On Being a Spiritual Father

Introduction:

This is my final sermon as your pastor. It has been a wonderful joy to preach and teach the Word of God to you, His people. In Acts 20:17-30 Paul gives his farewell message to the Ephesian church.  In Acts 20:27 Paul shares: For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. The ESV translates this as I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole council of God. I hope and pray this has been true of me with you. I love teaching the Bible and I hope that has been made evident. I hope you have learned more Bible over the last six years. The church does have a pulpit, figuratively, not literally. The pulpit represents the preaching of the Word of God at the local church. Each of us pastors are accountable to God for this responsibility. I have carried this responsibility for just over six years. Pastor Gordon carried this ministry for seventeen years. The responsibility is heavy. It has been compared to a woman having a baby. It is heavy because there are spiritual dimensions, spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-12). It is a 24×7 job. We preach and sit down and then wait for the pressures from Sunday sermon to kick-in. A lot of pastors talk about how hard Mondays are because they are hit from the Sunday morning pressure and reflection. There are articles written to tell pastors how to manage this post pulpit day. I prefer to simply eat chocolate and then I feel better.

God will lead you an interim and then another pastor to handle this pulpit ministry and I pray they also follow God’s instructions to declare the whole council of God. I appreciate and have been greatly honored to serve as your pastor these last six years. It has been a privilege to serve under the Lord in this pulpit ministry. Now, I preach my last sermon to you. Later, we eat chocolate.  

The church needs boys, the church needs men, the church needs dads.

John Fuller of Focus on the Family writes the following:

The United States is the leader in fatherless homes. The impact is breathtaking: 63 percent of youth suicides come from fatherless homes, and 75 percent of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from homes without a dad. In his book It’s Better to Build Boys than Mend Men, Truett Cathy offers these startling statistics:

Children from fatherless homes are:

  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 9 times more likely to end up in state-operated institution.
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison[1]

Wow! Those statistics are quite startling. So, obviously fathers are important, we have an important role in the development of children.

But the reality is there are many children without a father. There are many children without a spiritual father. In the Bible Timothy was one of those children. He needed a spiritual father and Paul took care of that job.

Theme: I want us to look at Paul serving as a spiritual father to Timothy. I encourage you to take seriously your role as a spiritual parent. Make disciples of young people.

Let’s read Acts 16:1-3:

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

  1. Let’s talk about Paul and Timothy.
    1. We just read Acts 16:1-3 and in that passage we see that Paul met Timothy and was obviously impressed. From this passage we see that Timothy’s mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. Paul wanted to take him along. From all indications Timothy’s father was not a believer in Jesus. After this Timothy goes with Paul. We see Timothy show up much in Paul’s letters.
    2. In 1 Tim. 1:2 Paul writes To Timothy my true son in the faith… Paul compares Timothy to a spiritual son.
    3. Then in 2 Timothy 1:2 Paul again writes: To Timothy, my dear son… Again, we see Paul and Timothy’s relationship.
      1. They had likely traveled together for 10 years.[2]
      2. They obviously had a special bond. 1 and 2 Timothy are written to Timothy from the Apostle Paul while Timothy was serving as the interim pastor in Ephesus.
    4. Then, one more passage I will show you. In Phil. 2:22: Paul writes: But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.
  2. Let’s talk about serving as a spiritual parent.
    1. What is this like?
    2. It is not meaning simply going fishing together, though spiritual advise can be passed on during a fishing trip.
    3. It is not meaning simply activities. I am not talking about simply hanging out with someone younger than you.
    4. This is talking about discipleship.
    5. This is about mentoring someone younger than you in the faith and in the ministry. The Gospel is at the center of serving as a spiritual parent. However, understand the Gospel must be at the center of being a parent. Look at Deut. 6:1-9: These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
    6. Serving as a spiritual parent does begin with a relationship with someone younger than you, but it continues as you study the Bible together. As you model what it means to be a man or woman of God. Serving as a spiritual parent continues as you are going fishing or hunting or cooking together, but in doing so you are modeling and teaching how to be a man or woman of God. You are modeling service to the church. You are modeling and teaching evangelism, discipleship, worship, ministry and fellowship. Being a spiritual parent means that the Gospel is everything.
    7. If we do not teach our biological children the Gospel we have taught them nothing worthwhile. If we have relationships with others younger than us but we do not teach them the Gospel we have taught them absolutely nothing worthwhile. They die and it is the end of anything good.
    8. My youth pastor was my spiritual father. He was older than my father and he was living for Jesus and my father was not. He discipled me as he taught me the Bible but he also discipled me as we served the church together, we had lunch together, we worked together. He modeled integrity and Christian values. I remember going with him to pick up an old truck he was restoring. The man was signing the title over and said, “How much do you want me to put down that you bought this for?” This was because you have to pay taxes on every dollar so the seller was willing to just put down a dollar. My youth pastor had him put down the correct price. He modeled integrity. He modeled service. He modeled being a Christian father and grandfather.
  • Application: Serve as a paternal influence to others.
    1. Who has God places in your life for you to serve in that paternal influence role?
    2. Right down a name in your bulletin and take it home and pray about it.
    3. This may be your children and grandchildren.
    4. I know of someone who speaks at the men’s fellowship breakfasts. He talked about having a Bible study with his grandsons. He would buy donuts and meet them on Saturday mornings to study the Bible. Could that be what God is calling you to do?

Close:

I read the following:

Truett Cathy is probably best known for his Chick-Fil-A restaurants, and while I like the food he helped make popular, I’m most appreciative of the work he does to help boys who face the prospect of growing up without a father.

Mr. Cathy has been mentoring youngsters for more than sixty years. He runs a camp and a foster- care program designed to help give children of broken homes a second chance at life. It’s an inspiring program. Boys are matched with mentors and father figures, and some are even placed in full-time Christian foster homes. Many are given the opportunity to work side by side with Mr. Cathy on a beautiful farm in the rolling hills of Rome, Georgia.

Truett Cathy is a well-seasoned Southern gentleman. But he’s more than a nice guy with business savvy. He knows how boys think. Most important, he knows what they need: a father or— at the very least— a strong male role model. Mr. Cathy travels the country with a simple but strong message: you can make a difference! It’s better to build boys than to have to mend men.[3]

So, next time you complain about the next generation, pray. Pray that God would send you a young person to serve as a spiritual parent.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011. Page 22

 

[2] See George W. Murray, “Paul’s Corporate Witness in Philippians,” Bibliotheca Sacra 155:619 (JulySeptember 1998):316-26. Seen in Dr. Constable’s notes on Phil. 2:22: http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/philippians.pdf

[3] John Fuller with Paul Batura. First Time Dad, the Stuff You Really Need to Know. Moody Publishers, Chicago 2011.

You are not a failure, God loves you

Introduction:

There is a new show on Netflix it is called “Anne with an ‘E.'” The show is about “Anne of Green Gables.” It is a wonderful, cute show about an orphan girl who mistakenly ends up at Green Gables. They were expecting a boy. Here an older brother and sister are to take her in. Many of you may know of the book. The first episode is sad. Then she is sent away, back to the orphanage, as they think she stole from them. In reality she did not. When they find the piece of jewelry which they thought she stole they try to track her down. Finally, the brother finds her and tries to persuade her to come back. She ignores him, UNTIL he calls her his daughter. Then she comes back. Later they ask her to take their name. It was so exciting for her.

How special it is to have the rights and privileges of being part of a family?

 

Today, I plan to encourage you with the truth of God’s love. God loves us so much that He adopted us. We are part of his family.

 

Sometimes we feel like failures. You are not. This is a lie we believe. The world may make you think you are a failure. You are not. God loves you.

 

My theme is: You are Not a Failure God does love you no matter what. He loves you so much He calls you His children.

 

Let’s read: 1 John 3:1: We are only going to read and focus on the beginning of the passage.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 

 

  1. See what great love!
    1. I like the translation.
    2. It begins with “See.” It is as if this is saying, “Take notice”!
    3. Some translation would say, “Behold.” This is a really important statement.
    4. What are we noticing. What is of significance?
    5. We are noticing God’s love. This is God’s “great” love.
    6. Think about how you love people. Do you know people that you will love no matter what?
    7. Do you know people that you will always love?
    8. Do you have a love for people that is hard to modify? It is hard to find the adjective to describe the love. Maybe the love is a verb, it is action, and it is hard to find an adverb to describe the love.
    9. God loves us with a great love. It is hard to find adjectives to describe God’s love for us. It is hard to find adverbs to describe God’s love. God’s love has been portrayed in action. His love has been portrayed in the action of dying for us.
    10. In this case God lavished love on us.
  2. God Lavished on Us.
    1. This is important.
    2. This has the idea of a rich gift.
    3. Think about it, who is God?
    4. What belongs to God?
    5. What power does God have?
    6. What rights does God have?
    7. What authority does God have?
    8. Just think about it. If we are to believe in God, which I do, then we have to believe He has all power, all authority, all rights and everything belongs to Him.
    9. And He notices me.
    10. You are not a failure. God loves you no matter what. He lavishes you with His love.
  • We are God’s Children.
    1. We are called God’s children. I like what the Archaeological Study Bible says: The underlying word of “sonship” is “adoption.” Adoption was common among the Greeks and Romans, who granted the adopted son all the privileges of a natural son, including inheritance rights (see “Adoption in the Roman World”).
    2. We have the privileges of being a daughter or son of God.
    3. What are these privileges?
      1. This can be quite a theological topic, but to just think of a few. We have eternal life with Him.
      2. We have a constant contact with God.
  • God will not give up on us.
  1. I remember hearing my dad talk to my barber once and my dad was comparing his love for us to God’s love. My dad said, “I could never stop loving my children.”
  2. It is, maybe, easy to give up on some stranger, some employee, some neighbor, but it ought to be that you never give up on your child. You never stop loving your child.
  3. God loves us that much.
  1. In the Greco-Roman world there was an actual adoption process for your own children. You were considered a slave of your own parents, until at a certain age your parent chooses to adopt you and consider you their own child. Then you have the rights of the family.
  2. To some extent this includes rewards in Heaven. It includes authority in Heaven.
  3. That is the idea the Bible has in mind. God went through the process of adopting you.
  4. The Life Application Study Bible: 3:1   As believers, our self-worth is based on the fact that God loves us and calls us his children. We are his children now, not just sometime in the distant future. Knowing that we are his children should encourage us to live as Jesus did.[1]
  5. Graduates:
    1. You will face challenges in your careers, but God loves you and supports you no matter what. God is in your corner. God has your back.
    2. You will face difficulties in college, but God has your back. You are His child. Give Him a call on the prayer line.
    3. You will face family trials, but God includes you part of His family.
    4. God loves you.
    5. God will never stop loving you.
    6. Your parents may stop holding your hand, but God does not (Isa. 41:10 and 13).
  6. For everyone, we get holder and our parents go to Heaven, remember that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us.
  7. God is there to hold our hand.
  8. God cares, He always cares.
  9. Regardless of your age, God loves you.
  10. Regardless of your mistakes, God loves you.
  11. Get rid of the idea that you are a failure, You are not. God is in your corner.

 

Closing:

See what manner of love the Father has given unto us.

He lavished love on you.

Stop tuning your mind into these ideas that He doesn’t love you.

Stop tuning your mind into these ideas that you are a failure.

God loves you!

Remember the Joel Osteen illustration about the TV of the mind? Sometimes we are thinking about the wrong things. We need to use the remote control of our mind and change the channel. You are God’s child, tune into that channel.

There was a Little House on the Prairie episode about the Ingalls family adopting Albert. He was so happy to be adopted. It means to much.

You are adopted by God.

You are His child.

 

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Tyndale House Publishers (2011-08-01). Life Application Study Bible NLT (LASB: Full Size) (Kindle Locations 161133-161142). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Be Encouraged, it is not all on you

Introduction:

Memorial Day was established after the Civil War. All these men served in the War Between the States. All these families sacrificed as the husband was gone, the father was gone. Families were torn apart. What was it like for the soldier? What was it like for the leaders? I wander if they ever felt the weight of the war was on them?

 

What about Lincoln? How did he make it through the war? How did he make it through the day? I am sure he felt like the weight of the war was on him. I am sure he felt like the future of the United States was on him.

 

What was it like for other soldiers and families in other wars? I listened to a “Backstory” program about the history of World War I. At first America was not going in. Funny as it may sound, at first we even had songs about not going to war. There was a song that had lyrics something like this:

 

Verse 1

Ten million soldiers to the war have gone,

Who may never return again.

Ten million mother’s hearts must break

For the ones who died in vain.

Head bowed down in sorrow

In her lonely years,

I heard a mother murmur thru’ her tears:

Chorus

I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier,

I brought him up to be my pride and joy.

Who dares to place a musket on his shoulder,

To shoot some other mother’s darling boy?

Let nations arbitrate their future troubles,

It’s time to lay the sword and gun away.

There’d be no war today,

If mothers all would say,

“I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier.”

Verse 2

What victory can cheer a mother’s heart,

When she looks at her blighted home?

What victory can bring her back

All she cared to call her own?

Let each mother answer

In the years to be,

Remember that my boy belongs to me![1]

 

Within a few years we went to war and the songs changed: Over there:

 

Johnny,[8] get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.

Take it on the run, on the run, on the run.

Hear them calling you and me,

Every Sons of Liberty.

Hurry right away, no delay, go today.

Make your Daddy glad to have had such a lad.

Tell your sweetheart not to pine,

To be proud her boy’s in line.

Verse 2

Johnny, get your gun, get your gun, get your gun.

Johnny, show the “Hun[9] you’re a son-of-a-gun.

Hoist the flag and let her fly

Yankee Doodle[10] do or die.

Pack your little kit, show your grit, do your bit.

Yankee[11] to the ranks from the towns and the tanks.[12]

Make your Mother proud of you

And the old red-white-and-blue[13]

Chorus

Over there, over there,

Send the word, send the word over there

That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming

The drums rum-tumming everywhere.

So prepare, say a prayer,

Send the word, send the word to beware –

We’ll be over, we’re coming over,

And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.[2]

 

I wonder the burden our soldiers felt?

 

Do you ever feel burdened? Do you ever feel that the weight of the world is on you?

 

We can look at this topic two ways. Is our living all about us? Are all the pressures of daily living all on us? We may feel that way? What about salvation? What about our faith in Christ? Is our spiritual condition all on us?

 

I would say no to both of these.

 

As we look at these lies we believe some of you may think, “duh, I know that!” But can you justify what you know based off of the Bible. As we talk about the lies we believe it is imperative that we know Biblical truth, not American truth. It is most important that we know Biblical truth, not Ben Franklin quotes. Be schooled by the Bible.

 

Theme: Your eternity and daily living is on Jesus, not you.

Application: Surrender continually to Jesus. Pray continually.

 

Let’s read Matthew 11:28-30:

“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.”

 

  1. Our Salvation is not all on us.
    1. This passage is about salvation, not about daily living. Now, we can make the case that our daily living is not all on us and I’ll come to that in a minute.
    2. The people were burdened with the Jewish law. This law did not all come from Scripture. Jesus was saying that He fulfills the law for them. We can’t keep the law, but Jesus did it for us. Jesus died in our place.
    3. What is a yoke: ESV Study Note: The wooden frame joining two animals (usually oxen) for pulling heavy loads was a metaphor for one person’s subjection to another, and a common metaphor in Judaism for the law. The Pharisaic interpretation of the law, with its extensive list of proscriptions, had become a crushing burden (cf. 23:4) but was believed by the people to be of divine origin. Jesus’ yoke of discipleship, on the other hand, brings rest through simple commitment to him (cf. 1 John 5:3).
    4. It is not about religion, but about Jesus.
    5. It is not about religiously following rules, but following Jesus.
    6. We will follow one or the other. You will either follow Jesus or a list of moral rules. Are you committing to the church because you are supposed to or because you are committed to Jesus and the church is the bride of Christ?
    7. Lean in on Jesus. Christianity is NOT a religion. Christianity is about Jesus. Religion is about earning your way to Heaven, but Christianity is about what Jesus has done to give us eternal life.
  2. We have daily help.
    1. John 14:16-17: And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
    2. We talk about the Holy Spirit a lot, but the point is that you can always place your burden on Jesus. Your eternal life is on Jesus and your life now is on Jesus. It is not all on you.
    3. How do you give it to Jesus. First, surrender your eternal life to Jesus, second keep a constant connection with Jesus.
  • The weight of the future is on God, not us.
    1. So, let me go back to the Civil War, or World War I, or World War II each soldier made a difference. Was the weight of the war on one soldier or another? No, all the soldiers came together and made a difference. But more than that each soldier had daily help.
    2. God gives us help through prayer.
    3. More than that, God is in charge. Amen.
    4. God is in charge, right? Do we believe that?
      1. NOW, this is where it gets difficult. Was God on America’s side? I think it was Lincoln who said: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”[3]
      2. So, we can pray during anything and pray, “Jesus, I hope I am doing the right thing, please help.” We can always ask God for help.
  • We can give our burden to God.
  1. I really do not wish to get in the politics of war, but I will say that looking at Scripture God would absolutely NOT be happy with slavery. I can say that God absolutely was NOT happy with the concentration camps.
  2. I remember talking to John Blaser about our history and he talked about the things we went through as a nation and he said it was like God had to be helping us.
  3. I have recently been studying Winston Churchill more. It is almost as if God setup him as a leader for World War II. I am not saying he was a Christian, maybe he was. I am simply saying that God used him. It would have been easy for Churchill to think the weight of Britain was on him. The man was stubborn and strong willed to begin with. I am listening to an audio book about his younger years and I watched a documentary about him during World War I. It was like he was happy with war. He would walk right out into the “no-man’s land” in between the trenches. It was like God used him.
  • Here is a strong and true statement. God is in charge. God is available to help us. We can turn our burden over to God. The weight is on God and not us.
  • God is in charge. Your eternity and daily living is on Jesus, not you.
  1. Pray like a child.
    1. We are taught to pray continually in 1 Thess. 5:17.
    2. Jesus talks about the faith of a child (Matthew 18:3).
    3. How do children talk to their parents?
    4. I have two little ones at home, ages 3 and 5, and you know they don’t think about their vocabulary. They just talk. They beg and will repeatedly ask us questions. They don’t try to formulate their words carefully, they just ask. Many times while they are asking for something they are not making sense, but they ask.
    5. My children will ask for help, there is no hesitancy in a young child asking her parents for help. They just ask.
    6. Abigail does not hesitate to ask for help. She was once trying to get her coat on at child care and she turned around and asked a state inspector, “will you help me?”
    7. I believe we need to talk to God like a child. Keep an ongoing conversation with God going. Talk naturally to God, get rid of the King James English.
    8. I started an Evernote idea in my phone I call text messages to God. What does this mean? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I send a quick message to friends or family. This could be a text or a phone call. Sometimes I will be going somewhere and call to tell Meagan what is going on. So, I applied the same idea to my relationship with God. Many times I pray simple breath prayers, but instead I thought I will text them to myself and save them in Evernote. Evernote is a note taking app which will sync with computers and tablets.
    9. So, I could be going into a meeting and type out: “Jesus, I need your help right now.”
    10. Now, you don’t need to text that, just say it to Him.
    11. You could know that you are going to have a difficult conversation with a family member: “Jesus, I need You, I can’t have this conversation alone.”
    12. Maybe you are making medical decisions for a family member: “Jesus, I need your wisdom.”
    13. Pray specifics to God. You are not alone.

 

 

 

Conclusion:

I like what the Life Application Study Bible:

11: 30   In what sense was Jesus’ yoke easy? The yoke emphasizes the challenges, work, and difficulties of partnering with Christ in life. Responsibilities weigh us down, even the effort of staying true to God. But Jesus’ yoke remains easy compared to the crushing alternative. Jesus doesn’t offer a life of luxurious ease— the yoke is still an oxen’s tool for working hard. But it’s a shared yoke, with weight falling on bigger shoulders than yours. Someone with more pulling power is up front helping. Suddenly you are participating in life’s responsibilities with a great Partner— and now that frown can turn into a smile, and that gripe into a song.

 

Theme: Your eternity and daily living is on Jesus, not you.

Application: Surrender continually to Jesus. Pray continually.

 

Here is an idea for application: this week try to pray about everything, seriously everything. Talk to God as your good and loving Father and pray. At the end of the week record in a prayer journal or this bulletin how you have done. Set a prayer goal, you can do this in the bulletin:

 

This week I intend to try to pray about all things.

For recording at the end of the week: Write your thoughts on much more you were connected with God this week below:

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Didn%27t_Raise_My_Boy_to_Be_a_Soldier

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over_There

[3] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/abrahamlin388944.html

Be Encouraged: What you do matters

Intro:

The following is a list of “I owe you’s” which apply to mothers all over the country, all of which are long overdue. Stop after each one and consider the priceless value of the one who made your life possible – your mother.

“Dear Mom:
As I walk through my museum of memories,
I owe you – for your time. Day and night.
I owe you – for your example. Consistent and dependable.
I owe you – for your support. Stimulating and challenging.
I owe you – for your humor. Sparky and quick.
I owe you – for your counsel. Wise and quiet.
I owe you – for your humility. Genuine and gracious.
I owe you – for your hospitality. Smiling and warm.
I owe you – for your insight. Keen and honest.
I owe you – for your flexibility. Patient and joyful.
I owe you – for your sacrifices. Numerous and quickly forgotten.
I owe you – for your faith. Solid and sure.
I owe you – for your hope. Ceaseless and indestructible.
I owe you – for your love. Devoted and deep.”

-Charles R. Swindoll, Strong Family[1]

Last Sunday I did say that God doesn’t need you, but my purpose was to encourage you not to be overwhelmed. Today, for just a few minutes I wish to impress on you that what you do DOES matter.

In:

Isaiah 49:3-4:

He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
But I said, “I have labored in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”

Hebrews 6:10:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

  1. What you do does matter to the most important ONE.
    1. Sometimes we forget the sacrifices of our mothers. But God never forgets what you do. This means that when you serve your children this will be remembered for all eternity.
    2. I have seen and heard the saddest of stories of the disrespect of children and grandchildren. I know that I for sure had my days being disrespectful to my parents, but I am really talking about neglect.
    3. Realize that the command to honor your father and mother in Exodus 20:12 does not have an agent limit. God never says to stop respecting your mother at age sixteen or eighteen or twenty-one. Yet, many do. But instead of focusing on the negative, let’s remember that your children may not notice what you do for them, but God does.
    4. God remembers you.
    5. God remembers everything you have done and it matters.
    6. You may think those tireless nights don’t really matter, but they do. God remembers. God does not forget.
    7. Mothers care about their children, their grandchildren, their great grandchildren. No one cares like a mother. God remembers. God does not forget, what you do matters.
    8. Let me give an example: I love the story of James and John’s mom coming to Jesus in Matthew 20:20-25. She actually came to Jesus to ask that her two sons could sit on Jesus’ right and left in His Kingdom. The other disciples were indignant. Do you think James and John remembered their mother’s sacrifice? Do you think they were like, “Mother, stay away, you are embarrassing me”? She meant well, Jesus really does not rebuke her. She came with them kneeling down in reverence. Mothers want the best for their children. Certainly, it is important not to be a helicopter parent. There was a major news articles about moms going to job interviews with their children after they had graduated from quality colleges. Well, here in a similar way, James and John’s mom comes to Jesus. It is almost like, the gall of that women. But hold on now. It is possible that she knew Jesus well. Let’s use sanctified imagination here. Maybe they grew up near each other. Maybe they dated in high school, it is possible, not likely, but possible. Maybe, she told James and John she was going to make this request and they said, “Mom, no, you know what the other ten will think?” Maybe she said, “I know Jesus, I’ve known Him since I was a kid, our moms were friends…” Maybe Jesus worked as a carpenter alongside her brother. Either way, she wanted the best for her sons.
    9. Mothers care. God cares. God will not forget.

Conclusion:

Hebrews 6:10:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Do you ever feel like what you do doesn’t matter? God remembers.

Remember the sleepless nights? God does.

Remember changing diapers? God does.

Remember midnight feedings? God does.

Remember doctor’s appointments? God does.

Remember working hard at home and at work to pay the bills for your children? God does.

Remember rocking him or her to sleep when you just wanted to go to sleep? God does.

Remember the good times and the hard times? God does.

Remember driving them to practice, orchestra, ballet, dance, work, school and still having a dozen other things to do? God does.

Remember crying over poor decisions your teenager was making? God does. He remembers what you do and it matters.

Remember anxiety, your worry, your prayers? God does.

Remember parent teacher conferences? God does.

Remember weighing the decisions about discipline? God does.

Remember buckling them into the car, making meals, washing clothes, choosing preschools? God does.

For some of you remembering going through all of this over again for your grandchildren? God does.

 

God remembers. What you do matters.

 

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] http://ibchighland.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=261280&articleId=39479

Our best is Good Enough

Introduction:

THE ANT, THE PRAYER, AND THE CONTACT LENS

A true story: Brenda was a young woman who was invited to go rock climbing. Although she was scared to death, she went with her group to a tremendous granite cliff. In spite of her fear, she put on the gear, took a hold on the rope, and started up the face of that rock. Well, she got to a ledge where she could take a breather. As she was hanging on there, the safety rope snapped against Brenda’s eye and knocked out her contact lens.

Well, here she is on a rock ledge, with hundreds of feet below her and hundreds of feet above her. Of course, she looked and looked and looked, hoping it had landed on the ledge, but it just wasn’t there. Here she was, far from home, her sight now blurry. She was desperate and began to get upset, so she prayed to the Lord to help her to find it.

When she got to the top, a friend examined her eye and her clothing for the lens, but there was no contact lens to be found. She sat down, despondent, with the rest of the party, waiting for the rest of them to make it up the face of the cliff. She looked out across range after range of mountains, thinking of that Bible verse that says, “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth.” She thought, “Lord, You can see all these mountains. You know every stone and leaf, and You know exactly where my contact lens is. Please help me.”

Finally, they walked down the trail to the bottom. At the bottom there was a new party of climbers just starting up the face of the cliff. One of them shouted out, “Hey, you guys! Anybody lose a contact lens?” Well, that would be startling enough, but you know why the climber saw it? An ant was moving slowly across the face of the rock, carrying it!

Brenda told me that her father is a cartoonist. When she told him the incredible story of the ant, the prayer, and the contact lens, he drew a picture of an ant lugging that contact lens with the words, “Lord, I don’t know why You want me to carry this thing. I can’t eat it, and it’s awfully heavy. But if this is what You want me to do, I’ll carry it for You.”

We need to remember these words when we are asked to do something that we feel is too heavy for us to do and or carry. “God, I don’t know why you want me to carry this load. I can see no good in it and it’s awfully heavy. But, if you want me to carry it, I will.”

Today I wish to address the subject of our best. We are in a sermon series focusing on lies that come our way and tear us down. These are lies that maybe we believe, but they cause us harm, they hurt us. They make us work harder than we need to. They break down our confidence. They overwhelm us. One of these such lies is that “our best is not good enough.” I am not going to address this lie separate from the Holy Spirit. In a way the lie is a lie regardless of whether or not one is a Christian or not. But is it a big lie for the Christian because the Christian is not alone. The Christian has the Holy Spirit.

2 Cor. 3:17: Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Certainly, with the Holy Spirit there is a freedom and we are never alone. But just for a moment realize even a non-believer can only do their best. It has to be good enough. But for the Christian we can really be overwhelmed if we try things on our own.

My theme today: Our best is good enough because it is couple’s with God’s strength

My application: Matthew 6:33: But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

  1. Let’s talk about the overwhelming weight the Christian faces and the overwhelming answer.
    1. I like what Pastor J.D. Greear writes as he talks about being overwhelmed:

And as I said, I used to be one of them myself. No matter what I gave, there was always more that was needed. One more child to free from the sex trade . . . one more unreached people group to target . . . one more person to tell about Jesus! How could I take my wife out to dinner with needs like that weighing on me? Or go on a vacation? In fact, how could I keep any money for my own enjoyment or pleasure when so many in the world die with nothing? If the price of a cup of coffee could really feed an Indian orphan for a week, was it right for me ever to have a cup of coffee? And why did I need a hot shower? Should I take only cold showers and free up another $ 20 a month in energy costs to house another refugee? John Wesley famously took down the pictures off of his wall, saying they were the “blood of the poor,” unnecessary indulgences while people starve. Was my indulgence of hot showers depriving some poor person of their next meal? My wife and I own a fairly modest house, but couldn’t we have a smaller one? After all, my next door neighbors in Indonesia lived in a 400-square-foot, non-non-air-conditioned, aluminum-roofed hovel, and they were a family of ten. I don’t know anyone in America who lives that way, but my Indonesian neighbors survived . . . so wouldn’t truly “radical” living require that I live that way, too, and give the excess money to missions? Was my insistence on living like a first-world American, with a nice home (even if modest), condemning many to starvation and hell?

If every person I see is headed either to heaven or to hell, then shouldn’t I spend every minute of every day interrupting them to make sure they know how to get to God? Don’t they all need to know, right now? If it depends on me, shouldn’t I interrupt them, immediately?

But, J.D. continues to share that God does not need us. If He needed us all that would be true but:

Thankfully, the weight of the mission sits upon the shoulders of a God who has no needs.

  • He creates universes with words.
  • He takes five loaves and two fish and feeds more people in five minutes than twelve men working full-time jobs could supply in eight months.
  • He finds tax payments in a fish’s mouth.
  • He knocks down mighty giants with creek pebbles.
  • He summons rich, pagan, enemy kings to pay for his building programs.[1]
  1. We serve a big God and we walk with the Lord. Our best is good enough because everything God calls us to do is about Him and not us.
  2. Think about the beginning of the book of Acts 1:4 Jesus is risen and He is with the disciples and He tells them not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon them. I find this funny. It is as if Jesus knew without the Holy Spirit their best is not good enough. With the Holy Spirit everything will work out. The book of Acts is all about the Holy Spirit.
  3. Peter was afraid and denied Jesus (John 18:25-27) but when the Holy Spirit comes upon them He preaches and people are saved, 3000 were saved.
  4. The Holy Spirit simply told Philip to witness to the Ethioppian and the man was saved (Acts 8:25ff).
  5. The Holy Spirit radically transforms our best.
  1. Jesus addresses this giving us the answer, simply seek God.
    1. Let’s read Matthew 7:25-33: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
    2. Our assignment is not to worry about our best.
    3. Our assignment is to work hard and let God supply the rest.
    4. Our assignment is to seek the Lord and follow what He calls us to do.
    5. Our assignment is to remember that He is in charge.
    6. Our assignment is to let God be God.
    7. God will multiple your hard work and make it better than you can imagine.
    8. God will multiple your integrity and make things work out His way.
    9. God will give you favor when you seek Him, when you let the Holy Spirit work in you.
    10. I am not only talking about church ministries. God will give you favor at work for seeking the Lord and telling the truth. Own up to mistakes and have integrity.
    11. God will give you favor when you don’t gossip on Facebook.
    12. God will give you favor in your family when you can be trusted not to spread rumors.
    13. Sometimes seeking the Lord is tough, but God will give you favor when you seek the Lord even when it means obeying the law and there is a cost. There is a cost to obeying the legal law and God’s way. Sometimes we think our giving does not make a difference, it is just pennies, but God will take care of you when you give what you can and stretch yourself a little but more.
    14. God will give you favor when you seek Him by restoring a relationship. Sometimes we are overwhelmed thinking a relationship can never be healed, but remember that God can do all things. It is not your best healing the relationship, but it is God doing that.
    15. Sometimes we think, I could never finish college or some training, but remember you have God’s strength within you. Sometimes we think, I cannot face another day at my work! But remember you don’t go there by yourself.
    16. Don’t worry, give it to God. Say, God I am overwhelmed and I just don’t know that I am making a difference. I need the Spirit to lead me. I am seeking you. I am giving this to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
    17. Write out your worries on paper and give them to God.
    18. Write out that you think you are doing your best and missing out, give them to God.

Close:

It is God who multiplies our work. Our job is to obey. Think about Joseph, he goes to Egypt as a slave and he maintained integrity and God multiplied that giving him a position second to the Pharaoh and saved all of the Israelites through Him (Genesis 37-50). All he did is what was right.

I met with the Vice-President of a Company. He told me that he started out as an accountant and did not want to be with the company that long. That was 17 years ago. He had previously served as a missionary, youth pastor and worship leader. He was from Mexico and then was transferred to Illinois as the President of the Company, the company merged and now he is the VP. But he never wanted to stay there. He wanted to be a missionary again. I thought of Joseph, God gave this man favor just like Joseph. God promoted him. Now he has had prayer meetings and Bible studies in that office. He has shared the Gospel in that office. He was seeking the Lord and the Lord used him. He did his best and the Lord used him. Praise God. It happens by the Holy Spirit within us.

Our job, seek the Lord and trust Him with the results.

Do you know Jesus? Luke 9:23

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Greear, J.D.; Greear, J.D. (2014-11-04). Jesus, Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better than Jesus Beside You (p. 77). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Our worth does NOT come from our work

Introduction:

Think about the human body. On one hand we are designed quite intricately. On the other hand we are quite delicate and cheap.

I read the following:

While working on a reprint project of the Mayo brothers and other prominent early physicians at Mayo Clinic, we came across an interesting, if not whimsical, interview of Dr. Charles H. Mayo that appeared in the Northwestern Health Journal (Dec. 1924, 9:9-10).  Dr. Charlie had only recently been elected president of the American Medical Association at the time of the interview; and the article was titled, “Our Bodies’ Worth Only 84 Cents – Dr. Mayo.”  After browsing through this light-hearted piece, it begged the question — what is the human body worth today?

The interview format provided an opportunity to “experience” the voice of Dr. Charlie and to enjoy some of his humor.  In those 84 cents he said “there is enough sulfur to keep the fleas off a dog and enough iron for an eight-penny nail.”  His good-natured personality glowed throughout.  One of his “pet” topics was what people eat.  He compared what people eat to the value of the human body.  He stated that the food we consumed on a daily basis was worth much more than our entire body.  Over the decades the question of what is a body worth has recurred.  An authoritative source for the chemical composition of the body dates back to the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils, now part of the United States Department of Agriculture.  Theirs was a highly scientific approach to the chemical composition of the human body.

Oxygen  65%
Carbon  18%
Hydrogen  10%
Nitrogen  3%
Calcium  1.5%
Phosphorous   1%
Potassium  0.35%
Sulfur  0.25%
Sodium  0.15%
Chlorine  0.15%
Magnesium  0.05%
Iron   0.0004%
Iodine   0.00004%

Surprisingly the actual values of the chemicals have varied little over time depending on the market value of the elements.  A Google search illustrates much evidence of renewed interest in this medical parlor game.  Contemporary entries go beyond the individual “elements” and focus on “other” global markets; e.g., bone marrow, ($23 million) and DNA ($9.7 million).

The current monetary worth placed of the basic “elements” in an individual human body is $4.50:  $3.50 for the skin and the remainder of the worth assigned in the aggregate to the major elements — $1.00.  Almost 100 years have passed and the difference is only 16 cents from Dr. Charlie’s long ago calculation!  We can’t say that we have increased in value markedly, but at least we aren’t worth any less.  For most of us the value of the human body is priceless; but we do well to remember a quote attributed to Thomas Edison, “From his neck down a man is worth a couple of dollars a day, from his neck up he is worth anything that his brain can produce.”

Dottie Hawthorne
Outreach Librarian, Mayo Clinic Libraries[1]

We don’t need a lot of money; however, we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

But what about our own self-worth? What gives us value?

The world may tell us we have worth based off of education, we have worth based off of looks, we have worth based off of our job, we have worth based off of our number of friends, we have worth based off of the number of likes we receive on a social media post, we have worth based off of our family, we have worth based off of our house, we have worth based off of our technology, we have worth based off of our car, we have worth based off of our body, we have worth based off of our talent, or you fill in the blank.

NO, NO, NO, YOU HAVE WORTH BECAUSE GOD CREATED YOU. No one has a right to mess with your worth because they did not create you.

I am in a new sermon series in which I will contrast the lies we believe about ourselves verses the Biblical Truths about ourselves.

Today we are going to talk specifically about your work and your worth.

My Theme: Your worth does NOT come from your work. Your worth comes from your creator. Work is merely a significant part of our life. It is not your life.

Turn to Genesis 1:26-27:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

  1. God did not create you only to work, so don’t let work determine your value.
    1. God created you, He gives you value, not your occupation.
    2. I understand, many of you have worked for 70 or more years and now you are retired, what do you do. We can talk about what to do with your time, but what is clear is that you are still priceless. God created you and that is where your worth comes from.
    3. If I create a book shelf, it has value to me because I built it. It is not for someone else to mess it up, I built it. It is mine. You are God’s, He created you.
    4. Why did God create you?
  2. God created us for His glory.
    1. Isaiah 43:7; Ephesians 1:11-12
    2. Isaiah 43:7: everyone who is called by my name,
      whom I created for my glory,
      whom I formed and made.”
    3. Ephesians 1:11-12: In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
    4. You know that you give God glory by existing and fulfilling your purpose. As you live your purpose changes. Think of the purpose of a baby, versus a toddler, verses a teenager, verses a young adults, middle aged adult. Your value comes from God. He gives you value.
  • God loves you and delights in you and is perfectly happy with you delighting in Him and enjoying life.
    1. Ephesians 1:3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 
    2. Ephesians 1:7-10: In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
    3. John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    4. Psalm 16:11: You make known to me the path of life;
      you will fill me with joy in your presence,
      with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
    5. Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you the desires of your heart.

      1. God wants us to have fun.
      2. Fun is a good things.
  • God wants us to laugh regardless of our age.
  1. God does not want us to be bogged down with oppressive thinking of our value. Don’t get me wrong, these depressing thoughts come. It is normal to have short period of negative thinking.
  2. However, if you are dealing with continual oppressive thinking, reach out. I would love to talk with you and see if I can help. Many time just talking with someone can help. I would also love to refer you to a professional counselor.
    1. Many times we don’t need a professional counselor, though there is nothing wrong with seeing someone.
    2. We can get help talking with a friend.
    3. Write out your thoughts, journal.
    4. Look at the Bible passages that talk about your value and just think them through, journal as you look at them. Write out your thinking to God.
    5. There are other Scriptures to look at such as Psalm 139.
    6. Remember Philippians 4:6-9, think about your thinking. Thinking on good things.
    7. God created you! Think of all the amazing, positive, awesome, joyful, ramifications of being created in the image of God.

Close:

A car that won’t drive has no purpose. It was created to drive.

A person that cannot work still has purpose. We were created for much more than work. If God needed us to work then we would receive our value based off of how good we performed in doing a certain task. We do; however, receive value in work. Work is a good thing. But notice that God created everything without us. God desires to use you, but don’t feel burdened as He does not need you. What I am about to share I share not to make you feel bad but to make you feel God. God created us not because He needs us, but to bring glory to Him.

  • God created time without us (Genesis 1:1).
  • He created space without us (Genesis 1:1).
  • He created matter without us (Genesis 1:1).
  • God created light with out us (Genesis 1:3).
  • God created dry land and water without us (Genesis 1:9-10; day 3)
  • God created vegetation without us (Genesis 1:11-13; day 3).
  • God created the sun, moon, stars, seasons without us (Genesis 1:14-19; day 4).
  • God created the fish and all the sea creatures as well as the bird without us (Genesis 1:20-23; day 5).
  • God created the animal life without us (Genesis 1:24-25; day 6).
  • God created humans without us (Genesis 1:26-27; day 6).

But God chooses to use us. God loves us regardless of what our capabilities are. God loves us regardless of what we are willing to do.

God created you and He loves you.

Luke 9:23

Let’s pray.

  • God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)
  • Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)
  • Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)
  • Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)
  • Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)
  • Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

[1] https://liblog.mayo.edu/2010/01/14/whats-the-body-worth/