Today is Sunday, June 26th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled, "Jesus calls the first disciples" and was delivered by Bill Wallace, who serves the church as an elder. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org, click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now let's open the Bible, get a notepad and pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Bill Wallace.
Let's look at Matthew 4:18-22, "As he was walking along the Sea Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter and his brother, Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, they were fishermen. 'Follow me,' he told them, 'and I will make you fish for people.'" Verse 20, 'Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.'" Peter and Andrew responded to Jesus call immediately. Verse 21, "Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother, John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father, preparing their nets and he called them. Immediately they left their boat and their father and their fishing business and followed Him." I had in [unclear01:47] fishing business and that's my notes.
So, to note that James and John responded to the call of Jesus, immediately. Here we have Jesus [unclear02:03] going door to door [unclear02:08] boat to boat. And He had this impact on these four guys, four fishermen. When He spoke, they responded immediately. And He interrupts their lives, their fishing business, all this stuff when He says, come follow me. They didn't spend the next four days talking to their financial guy of can I afford to do this. They left their business and their families and they responded. Let the word immediately sink in. Just ponder that for a moment, because there are moments in our lives that Jesus calls us to do something immediately and we don't. He may call us to become a Christian; we need to respond immediately. Nobody is guaranteed one more second on the face of this earth. If God is calling you to become a Christian, do it today, do it now because there are no guarantees.
Jesus may have called you to do something special to a special need or to some unusual need, and you haven't responded immediately. Maybe Jesus has called you to anything that he wants you to do - do it immediately. And I'm sorry, I'm going to make mention of my wife. Last night, Lynette and I were talking about this and she says, be sure to tell people, don't run ahead of God. Don't run ahead of Him and make a mess of it. But when he calls you to do something, respond with yes, because we do get ourselves into a jam sometimes when we run ahead of God, we're going to do this great thing and it falls flat on its face. Respond when He says to respond.
Maybe He's called you to a new location, to a new vocation, and you said, ""Nope, the cost is too high." When we were asked 1991 to come to Fort Wayne, to New Haven to open up a plant, I turned them down flat for months. I was not interested in coming. And then I heard a message by Dr. Charles Stanley, and I knew immediately that I had to respond. I called the guy who was going to be my boss, Wayne Tyner, the next day, and I said we'll be there. The only problem is the relocation package I need that's so I can pay the mover. I got the check the next day. And I asked him, "Well, how'd you do that because nothing moves that quick in the company I work for." He said, "I've had the check written for a month, I was just waiting on you to say yes." So from the time I said yes, to the time we got here was nine days, but the response was immediate. Nine days is pretty quick. And that's what, 31 years ago.
So maybe he's calling you to do something entirely different. There's a young man in our church who is entering medical school. He can't just hang up a shingle tomorrow and says, Dr. So-and-so MD. Wrong - Indiana frowns on that. He's got years of preparation ahead of him, school, icky-squishy stuff, but he responded that he feels like that's what God's calling him to do. We have a young lady going to a nursing school right now. She's gone this entire period of time for specialized training because it takes time to be trained to do what they're going to do. But their response was yes. So, what is God calling you to do? Whatever He has called you to do respond immediately and let Him take care of the details.
All right, let's look at chapter five and six. Chapter five, six and seven, we note that as the Sermon on the Mount. And as I was looking at this message and preparing it, I always thought that the beatitudes were the only story in the Sermon on the Mount. Nope, there are 22 different stories. 22 vignettes in the Sermon on the Mount, all of which would make great sermon material. But today I want to focus in the rest of our time on chapter five, verse 21-26, and if time permits, chapter six, verses 1-4.
Matthew 5 - what I'm about to speak about is about two matters of the heart; two things we need to address in our lives. I am speaking to me, you get to listen. In Matthew 5:21, you have heard that it was said of old, you shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, you fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. Brothers and sisters in Christ, you fool and you idiot have become in current culture, the calling card of everybody who disagrees with us. There's nothing that shows the love of Christ when we call someone who disagrees with us, you fool, or you idiot. We lose our testimony at that point and we need to address it in our own lives.
What are some good reasons to be angry with my brother? I am 67 years old, and in the last six years, I have never seen a more hateful, vitriolic time than I see now because we have lost our eternal perspective. My opinion and your opinion matters more than scripture, whatever scripture says, and we need to adjust our thinking. We argue over politics, who I did or did not vote for. We argued for months over mask mandates. We argue over guns. And as of Friday, we now argue over Roe versus Wade. None of those have eternal perspective. All of those affect our ability to evangelize because we come off as mean, bitter, harsh, unloving, and we call ourselves Christians. We are the ones that have to change our perspective to match the testimony of written scripture.
I'll give you two quick examples. A pastor, thankfully not ours, stated he would throw out anyone who dared wear a mask in his church. Where's the love of Christ in that? His opinion became more important than love thy neighbor. Another pastor recently stated from the pulpit that the government ought to kill every homosexual. I don't see that anywhere in scripture. Where is the foothold to evangelize if that's my platform? Where is the love of Christ to a lost and dying world when that's what I stand for? And after the first message this morning, we were talking, and I said, I'm sorry, but those guys may call themselves Christian, but they do not speak for me. They do not speak for me.
If you are hateful toward a segment of society, don't associate yourself with Christ, because Christ loved us enough to die for us. Hang on that. Remember that, because the world out there thinks we are bigots and hateful and mean, and we need to change how we approach a lost world. How in the world - how can we witness to a lost world when somebody [unclear13:33] is killing somebody because they don't believe the way we do? We lose our footing.
So, what's the remedy for anger? Verse 23 of chapter five says, "Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift." As I read that, I looked at that word immediately, and I read as immediately. It says, "Get up from where you are and go immediately and reconcile." We are to reconcile, not ridicule.
I recently took a trip to Arkansas to see my mom, but I had offended one of my brothers about a year ago, and I wanted to go make it right with him. He had called, he was mad over the Biden administration of the handling of Afghan refugees. And my response was thirst and unloving. I ask him, 'Are you mad because it's Biden that's doing this?" I ask him, "Do you really even care?" I ask him, "Can you even find Afghanistan on a map?" And then I ask him, "What are you and your church doing to help Afghan refugees?" That was my last conversation with my brother. For over a year, he wouldn't answer my text, he wouldn't answer my calls, he wouldn't answer emails, so I purpose that I was going to go see him and apologize when we went to Arkansas.
On the day that I was going, I didn't know how I was going to be received or if I would be received, so I took some armor with me. I took my mom. And while we were there, I apologized. I told him my answer was wrong. Whatever his purpose was in being so mad, my answer to him was wrong and unloving. And we stood there probably 45 minutes talking about that and other things. And we had a good visit, but I did not have any guarantee that he would even let me out of the car, so that was hard. If you've got some relationship that you need to reconcile with, it's not going to offend me one bit if you get up, walk out and make a phone call, because God says, Jesus says reconcile, and then bring your gift to the altar. It's that simple.
Verse 25 says, "Agree with your adversary quickly while you are on the way, lest your adversary delivered you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer and you be thrown in to prison. Assuredly I say to you, you will by no means get out of that [unclear17:50] until you have paid the last penny." I made a note here because I think this passage ties in really well to Matthew 5:43-47 about love your enemies. Love your enemies. Look that up and tie those together.
Now, lastly, the last portion of scripture I want to talk about this morning is titled in my Bible, do good to please God. Verse one of chapter six says, "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them, otherwise you have no reward from your father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you ask the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Surely I say to you, they have their rewards. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Let your charitable deed may be done in secret, and your father who sees in secret will reward you openly." Give in secret and let God bless openly.
Let me give you a couple of examples and I'm going to tread lightly. Recently, Lynette and I were given an opportunity to give in an unusual manner, to bless somebody in a manner typically we didn't do. And we talked about it, we couldn't agree and I dropped it. Well, I had been on a week long consulting project and I was tired, I was exhausted, I didn't have time to think about that. I came home and on Friday we sat down and we updated our budget, which is the thing we always do during the week. And after we'd finished, I got up to leave the table and she said, I got one more thing to talk about. And she said that thing, here's how we can do it.
And our conversation with something like this, I told her, I said, "I thought you didn't want to do it. You weren't bought into it which is okay." She said something to the effect, I trust your heart. And we gave to that opportunity. Shortly thereafter, probably not even a couple of weeks, we had another opportunity to give in a similar, unusual manner, and we couldn't agree so I just dropped it and left it alone. And Jerry Jones, John Moody, and I had been to a conference in [Chagrin Falls to Allister Beck's21:34] Church. We had a great time. We left on Wednesday about noon, and I bet I hadn't been in the car 10 minutes. And one of the guys I work with out of Indianapolis calls me, and I'm going to, "Okay, this is not going to be good." And I told him, I said, "Troy, I'm driving. And I'm in the car with friends." Friends was the Q word not to use firehouse language. And so, he told me that one of the projects that we had scheduled was pulled from the schedule. And I said, "Okay, that kind of stuff happens."
And after all that happened, I began to wonder if my stinginess, my lack of generosity had affected the company. And I just told God. I said, "Look, if the fact that we didn't give because we weren't in a hundred percent agreement; if it has affected the company, don't hold them responsible, hold me responsible." Because the other guys I work with have families and kids and all that stuff, and I didn't want to be responsible for that kind of thing. And I said, "God, if it's my fault, then judge me, don't judge them; they're innocent." I don't know. I still don't know to this day, if it was because I wasn't generous that the project got pulled or what. I know the circumstances surrounding it, but something just keeps eating on me in the back going, you need to evaluate this. I want to be open to generosity, but I also want to be in agreement with my wife. God gave her to me as my advisor. So until God gives us clear direction. We're not moving. It's that simple. I want to listen to God and give, I want to listen to my advisor, so I've got a quandary; it's nobody's fault but my own.
Now, Dr. Charles Stanley has this statement, "Obey God and leave the consequences to Him." So, I want to give you a couple of hints, tips, whatever of ways to give anonymously. If you look at our economy, right now it's not very good. Gas prices are high, the markets in decline, and God says give. Lord, have you checked my 401k lately? It's taken a punch in the gut right now. And he says, give. Here's some tips: give a gas card, give a larger tip at the restaurant, give by paying for the car behind you at a fast food restaurant. I learned that one from Kevin Hunter years ago, because we were behind him one day at a fast food drive through, and when we got up there, the lady said it's already been paid for. I go, "What? I've never heard of that before. And it was driving me nuts trying to figure out who would've done that.
A short time later we're at another drive-through after church on Sunday. And I can see Kevin's suburban about two cars in front of us. When I got up there, she said, "Sir, your food's already been paid for," and it was Kevin all along. So I learned from that and I've started trying to practice that. That day I called him and said, thank you. Where are we eating next week? That kind of stuff encourages people. Just give. Look for ways to give. I can't say that I've always been faithful in giving like I should. Many years ago, Lynette and I were in San Diego and we were having a good time, but we went to the ATM late one night, I got some money out, and just as I stepped back from the ATM, this young lady with the teenage kid shows up and says, "Sir, can you help?" And I just kind of blew them off. I got in the car and Lynette says what was that all about? And I said something. She said, "Well, what are you going to do?" And I said, "Well, I've got three fives. I'll just give that to them." Never once did I say God how much do you want me to give?
There are others who would say, "Well, don't ever give them cash." I didn't have anything else to get them. And I got outta the car, gave them the three fives. That switched my conscience, but it wasn't in obedience to God. And as we left, as we pulled out of the parking lot, I saw this young lady and this teenager go into a restaurant like a Danny's or something like that, I guess, to get something to eat. And as I pulled away, I'm thinking to myself, I blew it. The next morning as I stood in the room looking over the mountains, I'm just pondering. And God says, "You blew it last night." I said, "I know, give me another chance. Give me another chance."
There are times we will be called on unexpectedly. I challenge you to ask, Lord, how much? Not, how about how much. I believe with all my heart, the only way to get out of a bad economy is for Christians to give, give immediately and leave the consequences to God. Luke 6:38 says something like this, "Give and it shall be given to you. Good measure, press down, shaken together and running over into your lap." Some versions will say bosom, but that's what I want, is running over into my lap, but it starts with give. Look for ways to give. Look for ways to bless. And whatever God tells you to do, do it immediately.
As we wrap up today, I just want to give you some key points; obey and respond to God's call immediately. If He's calling you to salvation, do it today, don't put it off. If He's calling you to reconcile; do it today. If He's calling you to give; do it today. Whatever you do, obey immediately.
Let's pray. Heavenly father, you gave me this awesome opportunity. I pray that you spoke through me and that they heard you because I need to hear you too. God, you've given us so much in this church. You've given us generous, loving people. Help us to practice that love, that evangelistic spirit for others, and that giving spirit, help us to practice it immediately. Tender our hearts God, to what you're saying, because so many times it gets drowned out by stop. Thank you. In Jesus name, amen.
Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe Community Church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at 8:30 and 10:30 AM. The 10:30 services broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage, www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit the St Joe family in person at 2,900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University campus on the Northeast side of the city. Thanks again for joining us today and we'll see you next week. Bye for now.
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Topic: The Misunderstood Father
Text: Luke 15: 25 – 31
1.This passage is often described as the parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15: 24
2.I am convinced that that is a misinterpretation of the focus of the passage
a.The God who pursues His people
b.The God who restores His people
c.The God who celebrates His people (Luke 15 20, 22 – 24, 32)
3.The story or parable under consideration reveals the perspective of how both sons treated their father, and how He responded to them
Question: How did the father respond to His Sons that should inform, instruct and shape our model of “Fatherhood?”
I.FATHERHOOD IS DEFINED BY GRACE.
II.FATHERHOOD IS DRIVEN BY COMPASSION.
III.FATHERHOOD IS DEMONSTRATED BY ACTS OF RESTORATION AND CELEBRATION.
What a privilege it is to stand in the pulpit where my good friend, Pastor Greg Byman is the pastor. And so, it's really an honor to be here to represent him because as you know, St Community Church is a partner of the Rescue Mission. It is a faithful partner of the mission, but there are about seven pastors or so that I look to. One of your members asked me this morning, how are you handling? How are you coping during this pandemic and the challenging period? And I said, you know, as we are focusing a lot on self-care, it's so important to have pastors who are pastoring other pastors. And that's how I see Pastor Greg.
There are times when I'll give him a call when I'm working through a challenging situation and sometimes 30, 40, 50 minutes, I'm sitting in my car in the parking lot before I step into the building, and that's with Pastor Greg. Now, you and I know he is quite verbose and he can tell a good story, but I can assure you though, it is because he's investing in my life as well, and so we have that kind of relationship. And so, well-deserved, Pastor Greg, take some time off and enjoy your family. And your church is well cared for, I can tell you. Just walking in this morning and just listening to what you're doing, even some refurbishings and so forth, and you're getting this place ready just to continue to serve other folks; it is tremendous. I've seen so many individuals from the church that's a part of the life of the Rescue Mission, so thank you.
It's Father's Day, and I'm sure so many people have a different view in how you've experienced Father's Day personally, but I want us to shift our mind, not only from the imperfections of our earthly father, but I want you to see the perfection of our heavenly father. And so, that then becomes the standard by which fathering or fatherhood ought to be looked at. And as we look at Luke 15:25-31, I want you to know for the next 30 minutes or so, as we welcome those who are online, I want to say welcome to the many from St. Joe Community Church and others in our community who are joining us online. You're missing an incredible experience by not being here, but we understand. And so, we just want to welcome you as well.
Luke 15, and we're going to look at verses 25-31, and we're going to talk about the misunderstood father. I am convinced that as you read this particular passage; if we think it is only a story about the lost son or the prodigal son, you would've missed the point. There is something deeper in this passage that I believe God is, and I'm going to use this word "he's confronting us with." He's confronting us with the ideal father or the ideal parent. And I want you to look at yourselves and as you have experienced fathering or fatherhood; I want you to start by now extending grace to yourself.
There is not one father in this room that will meet or match the standard that has been set by God, the father, and even the father that we see in this parable. And so, we are all in progress. And so I want you just to look around, and I want you to see the other imperfect fathers. Could you just look around and instead of saying happy Father's Day, you say, have a blessed Father's Day. Because you may be walking through something where even as a father or you're not a father yet, but you still have the role of fathering other people that have come into your life. And so, I want you to look around and just assure each person that you're not there yet. In fact, the only time when you will arrive is when the father says, "Come on home." And that's when your life is so utterly transformed, that you can step into the glorious presence of God. And you can say, "I'm glad that's over" because we aren't perfect fathers.
In fact, some of us have been wounded by fathers. It is now time to extend some grace to those situations and circumstances as well. But I want you to extend grace to yourself. This is not a place of guilt or shame, and I can tell you, we are all broken people. So, I'm going to take a few moments just to really remind you that there's only one perfect father, and we're in progress. We're in process, so to speak.
Now, as we look at Luke 15:25-31, I want you to pause a little bit because it's really important; instead of diving into reading the passage, to understand why Jesus shares these three parables. In fact, if you look at Luke 15:1-2, it actually gives you the why. You know, Simon Sinek, who is one of these leadership gurus, he talks about start with why. And so, we hear that a lot "Start with why." The why, for the story of the "Prodigal Son" - notice, I'm dumbing it down by even putting it in quotation marks because the word prodigal means excessive. And I think we often get that from the right living and the squandering and the excess of his son, but prodigal means excess.
Some theologians, they would say to us, it is more the prodigal father. You see this father who is giving out of the excess, out of the majestic eternal reserve that he has, and so he abundantly lavishes love upon his sons. Not just the prodigal son; you will see something strange in how the second son, which is really the oldest son, how he treated the father as well. And so, we tend to miss the real mark by thinking it's the lost son or the Prodigal Son. It's the father that this is all about. So when you leave today, I want you to see the enormity of who God, the father, is and the standard that He sets for His people.
So, look at Luke 15:1-2, and then here's what the Bible says. It says, "Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus." Now, isn't that interesting? You have the tax collectors and the sinners, the ones who should be out partying, the one who should be out distancing themselves away from holiness and Jesus, they are just glued. They are focused and they wanted to hear from Jesus. And as it says here, it says, "But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, they muttered." You can just see them under their breath. Oh my gosh, what is He doing? What is Jesus doing in interacting with these individuals who don't have a sense of the holiness of God and the duty that God prescribes? Notice the word duty there in what I'm saying to you.
And here's what they were muttering. When you look at the text, this man welcomes sinners and eats with them. This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. So as you look at Luke 15:1-2, and if you want to underline that, that is the core essential truth of what this passage is all about. So when you think about the Prodigal Son or the lost son, it is a story about how God welcomes and how He eats with sinners. That's the heart of the story of the Prodigal Son. That is the heart of what it means to be a father. It is the look at the ill-repute; it is the look at the oneness; it is look at the wildness of a son who disregards his father, and yet the father pursues him, and that's what this story is all about.
May I say to you that our heavenly father is in pursuit of each one of you and is in pursuit of me. And so, we see this beautiful picture of what it means to have the father, and so let's look at the text. Notice it starts with verse 25; why did I pick starting with verse 25? Because I just didn't want to read the whole thing this morning, but not only that I wanted you to see the story within the story. It starts by saying in the NIV verse 25, "Meanwhile," this is kind of like you're watching your favorite show. You know, you had a long day and now you're watching Wheel of Fortune, knowing that Jeopardy is going to come right after. And you just want to relax, and all of a sudden, late breaking news, something is happening at the White House. And you're thinking, "Oh my Lord." And so, this is what we see here.
Meanwhile, in other words, while this stuff is happening with the son who took the inheritance and left, something else is happening. And I believe what Luke is doing here, he's shifting the story, and he's saying there's another part of the story outside of the Prodigal Son. So when you look at the text, it says - and so let's go to the passage, Luke 15:25. It says, "Meanwhile the oldest son was in the field, when he came near the house..." do we have that on the screen, the verse? "When he came near the house, he heard music and he heard dancing." Verse 26, "So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 'Your brother has come' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fatten calve because he has him back safe and sound.' The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him, but he answered his father; 'Look all these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders, you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property,'" then he uses another word here. And we don't know where this guy gets this from in describing his brother. "Not only squandered your property with prostitutes, you come home."
Isn't it interesting? You have a brother who treats your other brother with disdain and then he starts making stuff up. And so not only is he a Prodigal Son, but now he is the son that squandered the wealth to the extent that he was even with prostitutes. And so, what moved from a PG 13 is now and NC-whatever. And so the story shifts, and you see the sortedness, and by the way, you see the reality of what happens with depravity and brokenness. This is a serious situation here. And then notice the righteous son, the one I think who represents the Pharisees and the tax collectors. Do you see how it's working out now?
This son is representative of what we see in verses one and two, where it says the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and what they were saying. And as you look at the text, let's keep going, it says, "and now you have killed the fatten calf for him." You know, it's so interesting; this young son goes to his father; we see that on the first part of the story. And he had the courage to say, "Hey, dad, give me my inheritance." The word he uses is give me that, which represents the sum total of your life that by law you are supposed to give me." Let me say that again. This is what was behind the spirit of this son who is looking for ownership. Give me that which represents the sum total of your life, that the book of Deuteronomy says that I am deserving of. In other words, "Dad, I wish you were dead because it's all about my life and what I am planning on doing. I just want you to give me my stuff."
Now, when you look at the text here and you look at verse 12 to understand the context, he actually gave it to both sons. The difference between the younger son and the older is that the younger son liquidated all the assets. He liquidated the assets. And so, as he liquidated it, he took maybe some land, he took some cattle and he took that which was supposed to be given to him while the older brother was going to get twice of what the younger brother got. But when you look at the text where it says, "so he gathered his things together by implication," what the younger brother did was he liquidated the assets and he took it.
And so we see that this passage, while it is often described - PowerPoint, this passage is often described as a parable of the lost son, and we see that in Luke 15:24. Secondly, I'm convinced that this is a misinterpretation of the focus of the passage. We do see the waywardness or the wildness of the younger son. We see the wickedness of the son. We see later on the willingness for him to return, but the heart of the story is simply this; we see the God who pursues his people - the God who pursues his people. And that is the heart of this particular passage. And so if you are a father this morning, you are a parent, you are a single mom, you are a young couple and you haven't stepped into being parents as yet, but you will experience a situation where you will have a wayward child and you will have somebody who will decide to live on the wild side or on the wayward side. But just as our loving heavenly Father who pursues his people, often, God will call upon you to pursue that wayward child.
You may have a situation right now in your own family or something that you are very well aware of, where it is all about embracing a model; not anything that you have learned from any parent on earth, but you're seeing something in your heavenly Father who pursues, and He goes after. And I'm going to tell you this, my sisters and brothers, it hurts. It hurts to know that you have a family member, you have a child, and you have done everything possible to walk with them and to share with them the truths as best as you know it. And you have dug out of your own inner resources to minister to them, but just like this son, they will say, "Give me everything that you have for me. I am moving on because I am going to be the master of my own fate." And there's nothing that you can do about it, except our heavenly Father, He pursues them.
We see Him also as the God who restores His people. This is what we see in the story. But I love this section here; He's also the God who celebrates His people. And we see that over and over and over in this particular passage, we see how he celebrates His people. This is a picture of that loving heaven Father. He pursues, He restores and He celebrates. The story or parable under consideration reveals the perspective of how both sons treated their father and how he responded to them.
Now, when you look at this passage, and if you are like the typical evangelical believer, we tend to see only the story of the Prodigal Son, right, John? Yeah. In fact, I preach many a sermon on the Prodigal Son, and then we want that son to throw himself at the mercy of the father and then we all celebrate. And then we'll say, and all heaven rejoice, because one sinner comes home. But here's what I love to see in this particular passage. I saw how the younger son treated the father, but I also see how the older son treated the father, and yet you see the consistency in the father.
The best gift gentlemen that you can give to your family is consistency. I didn't say the best thing you can give is perfection. But the best thing that you can give is consistency by consistently getting better at doing what is right from one level to another, because you cannot give or guarantee perfection because you, yourself, you are broken. You are depraved, you are imperfect, but you can make a commitment to be consistently consistent in becoming a better person and a better version of yourself than you were yesterday. There are some things that you will never be able to redeem. Only the loving heavenly father is able to redeem and rescue. You cannot do it. Now it's time for you to extend grace to yourself.
Gentlemen, your wives or the ladies in your life will tell you that you can't fix everything. Women, would you agree with me that their first default position and reaction, in fact, let me pick on my young worship leader. He tries to fix a lot of things, right? But here's the cool thing; he's given it what we call the old college try, to make sure that he steps into that place of taking on the responsibility. And I'm going to tell you now, shifting from my young couple here to others. Many of you men, you have been leading with a limp for all your life. You have been leading out of your own woundedness. You have been working and leading out of your own brokenness, and it is time for you to know that there is something about your heavenly father, He can heal, but you are in process. Give yourself grace.
Don't for one minute think that this preacher on Father's Day is here to make you feel guilty. On the contrary, it is really to release you and to redeem you and to restore you and to let you know that today can become the first day of the rest of your life, where you're establishing a new foundation and a new platform to express the model of fatherhood that we see in our loving heavenly Father. It is time to start over.
When I look at the son in Luke 15:13-20, the younger son, there was immaturity. Tell me if any of this is true of your kids. There's immaturity. There's a sense of drivenness - give me the sum total of your life so that I can go out and squander. Give me my inheritance. I wish you were dead. Have you ever had those? The door slam; fine, fine. I'm out of here. Fine. You don't pay the rent here. Leave, go. You, that was edited. It's real. I know what you go through at home. Why? Because I'm one of you. I'm one of you. And so, immaturity, drivenness, recklessness, and then the son even got to a point of losing his identity.
You see the son now sitting and he's there in the hogs pen; here he is, a Jewish boy in a gentle world, feeding the hogs, desiring what the hogs are eating. That's a loss of identity. There is an interesting word, you don't hear this said much, but the Bible says when he came to his senses, in the story, remember in the first part of the story that we all know? When he came to his senses, that word is when he came out of his madness - could that be a picture of the mental stress and the mental illness and all the onslaught of traumatic experiences and the behavior that he was working through. And the Bible says, "When he came to his senses," he said, "I will arise, and I will go to my father." And then he said, "Father, I've sinned against heaven and against earth. I'm no longer worthy to be called your son, make me one of your hired servants." And so we see the desperation, the remorse. What does the father do? The father, when you look at the passage, verse 22, the father said to his servants, "Quick, bring the best robe and put it on him, put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, bring the fatten calf and kill it."
Do you know what the fatten calf was? According to the best Bible scholars that I've read; the fatten calf was the calf that was reserved, potentially, for the Day of Atonement. It was set aside as that, which represents the sacrificial gift of the father and what he was going to give at the temple, so that the sins of his family and his sins would be covered on Yum Kippur, the day of atonement, or the day of covering. The father says, "Go kill the fatten calf. Not just any other calf, the fatten calf." What a picture of the father? But then the other son steps in. He was angry. There's a spirit of entitlement, stubborn - he heard music; that ticked him off because it wasn't just any music, the word for music here and dance, it was from the Greek word, symphonia. Does that sound familiar? Symphony! In other words, bring the best of music that you could potentially get together at such a short notice, because we're going to celebrate my son who was dead but is now alive.
And just imagine this father throwing that, but then the son shows up and he says, "Dad," nd I'm going to translate this for you. "Who do you think you are, dad? Don't you know who I am? I have been slaving for you, and you have never even given me a little goat to celebrate with my friend, but this son of yours "comes home." See, I don't think you guys read the scripture the way it should be read. This is real. And here's the interesting thing. This father he's standing there and he's listening to this son, the other son, the one who represents the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. And this son, and then all of a sudden the father said, "We had to celebrate your brother."
Look at the text. We had to celebrate your brother. All these years I've been slaving, and then my father - verse 31, the father said, "You're always with me, but you're so busy working that you lose sight of the relationship between me and you. You are doing this out of duty." And this father was basically saying, "Son, it is not about your religious duty, but it is all about you sacrificially responding and loving me back because you have all the resources of heaven." We don't even know the end of the story with the older son, did you notice that? We see an open ending. Here's what I want to say as we bring this home. Both sons reveal the perspective that we bring to God as our father, both sons reveal the perspective.
Which son are you? Are you the son in rebellion right now? Are you the son who believes that you can really do it all by yourself? Are you the son who believes that as far as God is concerned, as far as even my earthly father is concerned, they can take that lifestyle and shove it, and you believe that you don't even need God or your parents? I would love for you to come down to the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, and I would introduce you to 2100 people who each year will tell you, in many cases that they got to a of saying, you can take it and shove it, and now they're in a homeless shelter. And they're dealing with their own trauma, addictions and mental illness. If you are a wayward son, I want you to know you actually have it good; probably better than many, definitely better than most, but nobody can tell you anything different.
I don't know why I just said what I just did, but you may be on the verge of revolt or rebellion right now. And I'm here to tell you that you don't have a perfect father, and you and your father may need to sit down and walk through and talk through some challenges and some issues. But in the same way you expect your father to extend grace to you at the human level, you may need to extend grace to your father at that level, because there's coming a day when you are just going to be just like him. And so as you think about this, the big idea that I would share with you is that fatherhood demands that a price be paid if we are to be effective in our responses as fathers. What price, dads, moms, single dads, mothers who are raising kids, what price is God calling upon you to pay?
In this story, who do you think paid the price every single time? You see the father at the very beginning of the story - give me my inheritance. He pay. When the son was returning home, who do you think pay the price? Do you think it was the son who said I will arise and go to my father, and he's going to pay the price? In fact, the father did not even allow him to pray the full prayer of surrender. The Bible says the father seemed to have been watching his son, and he goes against the cultural norm and he gathers his clothing. And while he was there waiting, and can you imagine him pacing the floor day after day after day, paying the price, I want to see my boy. I want to see my girl. I want to see my boy. I want to see my boy. I want to see my boy. And he paces. And the day came, when he looks over and he sees this boy coming towards his father, he's coming towards the house, the boy is there rehearsing, "I will arise and I will go to my father and this is I'm going to tell him."
But here's what the Bible says, "The father paid the price of going against the culture and running." Now, there's a tradition; I haven't confirmed it, I've seen it in some theological books. There is a tradition that if a wayward son was coming back into the community, if somebody saw him first and takes a glass jar or a clay pot and smashes it in front of him, it was symbolic you don't belong here. And so, here's his father, he decides to pay the price to go get his boy. And then he immediately does what needs to be done to demonstrate that he is welcomed. See, that's why the robe, the ring and the sandal, maybe the tradition is correct. So instead of reinforcing the fact that you don't belong here, he does an overkill, if you will.
And as you read the text, we see this excessive, this prodigal father, going way beyond the cultural norms and expectations, to make sure that his boy knows that he belongs, and that he will be blessed. And so, this is what we see, and this father, he pays the price, the price of being willing to release his son in the very beginning. That's a hefty price. I've experienced in my own family without getting deeply personal, but when you know your child is heading in a direction, and they're making sure that they go, as far as they possibly can go, and you have no sense of control, you pay the price of release. And that just kills you. Some of you are paying that price still, but here's the blessed thing. You may have paid that price of release, but they're still in the purview of your loving heavenly Father who will watch over them because there's no distance between your prayer and your God and your prayer and where your child is, but you're called upon to pay that price of being willing to release.
Secondly, this is the toughest part; especially if there is still close proximity involved; you have to pay the price by being willing to retreat. You can't do anything, but you can see the situation. You see the condition; you see that it is getting from bad to worse. You have the ability to do something about it, but the system, in some cases, the situation will not allow you to participate, and so you have to pay the price of retreat. That's a tough one, and that's where you need God almighty to intervene. But you also are called upon call upon, and this happens in many cases, you're willing to pay the price to rescue. There is a rescue mission director in the Nashville Tennessee area right now. Twenty plus years ago, his son says, "Dad, I don't want your God. I don't want you. I don't want your lifestyle. I don't want to have anything to do with you." And he watched his son walk away.
For 20 plus years, this director, he's still trying to find his son. Before he became a director, he was an executive in corporate America. He's now a director, thinking that maybe one day I'll interact with somebody who sees my son, who knows my son, and he's willing to pay the price to rescue. I was in San Antonio, Texas two weeks ago; he's still trying to find his son. Here's the question. So, how did the father respond to his sons that should inform, instruct and shape our model of fatherhood? Three ways - real quickly. Number one, fatherhood is defined by grace. Fatherhood is defined by grace. May you experience your own grace today. You have not been a perfect son, you have not been a perfect father, but now it's time to extend grace. Fatherhood is all about grace.
Secondly, fatherhood is driven by compassion. It is driven by compassion. You may be going to a Father's Day event today, and you're sitting on pins and needles not knowing who will show up. You may not even hear the words from your kids saying happy Father's Day. I know what that is. And you pray, and you wait, and you wonder, and you still live, and you still put one foot in front of the other. Once again, you beat yourself up, but I'm asking you to not only extend grace, but to be compassionate, because it's real. I quietly walk through Father's Day because I know where you sit. Don't let the theological background, the leadership and all the stuff; we still deal with our own brokenness as men, and we may not get a hundred percent. So I may not bat 60% on Father's Day, and fatherhood is demonstrated by acts of restoration and celebration. Celebrate your small wins.
Thank you for joining us today here at St. Joe Community Church. And please consider this your formal invitation to join us personally each Sunday for morning worship services. We meet every Sunday at eight 30 and 10:30 AM. The 10 30 service is broadcasted live from the St. Joe homepage, www.stjoecommunitychurch.org. Even better, we'd love to have you visit the St Joe family in person at 2900 North Anthony Boulevard, located just a few blocks south of the Purdue Fort Wayne University Campus on the northeast side of the city. Thanks again for joining us today, and we'll see you next week. Bye for now.
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Thank God For Godly People!
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
June 12, 2022
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians
-Paul, with others, wrote this letter to the Thessalonians
-Thessalonica- 100k people, affluent, peaceful, idol worshippers
-They did not enjoy religious freedom, as we discover today
-Acts 17:1-4 Paul shared the Gospel, several people believed
-Acts 17:5-10 Paul left after three weeks due to a riot against
Him, which he refers to in today’s focus passage
-This church was growing spiritually, highly encouraged Paul!
Who are your spiritual encouragers?
-Christian leaders, friends, family members
Who is thankful for your spiritual walk with Christ?
Paul thanked God for the Thessalonian Christians!
-1 Thes 1:2
-1 Thes 2:13 That is why we constantly thank God…
-refers back to 1:7-10
-and now he continues his complimentary words to them
1 Thessalonians 2:13-20
1. Godly People Trust the Bible Vs 13
-they “received the word” as “the Word of God”
-God’s Word was changing them! “works effectively”
What is the Word of God/the Bible?
-John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God.
-Jesus is the living Word, our perfect human example!
-2 Peter 1:21 …no prophecy ever came by the will of man;
instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by
the Holy Spirit.
-God caused people to write exactly what He wanted us to
read, know and obey
-2 Tim 3:16 All scripture is God-breathed (inspired by God)
-Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and effective and
sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as
the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able
to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
-The Bible powerfully changes the core of our being!
-Godly people want to know and obey the Bible
-they compare all other claims of truth against the Bible
-they reject all other claims that contradict the Bible
2. Godly People Set the Example Vs 14
-They “became imitators of God’s churches in Christ Jesus”
-they set an example as a whole community, not individuals
-You and I aren’t examples for churches by ourselves
-United obedience to God’s Word shows the world that Jesus
is building His church!
-The miracle of the local church is that, in spite of our humanity,
she still exists all over the world!
3. Godly People Endure Opposition Vs 15-18
-The Thessalonian Christians were persecuted by their own neighbors and
-John 16:33 I have told you these things so that in me you may
have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be
courageous! I have conquered the world.”
-Jesus suffered, we will suffer! Jesus forgave, we must forgive!
-Real Christians endure opposition and persecution
-Opposition is Satan’s effort to keep people from finding God!
-Vs 16b “wrath has overtaken them at last” God will be their
ultimate judge for stopping people from finding Jesus
-vs 18 this opposition kept Paul from being with them
4. Godly People Desire Eternal Rewards Vs 19-20
-Paul described the Thessalonians as his “crown of boasting”
-Who is following Jesus because of you? New believers will
forever testify that you and I were “witnesses” for Jesus!
Thank God for Godly People!
-who do you thank God for?
-who is thanking God for you?
The apostle Paul wrote this letter, we know now as they may or may not have understood that God's spirit was giving them a special unction and understanding to write what was inspired by God for us to have for all eternity, until Jesus comes. It is our guiding light, our guiding textbook for how to be a local church. There are many, but this is one of the letters that God preserved over time for us. But he wrote this letter specifically when he wrote it, he wrote it to Thessalonians; those who were living in the City of Thessalonica. Thessalonica had about a hundred thousand people, they were affluent, they were peaceful, but they were idle worshipers. They were pantheistic. They were multi-religious.
And in fact, we're going to see here in this passage, it's highlighted the fact that they really didn't enjoy, at least the Christians didn't enjoy religious freedom, like we would understand today. So, maybe many things that we know to be true about - maybe two to three times bigger than this city, but very similar in this metropolitan feel, at least in our way of being that kind of a city. And politically free, there wasn't some - even though Rome was very much in charge of that region and that land and that time, they were the Roman empire; they had relative freedom to govern themselves just like we in Fort Wayne would have that freedom. We will see and we do know that, and they were intolerant of anyone who said, this is the one true way. And of course, that's kind of similar to us today that someone would say, this is absolutely right, this is true, the Bible is true, which means all other faiths are false. You can't logically or mentally say, this is true, and this is true.
And so, the anyone who would say, when you say I am the way, the truth in the life, no one comes to the father except through me, Jesus Christ. There are some in our city and some in our region, some in our country that would say you have no right to believe that, and you have no right to impose that understanding upon our society. And so, we have vestiges of that, but this particular city, there were mobs of people that would riot and actually threaten to physically harm people who said such things. And they did.
We know that the backdrop of this, if you want to do a little history or study or comparison in Acts 17, this is the description of when Paul first went to Thessalonica and shared the gospel, and when several people believed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And then we see in Acts 17:5-10 where he left due to the riot against him. And it's, of course, we're referring to that in today's focus passage. But in spite of the opposition, in spite of the persecution, in spite of many people probably losing their positions of prominence and popularity, the gospel flourished and the church was birthed, and not only was born in that city, but it was thriving. It was so thriving that Paul wrote this letter as an encouragement to say, you guys are getting it right and I am so thankful for you. And that's why I have chosen this because I say, I am thankful for my church family, and I'm thankful for what God has and is doing in and through us.
Now, we're always one decision away from chaos. Don't get me wrong, but at the same time, we need to acknowledge and celebrate. And as I had one friend of mine, he's actually in Ecuador right now with one of our local pastors, Bobby Pells in Evansville as a pastor. And Steve Johnson is a pastor at Waynedale Baptist Church, and they're now on a teaching tour through Ecuador from the west coast all the way into the mountains. And I think they're heading over to Coca in the jungle for their final stint of two days of preaching to indigenous and rural preachers. And as they talk about - Bobby will say to me, "I don't celebrate well. I'm always looking to the next; I'm always looking to the next." It's almost like athletes do that. They're all excited about the trophy they received, but they're already thinking about next season how they're at the bottom of the pack one more time. Or they're at target to be knocked off because they're at the top of the pack right now.
And so, sometimes even in Christian circles, we just don't celebrate well the successes that God has given us because for some reason, we think that's prideful to say, I'm so thankful for all the things that have happened well. And if you're becoming prideful, that's a bad thing and you shouldn't do that, but it shouldn't preclude us in fear of being prideful. We need to at least acknowledge, I'm grateful that things are going well. I'm grateful that things have happened in a good way. I acknowledge that everything didn't happen the way we wanted it to, but a few things turned out okay, and God is good. And so, that's why I felt like it was important for us to read through this letter and extrapolate from us some things we can learn and grow from and be encouraged by today.
Now, I have a question asked as we move forward because my title was, "Thank God for Godly People." Who are your spiritual encouragers? You might want to write down a note of someone in your life that's a spiritual encourager. Maybe they're hopefully alive so that you can actually thank them and say something to them. And maybe they've gone home to be with the Lord and you need to thank God for them, and just pause and say, thank you God for that person in my life. I have a picture of someone on my desk that has gone home to be with the Lord that in his own small way was an encouragement to me. Not only was he an encouragement to me personally, but one thing he was encouraging to me about was he finished well.
He continued to fight the good fight, he continued to run the race with endurance, and he made it to the end without any kind of scandal or specific thing that was revealed later about him. Even after his death, there is nothing that has been said or could be said that has been found out that would absolutely cancel his ministry life as a pastor. Not only in our city, but in Portland, Indiana and in Muncie, Indiana and multiple other areas where he served the Lord, mentored young men in the Lord and finished well, the race. There are people like that in my life. I think of Brother Miles Seaborne; his wife just went home to be with the Lord this week. Did you know that? Talking my wife there, but Jeanie and her husband, Miles, were very encouraging to us when I was in seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. And I will be forever grateful for brother miles and what he did in my life.
Brother Horton was a good person in my life. And I remember Mickey, Mickey was just, and I say was just, he was a Sunday School teacher, blue collar worker that just opened up the word of God in my ninth, 10th grade class, Sunday School, each Sunday morning, faithfully teaching us the word of God. And there are things that he shared with me that I even use for illustrations today when I'm teaching the word of God. Just faithfully teaching the word of God to me, and I probably fell asleep occasionally. I probably didn't pay attention all the time. I probably wasn't the best student for him, but God is my witness, I can look back and know that in spite of what I wasn't, he continued to be a faithful witness of the word of God to me. He was a spiritual encourager. Who is that in your life that you can point to? Write that name down, find a moment sometime today or this week to thank God for them and to reach out if they're still alive, and thank them personally?
Who is thankful for your spiritual walk in Christ? Did somebody, if I were to say this to enough people, to a crowd of people that knew you, would they write your name down as a spiritual encourager? Is there someone in your life that you have influenced towards Jesus Christ that they would say I'm grateful for that person and that they would name you as that person? And I say that to say that Paul is talking to this church because he's saying you guys were those kinds of people. I'm thankful for you. You are something that I celebrate an eternity with and for, and that's the kind of people that I want to be. That's the kind of people that I want us to be, and that when people think of people from St Joe Community Church, they think of refreshment - cups of cold water in Jesus name, speaking the truth in love, not just speaking the truth and not just living in love, but speaking the truth in love, the combination, encouraging people in their spiritual walk.
Paul thanked God for Thessalonian Christians. In 1 Thessalonians 1:2, it says, "We always thank God for all of you making mention of you constantly in our prayers." And in the very beginning of our passage this morning, he said, this is why we constantly thank God because when you receive the word of God that you heard from us, you welcome it, not as human a message, but as it truly is the word of God, we thank God for you." And now he continues his complimentary words to them. And so, let me read for us 1 Thessalonian 2:13-20, "This is why Paul is saying, we, his team, constantly thank God, because when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you welcomed it, not as a human message, but as it truly is the word of God, which also works effectively in you, who believe. For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea since you have also suffered the same things from people of your own country, just as they did from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuted us. They displeased God and are hostile to everyone by keeping us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. As a result, they are constantly filling up their sins to the limit, and wrath has overtaken them at last. But as for us brothers and sisters, after we were forced to leave you for a short time, in person, not in heart, we greatly desired and made every effort to return to see you face to face, so we wanted to come to you. Even I, Paul, time and again, but Satan hindered us. For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus that is coming? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy."
Thank God for godly people. Thank God for godly people. They're the kind of people that we want in our lives. They're the kind of people that you want as a pastor to lead. They're the kind of people that as a people of God you want leading you. They're the kind of people you just need around you. You need around a few godly people so that you can endure a bunch of ungodly people, a bunch of ungodliness that works around you. Whenever I was at Ball State, I was in the marching band, and that was quite a Motley crew. And you just kind of knew which bus to not get on if you really wanted to stay away from what you shouldn't be doing.
And I remember my junior and senior year thinking to myself, well, first of all, I was thinking to myself, my girlfriend's in the band, I'm going to go in the band. Of course I am, because free trips to all places and be with my girlfriend. But having said that, I also thought to myself, is there a Christian group of people? Are there some godly students who are in the band that I can actually hang out with so I don't have to continue to endure a bunch of ungodly people and be pretty much a loner when you go on trips? And we went to places like Niagara Falls; we went to see the Buffalo Bills play and we played. At halftime we went down to the Cincinnati Bingos. We went to different road trips as a band, and that was part of the fun is you get free trips to go places and you get to play awesome music with a bunch of people that are really talented, much more talented than I was. But in spite of that, it was just good to be around people who were godly.
And it just invariably worked that each year I would find our group of people, and it was a varying degrees, but for the most part, we all remembered the trip. And we all wanted to enjoy the trip without doing things that were not only a little illegal, but we're definitely self-abasing and things that just would not have put us in a spot where we would've been honoring to God. Now, I'm not going to tell you that I was perfect; don't get me wrong. And I'm not here to tell you that I had it all figured out. I'm just saying that I needed those people around me so that I wouldn't keep doing the things that I in the flesh wanted to do. So, don't sit here and look at this halo guy. Let's look at a guy that was desperate to be around people so that he wouldn't do the bad things, okay. Let's just get that straight.
But here's the kind of people that we thank God for. Godly people in verse 13, it shows trust the Bible. Paul says they receive the word of God - receive the word that they gave them as the word of God, not as a human message. God's word was changing them. It was working effectively, he says in his letter to them. It works effectively in you. You're changing. You're becoming something different because of God's word in your life. Now, what was the word of God for them? It was the Old Testament for the most part, but there was no inspired... this letter was coming to them, but this letter had not yet come to them so they didn't have the inspired word of God. They didn't have, I mean, the inspired New Testament. They didn't have the Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that we have in our Bible. They had the Old Testament; the Old Testament was changing their lives.
How many pastors and leaders ignore the Old Testament in thinking that we aren't Old Testament people, were New Testament people? And yet the church was birthed on the Old Testament, cutting their teeth on the word of God that had already existed and always will exist just as much as the New Testament, but the New Testament was not yet in their hands. As they were studying this word, it changed them. It made them into the person that God wanted them to become. Now, what is the word of God? Well, let's just look at John 1:1 says in the beginning was the word and the word was with Jesus and the word was God. So, the epitome or the actually fullness of the word of God is Jesus Christ, himself. He's the living word. He's the word that he demonstrated the word of God as He walked among us as a human being. He always existed - He always will. He was God. He is God.
1 Peter 1:21 continues to give us some ideas of what the word of God is, "No prophecy ever came by the will of man. Instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." God has caused people to write exactly what He wanted us to read, know and obey. And when you read Paul's letters, it certainly has his personality, his vernacular, his skill at writing. But behind what he's doing is the Holy Spirit that is helping him to perfectly say in his own way of saying it what God wants us to know for all eternity. That would be true for Paul, that would be true for James, and that is true for Peter, and that is true for Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and all those who are part of writing the inspired scriptures or bringing it even at first in an oral tradition in the old Testament.
In 2 Timothy 2:16, it says all scripture is God breathed, which means inspired by God. In Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any double edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." The Bible powerfully changes the core of our being. It's why it's a frightening book to people that don't want to obey God. It's why this book has tried to be banned by so many people and why we have to smuggle it into communist countries, countries that are intolerant of anything other than their own religion of communism and socialism. A country that is fully fueled by humanism; cannot stand the authority of the word of God because it jars them out of their complacency, into a conviction that makes them uncomfortable and in a way in which they would not want to live.
God's word is powerful, that's why we give a Bible to our graduates. That's why we give Bibles to people when they are baptized in our baptismal. That's why we give Bibles to people just because we give Bibles away. We just give them away, left and right. They're on the piano back there. If you want one, take one if you don't have one. If you need an extra one, take one. We'll continue to buy more because the word of God is a powerful and effective tool. It is God's tool for changing our lives for guiding us. Godly people want to know and want to obey the Bible. They compare all other claims of truth against the Bible, and they reject all claims that contradict the Bible. Godly people submit their personal feelings and opinions to the Bible.
So many times today, and I've heard it in speeches, I've heard it in commentaries, what you feel is right. Well, my opinion is what matters, even if it's against what God's opinion is. Well, we've evolved in our understanding of what the Bible says. Nothing will be further from the truth. God's word was, is, and will be. My word will never pass away, Jesus said. We don't change the Bible to fit our feelings and thoughts; we change our feelings and thoughts to fit the Bible. And these Christians, even in the midst of intense persecution, what do you mean you don't believe in all these other gods? What do you mean we're all lost in judgment of a holy God that says that what we're doing is wrong? What do you mean? Can't you just get along everybody else in our city? Can't you just stop preaching Jesus to people around you? That's just wrong for you to impose your belief on somebody. The same way that it might be wrong to impose somebody's beliefs that they can drive down a road to a river where it bridge is out, and they put a warning sign that says, "do not go, road closed, bridge out, danger." Oh, but I don't want to impose my feelings and beliefs on somebody driving their car. I ought to let them just - they need to experience for themselves whether or not the bridge is out.
If you believe something to be true and you staked your eternity on it, you don't have to be dogmatic and rude and cruel and mean, but for the sake of God, could we at least tell people that they're in trouble if they are, if we really believe that in love? But that was intolerant to people in Thessalonica. And these Christians were being persecuted for believing that. But in spite of the intense opposition to their faith, they were thriving. And Paul accredited to the fact that the word of God was actively changing their lives. It wasn't just a personal opinion that flew into town and talked to them. It's not a win some pastor or a preacher coming up here and talking that changes your life. It's the word of God that changes your life. Not only do godly people trust the Bible, godly people set the example. Verse 14; "They became imitators of God's churches in Christ Jesus." They became imitators of God's churches.
Now notice here, it doesn't say you individually became imitators of Jesus Christ by yourselves. It says that they were imitators as a community of the Lord, Jesus Christ. They were an example of what it meant to live a Christian life as a community of people, not just as individual people. Now, individuals I'm sure were powerful in themselves, but it was a community effort, not an individual effort that they said, "Oh, look what you're doing here, look what you're doing here!" It was the collective of their godliness that came together that was a powerful witness that God was at work in their lives.
You and I aren't examples for churches by ourselves. There is a movement it seems for people to have their own little theological libraries and their own little theological ways of doing things. And they're sort of like this own little enclave. Now, I am all for, and I am not against all forms of congregating together. There's large church, there's small church, there's house church, there's all kinds of ways to share the gospel and for people to thrive as a community of faith together, but the key is, a community is more than just yourself. It's a group of people coming together in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. We believe in membership and covenant relationships with one another that this isn't just something we just sort of show up and we're kind of together. No, we're in this together. We walk together in the spirit of Christ.
United obedience to God's word shows the world that Jesus is building His church. And I want to say this, the miracle of the local churches, that in spite of our humanity, she still exists all around the world. In spite of our stupidity, in spite of the fact that we are all hypocrites in recovery – "Hi, I'm Greg, I'm a hypocrite." "Hi Greg." "Yeah, thank you." I think Beth gets it. This is group therapy for me. I need others to know that I am not right. Boy, I said that out loud. My daughter's like, "Yes, he admitted it." I am not perfect. Yes, of course I'm not. You know I'm not; for me to say otherwise, you would laugh. I'm becoming what God wants me to become, and it's through the local church. It's through our collective obedience to the word of God together that we become something to behold for the world to see, to be examples for other believers around the world.
We set the example when we're a godly person that people thank God for. And we thank God for godly people who endure opposition. I've been referring to this throughout the message, but the Thessalonian Christians were persecuted by their own neighbors, their own citizens, their own regional people; their own countrymen. This translation says, people in your own country, your own countrymen; your own country people. It wasn't some outside force that was coming in. It was people that already knew them that they already knew. They may have lost their jobs because they were Christians. They may have been ostracized by family members that were either refusing to agree with them and didn't want anything to do with them or afraid to agree with them because they didn't want to suffer the same intense persecution that was being thrust upon them. They endured the opposition.
Jesus warned of this in John 16:33. He said, "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace." You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous. I have conquered the world. I mean, when Jesus came, the perfect example - we aren't, He was, He is; the perfect son of God, who was the perfect word of God was crucified. They couldn't stand perfection when they saw it. They didn't want anything to do with it. So, don't kid yourself to think that when you begin to stand up for what is right that you will not be suffering. You will suffer the same consequences.
It is illegal for a Christian who is a counselor licensed by the State of California to obey the word of God in helping someone get out of their sinful lifestyle. They right now cannot be certified by the State of California. This is happening throughout the States and other places. If someone wants to move out of an ungodly relationship or out of an ungodly tendency, they will lose their license in the State of California. And this is continuing to happen because they don't want the Bible to be the final authority; they want humanity to be the final authority. And the question will be, as this continues to ripple through America, if it doesn't change, if it continues to run unabated; will godly people continue to endure? Will godly people endure? And it will, I think, in many ways, reveal those who are not relationally connected to Jesus Christ, but simply culturally connected to a community of Christ, but not really relationally connected to Jesus as their true Lord and savior, because real Christians endure opposition and persecution.
Now, opposition is Satan's effort to keep people from finding God. It says here, "That by keeping them from speaking to the Gentiles," in other words, there was a persecution that rose out, "so that they may be saved." In other words, Satan is trying his best to hide the truth from people who don't know it, and trying to shroud anything that the Christian community is doing and helping everybody point out all the ways in which we aren't, which we can easily do. There are many ways we aren't because we're not perfect.
One of my officer friends said it will never be perfect because you're all run by humans, and by God's grace, hopefully, under the authority of Jesus who is the Lord of our church and the chief shepherd of our church, but until we are in heaven, the church will not be perfect. And so many people are being hidden or are trying to hide the truth of God through the humanity of the church, instead of the spirit of the church. And Paul says very simply, almost like he just says, "Oh, and by the way, wrath is overtaken them at last." They're going to suffer a great awakening to their error of their ways. And at some point, God will be their ultimate judge for stopping people from finding Jesus. I referred to the idea that the county highway department decides, they say, "I need for you to go and I need for you to put the bridges closed danger signed." And that guy decides, "You know, I don't like my boss. I don't care for the county. I think they're wrong in their attitude about that bridge, and I'm just not going to put the sign up because I don't care. I don't want people to know the bridge is out."
Now, that person would be prosecuted and put in jail for a long time if somebody lost their life because he refused to put the sign up. And I think our society would rightly say he faces or she faces a higher penalty for what they did because they had the authority to do something, and they abused the authority in such a way that it took the lives of people. And I believe this is what Paul is saying, that there are people that are openly opposing the true. They're not just saying live and let live. They're not being tolerant. Its one thing to say I don't believe that, I'm an atheist, but I certainly... you know, you're welcome to believe it if you want to. I'm not going to do anything to stop you because hey, maybe it's true. And you have the right in the freedom of our country to believe what you want to believe so go for it. And here's a Bible, I don't want it anymore because I've rejected it, but you can have my Bible.
I had an atheist give me a Bible one time. She said, "My mom had this and I know you're a religious person and I thought that you might want this." And I wanted to so give it back to her, but I took it and thanks. I still have it, and I still pray for her to come to know Jesus. But these people are openly opposing the gospel so much so that they're trying their best to keep people from finding Jesus. And Paul says, there's a day when the limit of their sin will be so complete that the ultimate judge - they're in trouble. I wouldn't wish that on anybody, but he's just stating a fact.
In the midst of all that godly people, endure opposition. And finally this morning, godly people desire eternal rewards. Now, Paul explained here as a caveat here, he explains that it couldn't be with you, that I was hindered from coming because of this persecution. Some think that maybe Paul knew it was better for them to thrive in their faith as a Christian community without him being there, than for his notoriety or is Christian celebrity or whatever you might say that he was so popular for Christ that it would've been more of a hindrance than a help to the Christian Church for him to show up. But indeed he wanted to come; he sent Timothy instead with this letter.
But then he says, yeah, even though he wanted to come, don't forget who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus that is coming. Is it not you? And indeed you are our glory and joy. He described Thessalonians as his crown of boasting. And there's a whole Bible study that talks about the crowns. I mean, there's six or seven or five at least. And we talk about that - there's some ways of kind of collecting all of those Bible verses together. And if that is truly the case, I think in Revelation, it says that they cast their crowns at the feet of Jesus in worshiping Him in eternity. Then anything that we receive as a reward is thrown right back at Jesus to say, the only way I was able to do this in the first place was because of what you did through me and gave me the power to do it. Our worship of Jesus is everything that we accomplish. I said that we don't celebrate success very well, but any success that we do celebrate goes right back to the feet of Jesus to say there's no way we could have been successful if it hadn't been for you in the first place. And we put it right back at him. It was all because of Jesus that we were able to do what we did.
And Paul says, "You are shining examples of what I'm going to celebrate for eternity. I'm going to celebrate you. And I wonder if Paul was thinking, we're going to celebrate together, that I can't be with you here temporarily in this earth, but forever we're going to be together at the throne of Jesus worshiping together. And wow, I'm going to say, God, you let me be part of an opportunity and a movement in a city that I just visited for three weeks, and look what happened. People came to know Jesus, and you used me to do that. Wow, God, I'm celebrating forever that these people were rescued from hell to heaven, from death to life, from just living a regular common existence on earth to an existence of purpose and meaning while they lived out their life on this earth, and I'm celebrating."
Who are you going to celebrate when you get to heaven because God used you to help them find and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior? Who is following Jesus because of you? These new believers will testify forever that you and I were witnesses for Jesus Christ. It's only two things that last forever; God's word and people. What are you investing in? How are you leveraging everything you have on this earth in order to leverage and invest in the word of God, which changes your life and people who last forever, either away from God forever or with God forever? What are you doing about it? Godly people desire eternal rewards.
Oh, I'd love to see young people get degrees, get certifications, get a welding certification, get a degree. My best friend growing up, he's got a mechanics. He's a machinist, and then now his daughter is going to go to a college on a full ride. And I can't wait to talk to him in person to say, "Wow, who would've thought a guy that couldn't stand a book." He liked standing on books to get to something else, but not read them, has got a daughter who's a Brainiac that wants to study biology and be a teacher. And he's going to go, "Yeah, I never guessed." And yet he's as smart as anybody else, he's just smart in a different way. But all these accomplishments - but you know what? All those accomplishments are great, but nothing compared the accomplishments of what you do to follow God and to help people find and follow God through whatever gifts, talents, and abilities you've done, and those talents and gifts, and those rewards that you've had that this earth gives us.
I pray that we will live for eternity, not for the finite; that we will think about how we're being an influence and an encouragement to people around us. Not so much thinking about all the people that need to bless me. Thank God for godly people. Who are you thanking God for? Will you let them know that you're grateful for them and who's thanking God for you? You said, well, I don't know who that would be right now. Well, God has given you a moment of time to change. He's given you a moment because the end of your life doesn't have to be where you're headed right now if only you will start making the change that God wants you to make to live for what matters.
Use that connection card and help us know how to pray for you. Maybe it's time to tell the world you're a Christian through baptism. Maybe it's time to take the class and learn what it means to belong to a church family. And we're not here to talk you into anything. We're just here to open up God's word and open up our lives to help you move forward spiritually one step at a time. Let's stand. Let's sing one more time. Let's strike while the iron's hot. Right now is the moment when you know what you must do. Will you make that decision? Will you move forward? Will you take a step of faith? Will you trust us even just a little bit to help you move forward to become the godly person that God wants you to become for His namesake? God help us to each take the step you want us to take to honor you to bless others and to have an eternal destiny that is hopeful, good, pure, perfect, and glorifying to you, in Jesus name I pray, amen.
A Trustworthy Leader Part 2
1 Thessalonians 2:7-12
June 5, 2022
An Enduring Letter to a Local Church
We must examine who we follow and how we lead!
-local spiritual leadership
-podcasts, online teachings
-other Christian friends
-Ray Stedman: [We must also remember that] every believer is in the ministry. We all have pastoral responsibilities. If you are a parent, you have a little flock at home to whom you should minister. This passage will help you minister effectively. Some of you have friends with whom you meet at breakfast or lunch, some of you have a Bible class in your home. This passage teaches how to be effective in any ministry, how to touch and change people.
A Trustworthy Leader part 2
1. Nurturing vs 7
-trustworthy leaders are “life-giving”
-nurturing: strengthening, feeding, supporting, increasing safety
2. Personal vs 8
-Paul and his team were completely transparent with the church
-they shared the gospel AND their living examples of obedience
-leadership reputation is built through personal relationships
-trustworthy leaders build relationships with their followers
-any leader can stray apart from real Christian fellowship
-pastors need the sanctifying work of the body of Christ as
much as any other Christian!
-My personal accountability team includes: my wife and children, our church elders, ministry team leaders, other Christian brothers in the church, certain church pastors locally and around the USA.
3. Sacrificial vs 9
-Paul’s team had to work secular jobs to support themselves
-trustworthy leaders are hard workers, selfless,
-they do whatever it takes to serve the people God entrusts
-Co-vocational ministry workers is a growing trend today
-I thank God for how He supports me and my family through
this church family.
-The Lord also used supplemental income from other ministry
work, including employment at Indiana Tech for 10 yrs
-trustworthy leaders are not lazy or freeloaders!
4. Proven integrity vs 10
-Paul appealed to what they knew about Him, what God knew
-devout/singlemindedness- holy and set apart for God’s purpose
-righteous- leaders behave well and resist lifestyles that may
distract followers from trusting and following the Lord
-blameless- not sinless, but an open and uncovered life that
continually confesses and forsakes sin
-trustworthy leaders have a track record of living openly and
honestly for God and leading with high integrity
5. Parental vs 11-12
-encouraging and comforting
-challenging/imploring people to grow spiritually and follow the
Lord more carefully
-trustworthy leaders want God’s best for their followers
-the goal = living a life worthy of God!
-leaders lead people towards God, not their own agendas!
Are we following trustworthy leaders?
-How well do we know the people we trust to lead us?
-High trust = well known people!
Are WE trustworthy leaders?
-Are we following Jesus Christ personally?
-Are we leading people towards Christ and His Word?
Today is Sunday, June 5th, 2022, and welcome to St. Joe Community Church. Today's message is entitled a Trustworthy Leader Part 2, and was delivered by Pastor Greg Byman. For more information, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org, click on the sermons tab and find today's broadcast. So now, let's open the Bible, get a notepad and pen and prepare to hear from God's word. Here's Pastor Greg Byman.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12, unpacks what it means to be a trustworthy leader. And I shared the first six verses with us a few weeks ago, and we're going to dig into 7-12 today. This comes in the middle of what we might call an enduring letter to the local church. It's an enduring letter. It was an important letter for the Thessalonicans, for Thessalonians in Thessalonica in this town that, if all of you had to say that 10 times really fast I'd be, we would let us spit in the air, so don't do it. But it was a church that we know no longer exists. Every church that was written to in the Bible no longer exists as a local congregation. But the local church continues to exist because Jesus is building His church. And it seemed in prayerful consideration and great concert of opinion and spiritual opinion, and it has been, I think, verified over time that this letter was not just to one church, but to all churches. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
And that's another whole message in itself. And how did we get our Bible? But it's in our Bible because it's a cut above in so many unique and miraculous ways above anything else that was written around that time period. And so, it's not just a letter for that church, but it's an enduring letter for our church. It's a personal letter from God that He gave to us for eternity to come, until Jesus comes again. These are healthy, biblical, good, godly instructions for every local church, ours included. And I've considered using 1 Thessalonians as a way to say God has in so many ways blessed St. Joe Community Church through a difficult time period in history.
If you're a student of the Bible, you would discover that the thons letter is actually one of the most positive letters that Paul ever wrote. One of the most negative letters that Paul ever wrote and negative as in he was really upset with them, because they were not doing some good things, was the letter he wrote to the Galatian church, to the Galatians in Galatia. And so, the letter that you never want to get is the letter, the Galatians book in the Bible, and then the letter that you really want to get that's really encouraging and wow, you guys are hitting it out of the park would be the Thessalonians letter. And I wanted to use that one to say that the pandemic had an effect on the local church all over the world. But I only know our part of the world and I'm going to say even in our particular region, and even as I narrow it down to even within walking distance of this church, churches died. They didn't make it.
Some, it was time. Some they thought they were fine, but they were what you might call in the spiritual sense, underlying spiritual health issues that were detrimental to their ongoing sustainability. Just like the virus, attacked people who more likely were affected had other underlying health problems that would cause them to go into worst case scenario. Whereas some of us that got COVID 19, we kind of like, well it was miserable, but it wasn't life threatening at that moment in our lives. And I don't understand the science of all that, but in the same way that we saw that in a biological sense in the medical sense, that was true in the spiritual sense that churches didn't fare well when they had to close and couldn't open back up.
And when the normal streams of the way you did church, they couldn't adapt as quickly. And we struggled to adapt, but somehow some way, even with the division of opinion, and even with the division of a tremendous political upheaval that took place. And while there was not a unanimity of opinion, there was a unity of the Holy Spirit that I would say was only a miracle of God that we were able to sustain and actually grow and be stronger financially, and to actually emerge as a church that's moving forward. And I say, praise God for that. I say thank God for what He did and how He has worked. And I don't understand it, and there's nothing I could have done to manufacture, Bill Wallace would say occasionally. More than once he said to me, "Pastor, just make a decision. You will be absolutely wrong when you make it, but go ahead and make it." And it's just so encouraging, but it was true.
You just don't know what you don't know when you're in the dark. We'd never gone through this in our lifetime before. Dorothy had, a hundred and six year old, she'd been through some pandemics, and she didn't even die from the pandemic. She died from old age. God bless her, she's in heaven. You know, Spanish flu, you know, all that. She saw it all. Crazy, but we didn't know what to do about it, but God was good and God is good, all the time. All the time God is good. And I'm thankful for what He did. And I humbly say that. I don't take for granted that we have tomorrow. We're one crazy situation into chaos in any church situation, even in a good circumstance. So, there's nothing like we're just like gloating, we're in no way holding it over and saying, look at us; we're saying, look at God, because only God could have done what He did.
I wanted to preach through a letter that God gave to a church that was highly encouraging, because I just wanted to highly encourage us. And I wanted to be highly encouraged. You know, I don't like reading tough stuff all the time, so that's why we're in Thessalonians for the next season here. As long as I'm preaching, I'll be going through this throughout the summer.
This second section really is a section that continues on the first one, two weeks ago. You can look at it online. You can look at the notes online about trustworthy leadership, because we must examine who we follow and how we lead. We've got to examine that. Who are you following? Who is dumping into your life? How well do you know the people that you're listening to on the podcasts? I tend to, for the most part, I believe and trust - Bot Radio Network, that was a big shout out. Tammy works there and she was here in the early service, Tucker's mom. And I've just always found good resource, you know, I'm like, if they kick him off of Bot Radio, he probably should have been kicked off. And if they're on Bot Radio, they're probably decent. Not that you believe everything everybody says about everything. No, of course not. But generally speaking, probably pretty trustworthy. But even so, we've got to examine who we follow.
It's much easier at the local level, and that's why we believe in the local church as the primary place where we go and grow together. And that's why we believe in membership in a church. And by the way, on the 17th of July, it's in the bulletin we've put a class on there, Hope It Makes. We've got a few people that can go. But on the 17th of July, right after church, we have a free meal, and then we'll dig into what it means, why we believe membership's important, what it means to belong to a local church from the biblical versus, and having a relationship with God. I says, "Well, I don't know about joining a church. I just need to get closer to God." We talk about that too.
So, that's all inclusive and it's an afternoon class. We take breaks, but we just do it all at once, so you don't come back four or five times throughout several weeks, we just do it in one afternoon. And so, I welcome you to sign up for that if you've never taken that class and explored belonging to our local church or maybe any local church. Because you'll know in that class that we take accountability seriously with our leaders. Some crazy stuff that have been happening locally, and I mean locally, like regionally; I'm not going to mention it because I didn't want to mention it, but some really bad things happen on the news. I actually got to meet with coffee with a guy that had to report it on Wayne and it's just awful. And one of the deacons - one of the elders said to me, how would we handle that? I said, "Well, first of all, we'll never handle that. That that should never happen that way."
But there's accountability. There's a structure of, yes, we are independent, we're autonomous, we don't have a Pope that controls us here at St. Joe Community Church, although St. Joe sounds like Catholic. Anyway, Jesus is in charge of our church. We also have leadership and we've made a pact, the elders and I that like, if I start saying something that's ungodly, they have the right to come tackle me. Somebody might shoot me before they tackle me. I don't know. I mean, there's just some good accountability in this room, and that should always be the case. You should never just carp blank trust Pastor Greg or any other pastor that's up here.
There's standards by which we entrust people with leadership. And it's not because we've always known them forever. Obviously, some people they've known forever, but they didn't know all of them. And so it's important that we entrust one another to thinking carefully. And I'm going to show you some ideas about that. So, you need to examine who you follow. And then you also examine how you lead because all of us are leaders. And I want to quote what I quoted two weeks ago from Ray Steadman, a pastor who's gone home to be with the Lord. As he was preaching through 1 Thessalonians 2, in his commentary he said, "We must also remember that every believer is in the ministry; not just pastors, not just elders, not just ministry, team leaders. We're all leaders." We all have pastoral responsibilities. If you're a parent, you have a little flock at home to whom you should minister. This passage will help you minister effectively.
Some of you have friends with whom you meet at breakfast or lunch. Some of you have a Bible class in your home. This passage teaches how to be effective in any ministry, how to touch and how to change people. So everybody's a leader; you always lead somebody, somebody's following you. Somebody is your shadow and you need to be very careful how you're leading them. And so these principles, while you very much have every right to hold me accountable to them and to any leader in our church, you must also hold yourselves accountable to be a better person, to be a better influencer, to be a better leader.
So, let's look at what they are, and verse seven, let me just read for us the passage and then we'll break it down as we move forward from chapter two, verse seven. "Although we could have been a burden," this is Paul talking again, we the team that came there and started the 1 Thessalonians church, "although we could have been a burden as Christ apostles, instead we were gentle among you as a nurse nurtures her own children. We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives because you have become dear to us. For you remember our labor and hardship brothers and sisters, working night and day so that we would not burden any of you. We preached God's gospel to you. You are witnesses and so is God of how devoutly, righteously and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you believers. As you know, like a father with its own children, we encouraged, comforted and implored each one of you to live worthy of God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory."
A trustworthy leader, a trustworthy leader, first of all, in verse seven is nurturing, nurturing like a mother nursing, her children - life giving; that's what a leader is, strengthening, feeding, supporting, increasing the safety of the people that they're leading. Now, in other letters, as I said, Paul in his nurturing capacity was kind of harsh. He disciplined the church. He said, I am so amazed that you have so quickly abandoned what I taught you. And that's not a very nice thing to say, but it needs to be said when it needs to be said. And sometimes the hardest thing a parent ever does is discipline their child. And yet that's the best thing they can do when a child needs discipline.
It's nurturing though, in this passage, he's like, we came here nurturing, you helping to build you up. Verse eight, it's personal. A leader is not just do as I say, but you don't need to know who I am. A leader is personal, that's why I say local leadership is so much more important than national leadership or regional leadership. There are a lot of good pastors out there that preach circles around me; that's why they're popular in the soundbites out there. But I'll tell you what; how well do you know? Are they personal? I've been in the homes of people or I've talked to people at the coffee shops and they say, "Well, I listen to so and so," and they'll bring up a famous pastor and I'll say, "You know, I listen to that guy too. I like him." And they said, "Well, that's my pastor." I said, "Oh, have you talked to him about your funeral? I don't think David Jeremiah is coming back to do your funeral. The last time you were in the hospital, did an elder from his church come by to say hi to you?" "No, that didn't happen." Okay, so he's your pastor. I would think you'd want somebody a little closer to home that could minister and care for you and be with you and walk with you through the trials of life."
Paul says I was personal. They were completely transparent to the church. They shared the gospel and their lives. They didn't just come with a word, they came with their lives. They were trustworthy leaders who were building relationships with the followers. And by the way, I want you to know something; any trustworthy leader can stray into immorality, whether a little bit or a lot. And the difference is, when that leader is in a relationship, accountability to the body of Christ that he or she's leading in and working in; we're working together. Like, I need the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit through the fellowship of the body of Christ, as much as any other man in this church does. And the moment somebody stops asking, how's it going really? And not everybody has the permission to do that, because they don't know me that well, but there ought to be a man that have enough knowledge of who I am to say, how you doing really pastor? How's your thought life? What's going on? Are you going home to your wife regularly and just hanging out with family and not just doing ministry like crazy?
Now, a lot of people are saying, I want you to do more. I want you to do more. I want you to do more. Some are saying you need to do less. You need to do less. You need to do less to get home and take care of the home fire. And if there aren't people in a pastor's life doing that, that pastor's on a dangerous path. In fact, there's a book I read recently called Dangerous Calling and that whole idea that you've put pastoral leadership in some kind of a pedestal. And sometimes we do that as soon as they get out of seminary, and they have no accountability and they're expected to be this super hired holy guy that has it all together.
Trust me, I certainly didn't have it all together and I still don't have it all together, and I need real friendship. And so, my friendships would be people like, well, first of all, my wife; you wouldn't have to kill me, she would. And you'd all acquit her of that. My children, our church elders, ministry, team leaders, other Christian brothers in the church that you aren't leaders necessarily, but you can come to me and say, "Hey, I see some smoke. Is there any fire?" And then there's pastors that I talk to regularly. And during some of the crazy stuff that's been going on the national scene, I've been making buddy checks with pastors, "Hey, how you doing? Hey, how you doing?"
One guy that I know that kind of well, the leader of his ministry stepped down because of infidelity and that whole ministry, national ministry evaporated within 30 days. They will cease to exist June 30th. And I just reached out to him and said, "Hey, how can we...?" Little Indiana, I'm sure there's a whole bunch of other beautiful places in the world, but how can we minister to you? Is there a way we can just hold you tight and encourage you? He wrote me back and we'll see what happens, because there's just chaos going on. And there's people that just need to know, hey, how's it going really? And I don't know how many of my buddies, most of them have great accountability, but we all have each other. And there's some of my seminary buddies that I'll always be friends with until Jesus comes or we go home. And we just call each other and say, how's it really going?
And we get honest and real, but I need, and it doesn't replace the local accountability that you all give to me and to my life. A trustworthy leader is personal. A trustworthy leader is also sacrificial. Verse nine, what did he say there; "You remember our labor and hardship brothers and sisters working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we'll preach the gospel to you." That wording and the way it's worded in the original language, we tend to sense that... Paul, we think he was a tent maker by trade. He had a skillset that was employable outside of the congregation. And he in that situation, not every situation, but in this particular one, he determined and the team determined that they would be self-supporting and that he wouldn't ask the church for anything. And there's a brand new church. He says, "And you recall that we worked really hard. We worked during the day, we worked at night, we were busy doing the things that we needed to do to take care of ourselves even as we preached the gospel to you. Even as we planted this church, we were busy working with our hands."
Trustworthy leaders aren't lazy. Trustworthy leaders are not freeloaders. They're working hard. So many people are co-vocational, we call them. Ezekiel Easton might even be in the house right now, getting his stuff up here to get ready for worship when they meet at noon. He works a full day, 9-5, nine to a million. He has a pretty good job right now, but it's a full day's job, every day of the week, and then he pastors his church. Fernando Martinez, pastors Lion of Judah. They meet here at three o'clock Sunday mornings; they use our sanctuary - full-time job. His wife has a full-time job supporting their family, and he's a full-time pastor. There's no such thing as a part-time pastor; working the midnight, oil burning candle at both ends working and laboring for the gospel.
I've had the privilege because of the resources and the way God's blessed. I've not had to have a secular job to support our family while we minister the gospel. But because you support me or didn't support me wouldn't change the fact that I'm a pastor and I'm called to preach the gospel. And I told the church when we first started, if we need me to get a job, I'll get one. If I don't have to, I won't, but I'll follow the leadership of the church here, not me on that basis. And I did have a job for a little while at Indiana Tech and had some supplemental income, but it was more really to be on that campus in the minister and serve as a chaplain there than it was to get the income. But by God's grace, you have blessed our family that I've been able to take care of our family without doing that. And yet the same thing applies; pastors aren't lazy. Good trustworthy leadership works hard. Just as you're expected to work hard in your jobs to do a good job and get a paycheck; we work for the Lord and the Lord requires no less than our very best.
A trustworthy leader is sacrificial. A trustworthy leader also has proven integrity. And I say proven integrity because it's integrity over time. It's a track record of doing the right thing. And in verse 10, Paul's appealing to what they knew about them. You know us and God knows that we are, and he use three words; devout, righteous and blameless. Devout, single-minded. The translations would also say holy and set apart for God's purpose. They had a single-minded purpose to lead well in the name of Jesus Christ. They weren't distracted by the other things. A good soldier, the Bible says also; it's like a good soldier that isn't distracted by the things that keep them from pursuing what they ought to pursue for the kingdom that they're defending.
Devout, righteous - leaders behave well and resist lifestyles that may distract followers from trusting and following the Lord. You know this trustworthy pyramid; the more responsibility you're giving, the less rights you have as an individual. The more you have the right and the privilege and the responsibility to speak; the less you're allowed to say about what you feel. Boy, there's a lot of things I wanted to say during the pandemic online in response to some of you.
That's a joke. I have opinions. Take me to coffee, I'll tell you a few of them. I have to, some of you. I'll buy your coffee because you ought to get paid to hear what I think sometimes. But as a leader, I'm not allowed to say certain things. I'm not allowed to shoot my mouth off. A trustworthy leader doesn't shoot their mouth off. A trustworthy leader doesn't just do what they want to do with - well, I'm allowed to doesn't mean you should. There's certain lifestyle habits. I'm not a prude or a legalist about certain things. They just don't benefit me and my influence as a leader to do some of those things, so I don't. It doesn't make me better than anybody else. It's just that a righteous leader is just trying to help people be less distracted by humanity and more distracted by God.
And then the word blameless does not mean sinless. If that's the case, I need to step down right now because I'm not sinless. We're all sinners saved by grace; all of us. Nobody that stands here and speaks the word of God is sinless, but they ought to be blameless. And what does blameless mean? An open and uncovered life that continually confesses in forsake sin. Just somebody that's continually moving forward in their walk and people know it. You ask me what I get wrong. You all know what I get wrong. You know me; I've been personal with you sometimes.
And some of you don't like to know how wrong I am sometimes because you don't want to think that a pastor would do that. But the reality is that if a pastor does that and doesn't continually try to get better at not doing that; well, that's not a blameless life. A blameless life says, you know what; we trust this guy because he's pretty much walking the same direction he's been walking. And when he doesn't walk that direction, he turns right around and gets going again for God. Proven integrity! Trustworthy leaders have a track record of living openly and honestly for God and leading with high integrity. And then Paul wraps up his conversation about spiritual trustworthiness by talking about being like a father - parental. A trustworthy leader is parental. Verse 11 and 12, I'll read it again. "As you know like a father with his own children, we encouraged, comforted and employed each one of you to live worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."
Encouraging and comforting, challenging, imploring people to grow spiritually and follow the Lord more carefully. In other words, to be worthy of the Lord; a trustworthy leader wants God's best for their followers. The goal is that all of you will live a life worthy of God. In other words, a trustworthy leader leads people towards God's goals, not their own. Now, I've had some bright ideas a few times; most of them come from the body of Christ and I'll champion bright ideas. But for the most part, the good stuff that God tells us all to do is something He tells all of us to do, not just what I get it from high, I tell you and you guys do it. No, that's not how that works. And that's a good thing.
It's sort of like the parental side of this is for instance, a dad has a vocation. He does this. He's always done this. He got it from his dad. His dad taught him how to do that, so Junior's going to do it too. I mean, that's what our family does. Movies have been written about this, books have been written about this, movies have been made where the son is rebelling against the father's plan for his life, or the father who was a pretty good athlete, and he's living vicariously through his son's extraordinary athletic abilities. And he's squashing his son's potential to be who he's supposed to be because the dad has this expectation and dream imposed upon his son or daughter. And it squelches their creativity, it squelches the dream that God has put in their hearts and rebellion begins to well up, and then you have a wonderful story that everybody goes watches at the movies.
It's a terrible story if you live in it, and some of you may have had some stuff imposed on you. Well, because I did this, this is what you'll do. I went to college so you go to college. We never assumed any of our kids would go to college. We encouraged them. We said, "Hey, we see that you have what it takes to do that, and maybe that'd be a great way," but it was never an assumption that when we first started having kids that they'd all go to college, just because my wife and I did. We gave them an opportunity, but we wanted them to have an opportunity to do whatever the Lord wanted them to do and however they were designed to live out their lives, to give a life worthy of Greg. No, live a life worthy of the Lord.
And that's what a trustworthy leader does. They lead people, friends - followers, if they're really in spiritual leadership, officially, to live a life worthy of God, not a life worthy of supporting what they think is right and wrong about how to do life. How many ever had a word from the Lord from somebody? I got something that I think God wants you to do. Boy, I get that occasionally. And there's some people in town that don't know me that well. And they always have a word for me like, "Oh, I'll pray about that. I'll pray about that. I want to hear from the Lord." And I'd prefer to not say, "Bob, this is what I think you ought to do, but here's some options. Here's some thoughts. And let Bob hear from God what he ought to do, and Judy will tell him what to do.
Pick on the couples on the front row that have been married the longest and the most successful, by the way, parental. So, I have a question as we close this morning, are we following trustworthy leaders? Are you following trustworthy leaders who are speaking into your life? Are they grounded on the Bible and in a relationship with God or are the people that you're listening to, to live your life far from God? And if they say they represent God, how well do you know them that they actually do in their personal lives? I think a lot of the problems that we're facing on the national scene could be cleared up if a few more people got more careful about their accountability to people who would help them be a better leader.
I shake my head sometimes when I see political leaders make really bad decisions. And I think to myself, does anybody have the courage to tell them that's a bad decision? Or if they just gather around a bunch of people that just say yes all the time? And it's just painful to watch how people just don't put good advisors in their lives. But you know, on the local level, it's hard to get away with that because we know people. We see them, we see them in the grocery store and we say, "Hey, that wasn't a great idea there. You know, because we have a local connection, even more so in the body of Christ, how much better can we be if we just stay close to one another, help one another, follow the Lord? And I pray that anybody who is leading spiritually can say, even as Paul did in another letter, follow me as I am following Jesus. That's not arrogance. That's just saying I'm just a conduit, and I hope I'm a clear window for you to see Jesus through me. That won't be the case every day, that won't be the case every hour, but on a consistent basis, trustworthy leaders, that will be the case over time.
I wonder if we could just stand right now, and I don't know where you're at spiritually. Some of you, you're not following God at all, and maybe I don't know that for sure, but I just wonder in a crowd what God might be saying to you. Have you put your faith in Christ, the one true leader, the one true God, the one who leads us to the father, who died for your sins, that if you'll put your trust in Him, He'll give you the power to live a life you could never live without Him, or live a life that's worthy of God? Will you put your hope in Him and trust in Him today? Use a connection card or get online electronically and tell us, hey, I'm ready to put my faith in Christ.
Or maybe this morning you're a follower of God and it's time for you to up your game and move forward in a fresh way; to be more accountable, to be more in the body of Christ in a fresh way, just reach out. Our prayer team would love to pray for you and encourage you in whatever way that God is speaking to your heart about what you need to do next to grow in your life and your faith. And I just pray that you will pray for me. And even as I continually pray for you all that, I will not just start well, but finish well. Some of you have stories that you said, well, I didn't start very well. I don't care how you started; I care more how you finish because your past is not a determination of the future; the Holy Spirit is. Amen. He is our future. And so, as much as I pick on Bob and Judy down here, they need to finish well. We need to pray for them to continue to be an example of Christ until they go home to the Lord years from now. I pray that, because no one is out of the woods until we're in heaven. So pray for one another, encourage one another, build up your trustworthiness even as you follow people who are trustworthy so that we all live lives to the glory of God worthy of God.
Thank you for joining us today. For more information about the St Joe Ministry, visit www.stjoecommunitychurch.org or call area code (260) 471-4704 or email email@example.com. If you are looking for a church home, St. Joe means for worship and fellowship each Sunday morning at 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM. St. Joe is committed to your wellbeing and safety. For the latest policies regarding the COVID 19 pandemic, please visit the COVID section of the St. Joe website. Thanks again for joining us and we'll see you next week.
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