Idaville Church approve the budget each year and approve any expenditures over the budgeted amounts

            • No, one individual controls the finances here

            • 1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. ​​ Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs

          • A recent convert (v. 6)

            • This does not mean that a new convert cannot serve the church, but just not in a leadership position

            • New faith needs time to mature

            • Most people within a company or a church are not aware of the inner workings of leadership

              • The stresses involved in leading are not for the faint of heart

              • Spiritual maturity enables a leader to hang in there when things get difficult

            • Paul is concerned with the conceit of a new convert

              • They might think of themselves and their abilities too highly

              • Pride then creeps in and brings destruction

              • The devil was conceited and gave in to pride and was cast out of heaven

              • The new convert should not be put in a position that will potentially cause them to experience the same judgment as the devil

            • Notice that Paul does not put a time frame on this

              • In our humanness we want a time frame

              • How long does it take for someone to be considered spiritually mature?

              • Is it 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?

              • The reason there’s no time frame is because each individual is different

              • We’re not necessarily looking for years of salvation, but rather fruit of the Spirit

              • That is the identifying factor concerning spiritual maturity


  • YOU

    • Pray

        • The role of spiritual leader within the church is a noble task that takes humility, love, and self-control

        • Studying and teaching God’s Word takes time, effort, wisdom, and a heart that is listening to the Holy Spirit

        • Spiritual leaders are constantly under spiritual attack as they are faithful to the qualifications outlined in the Bible

        • What seem daunting to you is something that God calls certain individuals to do within the church and they need your prayers on a daily basis

        • “The Fourth Pledge” in I Am A Church Member
          I will pray for my pastor every day. ​​ I understand that the pastor’s work is never ending. ​​ His days are filled with numerous demands that bring emotional highs and lows. ​​ He must deal with critics. ​​ He must be a good husband and father. ​​ Because my pastor cannot do all things in his own power, I will pray for his strength and wisdom daily.

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to be a praying church member that intercedes daily for the spiritual leaders at Idaville Church.

        • We have continued to pray and approach certain men in the church to consider eldership

          • We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to meet with those men

          • Pray that God would confirm in their hearts and minds, His desire for them to serve in this capacity

          • Pray for wisdom, strength, and courage for them to take the step of faith to become an elder

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to pray daily for God’s chosen men to serve as elders at Idaville Church.

  • WE

    • As we all diligently pray, God will be glorified and will answer our prayers for qualified spiritual leaders to be raised up

        • We will experience a unity that is only found in obedience to God

        • We will experience peace like never before

        • We will experience the blessing of God here at Idaville Church



Have the current Board of Administration come forward and ask the congregation to stand and pray with me for them.

Pastor Marc Webb, Laurin Fleming, Bev Fleming, Linda Asper, Derrick Nell, Donna Kerrigan, Marlene McCauslin, Sherl Shaffer, Billie Jo Brown, and Stuart Johns




Serving Church Members

(Philippians 2:1-11)



Notice the restaurants shown on the screen (Burger King, Chili’s, Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, Hoss’s, McDonalds, Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, Red Robin, Texas Roadhouse, Panda Express, and Buffalo Wild Wings). ​​ We’re going to find out which one of these is your favorite this morning.


[Go through each logo and ask for a show of hands when the logo is large]


Did you see that not everyone has the same favorite restaurant? ​​ Some of you would never set foot in one of those restaurants, because the food style is repulsive to you. ​​ Your gag reflex is working right now as you think about that kind of food. ​​ It just turns your stomach. ​​ It’s fine for you to feel that way. ​​ Other people love that kind of food and are repulsed by other kinds of foods.



  • ME

    • I love food

        • I’ve always been willing to try just about any kind of food

        • As long as it won’t hurt me or kill me

        • I’ve eaten grasshoppers from Mexico

        • Baby octopus

        • Cubes of fat in Romania

        • I’ve tried menudo from a can (a spicy Mexican soup made with tripe, onions, tomatoes, chilies, and hominy)

    • Food wars

        • I’m sure that none of you have ever had to deal with this in your family

        • When our family eats out it’s difficult to decide where to go, because everyone has their favorite kind of food

          • The boys would be content to go to McDonalds every time

          • Judy and Seth would be fine with pizza every time

          • Wade, Levi, and I would willingly eat at a Chinese restaurant

          • There are no arguments about dessert, because everyone likes Rita’s and Sweet Frog

        • Sacrifice

          • While we don’t eat at McDonalds every time, Judy and I will sacrifice our preferences and eat there

          • There are times when Judy and Seth sacrifice their preferences and we eat at a Chinese restaurant

          • There are times when the boys sacrifice their preferences and eat at a restaurant that Judy and I enjoy

          • Why do we sacrifice our preferences?

          • It’s because we love each other and we want to encourage and express our love through allowing the other members of our family to enjoy the kind of food they like


  • WE

    • Leader always chose same place to eat

        • I heard a story about a leader who when he met with his team once a month would always choose the same restaurant to eat lunch at

        • The reason he did this was because he liked the restaurant and only came to the area once a month

        • The other team members didn’t mind, because they didn’t want to be the leader

    • Within the church

        • You and I are guilty of acting this way in the church

        • Thom Rainer’s team of researchers conducted a survey of churches who were inwardly focused – that means they were not serving past their own walls and their own members – the churches were largely self-serving

        • They found ten dominant behavior patterns of members in these churches:

          • Worship wars – one or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. ​​ Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change.

          • Prolonged minutia meetings – The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. ​​ Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.

          • Facility focus – The church facilities develop iconic status. ​​ One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.

          • Program driven – this isn’t bad unless the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.

          • Inwardly focused budget – a disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.

          • Inordinate demands for pastoral care – care and concern is important in times of need and crisis. ​​ Problems occur when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters.

          • Attitudes of entitlement – the overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.

          • Greater concern about change than the gospel – Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.

          • Anger and hostility – members are consistently angry. ​​ They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.

          • Evangelistic apathy – very few members share their faith on a regular basis. ​​ More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.

        • I can tell you today that I’ve been, and am guilty of some of these behavior patterns

        • I’m also confident that most of you have been or are guilty of some of these behavior patterns too

        • I don’t want you to be discouraged today

        • These things need to be discussed and the biblical solution needs to be shared

    • In good company

        • Jesus spent three years developing twelve disciples and they struggled and had a tendency to fight with one another

        • Mark 9:33-37, They came to Capernaum. ​​ When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” ​​ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. ​​ Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” ​​ He took a little child and had him stand among them. ​​ Taking him in his arms he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”

        • Read Mark 10:35-45 [Bible marker #1]

        • Jesus mentioned it twice to His disciples

          • The way to become great is to humble yourself

          • The way to become great is to be a servant to all

          • To become a servant meant to sacrifice your preferences and desires in order to allow someone else to be honored

          • Jesus modeled this for His disciples right before His death, when he wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet at the Last Supper

          • But the greatest way Jesus modeled this for His disciples and for you and me is what we find in Philippians 2:1-11


BIG IDEA – Serving others means sacrificing self.




  • GOD (Philippians 2:1-11)

    • Background

        • Paul is writing to the Philippian church because of a dispute that is happening there

        • It’s a dispute between Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2)

        • He is helping them to understand how to deal correctly with it

    • Blessings (v. 1)

        • Paul reminds the Philippian believers of the blessings of being in a Christian community

        • The Greek word translated in English as “If” also has the meaning in Greek of “since”

          • Paul is not questioning whether the believers have experienced these blessings or not

          • He is saying to them, “Since you have experienced these blessings from Christ, then this is what I want you to do.”

        • Encouragement

          • As followers of Jesus Christ we have been united with him

          • Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. ​​ Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. ​​ For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. ​​ (Matthew 11:28-30)

          • Jesus offers for us to be yoked together with Him, so we can learn from Him

          • This promise from Jesus should bring encouragement to you today, especially if you feeling weary and have a heavy burden you’re carrying (financial, work, relational, health)

          • Jesus is there to help carry that burden, just yoke yourself to Him

          • Don’t keep trying to carry the burden alone

        • Comfort

          • This is referring to Christ’s love for His people

          • We know how He demonstrated that – it involved a rugged cross and mistreatment by those who were blind to the truth

          • Jesus willingly died on the cross for you and me – taking our punishment and paying our sin debt

        • Fellowship

          • It literally means “participation”

          • It is referring to participation with the Holy Spirit

        • Tenderness and compassion

          • The Greek word for tenderness literally means bowels, intestines

          • The bowels were considered as the seat of the more violent passions, such as anger and love; but by the Hebrews as the seat of the more tender affections, especially kindness, benevolence, compassion; hence our heart (tender mercies, affections)

        • The meaning of the verse seems clear: ​​ If there is any divine strength or support available ‘to those who are in Christ Jesus as you are (and there is); if there is any consolation or incentive which springs from your love (and Paul is confident there is); if participation in the Holy Spirit means anything (and it does); if there be in you any affectionate tenderness (and Paul is sure there is),’ then,” make my joy complete by being like-minded. [BBC, 316]

    • Unity (vv. 2-4)

        • Paul lists three characteristics that express the unity of the church

        • First, the same outlook

          • To be like-minded does not mean that you and I agree on everything or like all the same things

          • From a spiritual perspective it does mean that you and I have the same love as Christ did; having the same mind; cherishing the same views, valuing the same thing

          • Every evangelical denomination will agree on the tenets of the Gospel (who Jesus is and what He did)

          • . . . internal unity is necessary for holding back the destructive forces that would hinder the progress of the gospel.” ​​ [Thielman, 96]

          • Every believer in Jesus Christ should be like-minded when it comes to the Gospel

        • Second, humility

          • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit

            • In literature prior to the New Testament, the term appears only in Aristotle’s Politica, where, in the course of discussing the various causes of political revolutions, the philosopher identifies one cause as the greedy grasp for public office through unjust means.” ​​ [Thielman, 97]

            • Vain conceit means empty pride – don’t do something just to build yourself up, which will lead to emptiness

          • In humility consider others better than yourselves

            • Before the New Testament era, the word “humility” had a negative connotation. ​​ The adjective related to it “was frequently employed, and especially so, to describe the mentality of a slave. ​​ It conveyed the ideas of being base, unfit, shabby, mean, of no account.” ​​ [Melick, 94]

            • Notice that it was used of the mentality of a slave

            • Jesus had told His disciples that they needed to become slaves of all

            • Paul is urging you and me to have the mentality of a slave when it comes to fellow believers; “count others as excelling over us.”

        • Third, consideration

          • Paul is not saying that you neglect yourself or your own interests

            • None of us has a problem taking care of ourselves

            • It’s a part of our American culture and psyche

            • One of our unalienable Rights is the pursuit of happiness – making ourselves happy

            • We pursue our own happiness more vigorously than perhaps anything else – it’s our right!

            • Much modern social and psychological theory is indebted to the notion that members of the human species, like all other animals, are involved in a relentless quest to dominate others in order to survive. ​​ So we not only enter the church with the belief that we deserve to be made happy but often with the notion that our pursuit of happiness at the expense of others is inevitable.” ​​ [Thielman, 106]

        • [Paul] sees [the church] as a group of individuals who, despite their differences, are willing to show love for one another through putting the well-being of others first.” [Thielman, 103]

        • Serving others means sacrificing self.

    • Jesus example (vv. 5-8)

        • Being Christ-like (v. 5)

          • How many of you would say that you want to be Christ-like

          • Isn’t it what every follower of Jesus Christ should desire?

          • But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. ​​ To him be glory both now and forever! ​​ Amen. ​​ (2 Peter 3:18)

          • One of the ways to be Christ-like is with your attitude

          • Paul says that our attitude should be the same as Christ Jesus

        • What was Christ’s attitude? (vv. 6-8)

          • First, we have to understand that He was fully God and fully man

            • He didn’t give up His deity to become a man

            • He set aside the right to His glory and power

            • In submission to God’s will, Christ limited His power and knowledge – He didn’t try to hold on to it

            • What made His humanity unique was His freedom from sin

            • Jesus willingly sacrificed heaven in order to come to earth to redeem the world

          • Second, He took the form of a servant

            • When Jesus came to earth, He didn’t come into earthly royalty

            • He wasn’t born in a palace

            • He didn’t grow up to reign over the Roman Empire or even a portion of the Roman Empire

            • As a human being, He was born into a family where His earthly father was a carpenter – not a particularly high social position

            • By taking the form of a servant He revealed the true meaning of service.” ​​ [BBC, 320]

            • His death on a cross was reserved for individuals who were from the lower classes

            • The only reason a Roman citizen would have ever been considered to be crucified would have been for high treason

            • Death by crucifixion was below the social status of the rich and privileged

            • Even though Jesus was God the Son and had more power and authority than all the Roman rulers, He sacrificed all of that in order to die a servants death

            • He obediently followed the will of His Father

          • Jesus attitude

            • His attitude was one of humility and love

            • In His humility, He sacrificed everything so you could enjoy life

            • It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can truly enjoy your life here on earth

            • It’s through His death, burial, and resurrection that you can enjoy eternal life when He returns

            • John 3:14-15, Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.


  • YOU

    • Salvation

        • Perhaps you’ve hesitated to believe in Jesus Christ, because you’re unwilling to sacrifice something in your life

        • Maybe you’re afraid that believing in Jesus will mean that you can no longer have any fun

        • When you believe in Jesus and repent and turn from your sin, Jesus transforms you

        • You now have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you to give you the strength to sacrifice old habits, old friends, and old attitudes

        • You will find joy in serving Jesus!

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus Christ and receive eternal life.

    • Spiritual growth

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I should be striving each day to have the same attitude of humility and servant hood that Jesus did

        • As biblical church members, you and I should be giving, serving, putting others first

          • We should be doing whatever it takes to keep the unity in our church

          • You should always ask first what you can do for your church

          • Maybe you’ve been doing this, but you’re frustrated by those whose attitude is not Christ-like

          • These individuals are the ones that God has asked you to serve

          • When you’re tired of sacrificing for others in the church, remember the cross

          • You can’t do it in your own strength – it’s you and God together

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for God’s strength and wisdom as I strive to have the attitude of Christ while serving those within Idaville Church

        • Perhaps you’ve been struggling with having a Christ-like attitude and you’re more characterized by what the leader did in insisting on eating at the same restaurant every time

          • You’ve been struggling with sacrificing your own personal preferences within the church

          • God’s desire is that everyone be brought to salvation and that none are lost

          • Being obedient to the Great Commission and Great Commandment sometimes requires changes in order to reach the next generation for Christ

          • It requires that you and I sacrifice our preferences in music, programs, our buildings and grounds, and many other areas

          • . . . no sacrifice of our own comparatively paltry rights as human beings seems too great to make in order that the gospel might be advanced.” ​​ [Thielman, 128]

          • Allow yourself to be “overwhelmed by Jesus’ undeserved love for you that caused Him to sacrifice everything – including His preferences . . .” ​​ [Rainer, 40]

          • Keeping that in mind will enable you to do that for others

          • You can’t do this on your own – it has to be you and God

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask God to help me see where I need to sacrifice my preferences so the Great Commission can be accomplished through Idaville Church


  • WE

    • As you and I obediently follow the will of God by having the same attitude as Christ by serving those within our church and sacrificing our preferences, then several incredible things will happen

        • We will experience joy and unity here at church

        • On the final day, God will respond to the lives of his obedient servants with commendation, just as he responded to Christ’s obedient life (Phil. 2:9-11) [Thielman, 128]



In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis provides a helpful description of how the fallible believer can be more like Christ amid the give and take of everyday life.


It helps . . . to pretend to be Jesus, just as a child might pretend to be a soldier or a shopkeeper. ​​ Just as the child’s imaginary games help the child to develop skills that will later be useful as a real soldier or shopkeeper, so the ‘game’ of pretending to be Christ inevitably reveals to the believer places for improvement and guides the believer toward spiritual maturity. . . .The minute we realize we are dressing up like Christ, we will discover ways in which our pretense could become reality. ​​ We will be embarrassed to discover thoughts that Christ would not have had and unfulfilled duties that Christ would not have neglected. ​​ Those realizations . . . should in turn prompt us to more complete obedience.” ​​ [Thielman, 130].



The Third Pledge


I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires. ​​ That is self-serving. ​​ I am a member in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. ​​ My Savior went to a cross for me. ​​ I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that just aren’t my preference or style.




Unifying Church Members

(James 3:1-12)



Hearing the word “cancer” is perhaps the hardest thing anyone can go through. ​​ It takes your breath away and instills fear immediately. ​​ It’s been said that everybody has cancer cells in their body, but it’s what triggers those cancer cells to begin growing that’s the real problem. ​​ Most people perhaps don’t even know what caused them to begin growing. ​​ In some cases it can be environmental conditions. ​​ So where you live can cause those cells to start growing. ​​ You may not have been aware that you were surrounded by those environmental conditions.


Once those cancer cells begin growing there are at least four ways of dealing with it.

  • One way is the natural way. ​​ It’s providing your body with good food that has not been processed or has had the least amount of processing done to it.

  • A second way is what most people go through. ​​ It’s a harsh chemical and radiation treatment that kills not only the cancer cells, but also healthy cells. ​​ This can be coupled with surgery.

  • A third response is that some people do nothing; they ignore it, which is certain death.

  • The final way of dealing with cancer is what I recommend and it is seeking healing through the power of God (this approach can be done in cooperation with the first one mentioned – providing your body with the best, natural, wholesome foods possible)

    • We’ve been experiencing some great Biblical teaching on healing, the third Wednesday evening of every month

    • We’ve been building a strong foundation so we can say with confidence that it is God’s will to heal everyone

    • We saw this past month how forgiveness of sins and healing of diseases go hand in hand in the Bible

    • Healing and health in the Old Testament were based on obedience to the Lord (Exodus 15:26)

    • In the New Testament, forgiveness of sins and healing are also on the same basis – faith in the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary (Psalm 103:2-3; James 5:15; Mark 16:16-18)



  • ME

    • Both grandfather’s

        • Both of my grandfather’s died from cancer

        • My Pappy Hykes was diagnosed with cancer after having exploratory surgery and died three weeks later on July 3, 1981– he was too weak to have radiation or chemotherapy

        • My Pappy Johns fought cancer for 13 years with radiation and chemotherapy treatments

        • He died 1 year, 1 month, and 1 day after my Pappy Hykes on August 4, 1982

    • Other family members and friends with cancer

        • My Grandma Johns is a breast cancer survivor

        • I have had other family members who died from various cancers

        • My best friend in Missouri, Dwane, fought a brain tumor for several years before being promoted to heaven


  • WE

    • Natural Way

        • I’m sure you know individuals who have chosen to treat cancer with natural remedies

        • There are those within the church who are doing that

    • Chemo and Radiation

        • You probably know someone who has gone through surgery, chemo, and radiation treatments

        • We have those in our congregation who have done that and may still be going through that

    • Ignore it

        • Maybe you’ve known someone who ignored their diagnosis of cancer and chose not to treat it at all

        • They chose quality of life over the harsh chemical treatments

        • Perhaps they have passed on or are currently in the battle against cancer

    • God’s healing

        • We have individuals in our congregation who have taken the route of trusting God by faith to bring healing to their bodies

        • They coupled that with a homeopathic approach also, which fuels their body with good, wholesome, natural foods

    • Body of Christ

        • We learned last week from 1 Corinthians 12 that the church is just like a human body

        • There are many parts that work together to keep the unity that the Holy Spirit has already produced

        • Just like the human body can be plagued with cancer, the church can be plagued with a cancer that causes it to not function in a unified way

        • One of the most damaging cancers found in the body of Christ is gossip and other negative talk

        • In his Epistle, James talks about how easy it is for you and me to use our tongues for evil

        • Sometimes we do it right after we have praised God, without even thinking about it

        • We’ll see today how that can happen


BIG IDEA – Our tongue has the power to unite or divide.


  • GOD (James 3:1-12)

    • All Stumble (vv. 1-2)

        • Teaching, especially in the Jewish culture, was highly valued and respected as a profession

        • James is warning believers to be careful about their desire to be teachers, because they are held to a higher standard

          • A teacher’s responsibility is great

            • My Spanish teacher in High School was from Brazil

            • The native language of Brazil is Portuguese

            • There was a couple of times that she came back the next day and apologized to the whole class

            • The teaching that she had done the day before was in Portuguese and not Spanish

            • I’m not certain how close the two languages are, but I’m still not sure which language I actually learned

            • The Spanish phrase I used most often in class was “Yo no sé” (“I don’t know”)

          • Everyone is listening to what you say and watching what you do

          • As spiritual teachers, people are basing their spiritual lives on your example and your words

            • 2 Timothy 2:15, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

            • It is important that those who teach spend time studying God’s Word and praying for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom

        • James understands the pull of sin even in the lives of believers

          • He includes himself in the stumbling

          • We all stumble in many ways

          • Examples of an untamed tongue include gossiping, putting others down, bragging, manipulating, false teaching, exaggerating, complaining, flattering, and lying.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, 2249]

          • You know where you stumble when it comes to sin in your own life

          • Satan knows which buttons to push and which temptations to present you with each day

          • Those habitual sins are the ones you are constantly confessing to God, pleading with Him to remove the desire from you

          • If you’ve stopped trying to resist the evil, fleshly desires than Satan has won

          • If you’re continuing to fight and battle against those evil, fleshly desires that’s good

          • 1 John 4:4, You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

          • You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you, as a follower of Jesus Christ, to strengthen you for the fight

        • Guiding principle

          • Is James saying that if I hold my tongue and not speak, that I’ll never sin?

          • We all know that’s not true – a person can keep their speech under control and still sin in other ways

          • James is going to explain further in the text that no man has ever tamed the tongue

          • Jesus taught about our words and where they come from

            • Luke 6:43-45, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. ​​ Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. ​​ People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. ​​ The good man brings up good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. ​​ For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”

            • Matthew 12:33-37, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. ​​ You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? ​​ For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. ​​ The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. ​​ But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. ​​ For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

            • What comes out of your mouth is an indication of what’s in your heart

            • This is how you can come and praise God and turn right around and gossip or speak negatively about someone, because that’s what’s in your heart

            • Part of taming the tongue is the ability to control your desire to say what you shouldn’t

            • You and I can justify saying something we shouldn’t by starting it off like this:

              • “Well, I just have to tell the truth!”

              • “I really need to get this off my chest.”

              • “We should pray for so-and-so, because they are dealing with such-and-such.”

            • Before you speak, you need to ask yourself three questions:

              • Is what I want to say true?

              • Is it necessary?

              • Is it kind?

            • Matthew 12:36-37 says that you will be held accountable on the day of judgment for every careless word you’ve spoken – your words will either acquit you or condemn you – it’s very serious

            • Read Matthew 23:25-28 [Bible marker #1]

              • Jesus is gentle with the Pharisees, but also bold

              • He doesn’t back away from saying what needs to be said

              • The only way you and I can deal with the desire to gossip, put others down, complain, or anything else pertaining to the tongue is to ask God to cleanse what’s in your heart

              • You and I need to deal with what’s on the inside first and then we won’t have to worry about an untamed tongue

              • You can’t do it on your own – it’s impossible

              • You have to commit your heart to the Lord each day and ask Him to cleanse you from the inside out

          • If a person could tame their tongue they would be a perfect person, able to keep their whole body in check

    • Positive illustrations (vv. 3-5a)

        • The horse

          • The bit in the horse’s mouth is small, but with it the horse can be made to obey

          • You can turn the whole animal by using the bit properly

        • The ship

          • Think of the largest ship you can – maybe an aircraft carrier

          • When a storm comes up, that huge ship can be pushed by the wind and the waves

          • The captain of the ship can still steer it from the helm

          • As he turns the wheel, the tiny rudder (in comparison to the ship) responds and moves the ship in the direction the captain desires

        • The tongue

          • The tongue can make great boasts

            • Boasting is not necessarily bad – it’s based on what you’re boasting about

            • Paul says that he will not boast in anything, but Jesus Christ

            • You and I can make great boasts for Christ

          • If Jesus is your rider, He can help you to obey Him with your tongue

          • If Jesus is your captain, He can steer you away from using your tongue in the wrong way

          • It’s all about what’s inside – do you allow the Holy Spirit of God to control and guide your heart?

          • That’s the part of you that thinks and feels

          • You’re going to struggle with this area if you’ve never repented of your sins and received Jesus Christ as your Savior, because the Holy Spirit is only given to those who are followers of Jesus Christ

    • Tongue tragedies (vv. 5b-8)

        • Forest fires

          • When we lived in California there was always the fear of flash fires especially during the hot and dry season with the Santa Ana winds

          • Almost every fire that starts during the fire season was set on purpose

          • It only took a small spark on the dry ground and brush, and before you know it, there is that eerie reddish/orange glow just over the hillside that is very visible at nighttime

        • Fiery tongue

          • The tongue is small in comparison to the body, but it is just like a fire that can spread rapidly through your own life and the lives of those around you

          • How many of you have ever said something in anger that you’d never say otherwise and later wished you could take back?

          • Perhaps you’ve done that with your spouse or your children

            • You can see the pain your words have caused in your wife or husband’s eyes

            • Your child’s eyes fill with tears as they absorb the harsh words you’re speaking to them

          • Maybe you’ve exploded verbally at work towards another co-worker and had to return later to apologize

            • While they forgave you, the hurtful words are still in their mind

            • They now know how you really feel about them

          • You and I try so hard to cover up how we really feel about someone, but when a stressful situation presents itself those true feelings come out

        • Poisonous tongue

          • While all kinds of animals have been tamed by humans the tongue is one thing that man has never tamed

          • Even the poisonous viper has been tamed, but our tongues can be more poisonous than that

          • Psalm 140:1-3, Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. ​​ They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips.

    • Contradictions (vv. 9-12)

        • Morally

          • We come to church on Sunday and sing praises to God

            • Then as we drive to work on Monday we curse or speak negatively about the person driving in front of us or the person who is riding on our tail

              • Those individuals have been made in God’s likeness

              • They are His creation

            • Then we talk badly about someone we saw at church and how they were dressed or something they said

            • Then we complain to someone about the worship or the length of the sermon or the style of the sermon or the special music

          • Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing

          • James says this should not be the case!

          • It’s contradictory to what you say you believe and in Whom you say you believe – it doesn’t show the love that Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 13, that we looked at last week

        • Naturally

          • James uses unnatural conditions that cannot exist as examples

          • Fresh water and salt water cannot come from the same spring – the salt water will overpower the fresh water

          • Every fruit tree will bear its own kind of fruit, it will not bear another kind of fruit

          • Grapevines will not produce figs, but rather grapes

          • A salt spring cannot produce fresh water

            • This is a reminder of what we spoke about earlier

            • Whatever is in the heart is what will come out of the mouth

            • The fruit of your mouth will not be different than what is in your heart, which is the seat of your emotions and feelings

            • “As is the root, so will be the fruit.” ​​ [Beacon Bible Commentary, 224]

Our tongue has the power to unite or divide.


  • YOU

    • Dealing with gossip and negative speech

        • As believers, how we deal with the cancer of gossip and other negative talk in the body of Christ is very important

        • Listen to what the wisest man who ever lived has to say about gossip and the incorrect use of your tongue:

          • Read Proverbs 6:16-19 [Bible marker #2]

          • Proverbs 16:28, A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 17:4, Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander (NLT)

          • Proverbs 17:9, He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 18:8, The words of a gossip are like choice morsels, they go down to a man’s inmost parts. ​​ (NIV)

          • Proverbs 20:19, A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much. ​​ (NIV)

          • Read Proverbs 26:20-22 [Bible marker #3]

        • David has some important things to say also:

          • Read Psalm 34:11-14 [Bible marker #4]

          • Psalm 101:5, Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure. ​​ (NIV)

        • The Apostles give great counsel:

          • Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ​​ (NIV)

          • James 4:11, Brothers, do not slander one another. ​​ Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. ​​ When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. ​​ There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. ​​ But you – who are you to judge your neighbor? ​​ (NIV)

          • 1 Peter 3:10, Peter is quoting Psalm 34:12-16

    • It can be dealt with in one of three ways – ignore it; treat it naturally; or work to remove it

        • Ignoring it

          • If we ignore it then it’s a guarantee that this body of Christ will die

          • So, leaving it untreated is not an option

          • You and I cannot turn our backs on it, we can’t turn a blind eye to it

        • Naturally

          • Treating cancer in the human body is done by filling it with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise

          • The same is true of the body of Christ

          • You and I must fill up the body of Christ with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise

          • The best diet you can get is the Word of God – the Bible

            • It’s not just coming on Sunday morning to hear the pastor preach

            • It’s filling yourself up every day with personal Bible study and prayer

            • It’s filling yourself up once a week with small group Bible study and prayer

          • Treating the cancer of gossip and negative talk naturally, involves allowing Jesus to be the rider and the captain of your heart and asking Him to cleanse your heart daily

            • I’m talking to those who have already repented of their sins, but you’ve taken back the reigns and the helm of your heart

            • Perhaps you’re ready to give the reigns and the helm back to Jesus today

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Allow Jesus to be the rider and captain of my heart and seek His cleansing on a daily basis, so that what comes out of my mouth will be the good that He has placed there.

          • Perhaps you’ve never repented of your sins and ask Jesus Christ to be your Savior

            • You can use your tongue in a good way today

            • Read Romans 10:8-10 [Bible marker #5]

            • Maybe you grew up in the church, so you know the Bible

            • The verses you learned as a child are in your heart and you can say them with your mouth

            • Don’t hesitate, today is the day of salvation for you

            • Make Jesus the rider and captain of your life

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask Jesus to come into my life and save me from my sins, so I can have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to guide my speech.

          • Treating the cancer of gossip and negative talk naturally, involves not participating in it or starting it yourself

            • Read Psalm 15:1-5 [Bible marker #6]

            • God calls us to be morally upright

            • He gives us ten standards to determine how we’re doing

        • Remove it with love

          • . . . if someone in the church begins to share gossip with you, gently rebuke him or her. ​​ You don’t have to be harsh in your response to them. ​​ Kindly say that you would rather not hear any gossip and you would hope it wouldn’t continue to spread.” ​​ [Rainer, I Am A Church Member, 26]

          • When you do this, the person who is trying to spread gossip or negative talk will probably feel like you are being harsh

            • When they use surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to remove cancer from the human body it is harsh – it hurts

            • The hope is that through the pain the cancer will be completely removed

          • There will probably be pain involved with removing gossip and negative talk from the church

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to gently rebuke anyone who is gossiping or speaking negatively about someone else, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.


  • WE

    • Unified church

        • As each person recognizes that they cannot ignore the cancer of gossip in the church and strives to fill their heart with a good, wholesome diet and proper exercise and is willing to gently remove any gossip and negative talk, then the church will be a place of joy and unity

        • 1 Peter 3:10, For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”



. . . Make it pass,

Before you speak, three gates of gold:

These narrow gates. ​​ First, “Is it true?”

Then, “Is it needful?” ​​ In your mind

Give truthful answer. ​​ And the next

Is last and narrowest, “Is it kind?”

And if to reach your lips at last
It passes through these gateways three,

Then you may tell the tale, nor fear

What the result of speech may be.


(Beth Day).


You received another bookmark today. ​​ It has the poem I just read from Beth Day on one side and The Second Pledge from I Am A Church Member.


The Second Pledge

I am a church member.


“I will seek to be a source of unity in my church. ​​ I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. ​​ But neither am I. ​​ I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. ​​ One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.”




Functional Church Members

(1 Corinthians 12-13)



VIDEO – I AM A CHURCH MEMBER: ​​ Book Trailer [https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=83&v=wdgejS3F5kw]


How many of you have found that perfect church with perfect people and a perfect pastor with perfect staff members? ​​ You won’t find that here on earth, but that’s the hope of every follower of Jesus Christ. ​​ We will one day experience that kind of perfection, but it will be after there is a new heaven and a new earth – when Jesus Christ returns.


Until that time, you and I have to learn the attitudes that make a difference in being a biblical church member. ​​ Over the next six weeks, we’ll be looking at each of those attitudes.


I’m not just speaking specifically about becoming a member of this church. ​​ It includes everyone who attends this church regularly. ​​ You are a part of this body of believers and your attitudes are also important in making a difference in reaching our community for Christ.


You’re going to find that some of the attitudes are not a problem for you and they are things you’re already doing. ​​ Keep doing those things. ​​ Other attitudes are going to be a challenge for us all as we look at them, together. ​​ The important thing is that you come willing to hear from God concerning your personal attitudes about church membership and what biblical church membership looks like.


We have several copies of the book on the table in the foyer. ​​ If we run out, we’ll get more. ​​ If you can’t afford the $5 suggested donation, please take one anyhow and don’t worry about the money.


We’ll be spending a little time on Wednesday evening discussing the questions at the end of each chapter in the book.



  • ME

    • People leaving the church

        • I can think of people I know personally who have left the church

        • One individual stopped going to a Christian college and church because of the hypocrites they saw there

        • Another individual I know didn’t see the importance of going to church with other believers, because he could learn just as well at home on his own (it’s easier and less messy to learn on ​​ your own – there’s no church politics, hierarchy, or drama to deal with)


  • WE

    • Do you know people like that?

        • Maybe it’s a family member

        • It could be a coworker

        • Perhaps it’s a neighbor

    • What do you say to someone who has quit church?


BIG IDEA – Unity through diversity is built on love.


  • GOD (1 Corinthians 12-13)

    • Concern for the church today

        • I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned about the church and the attitudes within the church – not just here but in the universal church

        • James MacDonald

          • If you read the book Vertical Church you see some staggering statistics about the church in North America

          • 6,000 churches close every year

          • 3,500 Christians are leaving churches every day (that’s 1,277,500 people leaving the church each year)

          • Less than 20% of Americans attend church regularly

          • Only 15% of churches are still growing

          • 2% of churches are growing by conversions

          • Only 800 church plants succeed each year, we would need 10,000 to succeed to reach everyone

        • Thom Rainer

          • Researched 557 churches from 2004 to 2010 and found out that 9 out of 10 churches in America are declining or growing at a pace that is slower than that of their communities

          • About two-thirds of the Builder generation, those born before 1946 (71 + year olds) are Christians

          • Of the Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000 (17 – 37 year olds), there are only 15 percent who are Christians

        • Local Pastor

          • I was talking with a local pastor in south-central PA several years ago about his church

          • He said they lost the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1964) in their church and almost lost the Generation X (1965-1979) generation

          • His explanation is that the Builder generation wanted the Boomers to take over leadership of the church, but they did not want them to make any changes – they wanted them to have responsibility without authority

          • When this happened the Boomers simply left the church

          • It almost happened again with the Generation X group

          • A pastor friend of mine told the story of a family whose parents wanted to pass on the family farm to one of their children. ​​ As the years went by the parents were unwilling to pass on the farm and their children eventually bought their own properties. ​​ When it came time for the parents to move out of the family farm, none of the children could afford or wanted to purchase the family farm. ​​ The pastor related this story to the church. ​​ When the older generation only allows the younger generation to assume responsibility of the church tasks without authority to make changes, then the younger generation leaves and goes elsewhere. ​​ Then when the older generation is ready to hand over the authority of the church to the next generation, there is no one there to assume the authority.

        • Thom Rainer believes, and I agree, that those kinds of things are happening in churches throughout America, because there are individuals in the church who have a unbiblical understanding of church membership

    • Country Club Membership mentality in the church

        • The basic premise is, I pay my dues and you serve me

        • For individuals with this mentality about church membership it’s about receiving instead of giving, being served instead of serving, rights instead of responsibilities, and entitlements instead of sacrifices – it’s all about them instead of others

        • It’s revealed in statements like the ones Thom Rainer used in his book:

          • “This is my church, so you have to play the music just the way I want it.”

          • “Look pastor, you need to remember who pays your salary.”

          • “If you don’t do this program, I’ll withhold my check to the church.”

          • “I’ve been a member of this church for over thirty years, so I have a right to get what I want.”

          • “I don’t pay good money to this church to listen to sermons that long.”

    • What does Biblical church membership really look like?

        • Unity through diversity (1 Corinthians 12:12-28a)

          • Paul relates the body of believers to the human body (vv. 12-13, 27-28a)

            • When your body is working correctly, you are able to do things without thinking – it comes naturally

            • It’s when something isn’t working properly that you begin to struggle with tasks that were once easy

              • Individuals who have had major brain trauma can tell you how difficult it is to not be able to do what you once could

              • You know in your mind that you could do that with ease before, but now your body doesn’t cooperate with your brain

            • Your body is a unit made up of many members/parts that all work together to enable you to function

            • For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. ​​ (NASB)

            • Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. ​​ And God has appointed in the church . . . ​​ (NASB)

            • The body of Christ (the church) is the same way

              • It’s made up of many different members that work together so that the body of Christ functions properly

              • Ephesians 4:1-6, As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. ​​ Be completely humble and gentle; bearing with one another in love. ​​ Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ​​ There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

              • I was studying through the book of Ephesians several years ago

              • Ray Stedman is the one who wrote the commentary for the Joy of Living Bible Study I’m using

              • He has some very important points concerning Ephesians 4:1-6

                • Notice the apostle does not say we are to produce unity; he says we are to keep a unity that has already been produced by the Holy Spirit. ​​ There is a unity that is already there by virtue of the very existence of the church, because the Holy Spirit is the bond which holds the church together.

                • We can violate that unity by our actions, we can grieve the Holy Spirit by our sinful behavior towards one another in the body of Christ, we can bring shame and dishonor to the gospel by sinning against our Spirit-given unity, but we cannot create or destroy what the Spirit Himself has produced. ​​ The church can be divided organizationally, but the body of Christ can never be disjointed.

                • When we are tempted to feelings of resentment or to such actions as attacking one another or spreading rumors against one another, we should stop and ask God to bless the other person.

                • He encourages you and me to pray this way, “Lord, show me how I can reach out to my brother or sister in this time of irritation. ​​ Make me a blessing and not a hindrance in that person’s life. ​​ Show me practical ways I can work to maintain the unity between us that you have made possible through your Spirit. ​​ Replace my annoyance with understanding, my impatience with forbearance, my grudges with forgiveness, my bitterness with a sweet spirit, my resentment with love, my hardened heart with a tender heart. ​​ Lord, I am Your prisoner. ​​ I am ready to take orders from You.

                • The prayer is listed on the bookmark that each person received this morning as you came in (if you didn’t receive one they are available in the foyer when you leave)

                • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to praying this prayer each morning when I have feelings of resentment or frustration with a fellow believer.

              • When you and I forget that the unity of the body already exists through the Holy Spirit, we can do things that cause the body of Christ to not function properly and therefore make what should be easy nearly impossible

            • God is the One who appoints you and I to the various parts of His body, the church

              • This is an important point that you and I have to remember

              • We don’t always remember it, as the next two sections show us

          • Unimportant (vv. 14-19)

            • Perhaps you’ve had those feelings about your spiritual giftedness or where you are serving in the church

            • You may be thinking that if you left the church no one would miss you or even care that you left

            • That is furthest from the truth

              • Communication is the key

              • Most people quietly leave the church and never tell anyone, especially the pastoral staff

              • I know that conversation can be difficult to have with us, but please let us know

                • There are others who are asking us if we know where certain families or individuals are

                • My response to those who ask me, is to encourage them to reach out by calling them and letting them know they’re missed

                • I spoke recently with one family member of a family that hadn’t been to church in six weeks – they told me that they appreciated that I had reached out to them, but they also told me that a couple other people from the church had called them also. ​​ They told me that in the two previous churches they had attended that no one contacted them when they left, including their deacon.

                • I want to say how proud I am of those of you who recognize that individuals and families are missing church and then following up with them by contacting them

                • It’s difficult when we have contacted individuals and never hear anything back

                • We’re not going to be upset when individuals leave

                • We would like to know what caused them to leave

              • If you are feeling unimportant, please forgive me and our church body

              • I care for each one of you deeply and I want you to know I’m available for you – I can’t read your mind, so please call me and set up a time to meet

            • Paul reiterates again that God is the one who has arranged the parts in the body just as He wanted them to be

            • You can’t have a properly functioning body that only has one part or one kind of member

          • Overly important (pride) (vv. 21-26)

            • There is no room for an elitist mentality in the church

            • This is spiritual pride and only causes the body of Christ to stop functioning properly

            • The parts that seem weaker are indispensable

              • A friend of mine on Facebook had this as is status several years ago, “Pinky toes are lame. ​​ There is not another part of your body that has a use only for smashing things in the dark.

              • You know how much that hurts!

              • But do you know how important that pinky toe is to your overall balance and ability to walk?

              • It’s extremely important for balance, which is extremely important for walking

              • You need that pinky toe for your body to function properly

            • Paul again states that God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so there wouldn’t be any division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other

            • If one part suffers every part suffers with it

              • If you’ve ever had an injury you know this principle very well

              • Your body can’t rest well when one part of it is suffering

              • You stay up all night trying to deal with the pain in one part of your body

              • This should be true of church members also

            • If one part is honored, every part rejoices with it

              • When you win a race or competition, you know the joy and feeling of euphoria that courses through your body

              • Every part of your body benefits from the “feel good” chemicals running through your body

              • The same should be true of the church and its members

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Suffer with those in our congregation who are suffering and rejoice with those who are rejoicing.

        • Based on a biblical foundation of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)

          • Paul shows you and I the most excellent way

          • It’s not about seeking recognition for ourselves, but rather loving others within the body of Christ – thinking about what will cause others to desire a relationship with Jesus Christ or a deeper walk with Him

          • Principles of love

            • Patient

            • Kind

            • Not envious

            • Not boastful

            • Not proud

            • Not rude

            • Not self-seeking

            • Not easily angered

            • Keeps no records of wrongs

            • Doesn’t delight in evil

            • Rejoices with the truth

            • Protects

            • Trusts

            • Hopes

            • Perseveres

            • Never fails

          • A person who is loving in this way is not going to leave the church, but will rather strive to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

          • Unity through diversity is built on love


  • YOU

    • Spiritual growth

        • You and I each have a role to play in the church

          • The question is, do you know your role and if so, are you doing it?

          • The concept of an inactive church member is an oxymoron. ​​ Biblically, no such church member really exists.” ​​ [Rainer, 16]

          • You should never ask yourself if you should be serving your church – that’s a given

        • You should be asking yourself and God, in prayer, this ongoing question, “How can I best serve my church?”

          • The research that Thom Rainer has done has revealed that, to their best estimates, only one-third of members on church roles are real biblical church members that are functioning properly by giving abundantly and serving without hesitation

          • At the end of each chapter there is a pledge for you to make

          • Perhaps today you recognized that you are struggling in the area of being a biblical functioning church member and you’re ready to make the change

          • On the back of the bookmark is the first pledge and a place for you to sign to commit to making that pledge

          • The pledge is between you and God

          • My Next Step Today Is To: Pledge to be a functioning church member by giving, serving, ministering, evangelizing, studying, and being a blessing to others.

  • WE

    • As you and I examine each attitude and willingly ask God to make changes to those attitudes in our own lives, Thom says two things are going to happen

        • You will likely have a new or renewed attitude about Idaville Church. ​​ You will learn the joy of being last instead of seeking to be first. ​​ Instead of being a whiner complaining about what’s wrong with your church, you will be a unifier seeking what’s best for your church.

        • Idaville Church will begin to change. ​​ It will become healthier because one of its members is healthier. ​​ And as the church gets healthier, it will have a greater impact on our community and the world.



VIDEO – The Body of Christ [https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/illustration/97944]