Some really good articles worth reading

https://jdgreear.com/blog/daughters-dating-harvey-weinstein-vs-billy-graham-burden-every-worthy-cause/

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Put on Christ (Eph. 4:17-32)

Introduction:

Recently the Cleveland Browns released their cornerback, Jo Haden. They released their only good player. So, the Steelers, being the smart football team that they are, signed him. Wouldn’t it be funny if Haden kept wearing the Browns Jersey? He would never do that. When you are signed with a team you put on their jersey.

Raise your hand if you are a Christian.

Raise your hand if you are a follower of Jesus.

Look at the army of Christians we have here. Remember the children’s song, “The Lord’s Army”?

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes Sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!
I’m in the Lord’s army!
Yes sir!

As we look at this longer passage Christian are told to live a godly lifestyle. We are told to “Put on” the new man. That is our calling.

When we are baptized we put on the new man:

Rena was 3 years old when she went to her first baptismal service. It was new for her and a bit mystifying. As events transpired, she looked up at her father with surprise in her eyes, “Daddy, he pushed that guy under the water? Why did he do that?” The father tried to quietly answer her question during the service; but his answer did not satisfy little Rena. So when they got home he attempted a fuller explanation. “Well people do bad things; and they are being baptized to let everyone know they are now going to be good. The water symbolizes Jesus’ washing people’s sins away. When they come out ‘clean,’ they are going to try to be ‘good.’” Rena thought about that for a moment and then asked the simple question, ‘Why didn’t Pastor Bob just spank him?

My theme today:

Christians are called to a Godly lifestyle

  1. In verses 17-19 we are told to Walk no longer as the Gentiles walk…
    1. Let’s read verses 17-19: So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.
    2. Just a few words about each section of this passage.
    3. Gandhi said: “I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are not like your Christ.”
    4. Paul writes about this theme a lot and we can tell that by doing some cross reference. Maybe I will post that on my blog later, or you can look it up on your own, or we can talk about all the cross reference on Wednesday night.
    5. But, in Ephesians 2 Paul wrote about who we were and what Christ saved us from.
    6. You are saved. Wear the Christian jersey.
    7. As I was reviewing what I was going to share for this sermon it hit me to remind you of the Holy Spirit.
    8. As we talk about this section remember that we do not live the Christian life alone. Paul just taught about the spiritual gifts. We also have the body of Christ. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said we receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon us and we will be witnesses. Remember a few things. The Holy Spirit is with you. You can read John chapter 14-17 about the Holy Spirit. But also remember the context of Acts 1:8 is witnessing. I believe we receive the most power from the Holy Spirit when we witness. I encourage you to read or listen to Francis Chan’s book, “Forgotten God.”
    9. Before we move on notice how Paul describes the Gentiles. This was a common way to describe gentiles. The Jews were more moral. One or my sources says: Premarital sex, homosexual intercourse and idolatry were typically Gentile sins from which nearly all Jews abstained. By contrast, pagans were raised this way; many Greek boys were ushered into “manhood” by an older man’s molestation.[1]
  2. In verses 20-24 Paul continues telling us to Lay aside the old self and put on the new.
  • 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    1. There is so much to be shared with this section, but I will only share a little bit. If you attend Wednesday night we can talk much more.
    2. You did not learn Christ that way. I think about that as that was not your exposure to Christ, or, more likely, as you learned that is not Christianity.
    3. Get rid of the old way of life. Get rid of the old jersey.
    4. Be renewed.
    5. I like the tag at the end of verse 24: and put on the new self, which in the likeness ofGod has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
    6. Put on the Christian jersey. Pursue holiness, righteousness and truth.
    7. Jesus transforms: Napolean shares about Jesus:

 Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ. 

  1. In verses 25-32 we are exhorted to Lay aside the old and put on the new
    1. Let’s read the verses: Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of youwith his neighbor, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity. 28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
    2. Lay aside:
      1. false hood (verse 25)
      2. do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)
  • do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)
  1. do not steel (verse 28)
  2. let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)
  3. do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)
  • bitterness (verse 31)
  • wrath (verse 31)
  1. anger (verse 31)
  2. clamor (verse 31)
  3. slander (verse 31)
  • malice (verse 31)
  1. Put on:
    1. Truth (verse 25)
    2. Labor with your own hands (verse 28)
  • Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)
  1. Speak words that are good (verse 29)
  2. Kindness (verse 32)
  3. Tender-hearted (verse 32)
  • Forgiving (verse 32)
  1. Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
  2. àIt seems fitting to have this here
  3. àIt seems like Paul is saying when you mess up with that list just written about forgive each other

Close:

What if you wore a Christian uniform everywhere you went? What would that be like? When I was in high school I was in Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corp (NJROTC). This was a military program. We learned the ways of the navy. We even wore uniforms once a week. Do you think we could act silly, rebellious, disrespectful wearing that uniform? NO WE COULD NOT. IF we did, when the former Navy officers who led the program found out he would make us run laps or do pushups.

If you are a Christian, you always, always, always wear that Jersey.

If you are able to stand, stand if you are a Christian.

Listen, this is your charge this week.

When you committed your life to Christ you became part of the Lord’s army. You are no longer wearing the world’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the devil’s jersey. You are no longer wearing the sin jersey. You are wearing the Jersey of Jesus Christ. You are on His team. Represent that jersey this week.

The old jersey included:

false hood (verse 25)

do not let the sun go down on your anger (verse 26)

do not give the devil a foothold (verse 27)

do not steel (verse 28)

let no unwholesome words come out of your mouth (verse 29)

do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God (verse 30)

bitterness (verse 31)

wrath (verse 31)

anger (verse 31)

clamor (verse 31)

slander (verse 31)

malice (verse 31)

The New Jersey includes:

Truth (verse 25)

Labor with your own hands (verse 28)

Have something to share with those who have need (Verse 28)

Speak words that are good (verse 29)

Kindness (verse 32)

Tender-hearted (verse 32)

Forgiving (verse 32)

Tag line: forgiving, “just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

You notice the tag line? Forgiving. Christian, you will mess up. I will mess up. I will misrepresent Jesus and I will need to apologize and ask for forgiveness when I do. Let’s own up to our mistakes and be humble.

Ruby Hamilton, a businesswoman in her fifties, was stunned at the loss of her husband of 32 years in a car accident. Her anger and disappointment went deeper than a more typical expression of grief though. She had become a follower of Christ in her late twenties, but her husband didn’t share her newfound interest in spiritual things. Nonetheless, she had set about praying for him feverishly and unceasingly that he would come to know the Lord. And one day when she was praying, she felt a wave of peace wash over her, and that still small voice assuring her that her husband would be okay. She eagerly awaited the day when her husband surrender his life to Jesus. And now this.
What do you do when faith doesn’t make sense? When God doesn’t seem to be answering or opening doors or being found? Ruby Hamilton stopped living for God.
Roger Simmons was hitchhiking his way home. He would never forget the date – May 7th. His heavy suitcase was making him tired and he was anxious to take off that army uniform once and for all. Flashing the thumb to the oncoming car, he lost hope when he saw it was a black, sleek new Cadillac. To his surprise the car stopped.
The passenger door swung open. He ran toward the car, tossed his suitcase in the back and thanked the handsome, well-dressed man as he slid into the front seat. “Going home for keeps?”
“Sure am.”
“Well, you’re in luck if you’re going to Chicago.”
“Not quite that far – do you live in Chicago?”
“I have a business there, the driver said. My name is Hamilton.”
They chatted for a while, and then Roger, a Christian, felt a compulsion to share his faith with this fiftyish, apparently successful business man. But he kept putting it off, till he realized that he was now just 30 minutes from his home. It was now or never.
“Mr. Hamilton, I would like to talk to you about something very important.” Then he simply told Mr. Hamilton about the plan of salvation and ultimately asked him if he would like to receive Jesus as his savior and Lord.
The Cadillac pulled over to the side of the road. Roger expected that he was about to get thrown out of the car. Instead, the businessman bowed his head and received Christ, then thanked Roger “This is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Five years went by. Roger married, had a couple of kids and a business of his own. Packing his suitcase for a trip to Chicago he found a small white business card that had been given to him by Hamilton five years previous. In Chicago, he looked up Hamilton enterprises. The receptionist told him that it was impossible to see Mr. Hamilton, but he could see Mrs. Hamilton. A little confused, he was ushered into a beautiful office where he found himself facing a keen-eyed woman in her fifties.
She extended her hand “You knew my husband?”
Roger told her about how Hamilton had picked him up while he was hitchhiking home after the war. “Can you tell me what day that was?”
“Sure it was May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.”
“Anything special about that day,” she asked.
He hesitated, not knowing if he should mention how he shared the message of Jesus with her husband. “Mrs. Hamilton, I explained the gospel to your husband that day. He pulled over to the side of the road and wept against the steering wheel. He gave his life to Christ that day.”
Explosive sobs shook her body. Finally getting a grip on herself, she sobbed, “I had prayed for my husband’s salvation for years. I believed God would save him.”
“Where is your husband, Ruby?”
“He’s dead. He was in a car crash after he let you out of the car. He never got home. You see, I thought God had not kept his promise. I stopped living for God five years ago because I thought God had not kept his word!”
(Considerable influence for this message came from John Piper’s “The Spring of Persistent Public Love”, DesiringGod.org. From a sermon by Bret Toman, Power to Live the Golden Rule, 1/3/2011)

I am now going to pray and then we will sing a song to our Lord and King. Please remain standing.

Pray

[1] Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Eph 4:17–19.

Spiritual Gifts are given to upbuild the church 

Eph. 4:11-16My theme today: Spiritual gifts are given to build up the church.

My main application: Use your gifts for the maturity of the church.

Okay, so we are continuing in Ephesians and we are continuing in the practical section of Ephesians. This is practical but it is very deep. What can we do when we take our gifts and we unite as Christians?

Watch this:

Little House on the prairie “A Harvest of Friends.”

So, when we help each other out and work together we can accomplish much. That is why God gives us spiritual gifts. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts for the upbuilding of the church.

My theme today: Spiritual gifts are given to build up the church.

My main application: Use your gifts for the maturity of the church.

Let’s read Ephesians 4:11-16:

11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

I. Notice the gifts in verse 11:

a. Notice first that He gave these gifts. These gifts are exactly that, they are gifts from King Jesus. We talked about that a few weeks ago, the idea that Jesus conquered the devil and ascended to Heaven and gave us gifts.

b. So we have the gift of Apostleship (4:11a). Some would say this gift does not exist anymore and it is really hard to be definitive about that. We can talk more about that at the Wednesday night Bible study, but what is clear is that we no longer have Apostles such as Paul was. The time of the writing of Scripture is closed. Now, in the New Testament time period there were two types of Apostles. One type would be the disciples of Jesus. They were sent with an authority over the church. There were 13 of them, which included the twelve disciples, plus Paul and Matthias (Acts 1:26), but Judas hung himself (Matt. 27:3-10; Acts 1:18). Paul was apostle chosen later on (Acts 9; Gal. 1). The second type of Apostle listed in the New Testament would be such as Barnabas (Acts 14:14). Romans 16:7 mentions apostles in a more generic sense. These are people sent with the message.

c. Prophets (4:11b): (Gr. prophetes, one who speaks forth) provided edification, exhortation, and comfort to the church (1 Cor. 14:3). Some of them conveyed new authoritative revelation to the church (2:20; 3:5; Acts 11:28; 21:10-11). Much of this is the revelation that we have in our New Testament books. Most of the prophets, however, simply “spoke forth” truth that God had previously revealed (cf. Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 11:5; 14:26-33).264 Prophets also led in worship of God, including leading in public prayer (cf. 1 Chron. 25:1; 1 Cor. 11:5). This aspect of prophesying was regarded as a less authoritative function in the church than teaching, since a teacher interpreted the written Word of God (cf. 1 Cor. 11:5; 1 Tim. 2:12).

d. Evangelists (4:11c): these are people who share the Gospel. Now, I also think these are people are specially gifted in declaring the Gospel and training the church to declare the Gospel.

e. Pastors and teachers (4:11d): It is interesting about Pastors and teachers. The Greek has a different word for “and” here than in the rest of the list. Just take my word for it and I can show you later if you wish. It seems that Paul was saying that Pastors and teachers go together. Or, that all pastors are teachers, though all teachers are not pastors.

f. This is NOT an exhaustive list. Spiritual gift lists appear in Rm 12:6-8; 1 Co 12:8-10, 28-30; and 1 Pt 4:10-11. Each list is representative, not exhaustive.

II. Notice His goal for believers (4:12–16)

a. The gifts are given for unity (verse 13). Do you see that? We keep seeing that word come up. Paul cared about unity. God cares about unity. Paul writes: “Until we all come to the unity of the faith…” We see unity in the other letters of the New Testament. In 1 Cor. 1:11-13: Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? Then in 1 Cor. 3 Paul comes back to this theme: 1 Cor. 3:5-9: For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not mere men? What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. Then, Actually, Eph. 4:3-6 are about the idea of unity: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, etc.

b. The gifts are given for maturity (verse 13). Do you see that idea. We see this idea in 1 Cor. 3 as well. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 3:1-3 says: And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

c. Paul was likely frustrated with spiritual immaturity and we are called to grow up in the Lord. We are called to be mature.

d. The gifts are given for equipping the saints for building up the body of Christ (verse 12).

e. We are a body. In Romans 12 Paul compares the church to a human body. Get this, all these spiritual gifts come together to form one body. And get this, all these spiritual gifts are from the same Holy Spirit.

f. The gifts are given for the body of Christ (verse 16). I like what J. Vernon McGee said: “Many folks say, ‘Dr. McGee, we do not speak in tongues in the church. We do it for our private devotions.’ I can say to them categorically from the Word of God that they are wrong. Gifts are given to profit the church. No gift is to be used selfishly for personal profit. In fact, it is not a gift if it is being used that way. A gift is given to every member of the body to enable him to function for a very definite reason in his position in the body.”

g. The gifts are given for us to grow up every way (verse 15).

h. Notice also how verse 15 says we are to speak the truth “in love” growing up in every way. This phrase “in love” is a common phrase in Ephesians. “In love” is in verse 15 and 16 and all throughout this letter

i. 7 times “in love” is in Eph.

ii. Ephesians 1:4: just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love

iii. Ephesians 3:17: so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,

iv. Ephesians 4:2: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

v. Ephesians 4:15: but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

vi. Ephesians 4:16: from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

III. We are a church, let’s apply:

1. We must use our spiritual gifts to help with the unity of the church (verse 13).

2. We must use our spiritual gifts to help with the maturity of the church (verse 13).

3. We must use God’s gifts in us to equip the church (verse 12).

4. We must use God’s gifts in us to help that we, and the church, will not be like children tossed to and fro and deceived by the craftiness and deceitful scheming (verse 14).

5. We must preach and teach proper doctrine and use of the gifts.

6. We must understand that these gifts are exactly that, they are gifts. They are given by the grace of Christ (verse 11).

7. We must speak in love (verse 15).

8. We must let Jesus be the head (verse 15). Verse 15 shows that Jesus is in charge.

Close:

Do you know your spiritual gifts? I would love to help you discover them, but I cannot do that in this context. Contact me this week and I can send you a free website method of discovering your gifts. Another possibility is that I can give you something for close friends to help you discover your gifts.

But, are you being sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s lead? Listen to this story from John Ortburg: 

I was leaving for work after a tense morning at home. I had snapped at the kids, I was feeling pushed for time, and I was preoccupied. As I was going out the door, my son Johnny asked whether I was coming to visit his class that day for the hour when parents were invited. I started to snap “no” and then felt a discernible tug. Something— Someone— invited me to think things over. I felt a stab of pain at my impatience that morning, at the needless hurt I had impetuously caused those I love. That pain, I believe, was part of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I apologized as best I could and told Johnny I would be at his school.

When I arrived at Johnny’s class, I observed that all but two or three children had parents there. Johnny’s face lit up. For the next half-hour he sat in my lap as we joined in the activities. We were each to draw a picture— not a task I enjoy, being unable to draw a straight line. What made it worse is that the dad next to me drew like Michelangelo. He sketched a hearthside scene, incorporating perspective, shading, and chiaroscuro.

“Use some blue, Daddy,” his son said. “No,” said Michelangelo. “That would throw off my color scheme.” The teacher came by, looked at the man’s drawing, then called the other parents just to observe it. She pointed out mine as a kind of study in contrast. Now I felt another kind of guilt— the guilt of an inadequate artist. But that was the pain of creatureliness, not something that calls for repentance. I had to find another way to deal with my inadequacy. So I waited until the dad next to me wasn’t looking, then marked on his picture with a blue crayon. Then I had something to confess. I looked at Johnny’s picture: clouds, snow, one tree, and what looked like Barney the dinosaur with a human face. Underneath my son had a caption: “I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow.” I felt pretty good about the sequence. When it was time for the parents to leave, Johnny grabbed me and said, “I just can’t let you go.” I left, but for a few moments I just stood in the doorway and looked at my son. It seemed like only a few years ago that I was a little boy in first grade. Now here he was. Now it was my son’s day. That is his little world— his little turkey up on the chalkboard, his little desk, his slender little fingers determinedly gripping the pencil, his learning how to make letters. And in what will seem like only another few days, he will be the one standing in the doorway and it will be his little boy sitting at the desk. “What if I hadn’t come?” I mused. “What if he had sat here all alone while other kids were surrounded by their parents? How long will I carry in my heart that little picture that says, ‘I’m thankful for God, my dad, and snow’?”

That little stab of pain that called me to think again, to decide differently, is spoken of in the church as the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. We can all experience that. It is the still small voice that nudges us and says, “You have spoken bitter words that have hurt someone. You need to go back and make things right.” “You cheated on your taxes. You need to make restitution.” (One financial expert who works with an evangelical clientele estimates that 50 percent of his clients cheat on their tax returns.) “You spoke deceit. You need to go back and tell the truth.”

This is hopeful pain, the sorrow of wounds that heal.