Pastor Ben Marshall

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: 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

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 the Talk

Walk the Talk full sermon notes

Living as the Church: Walk the Talk

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

Calvary Baptist Church

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

This past week, Pastor Trent, Karl, and I had the privilege of going to a conference. While we were there, one of the pastors, Mark Dever, was preaching and said this: “It is easier to look holy than it is to be holy.” How true it is, but it is not a good excuse. We are called to be holy as God is holy (Leviticus 11:45; 1 Peter 1:16). 

It is easier to look like you have it all together than it is to be vulnerable, honest, and passionately pursuing Christ in and through struggle. It is easier to work hard, pray at meals, go to church on Sunday, and just make it through the week than it is to meditate on the Word, pray with expectation and power, and actually thrive as a follower of Christ. But may we not be people who do only what is comfortable and easy.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 (ESV) Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

James 1:22 challenges every person who claims to be a Christian and says But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Going to church doesn’t save you. Church attendance will not give you what you are looking for. Obedience is God's love language (John 14:15-16)

The pursuit of a disciple of Jesus Christ is not to be a good person and try to sometimes do good things. The pursuit of a disciple is that of 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

We are saved by grace for good works. The outworking of our faith is supposed to produce good works and the fruit of our faith ought to be clearly seen. We have to walk the talk. Scripture calls walking the talk being fruitful. Galatians 5:22-25 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. That means we are to be constantly growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

Here are 5 action steps to walk the talk:

One, it pleases God when you live sacrificially.

Our default is selfishness. What would happen, instead, if you realized that your life is not about you? The sum total of your life does not consist of the things you’ve accumulated, money you've made, or success you’ve attained. Have you brought glory to God through who you are and what you do?

 

Two, it pleases God when you love sacrificially.

You don’t always feel like loving those around you, especially those closest to you, do you? Loving sacrificially is being selfless and loving even when you don’t feel like it. It is recognizing that love is not just an emotion; it is an action. You may not be in a place where you feel like you love your spouse, child, friend, parent, neighbor, or pastor! But, choose to forgive and pursue sacrificial love. Your relationships are meant to bring glory to God. Who is one person in your life to whom you can start to show a little more love this week, even though you may not want to?

 

Three, it pleases God when you pray sacrificially.

Prayer is the most productive and effective thing you could do in your life. But, it is one of the things followers of Christ don’t do often enough. Prayer unites you with God and binds your heart to Him. Prayer should be the foundation and the fuel for the decisions and actions of your life. This week, spend time alone in prayer at least five minutes every day.

 

Four, it pleases God when you serve sacrificially.

There are many places where you could serve here at Calvary. It would be a sacrifice, and we fully acknowledge that. But, remember, your life is not about you. So, if you are going to walk as you ought, in a way that pleases God, you must be obedient to serve Him and His people. You could get plugged into the nursery, the youth ministry, the children’s ministry, the greeters and ushers, the café team, the VBS team, and many others. This week, talk to one of our pastors or ministry leaders or call the church office and volunteer to serve sacrificially somewhere.

 

Five, it pleases God when you give sacrificially.

Operation Replenish is starting this morning, and it will stretch you. But when we are obedient to the Lord, we trust Him with our finances and we remember they came from Him in the first place. Tithing is the beginning. When we trust God with our finances, we live in a way that our money doesn’t own us. The amount we have may determine what we are able to do or how much we are able to give, but the story of the widow in Luke 21:1-4 reminds us that it’s not about how much we give, but our heart in giving.

Living as the Church: Our Only Hope

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Our Only Hope

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

March 25, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall (Holland); Karl Shumate (Hamilton)

Early in the history of the church, when Roman persecution was bad and worsening, the bishop of the church in Smyrna, Polycarp, was arrested. He lived in the second century and was instrumental in proclaiming the authority of the Scriptures. He quoted them in his writings and testified to the Truth of the Word that God inspired through writers like Paul and the Apostles who came just shortly before Polycarp.

Many Christians had been persecuted and were being fed to wild animals in the stadiums of Rome. It is in this context that Polycarp is taken captive. He knew the soldiers would come and did not run away. In fact, when he saw the soldiers approaching, he met them outside and talked with them.

As he talked with them, they were amazed by his age, his faithfulness to God, and they wondered amongst themselves why they were sent so quickly to arrest this old man. Polycarp had a table set out and food prepared for the soldiers who were there to arrest him. While they ate, he requested that he be allowed to pray without interruption for an hour. They allowed him to, and while they ate, Polycarp prayed for two hours within earshot of the soldiers.

Polycarp ended up being burned at the stake, but that is not how he died. When he was tied to the stake and the fire lit, the fire did not burn him. The governor of the province was so angry that he ordered the executioner to go up and stab Polycarp to death with a dagger. That is the martyrdom of Polycarp.

Why? Jesus Christ changes everything. Jesus Christ is our only hope.

The Thessalonians experienced dissenting voices in their hometown and society as well. It wasn’t popular, it was acceptable, to be a Christian and to follow the Word of God. But when they heard the Word of God, they understand that there was something more to this than debatable human wisdom. There was something about the Word of God that, when it came, it was somehow different. Paul writes in 1:5 the Word of God, the Gospel, came to them not just in word, but in also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

They heard the word of God, the Good News about Jesus Christ, and they accepted it not as the word of men but as it really is, the word of God.

The message of the Gospel is offensive. But it is the only hope for all humankind, and that is why we proclaim it. When we proclaim the, capital “T,” Truth, it is all too likely that persecution and suffering will come.

If we are going to live as the church, there are a few things we must do:

1. Put a high value on the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16)

2. Understand persecution is an expectation (2 Timothy 3:12)

3. Live like our only hope is in Jesus Christ & share it with others (John 3:16; Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 1:3; Romans 3:21-25)

 

 

Joshua: It's Time to Make a Decision

It's Time to Make a Decision sermon manuscript

Joshua: It's Time to Make a Decision

Passage: Joshua 24:1-33

February 11, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

In the beginning of this chapter, Joshua gathered the whole nation together to remember what God had done. Remembrance was something they took very seriously. This entire section depicts God’s gracious provision for his people. He was always with them and always worked on their behalf. God’s grace was at work in the life of Abraham before he was even born. 

As they examined the faithful work of God on their behalf, Joshua charged the people of Israel to be faithful in serving God. He reminded them of the gods their ancestors had served and called them to serve the LORD exclusively. Joshua led by example. He determined he and his household would follow God no matter what anyone else did. He pre-decided he was going to follow God no matter what.

God is holy and God is jealous. He is holy, set apart, in His character and nature. We see God’s holiness revealed in many places throughout Scripture. God as a jealous God is sometimes hard to wrap our heads around. God’s jealousy is in the reality that he would not accept any competition for his people’s loyalties. He didn’t want someone half in and half out, undecided. He wanted sold out, wholly devoted followers. That’s what we seek to be here at Calvary. Our mission, which we’ll talk more about next week, is not to half-heartedly pursue God, but to passionately, that is, fully and wholly, pursue God.

We must, just as the Israelites, count the cost of following God (Luke 14:25-33). If you aren’t willing to go all in then don’t go in at all. We can’t experience the newness of life, joy, peace, the fullness of life, forgiveness of sins and all God has to offer if we straddle the line and, sort of, halfway, follow God and His Word.

The people were adamant in their desire to follow God. It is refreshing to see! They had a decision to make and they, based on experience and encounter with God, chose to follow God.

Joshua called them to make a covenant, to be certain of their decision, to count the cost. This was not a simple declaration of service, but a transformation in their lifestyle, worldview, and primary pursuit in life. Following God alone changes everything.

What about you? Joshua gave that call to the people – choose this day whom you will serve. I want to make that same call and ask the question: Whom will you serve this day? Yourself? Or God?

You get to decide. That’s the reality of the love of God and the freedom He offers. He won’t make you. He wants all of you to be all in for Him, but He won’t force you. In love there is a choice to be made. 

Which decision will you make today?

Joshua: If God is For Us

If God is For Us sermon manuscript

Joshua: If God is For Us

Passage: Joshua 10

January 28, 2018

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

This past weekend, Connie and I were able to go to the Grand Canyon. If you’ve never been there, you need to visit. It is incredible. We were there, and honestly, at first it felt like we were still in Michigan. We woke up in the morning to a snowstorm but went to the Grand Canyon anyway. We couldn’t see very much. It was hard to see through the snowstorm and clouds. We were excited to go the Grand Canyon, but we were also excited to have some time to relax and read books. We took advantage of the snowstorm and clouds to sit in the car with the heat on and read for a while. It was actually very relaxing. But all of a sudden, as I was in the middle of a sentence, a bird crowed. I looked up and out the window toward the canyon. The strong winds that had been rocking our car had pushed away the snowstorm and the clouds, and the clouds had released the sun to shine down over the Grand Canyon. Visibility had gone from a couple hundred feet to a few miles. It was the most incredible experience. Standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon makes you feel small and insignificant. It brings to mind the greatness of God. You’re left with this jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring worship of God and the understanding that “Only God could do this…”

 

It is that same understanding that fills the Israelites in their conquest of the Promised Land: “Only God could do this…” When the people didn’t follow the Word of God and when they didn’t ask counsel from God, they lost the battle at Ai and the people from Gibeon deceived them. But, when they followed His Word and His plan, they couldn’t lose. “Only God could do this.” God is far beyond us and our ability to comprehend the whys and the hows of what goes on in this world. When we’re going through hard times, we often don’t understand how we’re going to get through. We don’t see things like God sees them, but, through His Word, we get a glimpse at the way God sees things. Everything is for His glory and His Name. God sees your singleness differently than you do. God sees your marital struggle differently than you do. God sees your doubt differently than you do. God sees your temptation differently than you do. He is not intimidated, surprised, or overwhelmed. He has a plan and He is at work. If God is for us, who could be against us (Romans 8:31)?

 

There is a lot going on in Joshua 10. What are some things we can learn from this text?

First, God is at work in every situation of our lives.

Today, God is at work in your life. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it because we can’t see it; but know this: God is always at work. God is at work in every circumstance and situation of your life. You are never alone and you are never forgotten. God’s plans and ways are higher than our ability to understand. Just because we can’t see it, or it doesn’t feel like it, doesn’t mean God is inactive. Connie and I were sitting in that car, oblivious to the way God was using the wind to push away the clouds. Only when we looked up did we see what God had been doing behind the scenes. God is always at work, even when we don’t see it. Maybe the work God is doing in your life right now is having you be here this morning. God is trying to speak to you, trying to draw you to Himself, but you have been resisting. God wants to be in a relationship with each one of us. Every single one of us needs Jesus Christ¾even more those who have believed or received Him as Lord and Savior.

 

Second, pray with simple confidence in the sovereign plan and power of God.

Joshua’s prayer in verses 12-13 is an incredible depiction of simple confidence that God is in the heavens and does as He pleases. Joshua was following the Word of God and prayed that God would help him and all Israel defeat the enemy as God had spoken to them to do. This wasn’t Joshua praying for what he wanted, but for the purpose and glory of God. Why don’t we pray with this kind of conviction and confidence? The Bible tells us many different times how we can pray with conviction and confidence.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. The delight in the LORD comes first, and then the desires of your heart (because your desires will be the desires of God when you are delighting yourself in Him!).

  • Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. Joshua definitely showed this faith.
  • John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. Joshua was abiding in the words of God and following His plan. God responded and did what Joshua requested.
  • James 4:2-3 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
  • 1 John 5:14-15 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

God hears and responds to the simple prayers of faith from the righteous person following after Him. God doesn’t answer every prayer just as we would or as we want Him to, but we can take confidence in knowing that He hears and responds to His sons and daughters as they abide in Him.

 

Joshua: All In

All In full sermon manuscript

Joshua: All In

Joshua 8:1-35

January 14, 2018

 

As we read Joshua 8 today, we are going to see all of the Israelites were all in. They believed God, trusted His command, and followed Him fully. Let that be true of us as well.

All through the description of the battle plan is the repeated focus on God’s plan and God’s Word. Verse 7 tells the ambushing force that the LORD your God will give it into your hand and when they had taken the city they were to do according to the word of the LORD. Again, it’s not about the battle but about the LORD who gave the victory. The Israelites focused on who was fighting for them not what they were doing to fight.

After the battle, their second in the land of Canaan, it appears the Israelites traveled some distance away to worship and refocus their hearts. Joshua made an altar, wrote a copy of the Law, and read it to the entire nation.

Last week we saw that God takes sin seriously, and so should we. This week we see that God wants His people to be all in. He doesn’t want pieces of us. He doesn’t want some of us. He doesn’t want us to follow just a part of the Word of God. He wants all of us to follow all of His Word. Here is where the hard work really begins. Where would you say your heart is? Psalm 139:23-24 is a great passage to help examine that. We are good at justifying our sin and letting ourselves off the hook. Psalm 139:23-24 puts the focus on God examining us and then us needing to do the hard work of accepting what God points out and repenting from it. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (NLT)

Where are you holding back? What parts of your life are offensive to God? What do you need to repent and turn from? Allow God to examine your heart and test your thoughts. Then do something about it. Give over to Him what you’re holding back. Confess, repent, and seek accountability and forgiveness from others if necessary. Are you willing to go all in for God? It is a process, not a one-time decision. You have to make this decision new every day, and usually multiple times throughout the day. When faced with temptation, we have to answer the question: Am I going to go all in for God and say no to temptation or am I going to be all in for myself and say yes to temptation?

 

God With Us

God With Us sermon manuscript

God With Us

Passages: Genesis 2:18-24, 3:6, 15:1-6, 17:1-8; Joshua 1:9; Matthew 1:18-25; Hebrews 1:1-3; Galatians 4:4-5

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

There is nothing as powerful as presence. I have a 14-month-old daughter, and I had this thought last Christmas, as she was two months old, that she desires my presence over presents. The same is true this year.

The impact of a present is temporary, but the impact of the presence of those around us is lifelong.

 

When we look at Scripture, we can see one overwhelming characteristic of God: He wants to be with His people.

First, we see God with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:18-24; 3:8). At the very beginning, in the creation account, we see that God didn’t just create and leave. He created, and He was close and interacting with creation. 

Second, we see God with Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 15:1-6; 17:1-8). God brought Abraham outside in verse 5 and promised him heirs and offspring innumerable. Abraham at this point was very old and had zero children. But as God was there with Abraham, He promised to make Abraham the father of many nations. 

Third, we see God was with the people of Israel (Joshua 1:9). Our regular sermon series, continuing next week, has been going through the book of Joshua. We see at the beginning of that book that God promised His presence. God didn’t just promise a one-time presence, but a “wherever you go” presence. The LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

Fourth, we see God with us (Matthew 1:18-25). This is what we celebrate and remember at Christmas time. Jesus Christ came to be God with us (Hebrews 1:1-3 NLT)

 

Every one of these “God with us” moments followed God’s timing, not the timing of mankind.

Galatians 4:4-5. At the perfect time, at just the right time, God sent Jesus Christ, born of the virgin Mary, subject to the laws of man, so that we might become children of God. John 1:12, which we read at the beginning of the service, says But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

The question is, “Have I received Jesus Christ, have I believed in His Name and become a child of God?”

Joshua: Covenant-Keeping God

Covenant-Keeping God sermon manuscript

Joshua: Covenant-Keeping God

Passage: Joshua 5:1-12 & various Scriptures

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

We have come from Joshua 3-4, where the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground and set up 12 stones, symbolizing the 12 tribes of Israel, as a reminder of what God had done. Today. in Joshua 5, we see another of God's promises coming true in the form of circumcision and Passover.

God commands and Joshua follows. The Israelites, according to Genesis 17:14, needed to be circumcised in order to be inside the covenant of God. However, Joshua reveals none of the Israelites in the wilderness, during their 40 years of wandering, had been circumcised. They were living outside of the promise of God!

Once they had all been circumcised, God told them: “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” They were no longer ridiculed because they were now back in the covenant promise of God and He protected and provided for them.

As we continue through Joshua 5, the focus turns to Passover. The Israelites celebrated Passover 40 years after the first Passover in the land of Egypt. The first signaled the exodus from Egypt, and this celebration signaled the entrance into the Promised Land.

What can we take away from this passage? I fear that some, maybe even many, of us don’t experience the full promise of God. Jesus says in John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. Are we living life abundantly? It doesn’t mean monetarily or with possessions—but are we living life abundantly in the promises of God?

I don't think we always live like we trust or believe in the promises of God. 

Today the action point is this: live like God keeps His promises.

Here is just a small sampling of the promises of God for His people:

• God has promised to supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)

• God has promised that His grace is enough in our struggles and weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

• God has promised to always provide the way of escape when temptation comes (1 Corinthians 10:13)

• God has promised that Jesus Christ paid with His blood the debt we could not, and righteousness is available only through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:21-25)

• God has promised His Holy Spirit to intercede for His children and that all things work together for the good of those who are His (Romans 8:26-28)

• God has promised to forgive us our sins if we confess and repent from our sins (1 John 1:9)

• God has promised eternal life through Jesus Christ for all who believe (John 11:25-26)

 

What would be different in your life if you lived like God keeps His promises? 

Joshua: Follow the Lord

Joshua: Follow the Lord

Joshua 3-4

November 26, 2017

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

The Israelites are getting ready to enter the Promised Land, but God has specific instructions for how they will cross over. He is going to do a miraculous thing for the Israelites, but they have to be willing to follow Him. They have to trust and obey God! 

The purpose of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River on dry ground is to make much of God. God performs this miracle so the Israelites will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will, without fail, be with them in battle. God has gone before them and prepared the way.

What can we learn from Joshua 3-4?

1. Obedience is hard, but worth it. Obedience is hard when we live packed lives. We are too busy...often too busy to pray, to meditate on Scripture, to write it on our hearts. We need to slow down. Obedience is hard, but so worth it. Obedience opens up opportunities for God to do miraculous things.

2. Take obedience one step at a time. God is not a God of chaos, but of order. He has a plan. We want to sprint, or see the whole thing at once. That’s not usually how God works. Sufficient for today are its troubles (Matthew 6:34). Trust God's plan and follow Him.

3. Remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. Remember who God is. Remember God’s character and nature, His promises. Remember how God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you, not because you have it all together, but in your mess. Remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. 

 

The Church of Today

My experience in children’s and youth ministry, not just memorizing and meditating on the Word but the people who served and built into my life and showed me how to follow Jesus Christ in real life, are a very significant reason why I am standing here in front of you this morning, getting ready to preach the Word of God.

I don’t remember much from the lessons and sermons (sorry Sarge and Pastor Michael!) we had, but I do remember the impact of the people.

1 Timothy 4:12 NLT Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

The challenge of this message for those under 30 is to ASK for HELP. How can we ask?

  • Allow others in — this might be the hardest part to do, especially when we’re talking about letting older adults in. You might think they won’t understand, won’t get it, will make fun, will judge, will just give advice… but give them a chance. Allow others in. It can change everything.
  • Set an example — the decisions you make today matter because the decisions you make today will determine who you become tomorrow. What you watch and listen to today will impact your tomorrow. Who you choose as friends will impact and form who you become tomorrow. Set an example in the way you love like Christ, the way you speak, the way you act, the way you are trustworthy. Set an example.
  • Keep moving forward — You are going to mess up and you are going to fail. Life will be hard. Sometimes it will get easier, sometimes it will get harder. People will come and go in your life. Keep moving forward, persevere, and don’t give up. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep moving forward and don’t give up.

 

Those over the age of 30, if we are encouraging those under 30 to ASK, your challenge is to HELP. The influence of adults in the lives of young people is something we often overlook, but the impact reverberates across eternity. How can you HELP?

  • Hold on — It’s going to be a bumpy, twisting, turning ride; we are talking about teenagers and emerging adults after all. Life changes quickly and unexpectedly. Hold on. I didn’t mention at the beginning that through children’s and youth ministry I was not the easiest kid to teach. I was the mischievous one who was always getting into trouble. But my leaders loved me, cared about me, and held on even when I wasn’t the easiest to lead. They didn’t give up on me. Even the disciples were difficult to deal with sometimes. They didn’t always understand, didn’t get it, and failed decently often. Hold on.
  • Enter in — Do life with young people and let them know you care. Don’t just be on the outskirts talking about or complaining about the younger generations, but invest and enter in to their lives. Go to games and competitions, invite over for holidays, celebrate birthdays.
  • Love unconditionally — Once you enter in, nothing should move you out. Love unconditionally. I was a difficult kid and I needed people who unconditionally loved and pursued me. This means when someone younger you’re doing life with messes up, you don’t smack them upside the head and remind them that was a stupid decision. You lovingly walk alongside them through it. Maybe that means you’re only listening, maybe giving advice when asked, but always praying. Always praying. Always praying. Love unconditionally and be consistent to show up. There are enough people moving in and out of young people’s lives and being unreliable; don’t let that be you.
  • Point upward — Jesus Christ must be the center of it all. We have to point up to Him always. We can’t love others unconditionally without first pursuing Jesus ourselves and experience His unconditional love for us. We can’t hold on or enter in until we understand how Jesus held on and entered in for us. As we do life with young people, we need to show Jesus Christ through in our responses, advice, listening, interactions, and purpose behind HELPing. Always point toward Jesus Christ.

 

Walk the Talk

Walk the Talk sermon notes

Walk the Talk

Passage: Romans 8:1-9

Pastor Ben Marshall 

Key Goals: (Know) The impact of daily walking according to the Holy Spirit. (Feel) A deepening desire to walk according to the Spirit. (Do) Actively pursue growth in the fruit of the Spirit.

 

The Welcome —

Good morning, Calvary. I am Pastor Ben, and it is my honor and privilege this morning to share the Word of God with you. Before we go any further, though, I need to tell you something: I am selfish. I can be such a selfish person. I am married to Connie and we have a beautiful little daughter, Aliya, who just turned 8 months old. My selfishness reveals itself when our daughter starts to cry in the wee hours of the morning. It shows when I get home from a long day at work and want to sit and relax and do nothing. It shows when it’s time to change a poopy diaper. Now, that might be a silly example, but my selfishness also shows through in disagreements I have with my wife. I want my way. I want things done how I want them done, and if they aren’t, it’s the wrong way. I begin to get sinful in my heart in these moments and can, at times, say things that I shouldn’t say. I say things that aren’t the most loving or caring. Anyone else ever been there? Selfishness is one of the daily battles I have with temptation to sin. Selfishness tempts me to focus on my pleasure and my plan. But it is not okay to keep saying yes to selfishness, to my flesh. It’s not okay to continue living in that sinful attitude. It is a part of the old way of life. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I am not called to live in my broken, old, selfish life. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus! The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

 

The truth sets us free, and there is freedom in that truth. How many of us have things in our “old life” that we regret and wish we had never done or said? You are not who you used to be; you are not your old self. You don’t have to continue living with that baggage. There is full forgiveness available through Jesus Christ. Whatever pain or hurt or baggage you are holding on to this morning, you can release it at the feet of Jesus. If you are currently living in your old life, your old self, but claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t have to continue sinning. Today can be the end of that story and the beginning of a new story, one where Jesus Christ is the center. We are called to be more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) through Jesus Christ who loved us so much He sacrificed His very life for you and for me. Our focus this morning is going to be in the New Testament book of Romans. We’ll be looking at a few verses from chapter eight. There are two polarizing realities in this passage. On one side, there is the flesh; on the other, the Spirit.

 

The Word —

No Condemnation for those in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-2)

1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

Paul begins this chapter talking about condemnation. There is none for those who are in Christ! He has just discussed in Romans 7 his struggle with temptation, saying: 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand… 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…

The Greek word for condemnation is katakrima. It literally refers to the penalty our guilt demands. Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. The penalty our guilt demands—and we are all guilty of sin—the Bible tells us, is death. It is separation from God and condemnation. But for the believer in Jesus, the one who has a genuine relationship with and a repentant heart toward Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation.

There is a story Jesus shares in Matthew 18:23-27 of the servant who owes his master 10,000 talents—more money than most of us will ever see in our lifetime and way more than a servant could pay. One talent was worth about 20 years’ wages for a day laborer (20 years x 10,000 = 200,000 years of debt), and the master completely and utterly forgives the debt so it is no longer owed. It is forgiven and passed over. That is the kind of thing Paul is writing about here. There is complete and total cessation of debt owed for the person who is in Jesus Christ. This, in theological terms, is called justification. Justification is the truth that every believer in Jesus Christ is fully and forever released from the power and penalty of sin. Only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ are we justified and made righteous to stand sinless before the Holy God forever.

 

Jesus Christ condemns sin (Romans 8:3-4)

3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

The Law makes us aware of our sin. Paul writes in Romans 7 of his struggle with sin and the Law. He even goes so far as to say in verse 7: Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. The truth is that Jesus Christ did what the Law could not do and fully and forever paid the price of sin required by the law (which is condemnation to death) and satisfied the wrath of God for every person who humbly repents of his or her sin.

Romans 5:8-9 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. The beauty in this verse is two-fold: One, we don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to God. We don’t have to clean ourselves up to come to church. Jesus washes our sins white as snow. Two, Jesus Christ satisfied the wrath of God so we didn’t have to. Through the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ you and I, if we believe in Him, are able to experience this freedom from condemnation and instead live in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Life, who has set us free in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? In Romans 6, Paul answered the question we might also think of in Romans 8: If there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, can’t we just live however we want to? Because we are forgiven, the price has been paid, why would it matter how I live my life? The next few verses provide an answer.

 

The Spirit is Life and Peace (Romans 8:5-8)

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

What are you setting your mind on, the flesh or the Spirit? Both will lead, and want to lead, your life. One leads to death. The other leads to life and peace.

A person setting their mind on the things of the flesh looks like one who pursues personal pleasure over God’s intended purpose; one who serves self rather than selflessly serving others; one who desperately desires comfort, sensuality, fame and fortune over humble submission to the Holy Spirit of God and seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness. This is the person who, according to verses 7-8, is hostile toward God and cannot please God.

A person setting their mind on the things of the Spirit looks like one who loves the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength; one who loves their neighbor as their self; one who studies Scripture and, as James writes, is a doer of the Word, not a hearer only (John 14:15 If you love me, you will keep my commandments); one who seeks the Lord and His glory for every life decision and direction. This is the person who is continually growing in the fruit of the Spirit.

 

The Spirit of God dwells inside believers (Romans 8:9)

9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him.

How do we know if the Holy Spirit is living in us? Paul writes about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. If we are setting our minds on the things of the Spirit, walking daily according to the Spirit, these fruit will be present and increasing in our lives. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. These fruit should be evident in the life of a follower of Christ. In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus says:

“15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Paul continues in verses 24 and 25 of Galatians 5. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Claiming to follow Christ and actually following Christ are markedly different lifestyles. The one who belongs to Christ Jesus—who loves Him by keeping His commandments, who is growing in the fruit of the Spirit—is one who also crucifies the flesh with its passions and desires. This person doesn’t just set their mind on the things of the Spirit, but actively, daily, crucifies the flesh.

 

The Wrap-Up —

John MacArthur writes, “It is God’s great desire that…[believers] live like His children and no longer like the children of the world and of Satan.”[1] This morning there are three things I want to highlight for those who call themselves followers of Christ:

 

First, you are free from the condemnation of sin.

Allow this to impact your daily life and decisions. Galatians 5:1 says For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. When you do give in to temptation, seek repentance and forgiveness. We know God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, so let us confess and live, as we are free from condemnation.

Second, you can daily walk according to the Spirit.

This is not available to everyone, but only those who believe in and follow Jesus Christ. Since you can walk according to the Spirit, do it. There are no excuses. The polarizing nature of Romans 8:1-9 is that we are either walking according to the Spirit or the flesh.

 

Third, the Spirit brings life and peace.

Believers in Jesus Christ have the Spirit of God in them, so have available the life and peace of God. Imagine the impact of this on your marriage. When you get in a disagreement, or you are tempted to argue or keep pushing to make your voice heard and get your point across, what if, instead, you walked according the Spirit and used the fruit of love, peace, patience, kindness and gentleness? How would that change your marriage? Imagine the impact on your friendships. Instead of choosing friends who are running full tilt after the things of the world, you find friends who are pursuing Jesus Christ and His Word. These kinds of friends don’t tempt you to sin but help you grow in joy and self-control as you walk together in the Spirit. Imagine the impact on your family. As you keep in step with the Spirit, you are leading your children and your spouse and your extended family out of the overflow of the life and peace you are experiencing in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You are parenting and interacting with extended family members with kindness and gentleness, with faithfulness and self-control. Imagine the impact on your neighbors. As you engage them in relationships, they see you lead your family, faithfully show up, exhibit patience and joy daily. This builds a bridge you can then cross to share Jesus Christ with them. Who knew the kind of impact walking in step with the Spirit could have? It reverberates across every area of your life.

 

For the person here this morning, uncertain where you are in relation to Jesus Christ, you have a decision to make. If you continue in your flesh, saying yes to all that brings pleasure and comfort and temporary satisfaction, you will continually need more and more and it will bring death and separation from God. Living for yourself is blatant hostility toward God. It is telling the Creator of the Universe you make a better god in your life than He does. But, if you call on Jesus Christ today as your Lord and Savior, you can become a new creation. Calling on Jesus Christ as your Savior means you recognize that you cannot save your own life, you cannot be good enough or do good enough to work your way to heaven and a right relationship with God. You are confessing that Jesus Christ is your Savior from sin, your mediator to God, and the only One who can satisfy what you are looking for. Calling on Jesus as your Lord means you abdicate the throne of your life and you kick everyone else out of the throne room. No one and nothing dictates and rules over your life anymore: no addiction, no person, no relationship, no job. Just Jesus. Every decision, big or small, is run through Jesus Christ as your center, as your Lord. Do you need to do that this morning?

Or maybe you’ve gotten away from that and you need to recommit to Jesus Christ as your Lord. It is sometimes easy/tempting to just want Jesus as our Savior. We know we can’t work our way to heaven, but giving up control in our own lives and allowing Jesus to be the Lord of our lives? That’s a different story. That’s hard. It rubs against my pride and selfishness and desire to be in control. But it’s the only true way to life and peace. Will you recommit to that? Let’s pray.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Ben Marshall. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] MacArthur, 411.

Courageous Faith: Resolve

RESOLVE

Daniel 1

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

Key Goals: (Know) Things don’t always go according to plan, but we can be faithful. (Feel) Desire to be found faithful. (Do) Pursue God where you are.

Introduction: Sometimes you find yourself in a place you didn’t plan to be. My wife, Connie, and I found ourselves in that place last year. We were on vacation, driving back from the U.P.  It had been a wonderful relaxing day. We went to a waterfall, hiked around, and just hung out. Now it was time to head back to the hotel (because we aren’t campers). As we headed back, the gas light came on. When the gas light comes on, it isn’t usually an absolute emergency. Most of the time, you’re driving in places where gas stations show up pretty often. But not so much in the U.P. The gas light came on, and there were no gas stations. We kept passing exits on the highway, thinking, “Okay, the next exit has to have a gas station sign…the NEXT one has to have a gas station.” Nope. Eventually we just decided to just take an exit, because certainly in one of these little towns there had to be a gas station! We drove. And we drove. And we drove. Miles and miles. No gas station. Gas light still on. Eventually we drove around this tiny town and stopped at a business that seemed to be open. We talked to a lady there and asked her where the nearest gas station was. Her response? “Get back on the highway…” What?! We couldn’t make it that far! We were trying not to panic, but there really was no way we were going to make it to the next town down the highway.

 

We were in a place we didn’t plan to be. We didn’t really have many solutions. Our plan A of waiting for the next exit turned to plan B for the NEXT exit turned to plan C for taking an exit and going for a town turned to plan D getting back on the highway. All the while the gas light was on! This sweet lady in the small town must have seen that we were city folk. She kindly came out with a gas can and poured some drops of gas in our tank. She was a God-send; I really don’t think we would have made it without her. The end of the story is we DID make it to the gas station before we ran out of gas. But life doesn’t always have a resolution, does it? Sometimes we find ourselves in a place we didn’t plan to be, faced with circumstances we didn’t prepare for. That’s where we find Daniel and his friends in Daniel chapter one.

 

1. God brings Daniel to Babylon (1:1-7)

Jeremiah 25:8-14 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts: Because you have not obeyed my words,9behold, I will send for all the tribes of the north, declares the Lord, and for Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants, and against all these surrounding nations. I will devote them to destruction, and make them a horror, a hissing, and an everlasting desolation. 10Moreover, I will banish from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the grinding of the millstones and the light of the lamp. 11This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste. 13I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations. 14For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them, and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.

 

Let’s read verses 1-7.

This was not an accident. This was not about the lack of military prowess or power in Israel. God didn’t make a mistake. He purposefully brought Daniel to Babylon. Daniel, a nobleman—a good-looking, competent, skillful, wise, understanding, knowledgeable young man—probably had a different plan for his life. He certainly could have been planning on having an easy life, being a good nobleman, and maybe a wise and caring leader. He probably would have planned to stay in his home country and live out the script of his life. Daniel certainly didn’t plan to go to Babylon, but God did. King Nebuchadnezzar comes into Judah, takes over, and removes Daniel from his home and everything he’s ever known. Daniel wakes up in Babylon, likely confused, wondering why…why was he here? What did he do wrong? What hope was there now?

 

As Daniel and his friends are in Babylon, the Babylonians are doing what they normally do with slaves: they are teaching them, training them, really brainwashing them so they reject all that was Israel and become fully Babylonian in thought, speech, custom, wisdom, knowledge, and worship. But, as we will see next, that is something Daniel is not willing to compromise.

 

2. God gives Daniel favor (1:8-16)

Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food. Now, we have to ask the question: “Why would eating the king’s food defile Daniel and his friends?” This is not about food. This is not about a diet. This is about worship and faithful obedience. Israel found themselves slaves to Babylon because of their infidelity and failure to obey the law. Daniel and his three friends determined in their hearts they were going to make it a point to obey the Law and be faithful to their God. The problem with the food was that it had been offered to the idols of the Babylonians. “To partake thereof would be to recognize the idols as deities.”[1] It would have to worship and celebrate the deity and power of the Babylonian gods. Daniel and his friends could not do that, so they resolved not to defile themselves, regardless of the consequence.

 

Daniel and his friends didn’t compromise. They lived out the all-important understanding that compromising now would most likely lead to further compromises down the road.[2] That’s how it works with sin. If you get away with it the first time, it makes it easier the second time. Then, somewhere down the road, it has become a habit. You no longer feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit because you have gone against it so often. And now your life is set up for compromise instead of conviction. Start now. Start saying no now. If you’ve already been saying yes, stop it. Restart as a new creation in Christ, able to say no, not because of your ability or your strength, but because of the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

 

Daniel’s plan of resolving not to defile himself sets the tone for the rest of the story. Daniel experiences God’s blessings as he remains faithful and obedient even when things don’t make sense.[3] Daniel has this grand plan to not eat of the food from the king’s table (and very graciously and wisely handles that conversation, by the way). Now what? They don’t eat the food, and the chief eunuch tests them. At the end of ten days, they actually appear better off than everyone else who was eating from the king’s table. Why? Because God gives them favor.

 

3. God blessed Daniel and his friends with all they needed to succeed where they were (1:17-20)

In the next phase of the story, we see God again at work. Not only did He bring them to Babylon, He showed them favor for their faithfulness to not defile themselves. Now God gives them wisdom and learning and skills, and to Daniel specifically, the understanding of visions and dreams. Notice that they were still in the same situation. God didn’t give them freedom from the Babylonians. He didn’t remove them from the situation. Instead, God gave them exactly what they needed to succeed right where they were. He gave them what King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to see, and then some. The king found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in his kingdom.

 

God has given you and me gifts and skills and abilities. We need to use them and use them well for His glory. Wherever we work in the marketplace, we should strive to excel and work for the glory and purpose of God.

 

Daniel found himself in Babylon, a place he didn’t plan to be, but he quickly found God had not abandoned him. What happens when we find ourselves in Babylon? There are three points I think we can take from this passage.

 

First, when you find yourself in Babylon, realize there is purpose. Sometimes we wake up and realize we are not where we planned to be. Daniel didn’t plan for Babylon, but he woke up and found himself there. God didn’t abandon him. God didn’t betray him. Daniel, as far as we know, had done nothing wrong. He wasn’t living in sin. This wasn’t his punishment. This was God’s plan.

 

Maybe you woke up this morning somewhere you didn’t plan to be. Maybe you woke up this morning and thought, “This is not how I planned my marriage would go...” or “My kids did not turn out the way I prayed and planned for them…” or “I didn’t plan to end up in this career, be making this little, and struggling to take care of my family…” or “I didn’t plan to be single for this long…” Maybe you’re living your Plan B (or C, or D, or Z) and you can’t even remember what Plan A was. Whatever area of “Babylon” you may wake up in, realize God is at work. It may not be the result of you doing something wrong, but rather God working out His purpose. The hope in Babylon is that God took Daniel there. God was walking beside him the whole time. If you’re in Babylon, realize that God has you. God’s got this. He has a reason and a purpose. Trust Him. He’s never surprised.

 

Second, when you find yourself in Babylon, be found faithful. What did Daniel do when he found himself in Babylon? He resolved not to defile himself. He was found faithful when the test got real. As you find yourself in Babylon, resolve to be faithful. Resolve that the world around you won’t be your influence, but Christ will be. Resolve not to be defiled by sketchy (but legal) business practices, or by looking and lingering with your eyes or thoughts (committing adultery in your heart), or by working your own plan because in impatience you don’t want to wait for God’s plan to work out. Instead, be found faithful. It’s hard. I get it. Life is hard. Babylon is hard. It’s not where I want to be. It’s not where I plan to be. But, wherever you find yourself, in Babylon or not, be found faithful.

 

Why? People notice how you handle yourself in trials. They see what you do and where your attitude is. The way we live out our faith communicates to others whether or not this faith in Jesus Christ is worth pursuing. The way we say yes to Jesus and no to the world reveals how much we value our relationship with God and how much we want it to remain undefiled.

 

Third, when you find yourself in Babylon, don’t look for a way out. God didn’t take Daniel and his friends out, but gave them gifts to excel where they were. Daniel will never go back home. He will never get out of Babylon. God gave him the gifts and tools he needed to excel in the place God had brought him to. When you find yourself in Babylon, reconcile with the fact that Babylon may not end. As you are found faithful, seek out how God wants to form and mold you more into His image, likeness, and example. Don’t look for a way out. Be faithful where you are. Use what God has given. Pray for wisdom and grace. Pray that God’s strength would be revealed in your weakness.

 

Imagine a world where, no matter what happens, you are found faithful.

  • You lose your job, but you are faithful to tithe, faithful to worship and praise and glorify God, faithful to attend church and be surrounded by godly community.
  • Your kids wander from their faith, but you are faithful to pray, to pursue them, and to keep an open door of unconditional love toward them.
  • Your marriage is on the rocks, but you faithfully resolve to pray and do whatever it takes to win back your husband or wife.
  • Your health takes a turn for the worse, or has been bad for an extended period of time, but you are faithful to praise God, to give thanks, to worship well, and to bring Him glory with your speech and attitude.

 

The world will notice. Daniel and his friends had an entire kingdom be witness to their countercultural faithfulness. When we are found faithful, the world notices. Let’s be the kind of people who resolve not to be defiled by the cultural “gods” we face, but instead make a decision to remain faithful.

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Ben Marshall. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

[1] https://bible.org/seriespage/1-early-life-daniel-babylon#P207_85233.

[2] Ibid.

[3] https://lumina.bible.org/bible/Daniel+1.

The Rebuild: Together

The Rebuild: Together sermon notes

Rebuild Together

Passage: James 5:13-18

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Pastor Ben Marshall

 

Key Goals: (Know) Life is better when we do life together. (Feel) Feel the need to do life together with other believers. (Do) Find a small group of people to do life with.

 

Introduction: I attended Taylor University for my undergraduate degree, and while I was there we had a “buzz phrase” that floated around campus, from students and teachers to promotional materials and website slogans: intentional community. If you have ever lived on a college campus, you can understand the gist of it. It is honestly difficult to not live in community. I lived on a wing of a dorm with about 33 other guys. You couldn’t really avoid people. You had to live in community. The intentional part of the community was not just living together but doing life together. We didn’t just want to live on the same wing or attend the same college; we truly wanted to do life together. These guys, from Third West Wengatz, are guys I could call up right now and start a conversation like no time has passed. These are the kind of “doing life together” friends who would be by my side at a moment’s notice. That’s the power of together.

 

Today, as we wrap up The Rebuild series in the book of James, this is the tool James is going to leave us with. James compels us to rebuild together. Later this morning we are going to fire up this engine and (hopefully) see the beauty of an engine rebuilt, with all the parts working together to produce a running engine.

 

First, though, let’s read James 5:13-18 and dive into what the Bible says about rebuilding together.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

 

Suffering should lead us to pray (v. 13). This is perhaps one of the more obvious parts of this passage. It just makes sense that when you are suffering, in a storm, experiencing hard times, that you would pray. Even the mainstream media could agree with this, with hashtags on social media that gain popularity wherever a terror attack has happened: #prayfor and then the location. Suffering naturally leads us to prayer. That makes sense.

 

When things are going well, remember where every good and perfect gift comes from: God (James 1:17). James says at the end of verse 13, if you’re cheerful or in good spirits, sing praises! This Greek word means “to strike a chord, to play and sing along with a musical instrument, to sing a hymn to celebrate the praises of God.”[1] It is sometimes when life is going well that we take things for granted. Realize that if you’re not in a storm right now, you should praise and sing praises to God for leading you to where you are!

 

Additionally, James talks about the sick in vv. 14-15. He tells the sick to call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. There is a lot here. First, we do practice anointing with oil at Calvary. There are a number of you here this morning that have followed this passage and gone to the elders of the church, the leadership council, and we have anointed you with oil and prayed over you for healing. The anointing oil is associated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Oil was used to anoint kings in the Old Testament; Samuel anointed David with oil. When we anoint with oil we are asking for a special presence of the Spirit on someone. We are asking the Holy Spirit to heal and to work in a very special way in this person’s life. The act of elders praying over someone and anointing him or her with oil is spiritually powerful in a way that physically can’t be described.

 

The phrase the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick is not referring to the salvation of an individual, but instead is referring to healing and wholeness of a sick person. The Greek word for “sick” in verse 14 is asthenei[2] and in verse 15 is kamnonta[3], which literally mean “to be weak, feeble, to be without strength, powerless” (Hebrews 12:3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted). Scripture doesn’t separate the physical from the spiritual. The one who is sick could be physically sick and weary or fainthearted spiritually and emotionally. We separate things in our culture that the Bible doesn’t separate. This save the one who is sick is a blend of the spiritual and the physical. There is a connection. For the person here this morning discouraged in his or her faith, who has recently experienced more failure than faithfulness, who may be weary of the battle of life, or the one experiencing physical or relational struggles, be encouraged. Don’t go it alone. Ask for prayer. It brings healing when done in community. James reveals the context of prayer and healing in verse 16 in such a way that it could be the definition for “intentional community.” But before we dive a little deeper into this verse, do you want to see if this engine will start? I do too. Let’s give it a shot.

 

Okay, so why the engine? What’s the significance of starting this, other than being able to say we started a car engine on stage during the service? We began this series with a broken engine. There were parts on the ground. There were pieces missing. There were broken parts. It was an engine that did not work. Over the past ten weeks, we have been slowly rebuilding this engine. It took time, just like it takes time to rebuild our lives with the Gospel. Today is the culmination of that hard work. When we heard that engine turn over, it was the result of many parts working together to produce a finished, working engine.

 

Just like that engine, the body of Christ, the church, works best when we do life together. When we see a Christian faithfully serving, faithfully following Christ, and faithfully leading in his or her home/work/school, we are seeing the result of many parts working together to produce that fruit. It is not the Christian left by him or herself that thrives, but the Christian in godly, intentional community.

 

Today is not about the engine; it is about doing life together. The engine starting is the sum of all the little parts working together for an intended purpose. We can’t rebuild alone. We must rebuild together. This verse in James, again, gives us the formula for rebuilding together: 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. It is in confession and prayer that Christian community is clearly experienced. Being fully known is uncomfortable. But we need people in our lives that fully know us. The healing here is literally “to make whole.”[4] Sin thrives in the dark, hidden away in our mind and heart. And let’s be honest, we can’t live in freedom and victory alone. We’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. Confession brings healing because sin is being dealt with in community.

 

Confession alone doesn’t bring healing. Prayer must be present, and the prayer of a righteous person is effective. The righteous person is not perfect, but has developed a habitual lifestyle of character and integrity, faithfully following the Word of God. This person is one who loves the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).

 

James gives an example of the prayer of a righteous person from the life and ministry of Elijah, an Old Testament prophet.17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. James describes Elijah as a person just like us. One translation says that Elijah was a human being like us.[5] He was familiar with the struggles of life; the hardship and toil of trying to be faithful through adversity. Elijah is our example from James of a righteous person’s prayer having great power as it is working. Elijah prayed in faith, as a faithful follower of God, and God responded. 1 Kings 17:1 Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

 

Where James writes Elijah prayed fervently, the literal translation is “in prayer he prayed.”[6] He prayed with the fervent, persistent, confident prayer of a righteous person. For three and a half years there was no rain. Elijah faithfully followed wherever God directed him to go during this time, and eventually he prayed again that rain would come. Elijah had to patiently wait for the answer to this prayer, but God responded and sent rain upon the earth once more and the earth produced a harvest.

 

If we want to rebuild together, we must do three things according to the passage:

First, we must pray with and pray for one another (vv. 13-15). Through private and community prayer, we need to pray for each other. We need to pray for protection, pray for opportunities to share our faith, pray for healing, pray for God to grow and mature each another. We need to pray against the work of our Enemy in the lives of others and pray for physical, spiritual, emotional, relational healing. We must pray with and for one another. And we must do it often.

 

Second, we must confess to one another (v. 16). This closely follows praying with and for one another. How will we know what to pray if we don’t know the struggles and temptations of our close friends? Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says Two are better than one, for they have a good reward for their toil. 10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! . . .12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. We are stronger together than apart. Do the nitty gritty of life together. Confession is a big part of that. We will struggle and we may fall, but let us not fall alone. Fall in community with believers around you to pick you up, dust you off, and help you continue to walk down the narrow road.

 

Third, we must be faithful (and it is easier to be faithful as we follow Christ together) (vv. 17-18). Elijah, a human being just like you and me, was faithful to God even when he didn’t understand, even when the situation was abnormal. He wasn’t super human; he wasn’t a “super Christian” (same as Job from last week). Elijah was faithful. Day in and day out, in the little things and the big things, Elijah gave himself wholly to God. He determined to faithfully follow God.

 

Determine today, with a few other people, to be faithful together. Husbands and wives, determine together (and include your children if you have them) that you will pray with and for one another, confess sins, failures, and shortcomings to one another, and faithfully follow Christ together as a family. Singles, determine together with a group of friends that you will pray with and for one another, confess sins, failures, and shortcomings to one another, and faithfully follow Christ together as a close group of friends. Young adults, students, kids, find close friends and perhaps older adults and determine together that you will pray with and for them, confess sins, failures, and shortcomings to one another, and faithfully follow Christ together.

 

We are going to end things slightly differently this morning. A little over a month ago we took our high school students on a winter retreat. Saturday night at this retreat, our guys’ group did something really special. It’s one of those things I’ll look back on many years from now and still remember in detail. It was an impactful night. We gathered together in a big circle around a fireplace and lived out James 5:16. We had a very intentional time of confession and prayer that led to healing. During this time we had students confessing things they were struggling with, things they had tried to handle alone but it wasn’t working out. They needed accountability and community. They needed some guys to do life together with them. Every time one of these guys confessed, our whole group would stand up, go put a hand on him, and one or two of us would pray for freedom and healing. Afterward, we challenged everyone to continue this with an accountability partner. Today some young men are living in healing and freedom from sin because of living out James 5:16.

 

Today we’re going to end the service living out James 5:16. What does that look like? There are people here this morning with physical and spiritual ailments, struggling through sickness, cancer, chronic pain, family issues, sin issues, recent betrayals, hardships, and so on. If you are willing this morning to stand up, we want to pray for you. If you are struggling and need prayer, we are asking you to go ahead and stand up where you are. If you are seated, we want you to find someone who is standing and pray with and for them. One or two of you, or everyone around a person, can pray. If you’re standing, you don’t need to tell your whole story to everyone around you. If you’re praying for someone, you don’t need to know the whole story to pray. Pray for the need of the person as you have knowledge of it. Pray for spiritual growth and health. Pray for God to receive glory through this person’s story and struggle. Pray for strong faith.

 

 

 

© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G5567/psallo.htm.

[2] http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G770/astheneo.htm.

[3] http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G2577/kamno.htm.

[4] http://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Lexicon.show/ID/G2390/iaomai.htm.

[5] The NET Bible.

[6] J. Ronald Blue, James in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, gen. eds. John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 1983), 835.