Living as the Church: Prayer for Ministry



Living as the Church: Prayer in Ministry

As we continue in our study of this letter by Paul to Thessalonica, we come to Chapter 3 where Paul starts by saying “Finally.” What this teaches us is that when a preacher says that word, and they continue on for quite a while, it’s biblical! Our text for today is the first five verses, where we find the following:

1.    Prayer request of Paul

2.    Faithless fellows who fight against the faithful

3.    The faithfulness of God

4.    The protection of God

5.    Obedient believers’ blessings

 

Unfortunately, or fortunately, time does not allow the opportunity to address each of these topics fully. As you can imagine, both The Faithfulness of God and The Protection of God could be their own series. But from this text I want to unpack:

1.    The verses that address prayer for the Apostle Paul

2.    The distinct differences between the Apostle Paul and those who are NOT of faith. 

The Apostle Paul was not shy about asking for prayer. Paul often asked other Christians to pray for him.

Living as the Church: End Times Error



Living as the Church: End Times Error

If a person has the wrong view of history, they will invariably have an incorrect world view.  For instance, if you believe that we are all the product of evolution, completely apart from God’s creative design, you will have a different moral compass than a person who believes that God has fearfully and wonderfully created us for a specific purpose.  One person could view human history as an endless cycle of repeating events that are summed up in what we call the rise and fall of world empires; another person may view the history of man as random events with no meaning and headed towards oblivion.  You likely know someone who views the world this way; where all events are pointless and have no meaningful consequences.

Without belaboring the point, most of us can see how our view of the past will have an impact on how we make decisions and live our life.  An incorrect view will lead to incorrect decisions and a wasted life.  The way we view the past extends to and colors our view of the future.  A person who believes all past events are random will extend randomness and meaninglessness to all future events.  In their view, the life of a fly would have as much meaning as that of a person.  On the other hand, a person who sees the past as God revealing Himself through historical events will likely understand that God is a God of Judgement, Mercy, and Grace and will know that future events will be handled in a way consistent with God’s attributes.  Everything that you learn about God from history as presented in the Bible can (and should) be applied to current events as well as future events.

Through Gospel-Colored Lenses


Through Gospel-Colored Lens

 

Our experiences, upbringing, traditions and context affect the way we see and understand life. This morning we’re going to talk about these as “lenses” through which we view the world. The lens you view life through affects what you see and how you understand it.

Have you seen that commercial advertising those glasses with the yellow tint that help you basically see in the dark? They change the way you see your surroundings. Sunglasses change the way you see things around you. We want sunglasses when the sun is shining brightly through our windshield, or beating down on you at the beach, but when the sun has gone down and it’s dark, sunglasses become much less helpful. They change the way you see your surroundings. Prescription eyeglasses change the way you see things around you. If you have poor vision and you’re NOT wearing your contact lenses or eyeglasses, you’re really going to struggle to see things clearly.

Today, I want to make the point that if you claim to follow Jesus Christ, the Gospel must be the lens through which you view the world. We must see through Gospel-colored lenses. The Gospel affects (or, at least, ought to affect!) the way we see and understand and engage with everything and everyone in this world. The Gospel changes everything.


STEWARDSHIP: Talents

STEWARDSHIP: Talents full sermon manuscript

STEWARDSHIP: Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

July 29, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

There was a master, a boss, who went on a journey and entrusted a certain amount of money, or talents, to three different servants (a talent was worth about twenty years’ wages for a day laborer). Remember, this is a parable. The master was Jesus, and the journey the master went on was the time between when Jesus walked on the earth and when He will return to the earth. The master knew the three servants well, and they were seen as professing believers in Jesus Christ.

The passage says, at the end of verse 15, to each according to his ability. The master knew his servants and gave to each one of them according to their ability to handle the talent or talents he had given them. In the same way, God knows you better than you know yourself. He has entrusted you with the proper measure of responsibility according to your ability.[1] The point of this parable is not the amount of talents each servant has (but isn’t that so often what we focus on? That comparison game is deadly, paralyzing, and sinful). The point is this: “What are you doing with the responsibility you’ve been given?” We’ve been given gifts and abilities. We have passion points and things we get geeked up about. How are we using those things deeply wired into us for the glory of God?

The point of the message today is this: God gifted you to glorify Himself. When He returns, be found being faithful stewards of what He has gifted you with.

What talents has God blessed you with? What are you most passionate about? Use that for the glory of God.    

How are you using the talents with which God has blessed you? How should/could you use them for the glory of God and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?    

For whom are you using your talents? Whose Kingdom are you trying to build? (Colossians 3:17, 23-24).

If Christ were to return one minute from now, would He find that you have been faithful with the treasure, time, testimony, troubles, and talents with which He has blessed you? If yes, keep it up! Don’t grow weary in doing good! If no, not sure, maybe—step up! Realize you will give a reckoning for the way you have lived out your faith. You will give an account for your faithfulness or faithlessness to the gifts God has given you.

Take a risk. Use your talent. Do what God has given you a passion for. The first two servants we read about didn’t just use part of what they had been given—they were all in! They fully used all God had blessed them with and didn’t hold back. That’s risky!

I believe when God gives us a passion (that lines up with Scripture and furthers the Kingdom of God), He is sharing a piece of His heart, what He cares about, with us and empowering us to be His hands and feet and mouthpiece here on earth through the power of the Holy Spirit. Where has the Father broken your heart for what breaks His? Get after it and use your talents for His glory. Remember, God gifted you to glorify Himself. Be found being faithful stewards of God’s blessings.   

 

[1] “God knows intimately the abilities, gifts, opportunities, and circumstances of every person, and He graciously assigns responsibilities accordingly.” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 24-28, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1989), 100).

STEWARDSHIP: Testimony

Today we continue our Stewardship series talking about our testimony. A testimony is the story of our faith and life. When we talk about stewardship of our testimony, we are going to focus on three parts: the testimony of our salvation, the testimony of our sanctification, and the testimony of our reputation.

There are three questions we can ask, one with each of the three parts. We can ask, "How did I meet God?" regarding our testimony of salvation; "What is the Lord doing in my life today?" regarding our testimony of sanctification; and "What do people think of Christ when they look at my life?" regarding the testimony of our reputation.

STEWARDSHIP: Time

Stewardship of Time full sermon manuscript

STEWARDSHIP: Time

Assorted Passages

July 1, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

Time. Time is one of those things we are not sure what to do with. It’s often one of the things that we wish we had more of, because the task list is always longer than the hour we have.

Have you ever wished you had more time to get done the things you needed to get done?

We are overworked and underrested. We are an exhausted people.

We must no longer brag about not keeping the Sabbath, proclaiming to all how busy and full our schedule is. Instead, we must remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. If we believe "God alone is sovereign, and the Bible is His inspired Word and the final authority for my life,” we must take seriously what the Bible says about work and what the Bible says about Sabbath rest.

The Sabbath rest (literally meaning to rest from labor), was instituted before sin entered the world. God wove rest into the very fabric of Creation. God also wove work into the very fabric of Creation. Both were commanded before the Ten Commandments and even before sin entered the world.

Work is good, and rest is good.But, work without rest is not good, and rest without work is not good. The main point of this message is: "You have too much to do to not rest."

Genesis 2:1-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Exodus 31:12,17 reveal the institution of the Sabbath and the remembrance and commanding of Sabbath-keeping from God to the Israelites.

Matthew 9:38, 12:8 and Mark 2:27-28 reveal that Jesus renews this Sabbath-keeping covenant, and is Himself the lord of the Sabbath and the lord of the Harvest (work).

Sabbath isn’t a rest from every possible thing that could be considered work. It is a rest from the kind of normal work and activity that the other six days of the week are given to. 

If you don't choose to rest, the decision will be made for you.

There will always be excuses. There will always be more on the to-do list. One author wrote: “Sabbath is not the break we’re allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It’s the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could.”[1]

 

[1] Mark Buchanan, in A.J. Swoboda’s Subversive Sabbath, 36.

 

WORKS: The Result of True Faith

WORKS: The Result of True Faith sermon notes

WORKS: The Result of True Faith

James 2:14-26

June 17, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

We are going to talk about faith and works this morning. This conversation is often filled with baggage and unhealthy understandings of the relationship between faith and works. There has been much sorrow over the course of history because of this conversation. I want to enter in with caution and clarity. I want to caution you to truly hear what the Word of God says. Listen closely this morning and work hard to understand. Here is the clearest way I know how to communicate this point for the ease of understanding and practical application: We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation brings about an inward change of our mind, heart, and will, which results in outward action. We are not saved by works; works are the natural outcome of a saved person with genuine faith in God, someone who has been regenerated, reborn of the Spirit of God by grace through confessed faith in Jesus Christ.

The summary of everything we’re going to talk about today is this: TRUE FAITH RESULTS IN JOYFUL OBEDIENCE.

 

First, let's define our terms:

FAITH – strong, confident trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture, which results in an inward transformation of the mind, emotions, and will, leading to WORKS.

WORKS – joyful, active, intentional, lived out, habitually consistent obedience to the Word and will of God.

 

Paul wrote to those specifically who thought salvation came about through works or earning salvation and forgiveness from God based on outward behavior.[1] He attacked that mentality and with absolute certainty and astounding clarity taught consistently that it is by grace we are saved, not by works (Eph. 2:8-9), we are justified by faith apart from works of the Law, and on he goes. James wrote to those specifically who already claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, those who claim to have already been justified by faith apart from works of the Law but lived out the attitude that salvation brought with it no responsibility.[2] He spoke about faith but specifically to those who merely claimed faith, while it was actually counterfeit.

They are both right. Paul is absolutely right in saying that we are justified by faith apart from the Law, and we are saved by grace through faith; James is absolutely right in saying that those who are saved have a responsibility to live out their faith through works of obedience to God.

If you have received Christ Jesus the Lord as your Savior, it will be revealed in a changed life. “Being a Christian involves trusting Christ and living for Christ; you receive the life, then you reveal the life.”[3] Essentially, to have true faith, it must impact our head, our heart, and our hands. Faith is full-hearted, full-bodied, belief in and following of Jesus Christ. There is no part of us left out.

James referenced the examples of Abraham and Rahab as two who lived out the relationship between faith and works. The faith of Abraham was revealed in his obedience to the Word of God regardless of the consequences. The faith of Rahab was revealed in her obedience to the Word of God regardless of the consequences. Faith apart from works is dead. True faith in Jesus Christ results in joyful obedience to His Word and His Will.

Looking back at the question James poses: Where is the evidence of your faith? I will do my best to show you my faith by my works. Will you join me?

 

[1] Moo, D. (1995). James. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (Vol. 3, pp. 1150–1162). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[2]Ibid.

[3] Excerpt From: Warren W. Wiersbe. “Be Mature (James).” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/be-mature-james/id534837497?mt=11

FAITH: The Perfect Response to Grace

Faith: The Perfect Response to Grace sermon notes

Faith: The Perfect Response To Grace

Passage: Ephesians 2:8-9

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Brian Allen

 

Ephesians 2:8-9 is a great summary statement of how salvation works. Grace through faith. It is not the result of works, because if it was, we would boast. Before Paul gets to this summary statement, he has a lot to say about salvation.

Ephesians 1:3-2:7 presents the context of Paul's summary statements about salvation by grace through faith in Ephesians 2:8-9. The full sermon notes provided above will provide you with all of this background information, as will listening to the video or audio version above.

Scripture is filled with examples of faith being the perfect response to grace. One of those examples is Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11). We were dead, but God… We were slaves to Satan, but God… We followed our own passions, but God…. Because of God’s great love, He made us alive together with Christ. He does all the work. He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in heavenly places. He has the access required! So that he might show His immeasurable grace towards us. It is all about His plan, His love, His grace.

And now we are back to Paul’s summary statement: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph. 2:8-9) Grace is God showing up at Lazarus’ tomb. Faith is Lazarus believing Jesus and making his way out.

We have many examples of faith and only a short time, so I have to be selective. Hopefully, the ones chosen are of help to you. One example is from John 4, where Jesus speaks with a Samaritan woman at the well. In this event, grace is Jesus coming to a well and speaking to the Samaritan woman. Faith is the woman believing that Jesus was the Messiah and telling her friends.

Today, grace is God providing you with a speaker who is declaring that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. Today, faith is believing that Jesus has paid the price for you. All you need to do is put your faith in him.

Next week, many of us will be the provision of grace to children and families that attend VBS. Present Jesus in the best way possible.

Demonstrate His love for people around you and speak of Jesus! Faith may be the result of our efforts! Be praying that we are conduits of God’s grace in all of our endeavors and that faith is the result.

Living as the Church: Walking in Community

Walking in Community full sermon notes

Living as the Church: Walking in Community

May 20, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Pastor Dean Parham (Hamilton)

sermon notes from Holland

 

1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 -

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.    

Paul addressed the relationship between the brothers and sisters in Christ and those in leadership over them. Now, he didn’t specify clearly whether this was just the pastors or others in leadership roles. He left it as a general, blanket statement of those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you. How can you show respect and esteem for these people who show up week after week in order to serve?

Those in leadership roles are also those meant to be admonishing each one of us (to admonish v. — to warn or counsel in terms of someone’s behavior[1]). It can be uncomfortable and counter-cultural to be thankful and hold in respect and esteem those who are calling us out in our sin, calling us to follow Jesus Christ and live in our new identity and new birth as a son or daughter of God. But, often, the very thing that makes us most uncomfortable is the very thing we need to hear and respond to.

The last sentence of verse 13, Be at peace among yourselves, helps us understand that we are all human and conflict is an inevitable part of that. Conflict and disagreement are a natural part of life. But, division and disagreement are not synonymous. The book of Proverbs continually calls us to speak in the right way to one another, and these ways promote peace. There can be disagreement that is not divisive. Proverbs such as 12:18; 15:1, 4, 28; 17:9, 27-28 show the importance of our speech and conduct toward one another.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 -

14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

We have certain expectations and responsibilities that we are called to have toward one another to help one another follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Admonish the Idle - If we are not living as we ought, we are instructed to admonish one another—to counsel according to one’s behavior that what they are doing is not right and God has shown us a much better way of living!    

Encourage the Fainthearted - When life gets hard we need to remember the hope we have in Jesus Christ, the hope that He will return and bring an end to pain and suffering, sorrow and loss. 

Help the Weak - Not everyone is where you are. We are all on a journey in the process of sanctification. Helping the weak is seeing someone in a different phase of life, a different area of spiritual growth, and becoming a mentor to them. 

Be Patient with Everyone - When we remember how patient God has been with us throughout our life, we remember that we can show more patience to those around us. 

Don't repay evil for evil; Seek to do good to others - We can seek to do good to those around us, our brothers and sisters in Christ. But Paul also ends that sentence with and to everyone. He doesn’t limit whom we are to seek to do good to. We are actually called to seek to do good to everyone!

Living as the Church: Live with Eternity in Mind

Live with Eternity in Mind full sermon notes

Living as the Church: Live with Eternity in Mind

May 13, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Pastor Dean Parham (Hamilton)

notes from Holland

It took just 0.41 seconds to get 85.5 million results when I searched for “end times.” The end of the world, post-apocalyptic genre of books and movies are ever-increasing in their popularity. The end of the world is something everyone expects, but are we really ready for it? Many expect it to happen during their lifetime. 

Scripture teaches the return of Christ is imminent. Jesus Christ could return at any moment and the end of the world will have begun. A bunker underground and a storehouse of dried foods and ammunition won’t save you from the return of Christ. Paul, as he writes to the church of the Thessalonians, speaks to them about the day of Lord, which is the time when Jesus Christ will return and judge believers and unbelievers. The outcome of that judgment will be very different for each group. Paul wrote to the believers, not to remind them of what was coming, but to call them to necessary action.

If the Day of Judgment were to begin RIGHT NOW, what would your outcome be? Your “goodness” can’t and won’t save you; your morality can’t and won’t save you; your generosity, kindness, gentleness, care and concern for others, as good as those things are, can’t and won’t save you. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ that you are saved from the Day of Judgment and made right in the eyes of God. Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ? Don’t wait. You don’t know when the Day of Judgment will begin. It will come suddenly. You must be prepared.

Paul, writing to believers, children of light, reminded them the day of the Lord would not surprise them because they knew it was coming. He reminded them of their identity: For you are all children of light, children of the day… since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

What is your identity? What we think about our identity will determine our actions. When I talk about my identity, I am not first a pastor, husband, father, son or even a man. I am first and foremost a child of God. But, I don’t always live like it. I have to continue to remind myself of my true identity, not the one the world tries to place on me. So I ask again, what is your true identity? It is not in a gender, sexuality, political view or religious denomination; it is not in your label of married, single, divorced, widow, widower, mother, father, childless, adopted, etc. Your true identity is found in Jesus Christ. Are you in darkness or in the light (Eph. 2:1-10).

As true believers, children of light and children of the day, the Thessalonians could live with the confident knowledge they would obtain salvation through Jesus Christ, who died for them. If Jesus Christ died for us, we ought to live for Him (1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed). This salvation the Thessalonians would obtain is speaking of the future salvation to come when Jesus Christ returns, resulting in our ascension into heaven to be with God. It is this future hope which impacts every moment and day of our lives.    

Live with eternity in mind. It changes your priorities. Knowing that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent should change the way we live our lives.

Here are just a few practical ways:

Parent with eternity in mind – When you parent with eternity in mind, you don’t care just about today’s behavior, but the eternal destiny of your children. You play the long game. It can be easier and feel more satisfying to respond a certain way in the moment, but momentary actions can derail the work of the long game. What I mean is this: a word spoken in haste or anger in the moment toward your child (or your spouse for that matter), especially done with consistency, could hinder your impact on the spiritual lives of your children/family. But, a word spoken with compassion, understanding, and love (which includes discipline), provides a positive impact on the spiritual lives of your children/family.

Love with eternity in mind – Again, play the long game. You are to make a commitment to love others—God, your neighbor, spouse, children, enemies, those who persecute you. You can’t love well if you only take into consideration the immediate—especially when someone wrongs you. Taking the long view, loving with eternity in mind, means that you are able to overlook an offense and love with the long-term focus of Christlikeness.

Pray with eternity in mind – The focus of your prayer changes when you consider eternity—don’t just pray for your daily bread but also that God’s kingdom would be on earth as it is in heaven; pray for the salvation of others, not just your safe trip to and from vacation.

Gospelize (preach the Gospel to others) with eternity in mind – The immediate is often not the most important, but our lives become easily focused solely on the immediate. Instead, with eternity in mind, we must realize that the eternal destination of those around us is the most important thing. Do we ache over the spiritual condition of our friends and family members? Do we seek conversations and Gospel-opportunities with others, or just focus on ourselves and our busy life?

Living as the Church: Walk in the Hope of Christ's Return

Walk in the Hope of Christ's return full sermon notes

Walk In The Hope Of Christ’s Return                                                                     

Passage: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Pastor Trent Broussard

 

We believe that the return of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven is imminent. I hold firmly to this confessional statement. The church has been waiting some 2,000 years for Christ’s return. It easy to dismiss the return of Christ as an event which will not happen in my lifetime. It is easy to live like it may be another 2,000 years before Christ returns.

I remember as a kid reading about and seeing the Berlin Wall. I thought it would never come down. I remember President Reagan’s speech demanding Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall. When it fell and revolution swept across eastern Europe, I was shocked. My paradigm of the world order changed dramatically. This paradigm shift has begun again as we watched on the news last week when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stepped over the border into South Korea calling for an end to over sixty years of hostilities. I thought it could never happen.

Fans of the Chicago Cubs waited 108 years between World Series titles. While there are certainly a lot of bandwagon believers, most Cubs’ fans didn’t think they would see a World Series title in their lifetime. In Boston, Red Sox fans endured the Curse of The Bambino for 86 years after they traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Again, many fans believed they could never win until it happened in 2004. Those of you who are fans of the Detroit Lions likely live with this kind of mindset (and disappointment). You believe that winning the Super Bowl will never happen.

I believe that we often approach the return of Christ with this kind of mindset. Intellectually, we know and agree with the doctrine, but practically we don’t live like it is real and only remind ourselves of it when there is tragedy and the loss of life.

Calvary, we need a paradigm shift. Christ is returning; it could be today.

1 Thessalonians 4:13–18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (ESV)

 

Paul’s intent is to comfort believers with this word.

Paul wanted the church to encourage one another because of these words. This passage is not written to give us a detailed timeline of events. This is written so that we can comfort one another. Every one of has experienced the loss of a loved one. We each know other believers who have suffered the loss of a loved one. The hope, the encouragement we have with which to comfort one another is the resurrection. Christ is returning and He will resurrect all believers who have already died, and those believers who haven’t died will be raptured together with the dead in Christ. Here is our hope, joy and comfort.

 

Where is our hope and comfort?

Jesus died and rose again. He is returning to claim His church. Whether we are dead or alive when He returns, we will all be caught up to meet Him in the air. We will be with Him for eternity.

Everything that is wrong with the world will be undone. The curse we have lived under since Genesis 3 will finally be undone.

One of my favorite carols we sing during the Christmas season is Joy To The World. Isaac Watts wrote a beautiful and theologically rich text and I believe he intended it as a text looking toward Christ’s Second Coming. Listen to these words and let your mind think not of the first Advent, but of the second and soon coming Advent.

 

Joy To The World

Joy to the world the Lord is come

Let earth receive her King

Let ev'ry heart prepare Him room

And heav'n and nature sing

Joy to the earth the Savior reigns

Let men their songs employ

While fields and floods

Rocks hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow

Nor thorns infest the ground

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love

Let Christ’s imminent return be a source of hope and comfort for you today. Let us respond to this wonderful truth with a life of worship and obedience.