Pastor Paul

Why Missions: A Farewell Sermon

Why Missions: A Farewell Sermon full manuscript

Why Missions: A Farewell Sermon

Various Passages

Pastor Paul Davis

 

Key Goals: (Know) To know God's plan for missions. (Feel) To feel an affinity for missions. (Do) To be humble senders or goers.

Directly expressed commands to proclaim Christ:

  • Acts 1:8
  • Acts 13:47
  • Mark 16:15
  • Romans 10:13-14
  • 1 Chronicles 16:24
  • Matthew 28:19-20

 

For the last 8 years we have served you as lead pastor. It has been the joy of our life, being a part of your children's dedications, baptisms, funerals, marriages, having an opportunity to preach, teach and counsel. I have so enjoyed working with our leadership team. Calvary, I hope you know how blessed you are to have such a godly team of capable men and women leading this church.

As we leave for ABWE I want to leave you with a challenge, but before I do I think that I should answer the question: Why. Why would we do this? Why leave a church we love and go into missions?

1. Because of God's stated goal.

Throughout all of human history, God's goal has been to reunite himself with fallen humanity (Isaiah 49:6; Mark 16:15). More than 86% of the 3 billion Buddhist, Hindu, or Muslim individuals do not personally know a Christian and have an almost zero percent chance of even meeting one.

 

2. Because of Revelation 7:9-10.

Right now it is estimated there are still over 6,700 people groups with zero Christian witness. God's plan is to reach every one of these people groups. His plan included using His people to do that.

 

3. The Money.

That may sound weird to you, but consider this: Until recently, American Christians gave less money to reaching the unreached than they did for buying Halloween costumes...for their pets. Calvary and The Church @ Hamilton gives about 14%, or fourteen cents for every dollar we collect, of our overall budget to missions, but the average church gives less than 2%, or two pennies of every dollar, it collects to missions. We can do better.

 

This is the burden God has given me. This is why we have said yes to this opportunity. This is why we are leaving the comfort of a church we love. This task, this mission, is what we have and will devote our life to.

We love you all deeply, and plead with you as we have many times before: Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel. If you cannot go, then give and send someone to the task.

 

Acts 13:47 - For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the nations, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth."

The Church: A Learning Community

A Learning Community full sermon manuscript

The Church: A Called Out Learning Community

Passage: Various

Pastor Paul Davis

Sunday, September 17, 2017

 

We have been talking about the Church and misconceptions that have developed over time. We have been attempting to build a greater understanding of what the church is and what she is supposed to do.

One distinctively American misconception is “church” is often viewed as a spectator event. It becomes something to come to and watch. We may fit it into our busy week if we can and we may or may not show up based on our availability.

But, the Church is meant to be a community not an event. It is a community whose goal is to proclaim the Gospel to unbelievers and grow to maturity those who have believed.

As the Church we are called out to be a community of believers proclaiming the Gospel to unbelievers and devoted to growing as disciples.

 

Here are six community activities of discipleship:

Community Activity #1: Worship (Psalm 100:1-4; Revelation 14:7; James 1:22)

Community Activity #2: Confession (1 John 1:9; James 5:16)

Community Activity #3: Prayer (Psalm 5:3)

Community Activity #4: Word-Study (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Community Activity #5: Fellowship (Acts 2:42-47)

Community Activity #6: Mutual Submission (Ephesians 5:19-21; Philippians 2:3)

 

Church is not a spectator sport. When we gather, let us be intentional to:

Use our minds, emotions, and wills to fear, praise and adore God

Communally acknowledge our sins to the Lord and each other

Communally bring our requests and petitions to the Lord

Read, study, and meditate on the Scriptures, looking for them to renew our minds and make us more like Christ

Care and sacrifice for and with each other to meet the needs of the community

Humble ourselves in our relationship with God and others

Courageous Faith: The Dreamer

The Dreamer sermon notes

The Dreamer

Passage: Daniel 2:1-28

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

The Church @ Hamilton

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pastor Paul L. Davis

 

Key Goals: (Know) That God desires to answer our prayers. (Feel) A desire to pray. (Do) Pray.

Introduction: I love the book of Daniel! An incredible man with an incredible story who is courageous, faithful, wise, bold, intelligent, and honest. But the book of Daniel isn’t really about Daniel; it is about Daniel’s God. Last week we studied chapter one and saw that it was God who took Daniel to Babylon, it was God who gave Daniel favor, and it was God who gave amazing gifts to him and his three friends so that they were ten times better than all the other servants of Nebuchadnezzar. This book, like none other, gives us a glimpse of God’s sovereign hand at work in our lives.

 

We left Daniel last week in the middle of a three-year training course meant to teach him the ways of Babylon. Turn to Daniel 2[1]. The year is 602 BC. The location is Babylon, the capital of what has become the most powerful nation of the world. Nebuchadnezzar has moved from conquering the Middle East to building walls, temples, and monuments to his greatness—one of which is the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world.

1 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. 2 Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams.

 

Babylon was famous for its wise men. Since 1800BC (so for over 1000 years) Babylonians had studied the stars for signs from the gods as to what would happen in the future. They were so good at watching the stars that by this time they had calculated the length of the year at 365 days, 6 hours, 15 minutes, 41 seconds.[2] For 1200 years they had watched astrological events in the sky and compared them to what was happening on earth and then recorded the connection, so when the same type of astrological event occurred in the future they could predict what would happen on earth. Here is the thing, though. Babylonian astrologers were famous for telling kings what they wanted to hear. Nebuchadnezzar summoned them.

So they came in and stood before the king. 3 And the king said to them, “I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream.” 4 Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic…

 

Push pause for a second. We can’t see this in our English Bibles, but up until now, the original language of the book was Hebrew. From this point to the end of chapter seven (2:4 -7:28), the book is written in Imperial Aramaic, the language of the Babylonian elite. So, this next conversation is a direct quote. The magicians say to the king…

 “O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” 5 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, “The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. 6 But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation.”

 7 They answered a second time and said, “Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation.” 8 The king answered and said, “I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm— 9 if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation.” 10 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, “There is not a man on earth who can meet the king’s demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. 11 The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh.”

 

Did you catch that last sentence? This is a striking admission! Only the gods knew the dream, so whoever revealed the dream must be in touch with the gods. Nebuchadnezzar probably thought that since these astrologers claimed to be able to communicate with the spirit world, they should be able to discover the dream and its interpretation.[3] This statement is a perfect set-up for YHWH God to reveal himself to Babylon.

12 Because of this the king was angry and very furious, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be destroyed. 13 So the decree went out, and the wise men were about to be killed; and they sought Daniel and his companions, to kill them. 14 Then Daniel replied with prudence and discretion to Arioch, the captain of the king’s guard (the word ‘guard’ literally means “to slay or execute”—Arioch was the chief executioner), who had gone out to kill the wise men of Babylon. 15 He declared to Arioch… “Why is the decree of the king so urgent?” Then Arioch made the matter known to Daniel.

16 And Daniel went in and requested the king to appoint him a time, that he might show the interpretation to the king. 17 Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18 and told them to seek mercy from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. 19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night.

 

Prayer & Praise: There is something incredibly important in the passage that we must catch. When Daniel—a guy who was ten times wiser than anyone in the entire kingdom of Babylon—was in trouble, the very first thing he did was to pray. Did you see that in verse 18? He didn’t pull together a strategy session; he did not try and talk his way out of it; he did not run away or even worry. He gathered three friends to pray. He told his friends to specifically ask for “mercy.” Actually, it should read “mercies” as it is an “intensive plural,” meaning the word is pluralized to really emphasize it. It is an Aramaic word pronounced “ra-cha-min” and often translated mercy or compassion. But the word always carries two important ideas:

 

1. First, it describes the strong bond God has with his children (Ps 103:13). God looks upon his own as a father looks on his children; he has compassion and pity on them (cf. Mic 7:17). This word is the reason given throughout the OT for why  God acts (see Is.49:15): because he had compassion. Our God is a compassionate and merciful God. When we pray for mercy, we are asking God to act in accordance with his character. I think this is important to understand. When you pray and ask God to be merciful to you, all you are saying is, “God, would you be you in my life?”

 

Jesus told a parable in Luke 18 about two men who prayed. One was a self-righteous Pharisee who prayed and told God about all his good deeds and thanked God that he was not like other people. The second man was a tax-collector (there was no one more evil than that). When he prayed, he stood far off, and would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner! (Luke 18:13) Only one of those men had their prayers heard that day.

 

2. Second, it emphasizes God’s sovereign choice to be gracious. God tells Moses that he is gracious and merciful to whomever he chooses (Ex 33:19)[4] and specifically to those who ask. (Ps. 86:5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, bounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.) At any given moment, God can choose to step mercifully into our difficulties and struggles and bring relief, comfort, and joy. It is within the character of God to be merciful and within his sovereign power to move and act to change our situation. Don’t be afraid to pray and ask God to deliver you. It is in both his character and strength to do so! He has the power to deliver!

 

We recently finished a study in James. Remember what he said about prayer in James 4:2? You do not have, because you do not ask. Then just a few verses later James asks, Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise (James 5:13). Daniel followed the first part of that verse. He was suffering and he was about to be killed, so he prayed for God’s mercy. He also obeyed the second part. When he was happy, he praised God. Look at verse 19.

19 Then the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision of the night. Then Daniel blessed the God of heaven. 20 Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. 21 He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; 22 he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. 23 To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king’s matter.”

 

These five verses are different than almost any other verses in the Bible. They give us a glimpse into Daniel’s relationship with God. It is so personal and rich.

  • Daniel is super wise, yet he praises God for his wisdom and power. (v.20)
  • Daniel has been taken captive by a foreign king, yet he praises God for setting up and removing kings. (v.21)
  • Daniel knows a deep and hidden dream of the king, yet he praises God for knowing all the deep and hidden things. (v. 22)
  • Daniel ends his praise with a very personal thank you. God, I asked you to reveal this dream to me, and you did it! I give thanks and praise! (v. 23)

 

Let’s pick up the story again at verse 24.

24 Therefore Daniel went in to Arioch, whom the king had appointed to destroy the wise men of Babylon. He went and said to him: “Do not destroy the wise men of Babylon; bring me in before the king, and I will show the king the interpretation.”

 25 Then Arioch brought in Daniel before the king in haste and said thus to him: “I have found among the exiles from Judah a man who will make known to the king the interpretation.” 26 The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar…

 

Daniel’s new name plays into this next conversation. Daniel’s name means “God is my judge.” The “god” in Daniel’s name is “EL” as in El Shaddai and Elohim. He is our God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. When Daniel was taken, he was given the name Belteshazzar, which meant “Bel, protect his life!” Bel was Aramaic for “lord” and referred to Marduk, the god of Babylon. This will make Daniel’s next conversation more confrontational than you might first think. A man named “Bel protect his life” is coming to save all the wise men’s lives. 

 “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” 27 Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, 28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.”

 

No wise man of Bel could ever reveal mysteries, but there is a God in heaven. That sentence is one of the bravest you have ever read. Captives didn’t walk into the king’s chambers and insult the king’s god. Daniel makes it very clear that it is YHWH God who is in control, not Bel, and certainly not his magicians. This God YHWH loves even a pagan king enough to reveal himself to him. Next week we will explore the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, and you will be amazed.

 

God saved Daniel and his friends. In a miraculous act of mercy, God swooped, in revealed the king’s dream to Daniel, and saved all of the magicians. It is just like him. He is a compassionate and loving God. His mercies are new every morning. He is using Daniel to forge a relationship with a pagan king. How merciful is that?

 

God has also sent his son to forge a relationship with you. Have you been praying? You have felt far away from God, but have you asked him to come closer? What did the tax-collector say? God, be merciful to me, a sinner. Are you in trouble? Pray. Lonely? Pray. Afraid? Hurt? Addicted? Pray.

 

 

Community Group Questions

  1. Read Daniel 2:1-28 as a group. What parts of this jumped out at you?
  2. Do you think it was fair for Nebuchadnezzar to demand his magicians tell him his dream? Why? Why not?
  3. Daniel prayed for “mercies.” What specifically do you think Daniel was hoping for? (Look at v. 23)
  4. This part of the book is written in Aramaic, the language of Babylon, not Hebrew or Greek. Why do you think that is?
  5. Why do you think Daniel, who was very wise, prayed first before he thought up a solution to his problem? Do you pray first about issues or immediately try to solve them?

 

 

© 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 Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.

 

[1] All scripture quotations are from the ESV.

[2] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 79.

[3] Stephen R. Miller, Daniel, vol. 18, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 83.

[4] Leonard J. Coppes, “2146 רָחַם,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 842.

God's Powerful Prophets: Elisha

Elisha Sermon Notes

Elisha

Sunday August 14th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis

2 Kings 5:1-27

Key Goals: (Know) Understand the danger of pride and greed. (Feel) Love, humility and grace.  (Do) Repent of the pride and greed in our lives.

Introduction: We are in the midst of exploring four key men in God’s plan for redeeming mankind; they were all prophets. Our first two prophets are Elijah and Elisha, and we looked at Elijah last week. Our second two will be Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God used each of these men in powerful and unique ways.

What is a prophet? He was a man chosen by God to bring repentance and change. He did that by:

1.          Revealing to the world who God was and what he was like. (Deut. 5:4-10)

2.          Calling God’s people to love and obey him. (2 Chr. 24:19)

3.          Warning of divine judgment upon sin both on a personal and national level. (Jer. 36:30-31)

4.          Foretelling certain future events, especially as related to the coming of the Messiah. (Jer. 30:1-3, Is. 9:6)

A prophet’s job was to tell God’s people the truth about God and their sin, to clearly reveal the sins needing to be repented of and the truths that needed to be remembered. Sometimes, a prophetic word is exactly what we need to hear. People can become forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, busy and just plain disobedient. A prophet’s job was to wake people up and turn their hearts away from sin towards God. The Hebrew word for prophet is “naw-bi.” The root of that word means “to be open or hollow” and was used to describe the hollow part of a flute[1]. The idea is that a prophet’s mouth was to be hollow so that it would speak God’s words into the world.

Background Review: This morning we will be looking at Elisha (approx. 892–832 BCE). Turn in your Bible to 2 Kings 5:1-27. While you are turning, let’s set the table for where we are in time. King David followed Yahweh and handed the kingdom to Solomon. Solomon’s son Rehoboam oppressed the people and the kingdom split into two: Judah and Benjamin to the south and the other 10 tribes to the north. Elijah showed up on the scene 58 years later. Seven kings had reigned in Israel and all of them were evil, worshipping idols. As we saw last week, God used Elijah to change that. This week we are going to look at Elijah’s successor Elisha.

Elisha shows up not long after our story last week. Elijah is hiding in a cave from the wrath of Queen Jezebel after defeating all of her Baal false-prophets. He expresses his loneliness as a servant of the Lord, and God responds by telling him to get up, anoint several kings, and call Elisha as his successor. Elisha, completely unaware of this plan, was plowing his field one day when Elijah passed by and threw his cloak on his shoulders (1 Kgs 19:19).[2] From that day on, Elisha followed Elijah until the Lord took him. The Bible tells us that Elisha had a “double portion” of the Spirit of God that Elijah had on him. Read 1-2 Kings sometime and see some of the great things that he did. We are going to see how God’s Powerful Prophet’s worked this morning by taking a close look at Elisha’s interaction with an army commander named Naaman.

2 Kings 5:1–27 (NLT)

The king of Aram (modern day Syria) had great admiration for Naaman, the commander of his army, because through him the Lord had given Aram great victories. But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy.

The biblical word “leprosy” was used to describe many incurable, contagious skin diseases. The book of Leviticus actually gives detailed instructions on how Israel was to deal with these diseases, some of which were highly contagious. Before antibiotics and anti-fungal medicines, it was important to quarantine people with skin infections. Think about some of the diseases that show skin symptoms. Of course there is leprosy, but also small pox, measles, plague, herpes, gangrene. All of these are dangerous and in biblical times often meant a lonely, slow, and painful death. Naaman had one of these diseases.

2 At this time Aramean raiders had invaded the land of Israel, and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Naaman’s wife as a maid. (This young girl, we will find out later, was an Israelite.) 3 One day the girl said to her mistress, “I wish my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy.”  

Notice the graciousness of this little girl. She was a “captive.” You know what that is a nice way of saying? She was ripped away from her family and she was now a slave. Yet she was still gracious to her captor.

4 So Naaman told the king what the young girl from Israel had said. 5 “Go and visit the prophet,” the king of Aram told him. “I will send a letter of introduction for you to take to the king of Israel.” So Naaman started out, carrying as gifts 750 pounds of silver ($245,000), 150 pounds of gold ($3,250,000), and ten sets of clothing.

Naaman was not holding back; this was an extraordinary amount of money. If anyone could buy their health, it was Naaman. What he did not know was that prophets did not work for money. 

 6 The letter to the king of Israel said: “With this letter I present my servant Naaman. I want you to heal him of his leprosy.” 7 When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said, “This man sends me a leper to heal! Am I God, that I can give life and take it away? I can see that he’s just trying to pick a fight with me.”

This was a legitimate thought—Israel and Aram had fought many battles against each other. 

 8 But when Elisha, the man of God, heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes in dismay, he sent this message to him: “Why are you so upset? Send Naaman to me, and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel.”

What the king saw as a problem, Elisha saw as an opportunity to witness to an important leader of another nation.

 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and waited at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 But Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message: “Go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River. Then your skin will be restored, and you will be healed of your leprosy.”

So Naaman is probably the wealthiest man anyone in Israel had ever seen and he is standing with millions of dollars worth of gifts at Elisha’s door, and Elisha won’t even talk with him. This would be rude today, but in the Eastern world if someone showed up to your door, you would feed and welcome them. Elisha sends a messenger.

Naaman’s Pride

11 But Naaman became angry and went away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord (YHWH) his God and heal me! 12 Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.  

Elisha was not being rude; he was being like Jesus and getting straight to Naaman’s spiritual issue: pride. Naaman thought his power, wealth, and position could buy him his health from a prophet of God. But God and his prophet were not as concerned about Naaman’s health as they were his heart. He needed humility as much as he needed healing.

13 …His officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’ ”

What happens next is one of the greatest Gentile conversions in the entire Bible![3]

14 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed! 15 Then Naaman and his entire party went back to find the man of God. They stood before him, and Naaman said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.” 16 But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord (YHWH) lives, whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts.” And though Naaman urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused.

No longer proud, Naaman proclaims his faith in Yahweh and wants to show his appreciation through a gift. Elisha refuses the gift, not because it was inappropriate, but because of Naaman’s pride. Elisha wants Naaman to understand the grace of God. Naaman asked and obeyed in faith and by faith he was healed and accepted by God—Elisha did not want Naaman to miss that. We too are accepted by God by faith. We don’t have to earn it, pay for it or even work hard for it. When we lose our pride and turn and seek the Lord by faith, we will be healed and accepted just like Naaman. But unfortunately that is not the end of the story.

Gehazi’s Greed

So Naaman started home again. 20 But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, the man of God, said to himself, “My master should not have let this Aramean get away without accepting any of his gifts. As surely as the Lord lives, I will chase after him and get something from him.”

We get a glimpse into Gehazi’s thoughts, and what we hear is a mind filled with greed. 

21 So Gehazi set off after Naaman. When Naaman saw Gehazi running after him, he climbed down from his chariot and went to meet him. “Is everything all right?” Naaman asked. 22 “Yes,” Gehazi said, “but my master has sent me to tell you that two young prophets from the hill country of Ephraim have just arrived. He would like 75 pounds of silver and two sets of clothing to give to them.”  

Gehazi is asking for about $25,000 worth of goods, a small amount compared to what Naaman was willing to give. But his greed is more than just covetousness, it has turned to lying and manipulation. Gehazi boldly creates a story to manipulate Naaman in his generosity. Naaman’s newly redeemed heart is glad to pay it.

23 “By all means, take twice as much silver,” Naaman insisted. He gave him two sets of clothing, tied up the money in two bags, and sent two of his servants to carry the gifts for Gehazi. 24 But when they arrived at the citadel, Gehazi took the gifts from the servants and sent the men back. Then he went and hid the gifts inside the house.

Gehazi ends up with over $50,000 worth of goods and 150 pounds of silver that he has to hide. This had to have been a lot of work.

25 When he went in to his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” “I haven’t been anywhere,” he replied. (should be “he lied.”) 26 But Elisha asked him, “Don’t you realize that I was there in spirit when Naaman stepped down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to receive money and clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and cattle, and male and female servants? 27 Because you have done this, you and your descendants will suffer from Naaman’s leprosy forever.” When Gehazi left the room, he was covered with leprosy; his skin was white as snow.

Namaan gave up his pride, by faith following YHWH, and he leaves blessed. Gehazi, on the other hand, gave up YHWH and followed his greed. So what do we take from this?

1.          The grace of God cannot be bought with gold, power or position. We must come to God by faith and faith alone.

2.          Power or position or silver and gold can actually be a hindrance to following God.

3.          Two of the easiest ways for people to miss God’s blessing are:

(a) Pride—Naaman almost rejected God because of his pride

(b) Covetousness—Gehazi’s covetous heart wanted gold more than he wanted God. We have to ask ourselves: Are we unwilling to do easy things that God is asking us to do? Well, that’s pride. Are we chasing after money and stuff—is our life a marathon of getting more? That’s covetousness.

 

[1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 612.

[2] Amy Balogh, “Elisha the Prophet,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[3] Some others would be Rahabin Josh 2:9–13, Ruth in Ruth 1:16–18, The sailors in Jonah 1:16; 3:6–10

God's Powerful Prophets: Elijah

God's Powerful Prophets: Elijah Sermon Notes

Elijah

Pastor Paul L. Davis

1 Kings 18:20–46, Luke 16:13

Key Goals: (Know) Know God in a way that we will display strength and take action. (Feel) Feel confident in God’s ability to overwhelm his foes.  (Do) Attempt great things for God.

Introduction: God’s Powerful Prophets. Over the next four weeks we are going to be exploring four key men in God’s plan for redeeming mankind. They were all prophets. Our first two prophets will be Elijah and Elisha, and our second two will be Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God used each of these men in powerful and unique ways. 

What is a prophet? He was a man chosen by God to bring repentance and change. He did that in four ways:

1.          Revealing to the world who God was and what he was like. (Deut. 5:4-10)

2.          Calling God’s people to love and obey him. (2 Chr. 24:19)

3.          Warning of divine judgment upon sin both on a personal and national level. (Jer. 36:30-31)

4.          Foretelling certain future events, especially as related to the coming of the Messiah. (Jer. 30:1-3, Is. 9:6)

So a prophet was not simply a “fortune teller” or even just a “truth teller.” A prophet’s job was to reveal or tell the difficult truth that God wanted something to change. The Hebrew word for prophet is “naw-bi.” The root of that word means “to be open or hollow” and it described the hollow part of a flute[1]. The idea is that a prophet’s mouth was to be hollow so that it would speak God’s words into the world. A prophet’s job was to tell God’s people the truth about God and their sin: to clearly reveal the sins that needed to be repented of and truths that needed to be remembered. Sometimes, a prophetic word is exactly what we need to hear. People can get forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, busy, and just plain disobedient. A prophet’s job was to wake people up and turn their hearts away from sin towards God. 

Background Review: This morning we will be looking at Elijah (approx. 875-850 BCE). Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 18:20–40. While you are turning, let’s set the table for where we are in time. Creation: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and everything was perfect until…The Fall: Where Adam & Eve rebelled against God and sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit… From that original sin, sin grew so evil and violent that God eventually brought a…Great Flood: To destroy all the violence on the earth. But in that flood he saved one family by building a great ark. Noah: was spared because of his righteousness. God told Noah after the flood to spread out over all the earth and replenish the earth… But once again man rebelled and tried to build a tower to heaven…The tower of Babel: Because of man’s refusal to obey, God confused the languages and man spread over the face of the earth.

Then from a city in what is now Iraq, God called a certain man to follow him, Abraham & Sarah: By faith Abraham becomes the seed of God’s chosen people and even though his wife is barren they give birth to…Ishmael & Isaac: Isaac was the promised son through whom Messiah would come. Isaac has two sons…Esau & Jacob: The Messiah will come through one of Jacob’s 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel. One of those sons is Joseph who protects the Israelites in Egypt during a famine. But the people become captives for 400 years, until…Moses leads the people to the Promised Land and introduces God’s law… God’s people live in the Promised Land led by The Judges. Like Sampson, Gideon, Deborah, the last judge being Samuel, because the people wanted a king. So Samuel anointed…

King Saul and after his disobedience then King David. David followed Yahweh, and handed the kingdom to Solomon who did the same for most of his life. But Solomon’s son Rehoboam oppressed the people and the kingdom split into two. Judah and Benjamin to the south and the other 10 tribes to the north. By the time we get to the prophet Elijah, the Northern Kingdom had reached an all time spiritual low. Fifty-eight years had passed since the division. Seven kings had reigned in Israel and all of them were evil. All worshipped idols. The eighth king of Israel was Ahab and under him idolatry reached its lowest, most evil point. All the priests of Yahweh were killed and the altars destroyed. Why? Because Ahab had married Jezebel, a princess of Tyre of the Phoenicians.  It was Jezebel who introduced the idolatrous cult of “Baal-Melqart” into Israel.

Baal Melqart was the god of the Phoenicians and was the focus of a festival of resurrection each year in the months of February-March where a sacrifice was made by fire. This annual sacrifice is where Baal earned his nickname the ‘fire of heaven’.[2] The Phoenicians seem not to have created large sculptural likenesses of Baal, the practice may even have been prohibited. Instead, at his temples Melqart was represented by an eternal fire and during times of war or natural disaster, children—often multiple siblings at a time—were sacrificed in the fire to appease him. [3] (Archeologists have found “tophets”—the places of sacrifice to Baal—with thousands of infant skeletons.[4]) This became the religion of the Northern Kingdom. So God sent Elijah to change all this, to call the people away from Baal-Marqart and back to him. Elijah did this first by praying for a drought. So by the time of our story this morning it had not rained for three years. There is a great famine and King Ahab believes it is all Elijah’s fault.

1 Kings 18:20–40 (ESV)

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21 And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Elijah uses the word “limping.” The word carries the idea of wavering or weaving back and forth. This tells you a lot about where the people’s hearts were. They did not know what to believe. They had forgotten God, so Elijah comes up with a plan to remind them.

 

 22 Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23 Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24 And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”

 

This is a test that plays right into Baal’s strengths. The test is fire and Baal’s nickname was “fire of heaven.” He was remembered with an “eternal fire,” so if any god could do this, it must be Baal.

 25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26 And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped (weaved back and forth) around the altar that they had made.

 

For four hours the people watched them cry out to Baal. 27 And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” Elijah did not just make up these three taunts.[5] These represent three well known stories about Baal: Baal could die and resurrect, he was said to go on journeys, and he was known to fall asleep, awakened only by the best sacrifices.[6] But Baal did not answer. 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.

The self-laceration of this verse is part of a mourning ritual. In Ugaritic literature the gods are portrayed as practicing this when they hear of the death of Baal.[7] Notice the blood “gushed” out. These were not scratches, these priests were giving their lives for this contest. 29 And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention. The evening oblation was to be done at twilight, so conservatively the prophets of Baal have been at this for 12 hours, all day long. So at twilight as the sun is setting…

 30 …Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32 and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed.

Two seahs is about the size of a two liter bottle of pop. The idea here was it was that deep all the way around the altar. 33 And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34 And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35 And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water. Elijah had four kad (or pails) of water poured three times in succession on the burnt-offering until the trench was filled with water. I am sure Elijah did this to remove even the hint of the possibility of fraud in the burning of the sacrifice. Idolaters were famous for deceiving people with tricks like setting fire to the wood of the sacrifice from hollow spaces hidden beneath altars, so that people would believe that the sacrifice was miraculously set on fire.[8] Elijah wanted everyone to know if fire came, it was Yahweh at work.

 36 And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”

Elijah wanted the people to grasp four truths from this miracle:

1. That Yahweh is the one and only God of Israel

2. That Elijah was his servant

3. That Elijah did this miracle at the Lord’s command.

4. That God wanted their hearts back. 

That was why Elijah was there. To turn the hearts of the people back to God. The fire and the showmanship are not the key to this story. It is God’s desire for people to know him, to remember him. 38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”

 

Powerful life lessons from Elijah:

1. If God is the Lord, then follow him. Elijah’s challenge to God’s people 2900 years ago is just as needed today. If God is the Lord, follow him. Let’s not be forgetful, rebellious, complacent, preoccupied, stubborn, or too busy for God. If he is the Lord, follow him, serve him, live for him, give to his work, join his church, live his mission!

2. There are people in this world who knowingly or unknowingly will go to great lengths to draw you away from God. The prophets of Baal literally poured out their lives to deceive the people into worshipping a false God. Don’t you believe for a moment that doesn’t happen today. Jesus himself warned us in Matthew 24:4–5 (ESV) “See that no one leads you astray. 5 For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” 2 Peter 2:1–3 (NLT) says …there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies…2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality… 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money.”

2 Peter 2:12–14 (NLT) These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. They scoff at things they do not understand, and like animals, they will be destroyed. 13 Their destruction is their reward for the harm they have done. They love to indulge in evil pleasures in broad daylight…They delight in deception even as they eat with you in your fellowship meals. 14 They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed….”

Greed, power, lust, wealth…there are many reasons why people will steer you away from the Lord. Be wary.

3. The Lord still wants people to know he is God. This message is even found in Elijah’s name. His name is translated “Jah is El” or “Yahweh is God.” Elijah was God‘s messenger. He was the one guy left who knew the truth of who God was and his power to transform lives. You may be the “one guy” someone knows, the only person in their life that can speak the truth. God calls all of us to be his prophets. We are all told to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” People forget, they are preoccupied; it is up to us who know the transforming power of a relationship with Jesus Christ to share this with the lost!

© 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] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 612.

[2] Cartwright, Mark “Melqart” The Ancient History Encyclopedia published on 06 May 2016. http://www.ancient.eu/Melqart/

[3] Miles, Richard Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization Viking Press 2011. Pg 72.

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Carthage

[5] The mythology of the ancient world understood the gods to be involved in a variety of activities similar to those that engage human beings. Though Elijah’s words are meant to be taunts, they are not unrealistic depictions of Canaanite beliefs.

[6] Paul R. House, 1, 2 Kings, vol. 8, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 220.

[7] Victor Harold Matthews, Mark W. Chavalas, and John H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 1 Ki 18:29.

[8] Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3 (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 175.

A Fulfilled Passion: Knowing Christ

A Fulfilled Passion Sermon Notes

We are continuing our walk through the book of Philippians looking for fulfillment. We are not looking for how to be happy. We are not looking for how to be rich or prosperous. We are looking for fulfillment—a sense of inner joy, purpose and satisfaction that is not passive or transient but is rooted deep in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Listen in to the next message in the series "Fulfilled."

The Talion Warrior

Our passage this morning is the key passage that reveals to us that if we pray to YHWH, He can save us. For the last two weeks we have put Acts 4:12 up on the screen: There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.  This captures the message of the Exodus narrative so well. We have seen how, with both the Egyptians and the Israelites, YHWH is a God who saves and delivers. We pray this sermon will be a blessing to you as we journey through Exodus together, discovering YHWH for who He really is.

The Exodus: The Passover

YHWH is and always has been a saving God who delights in rescuing human beings from captivity—political and economic like the Israelites for sure—but far more importantly He desires to rescue people from their captivity to sin which brings death and eternal separation from Him. I Timothy 2:4 tells us that God desires all people to come to a saving knowledge of the truth. The Egyptians were so devoted to their gods and trusted them so fully that it would take ten plagues to break down their worldview so that He could lovingly reconstruct it. Join us today as we take a look at the last of the Plagues and the first Passover.

The Exodus: Come and Worship

As we continue our journey through the book of Exodus, we are going to see God's plan in action as He moves to rescue His people. Moses was 80 when God began to use him as the one to go to Pharaoh to free the people of Israel. Though God doesn't work on our timeline, He is always at work. Be patient and trust in Him, because He who has begun a good work in you, will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6).

The Exodus: YHWH Calls a Deliverer

The Exodus: YHWH Calls a Deliverer

Last week we explored Exodus 3:1-15 and the introduction of the great "I AM" (YHWH). The name "I AM" unveiled some significant truths about our God. "I AM" unveiled God's absolute existence. There are many "gods" who do not truly exist. They are pieces of wood or statues of marble. Some are simply figments of imagination. But not YHWH, because He "is." This week we are going to explore the mission God gives to Moses and his struggle to accept it.

The Exodus: Moses Meets YHWH

Sermon Notes: Moses Meets YHWH

This morning as we study the book of Exodus, we are on holy ground. The passage we are studying is the passage where God, for the first time in the history of the world, introduces Himself. When we left Moses last week at the end of Exodus 2, Moses was a 40-year-old man. He married Zipporah, had children, and now we catch up with him in Exodus 3. Join us as we see what he is up to.

The Exodus: Moses, Built for Deliverance

The Exodus: Built for Deliverance

We are walking through the Book of Exodus. Last week we met Moses, the man whom God will use to deliver His people from the Egyptians. Looking through Exodus 2 we continually see Moses doing what he was built to do: rescue the Israelites. But Moses encounters difficulty when he has to flee Egypt and go to Midian. He spends 40 years in a foreign land before He is used by God to rescue the entire nation of Israel. The key for us to understand is that God always shows up right on time.

The Exodus: Where Are You, God? Part 2

Eventually Joseph and everyone in his generation dies, bringing us to Exodus 1:8 (ESV). The Israelites found themselves foreigners in a country whose government hated foreigners, under a pharaoh who was determined to prevent the miseries of the past returning. The Israelites were in desperate need of a deliverer. Hope is coming.

The Exodus: Where Are You, God?

Sermon Audio:

Sermon Notes: The Exodus: Where are You, God?

Exodus is designed to tell us what God is like, it is designed to tell us how He thinks of His people, the lengths to which He will go to deliver them, and the proper response of God's people to great deeds like what God did in this book. As we look to make application to our lives from this series, the goals is more about changing how we think, how we see God, what His role is in our life, and how we see the world around us than it will be about changing what we do.

Discipleship Bootcamp: (RE)new Our Mind

Sermon Audio:

We have a lot of words for it: we call it sin, wrong, missing the mark, disobedience, treason, selfishness, rebellion, immorality, or even insanity. This sermon today is designed to give us a set of tools, biblical tools, to deal with the sin entrenched in our hearts and minds. We pray this sermon will be a blessing to you! 

Discipleship Bootcamp: The Philippians 2 Shift

Sermon Audio:

Sometimes we can have the wrong attitude about the Church. We can have misconceptions and misunderstandings. Join us today as we take a look at what the Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2 and how it can shift our attitudes.

Discipleship Bootcamp: Our Mission

Sermon Audio:

What is the mission of the church? What are we called to do as a church? How can we bear fruit together? Pastor Paul preaches on these questions and offers six valuable and tangible ways that we can bear fruit together as the Body of Christ.

Discipleship Bootcamp: The Church as a Family

Sermon Audio:

Sermon Notes: Discipleship Bootcamp: The Church as a Family

What is the Body of Christ? What is her purpose? Why is the Church so important to Jesus? What is my role in the Church? And even how should I choose a church? All of these are important questions to answer. Join us today as we continue our Discipleship Bootcamp!