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.
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?
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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A Trustworthy Leader Part 1
1 Thessalonians 2:1-6
May 22, 2022
An Enduring Letter to a Local Church
We must examine who we follow
-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
1. Bold vs 1-2
-treated outrageously- great opposition, athlete in competition
-God emboldened them to preach the gospel
-Paul had nothing personal to gain by serving this church
-Opposition tests a leader’s resolve
-early quitters may not be real leaders
-long term faithfulness demonstrates real commitment
-He continues to define the character of his boldness…
2. Honest vs 3
-not from error- faulty reasoning
-not from impurity- not “dirty or filthy” no rotten intentions
-could also mean, no idolatrous or immoral talk
-we don’t have to use curse words or invoke worldliness when
Talking with people about Jesus
-not with an intent to deceive- no trickery
-Paul wasn’t trying to deceive them with a false message
3. Accountable to God vs 4
-approved by God- as if after a long examination
-The effectiveness of their message (people were saved, a
church was established) seems to prove God had blessed
-God’s messengers ultimately answer to God, not people
-All of us will answer to God for our words! Matthew 12:36
-are you influencing people towards/away from Jesus?
-do your words and ways match God’s Word and way?
4. Not self-seeking vs 5-6
-no flattery- tailoring the truth to fit popular opinion
-no greedy motives- effort to exploit for financial gain
-not seeking glory from people- opposite of vs 2 emboldened
The cost had been too high and the material rewards too meager to justify the thought that Paul was a crook manipulating people for his personal benefit. D. Michael Martin
-Beware of anyone who is using Jesus’ name to benefit
-Prosperity preachers aren’t trustworthy leaders
Are we following trustworthy leaders?
Are WE trustworthy leaders?
Today’s message is entitled Encouraging Word and was delivered on Sunday, May 15, 2022 by Greg Byman.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
May 15, 2022
Letters change lives
Introduction to 1 Thessalonians
-Paul, with others, wrote this letter to the Thessalonians
-Thessalonica- 100k people, affluent, peaceful, politically free,
full of idol worship, not unlike many USA cities 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 1 Thes 2:17
-Paul sent Timothy to encourage them 1 Thes 3:2
-This church was growing spiritually!
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Hello! verse 1
-Common form, similar to Paul’s other church letters
-a bit brief, maybe because he knew them so well
-Father, Lord = phrase denotes them as co-equal
-Grace to you and peace-
Prayer of Thanks verse 2-3
-Paul prayed for them regularly
-Paul thanked God for their testimony
-work produced by faith- faith prompts work
-we don’t work to earn God’s favor or keep our salvation
-we don’t work so God isn’t disappointed (we’d never win)
-labor motivated by love-
-illust: duty vs. delight- we serve because we love!
-endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ
-who is thanking God for us?
-I thank God for St Joe Community Church!
Supernatural Response vs 4-6
-Paul reminds them (side note) they are “loved by God”
-The Holy Spirit convicted and saved them
-the Word was the Old Testament- Jesus is in every book!
-Spurgeon: “Paul came there without prestige, without friends, when he was in the lowest condition, for had just been beaten and imprisoned in Philippi and had fled from that city.”
-Their commitment to Jesus Christ was an act of God!
-Our church wants every person to follow Jesus Christ
-but we must always depend on the Holy Spirit to convict
-we must be careful not to use evangelist methods that try to
Talk or manipulate people into making spiritual decisions
-I thank God for many of you in our church who have been
supernaturally changed by God!
Inspiring Faith vs 7-10
-they became an example to believers in other places
-Their lives speak for themselves
-they turned from idols- rejected popular culture
-to serve the living and true God
-They looked forward to the return of Jesus
-the one who raised from the dead
-the one who rescues us from the coming wrath
-Who is inspired by your faith in Jesus Christ?
-what are you most known for in your family, among friends?
The world should not see its reflection when it peers into the church. Instead, it should see a kind of life available nowhere else. It should see the grace of Jesus, lavished on humble sinners, embodied in self-giving love. Our unbelieving friends and neighbors are clamoring after things that will never satisfy them. They know neither why they are here nor where they are going. What awaits them beyond the grave is terrifying, not beautiful.
What letter would someone write you?
-Would it be an encouraging word?
-What is God telling you to do right now?
In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is salvation's choice
Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign
Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song
In Proverbs, wisdom's cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Isaiah, He's Prince of Peace
Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, He's the call from sin
In Daniel, the stranger in the fire
In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He's the Spirits power
In Amos, the arms that carry us
In Obadiah, He's the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He's the great missionary
In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and our shield
In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, He's pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our fountain
In Malachi, He is the son of righteousness rising with healing in His wings
He is, He is, HE IS!
In Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In the book of Acts, He is fire from heaven
In Romans, He's the grace of God
In Corinthians, the power of love
In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin
Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servants heart
In Colossians, He's the Godhead Trinity
Thessalonians, our coming King
In Timothy, Titus, Philemon He's our mediator and our faithful Pastor
In Hebrews, the everlasting covenant
In James, the one who heals the sick.
In First and Second Peter, he is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride
In the Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords
He is, He is, HE IS!
The prince of peace
The Son of man
The Lamb of God
The great I AM
He's the alpha and omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
And when time is no more
He is, HE IS!
1 Thessalonians is where we're going to be. And whenever I'm here, unless the Lord leads a little differently, we're going to be preaching through this letter that Paul wrote to Thessalonians in a city called Thessalonica. And this morning's message is called Encouraging Word. And that's pretty much what you could say about this entire letter is that it is an encouraging word to this church.
Now, Paul wrote letters to a lot of churches and they weren't always so positive. This one is incredibly positive. And I actually selected this... I felt led and I just made a choice and didn't sense it should be any differently. But I chose to walk through this letter and preach through it because I want to remind you at St. Joe Community Church, that God has done some amazing things. And He has brought us through some very difficult waters as a nation, as a world and the political scheme. And in spite of all the ways in which our country and our world seems to be dividing and devouring, we have hung on. And I believe it is the power of the Holy Spirit that's at work in this church family. This isn't anything; this isn't some masterminded wonderful leadership plan that I had.
I was praying often that we would just get through the storm of all the different things that were dividing our country that still continues to divide people, that we would find a way through the thick and the weeds, and find a way to still be glorifying and honoring to Jesus Christ, loving one another, and being a witness to our world of the power and the grace and the wonder of Jesus Christ. And this letter was a letter that was sent to the Thessalonians and a particular time period, probably in about 40 AD. It was one of the earliest letters that Paul wrote. Not long after, of course, Christ crucified, rose again, ascended into heaven, the church is birthed. And then the missionary journeys of Paul began after his radical conversion. He was actually against the church. He was a very devout Jew who felt like the church was an aberration. It was heretical. It was ungodly. And he was persecuting and even saw and oversaw the execution of Christians, and the imprisonment of Christians.
God got ahold of his life and Jesus appeared to him directly and said, what are you doing Paul? I'm paraphrasing. And it changed Paul, became physically blind. And at the same moment that he became spiritually awake and could see that it was Jesus, who was the one true God, the savior of the world, the risen Christ; he became physically able to see again, and he became a powerful force to be reckoned with on the scene, not only in the Jewish culture, but around the entire region of the Roman world. Churches were planted all over that Roman world. And they all had the fingerprints of Paul, the church planter.
The church of Thessalonians was no different. It was a church that was planted. And now he's sending a letter back to this church, talking to them and encouraging them about their lives and about what he's seeing is happening in their lives. You see, letters changed lives. How many of you have gotten an old fashioned handwritten letter on paper within the last six months - anybody here at all? Just a few of us. How many have gotten an email in the last six minutes? Yeah. How many, you received a letter from somebody that cared about you and you care about, and it was just like, you've kind of kept it for keepsake. It's like safe keeping. It's an important letter.
I have a shoebox full of letters from my girlfriend who is now my wife. Yeah, still have those. And I have the acceptance letter - how many have gotten an acceptance letter into job or college or something like, yeah. And that's kind of special. Sometimes you frame it and you go, "Look what, somebody actually cares about me. Look at this - besides my mom." How many have gotten a mom letter, you know, letter from your mom? In college, I used to get scraps of paper. It would be on the backside of her shopping list. She'd be done shopping and then on the other side, she'd be in the card. She'd scribble a note and throw it in the mail to me. And sometimes it had some other paper in it called money. That was nice. But thank you, mom. She watches us all the time. So, thank you mom, for all those letters.
And I have some letters from my grandmother, and they're just special. My grandmother is with the Lord now. And they're things that, I even have gotten a letter or two from my son who has found the old art of letter writing. And some of you have gotten letters from him. I don't know who all, but he is a letter writer. And so, I thought that's - and you actually can read his handwriting. I think his mother taught him how to write properly, not his father. Letters changed lives. You know, sometimes they just... how many have gotten an anonymous letter and it wasn't so fun. Oh, not very many leaders in the room. I don't know.
I've gotten a few of those. There are worth as much as a cheque that's not signed, right? I mean, you can't cash a cheque that's not signed. And I usually don't in on the advice that's given to me by an anonymous letter, because oftentimes it's a letter that doesn't have the courage to tell you who they really are. And I usually just throw those away. Sometimes I read them, I'm just curious, how bad is it? Pretty bad, okay. And I usually don't pay attention to it after that. So, if you want to write me a letter and you care about what you think, and you want me to care about what you think, put your name on it. Give me that much respect. I will talk to you about it. I don't mind somebody disagreeing with me; I just like to know who it is so we can talk about it. And maybe we still won't agree with each other after we talk, but at least we can be agreeable even as we disagree. Anyway, that's just a little note there.
You know, they don't even publish anonymous letters in the newspaper because you got to own what you believe if you believe it, if it's good or bad. Letters change lives, and these are important in our lives, and this letter is no different. And this letter, unlike maybe many other letters that Paul may have written in his lifetime to churches, this letter is not just a letter to Thessalonians, but this is a letter to St. Joe Community Church. And what we're going to do throughout this series is we're going to say, what did that letter mean and how did they receive it when they were in the first century in 40 AD? And what were those things that were important to them? What are those things that are always important to every church in any generation, in every single culture, and then what should we do about it? We all, I mean, like do the right thing.
That's an enduring statement; don't steal, don't commit adultery honor, your father and mother, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul strength and mind. These are enduring things, that whether you're in the first century, second, third, fourth, 19th, 20th, 21st century, or future centuries that you and I won't be alive for, these will be truths that are true that we ought to live out in our lives, no matter what. And that's what we're going to try to find in this letter. What are those truths that will always be true, that were true for them, but were also true for us?
Now, this letter that was written was written to a church that was in a town of about a hundred thousand people. Now on that day, it would be like - that's a major city. That would be like Indianapolis in the mindset of the people of that day. The cities just didn't get very big, and this was an amazingly large church. It was a pretty affluent church. It was full of pagan worship, lots of idol, worship, all kinds of pantheism, multi-gods all over the place. It wasn't just like, oh, we are a city of churches here we call ourselves. Well, it was the city of all kinds of different religions. That's the reputation. Pretty free, politically. They were under the Roman rule, but they had a lot of freedom, and so there was very little military oversight. It was just a very free society and a lot of exchange of ideas and thoughts and commerce. It was probably a very easy city to live in.
Paul shows up, and in Acts 17, if you want to read the story, he's running for his life because in Philippi, he was beaten and he had to run out OF town in the darken night. He comes to Thessalonica, and for three weeks he goes to the synagogue; there was a Jewish enclave there, and he preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, he didn't have the New Testament, because he was actually inspired later to even write this letter to them. He had the Old Testament, and Jesus is all over the pages of the Old Testament. That's how they know about Jesus is because of the prophecies and everything that was said about Jesus in the Old Testament. And there's actually a song that if you looked online at my notes, I actually, in the second page of my notes, I actually printed out the lyrics to a song called "He Is" by Aaron Jeffrey, back in the nineties. And I won't read it for you now, but they point out in their song every single book of the Bible and how Jesus can be reflected or the foreshadowing or the prophecy of Jesus is in every book of every Old Testament book that we have.
And Paul was reasoning with them in the synagogues about Jesus Christ, and it says that a group of people came to know Jesus, including several affluent, prominent people; and especially some prominent women who came to know Jesus as their Lord and savior. They were converted, and then a riot breaks out. They didn't quite like what he was doing. Paul's kind of whisked away from the home where he lived, but they get to this place and they pull out the homeowner and say, what are you doing bringing this [Charlot10:52] in here preaching a different gospel, [unclear10:55] story. It's going against all the things that are happening in our city, and it's certainly against the Jewish culture. What are you doing? And they were going to beat them, and finally this guy pays them off and says, don't do that. He pays a fine to the government and he releases them. But then Paul, in the darkness of night, once again is whisked away, away from the city so that his life is not taken or he is not imprisoned or beaten.
And yet in spite of that difficult circumstance and even the short time that Paul was there, the church was born. And now Paul is writing to a church that's actually thriving spiritually in spite of the persecution and the difficulties. And the fact that many of the people who were affluent and prominent in that city were now looked down upon. I mean, they went to the networking group for their business and they said, "Are you one of those Jesus freaks? Get out of here." And they've lost their prominence. And in spite of their loss of social status, and the fact that so many people in that city did not care about the Christian faith, this church was hanging on and it was growing, and their faith was inspiring, not just around themselves, but throughout the region.
Well, let's read the story. Let's read the first chapter as we immerse ourselves in this church that Paul is writing to. It says here, "Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of Thessalonians in God, the father and the Lord, Jesus Christ, grace to you and peace." So, let's just break this down. I'm going to read this little by little instead of last service I read the whole thing. Let me just read it in pieces. Verse one is basically the hello, the hello part of the letter. And in those days, the hello part of the letter, would be a part of the letter that was a lot more of flowery or it was much more wordy. And in fact, some of the hello parts of Paul's letters would also include his little LinkedIn bio. "Hey, I'm an apostle of Jesus Christ. I have the authority to come to you and talk to you about these things." But he didn't say that in this letter, he kind of just says, "Hi, it's Paul and my gang here, Silvanus and Timothy. And we're just wanting to write you a note and grace to peace to you." Just a real simple. It must mean that Paul was well known to them, was well received by them and had a lot of trust built between them.
And then he goes on to say in verse two and three, "We always thank God for all of you making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall in the presence of our God and father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." This is a prayer of thanks. He's saying I pray for you all the time. And here's some reasons why I'm so excited about you guys. You have a faith and that faith produces work. You actually live out your faith. There's product in this. It's not just a word only; your faith is action oriented.
And isn't that what a church ought to be. We ought not just be a holy huddle where we say some words and we have some ritual and I don't mind ritual. Ritual's a good thing. We have our own non-traditional looking ritual as a church. It's a pretty much the same rhythm. You come here and you kind of get it, but it shouldn't just be that. In other words, our lives should be changed. The way you work, the way you teach, the way you lead, the way you drive a vehicle, a truck or whatever you do for a living in the service industry, serving people at their tables; whatever you do ought to be marked by the fact that you trusted in Jesus and that he is controlling your life and your work, how you love people, how you encourage people, how you forgive people and don't hold grudges.
And how you care about people is a reflection of the fact that you have a faith in God. And this faith is not - you don't work in order to keep your faith. You don't work in order to somehow impress God with how good you are as a Christian. You're just prompted because it's the right thing to do. I want to live for God. I want to love people. I want to reach out and encourage people. I want to be there for people in their time of greatest need. And you're prompted because you have a faith in Jesus Christ. And he says also that you have a labor that's motivated by love. This is kind of the difference between duty or delight. Duty or delight. It's sort of like on Mother's Day, you say, "Well, I'm going to go see mom. It's Mother's Day, I'm supposed to. Hallmark has got this thing out for us that we got to buy their cards and I'm going to get her a card, because I'm supposed to."
Now how loving is that and how much would your mother just go, "Oh, warm fuzzies, because you did this for me." Or if a spouse - husbands, if you go, "Well, I've heard in a book somewhere that I'm supposed to bring flowers to my wife. It's my duty to send her flowers or to bring them to her and to hug her once in a while." Now, isn't that just lovely? Or do you have a love that motivates you to want to care about somebody because you love them, because you want to do the right thing because you care about them? You care about your relationship with them. Your labor and caring for people is motivated by love, not by duty or it's what you're supposed to do. And then he says here, "Your endurance that is inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ."
You see, this church was going through some tough times. And you know, we, as a church, family might go through some tough times. It might be that Christianity becomes less and less popular in America. It's very unpopular in other parts of the world. We have a very unusual privilege of it being a fairly respectable and acceptable faith. But in many other parts of the world, it is very unacceptable, and it is very much looked down upon and people lose their social status and sometimes even lose their jobs when they convert to Jesus Christ. And in some places, they are marked with a death sentence and ostracized by their family when they put their faith in Jesus Christ. And this church was going through some tough times, and their faith in God was not some kind of like fair weathered friend Christianity. They were enduring. And why were they enduring? Because they had a hope in a future that was not based on their present circumstances.
They knew Jesus was coming again. They knew that someday God will make everything right that was wrong. That God was the one they could trust in when they couldn't trust in anything else around them. Their hope in the future, their hope and the reward that we have for living for eternal things instead of earthly things; that was motivating them to endure in their faith and to endure as a church family.
I have a question, who is God thanking, who is thanking God for you? Are there people that say, "Man, I am all the time saying thank you, God, that this person's in my life." Is there anybody like that praying about you that way? Is your life so inspiring and encouraging that they're saying I'm so thankful that this person is in my life? I thank God for my grandparents. I thank God for my mom and dad and their faith in Jesus Christ. And I thank God for their encouragement that they give me and the example they've given me throughout the years.
I wonder how many people thank God that St Joe Community Church is alive and well? How many people say I'm so glad that St Joe, that Church that meets there on Sunday mornings on North Anthony, I'm glad they're around? I'm glad that for 19 years they've made it. But in all those years that they were bouncing around to different rental places, and they were in the movie theater for a while and getting sticky feet from the stuff on the ground. And the one movie theater we looked at, it's not even a movie anymore. We were looking at it and we were kind of afraid when we were turning the lights on. If we were going to see mice. I mean, it was so nasty in there, I said, "Man, if you put your Bible on the ground, like you'd lose the bottom half of it because it was just be stuck." And ladies would put their purse down there, nobody would steal it because they weren't getting it back off. You know, it was just like, it was pretty ugh.
And then we got so bad to be looking for a place to meet that my kids would go around and say, "Hey, there's a vacant building, Dad, let's check that one out." I mean, it was just like, you know you're a church planner when your kids are starting to look at vacant buildings and say, "Man, we could just make that into a church." But do people even care that we survived these 19 years? I'll tell you what you go to meetings as pastors and you hear people say, so how's it going? And that's code word and pastor life to how many people were there, was your offering good and how many people got baptized recently? It's just, you know, nickels and noses.
How many butts in the seat and how many people got wet? I mean, that's just kind of - how'd it go? It's just a big deal. Am I allowed to say that on Sunday? Sorry. And then when things aren't so good, you're listening, you're leaning into everybody else's story and you're not talking about how many people didn't come to church, and you have this game you play.
I got a friend that I talk to once a week. And when he asked me that question or when I ask him that question, I'm asking Jimmy not how many people came to church on Sunday, but how many lives, was there any mark of the Holy Spirit at work in this church? He said, "Oh, you won't believe it. Somebody, man, they gave their life to Christ several years ago and they've been dry for so many years and they're sober. Or this person over here, they finally got their life around and they got their kids back. Or they've been able to do some things over here and their lives are better because of this. Or this family, they celebrated 45 years married." Yay. I mean, we talk about the spiritual victories in our lives, in our church; that's what's more important. It's not about how many people come; it's about how many people's lives are marked by a change because of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
I'm excited when reconciliation happens; I'm excited when things are going on. And I want to tell you something, you may not know this or not, but the reputation of St Joe is that she is a church that has endured through the test of time. It gets talked about. I want you to know that church family. I want to tell you that if somebody were to talk about St. Joe, they would say, yeah, I know that church. You used to be over here and now you're over here. Or I know so-and-so in your church. You know how many times I go to a meeting and they'll say, "Oh, I know so-and-so in your church." And we are not the biggest church in town by far not the biggest, yet that it seems that God has enabled us to have an impact spiritually, that I couldn't manufacture if I tried to, as a leader.
God's at work inside of your lives and people know it and recognize it. And Paul is saying this, and I want to say this to you, thank God for what God's doing in your lives here at St. Joe Community Church. He goes on in verses four through six to say, "For we know brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you because our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full assurance. You know how we lived among you for your benefit and you yourselves became imitators of us and of the Lord. When in spite of severe persecution, you welcome the message with joy from the Holy Spirit."
He reminds them, first of all, you're love by God, He chose you, and you're following Him, that the Holy Spirit was at work and that's what changed your lives. Not my persuasive words, but the power of God. "We shared the word of God with you, but it was the word that changed your life by the power of the Holy Spirit, not just me talking you into something," Paul said. And that's my prayer here at St. Joe, that you don't try to do something because somehow we've sung a song that you got emotionally attached and you became moved and emotionally, and you had a feeling and then Greg gets up here and bam, he really hits it on all cylinders this morning. And suddenly you're going to change your life because of what happened up here. I want to see your lives change because of what happens from the Holy Spirit inside of here of each of you.
I said earlier, we're a pro-life church, and I'm praying that we will protect the unborn throughout the nation or the least that we'll have the right to vote on it. But it's not about a legal decision; it's about the hearts and souls of people believing that. And I know there might be even people in this room that they may disagree with what I just said about that. And I'm not here to beat you into submission to say, you better believe this. I want you to understand what God is saying about it. And I want you to find inform conviction based on what the Holy Spirit's saying, not what I'm talking you into.
I would pray for a supernatural response. We're not here to manipulate people to have come to Christ. We're here to say come to Christ, may the Holy Spirit work in your life, and may you respond as God tells you to follow Him and what he's telling you to do. Brae went to this conference, and he's talking about the fact that he needed to figure out whether he's a sent person or if he's the one sending people. And so, he came to me and said, "Hey, I got this six week opportunity to go to Brazil." And you know, he's our leader for the worship team. And he's like, "Is that okay?" And I'm like, "So you're trying to follow God and you believe God is telling you to do this. And why would we not help you do that?" Like, it sounds kind of crazy that someone would leave for six weeks - must be of God. No, I mean, it's kind of cool. I mean, why wouldn't you as a young man who's not married that's trying to figure out what's going on in his life and for the rest of his life, why wouldn't we support him?
And for someone just to say - and it's not a vacation by any means, he's going to be working the whole time he's there. He's signing up for something hard. That's a supernatural response. And we get behind those kinds of things around here.
See, we want everyone to follow Jesus Christ, but we're not here to try to manipulate people into following Jesus Christ. You know, I thank God for the many people in this church that inspire me to be a stronger Christian in my life. And I question is, is there someone around you that's saying, you know there's something going on in you that only can be explained that God's in you and I'm thankful for your life? Is that the way you live your life? Are there people around you that would say that about you? There's a supernatural response that took place in your life. It's not just ritual. It's not just religion. It's a relationship with God through faith in Jesus.
And then they have this inspiring faith. He closes it out, and I want to finish out here this in verse seven and following as a result - "As a result of you receiving the message, as a result of you becoming a Christian and becoming a follower of the Lord, Jesus Christ, you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Ikea." That was the region where Thessalonica was - "For the word of the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Ikea, but in every place that your faith in God has gone out. Therefore, we don't need to say anything for they themselves or report what kind of reception we had from you, how you turn to God for idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His son from heaven, who He raised from the dead, Jesus who rescues us from the coming wrath."
They had inspiring faith. They became an example to believers, not just in their town, but in towns all around them and in the region. And everywhere that they heard about this church, they were inspiring to the people around them; that they had turned from idols, they had rejected the popular culture to serve the living and true God. They looked forward to the return of Jesus Christ; that Jesus who was raised from the dead and who died on the cross to rescue us from the coming wrath of God. My question this morning is who is inspired by your faith in Jesus Christ? What are you most known for in your family, among friends, among your coworkers? Is your faith well-known?
I just want you to know that there's a fan of St. Joe Community Church in the room today. There's a guy that I can testify who watched a church go through a pandemic, where every decision the leadership made was wrong from somebody's angle. A church that didn't have unanimity on what they believed, because we had people on every side of extreme when it came to responding to the pandemic.
And then you had a church that faced a political divide that this whole nation was dealing with. And you had, again, people on different sides of the coin, and sides of the coin I didn't even know existed politically. And yet in the midst of all of that, and in the midst of what I know... look, I'm not too old fashioned. I know social media, I get on there once in a while, and I've seen some things. I've seen some things I've prayed a little harder about. I try very hard not to comment on much of anything, unless it's something positive or spiritually motivated. But I've watched this church; you didn't all agree with each other the whole time. Let's be honest. There was a lot of disagreement in this room on how to respond. But what I did see was the power of the Holy Spirit that still brought us together and kept us together. And we have not only grown through the pandemic, but we were actually financially stronger than we've ever been as a church family, which is just an indicator, it's not the only thing.
And there are many other signs that show me that this was something that God was doing to keep us as a church family, in spite of the ways in which our nation and our world have been dividing people left and right. And I thank God for that. I'm the fan of St. Joe Community Church. I'm the guy that wants to say, God bless you, and that God has blessed you. I've watched multiple churches die through the pandemic. I've seen pastors and leaders resign and get out of the ministry completely because of the situations and the fiascos that were taking place. I've watched churches, not only did they lose people, but they financially dwindled to nothing. They still love Jesus, but they didn't have any resources to keep going and their buildings are now for sale.
I've watched a lot of troubled situations take place. And I want to tell you as I go to different places, and as I network with other churches, as I go to the city prayer wide gathering that we do at the Muriel Center each month, what I hear is - God's done a special work at St. Joe. And it's not attributed because of your pastor being some special guy or your elders have got it all together. I think they're one of the best group of guys you'd ever be with by the way. But I believe it's because God in His sovereignty did a work in you all and you listened to the Holy Spirit and you've continued to listen to Him more than to the calamity that's out there.
And while we might all disagree, I've watched you more disagree agreeably than I've seen in any other church. And for that, I thank God for. I pray that we will continue to be a church of inspiring faith, not just in our generation today, but in generations to come; that the 46805 zip code, that the North Anthony corridor area, that Northeast Fort Wayne quadrant, and maybe even the region of Allen County in Northeast Indiana might be inspired. Not because we're anything special, but because we serve and yield ourselves to an almighty holy God, who is changing our lives day by day. And we have a hope in what he has for us beyond our circumstances, and that may, it inspire people of all generations to put their hope in faith in Jesus Christ even as we have done.
That's the kind of church that Paul was writing to, and I wanted to bring up 1 Thessalonian in this letter to us, because I believe that we can say... now I let me first say, as a musician, Brae could tell you how many things might have gone wrong every single Sunday in music, but most of you wouldn't even notice it. And as a leader, I can tell you five things that need to be fixed in our church. Don't get me wrong. It's not like we've arrived. We're still arriving every single day, but I'll tell you what all in all, I've come to realize that we don't celebrate enough for what God is doing. And I wanted to pause for at least a season as we go through Thessalonians and celebrate what God has and is doing in the life of our church family. And you've been a part of that.
This letter is as encouraging I hope to them as it is to you; as God's love letter is written to you to say you are an inspiring church to other people around you. So, I have a question this morning, as we close, what letter would someone write to you about your faith? Is maybe this morning, a moment where you've had a gut check to say, I want to be more inspiring; I want to be more influential in my faith? Well, what's the step that you need to take to do that? What open commitment do you need to make to Jesus this morning so that you actually are leading your family, your coworkers, your friends, your neighbors towards Jesus Christ? There's really no middle road. You're either for or against.
Well, I'm not going to make a decision today; then you've made a decision not to trust Jesus in that particular area of your life. And so this morning, what is it? I don't know what it is. I'm not here to brow beat you. I'm not here to make you do anything, but I believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in this room. What next step do you need to take spiritually, physically, mentally, openly, that you might be the person that God wants to use in the lives of the people around you, and that your life would actually get stronger and better because of it as well, and it would be to the glory of Jesus Christ?
I pray you take that connection card and you put on there what it is, give it to us when you leave or put it in the offering box. Or step by, and I know Jerry and Becky are here this morning, and they're going to be behind the glass wall. And maybe you need to step back and ask for prayer. I'll be down here singing away in our last two songs that we're going to sing. And maybe you can come down and maybe you'd like to have prayer with me. I don't know what you need to do, but I pray that you won't miss the opportunity to move forward in your faith this morning.
Father, God help us to be a church, a church that continues to be a church that people are thankful for; a place where supernatural response is taking place, not just some sort of a ritual; a family of God that is inspiring to others in their faith. And it takes one person at a time to make that happen this morning. And I pray that you'll show me what steps I need to take, even as you're showing everyone else. And may we simply be obedient to what you're telling us to do; it's in Jesus name that I pray, amen.
Sunday, May 8, 2022. Welcome to St Joe Community Church. Today’s message is entitled Children of God and was delivered on Sunday, May 8, 2022 by Greg Byman. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org, click on the Sermons tab, and find today’s broadcast.
Children of God
May 8, 2022
Today we honor and appreciate mothers
-call your mom, thank God for her
-thank God if you are a mother- a privilege not shared by all
The best gift moms can give their children is faith in Jesus
-A personal and growing faith in Jesus Christ
-A guiding faith in Jesus- showing their children how to place
their own faith in Jesus Christ
Families following Jesus last forever
-God intended earthly families to reflect His spiritual family
-Psalm 127:1 Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor
over it in vain.
-Family traditions are wonderful- I hope you have them!
-The only tradition that makes a family last forever is passing
down our faith to the next generation
Children of God
But to all who did receive him
-vs 11 the Jews rejected Jesus
-Spurgeon “You will never go to heaven in a crowd.”
-we are born spiritually like we are born physically, one by one!
-many choose the path of destruction, only a few choose Jesus
-illustration: minority is often right
-receive = accept
He gave them to right to be children of God
-God gave them the right or authorization
-be = better translated “become”, a change in status
-before they received Jesus = not children of God
To those who believe in his name
-believe = ginoskein, to trust in, believe on, not just knowledge
-in his name = “to believe that God is the God we see revealed in the Word and to put our trust in that God (Jesus Christ).
-The name Jesus is not a magical formula or incantation
How do we become children of God?
Not because our family members were Christians
-not of natural descent
-I’m not physically born a Christian
Not because we appear good enough
-not by the “will of the flesh”
-I cannot declare myself a Christian because I feel like one!
Not because someone says we are a Christian
-not by the “will of man”
-church membership doesn’t make me a Christian
We must be born “of God”
-Leon Morris: All human initiative is ruled out
-John 3:3 Jesus said “Unless someone is born again he cannot
see the kingdom of God.”
-John 1:12 all wo did receive him(Jesus), He (God) gave them the right (conferred upon them the rights and privileges) to be children of God.
Are YOU a child of God?
-Stop trusting in human efforts to become acceptable to God
-Trust in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross to save you
from your sins
-John 20:31 place your faith in Jesus Christ to receive life!
-Connection Card, Prayer Team, Contact us online
We Must Care Well!
Psalm 9:9, Luke 4:18, Romans 13:1, James 1:27
May 1, 2022
Abuse is a headline issue
-Movie stars are in court- Johnny Depp, Amanda Heard
-Locally, adults are being convicted of abusing children
-Abuse MUST BE a headline issue for Christians!
Statistics see last page of notes
Abuse is a Gospel Issue!
Jesus suffered horrible abuse when he died on the cross
-beaten, stripped naked to humiliate him, nailed to a cross
-he suffered physically, emotionally, mentally
We Must Care Well!
Psalm 9:9 The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted, a refuge in times of trouble.
-the persecuted = the oppressed, the crushed
Ps 74:21 form of this word used to mean “beaten down”
-The Message: “God is a safe-hose for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times.”
-God cares about abuse victims
-A godly person is a refuge for abuse victims
Luke 4:18-19 The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
-Jesus came to
-proclaim release to the captives
-set free the oppressed
-A Christian releases people from the prison of abuse and sets
them free from abusers
Mark 9:37 Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in my name welcomes me.
-Following Jesus = Caring Well for Children!
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world
-look after/protect/serve vulnerable people
-abusers steal human rights, dignity and freedom!
-keep oneself unstained- practice holiness, run from worldliness
How to care well for abuse victims
1. Love them fully
-We must receive them, listen carefully, believe them
-Make sure they know that their well-being is more important
than the reputation of any other person, or church Caringwell.com excellent online video training and helps
2. Secure their safety
-Protect them from the abusive person or situation
Practice Romans 13
-Civil authorities are trained to investigate abuse, not churches!
-Call the Indiana child abuse hotline: 800-800-5556
-If possible, help the abuse victim/family during the investigation
3. Enforce Church Safety Policies
-Our church has a policy to protect minors from abuse while
participating in ministry activities, and protect the integrity of
ministry workers who serve them.
-Policies also help minors who were abused to feel safe
-If you see something, say something! Don’t assume leaders
see or know everything that is going on!
4. Care well for survivors of abuse!
-connect them with trustworthy counseling agencies and groups
-I provide a list of suggested counselors and groups in my
sermon notes posted on our website.
-We want our church to be a safe place to build God-honoring relationships, and God-honoring lives
-again, go to caringwell.com for excellent video training
-be a godly spouse and parent
-marriage and parenting behavior is more caught than taught
We must care well!
-Get help immediately if you are being abused
-Give help immediately if you suspect abuse
-Get help to heal after abuse
-Church Elders, Connection Group leaders, Trustworthy Friend
Note: This sermon used the sermon example from caringwell.com
On average, there are 463,634 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.1
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2019 (2020). Note: RAINN applies a 5-year rolling average to adjust for changes in the year-to-year NCVS survey data.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center statistics:
A Lifeway study found that 1 in 10 Protestants below the age of 35 have left a church because of silence or insensitivity in responding to abuse.
REPORT CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT
Every Indiana resident is legally required to report child abuse or neglect!
Christian Counseling Services
Cornerstone Vision Counseling
Christus Biblical Counseling
Ministries helping abuse victims
Please Note: These counseling resources are suggestions based on our most current information. St Joe Community Church is not directly affiliated with any of these services. We rely on feedback from members and attenders who use these services to determine whether to continue recommending them.
Sunday, April 24, 2022. Welcome to St Joe Community Church. Today’s message is entitled Walk Worthy of Christ and was delivered on Sunday, April 24, 2022 by Jon Moody. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org, click on the Sermons tab, and find today’s broadcast.
Notes for Sermon April 24, 2022
Walk Worthy of Christ
The Challenge: Do the impossible – Walk worthy of Jesus
Read Colossians 1:1-14
Worthy = pertaining to having a relatively high degree of comparable merit or worth
*Context is critical:
(This challenge is given to believers)
How can I live a life worthy of Jesus? (v. 9-14)
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,[a] 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great (all) endurance and patience…
What has God given us? (v.12-14)
An inheritance – a great future, rescue from sin’s power, forgiveness – redemption – NEW LIFE!!
You can’t live a worthy life… alone.
Sunday, April 17, 2022. Welcome to St Joe Community Church. Today’s message is entitled Jesus is Alive and was delivered on Sunday, April 17, 2022 by Greg Byman. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org, click on the Sermons tab, and find today’s broadcast.
Jesus Is Alive!
What are you looking for?
Relief from troubles, difficulties, pain?
A good life, family, career, happiness?
Purpose in life?
Where are you looking?
-The women were coming to the tomb on Sunday morning
-An angel descends from heaven causing an earthquake
-The angel rolled back the stone and sat on it
-other accounts…moved/picked up the stone
-1-2 ton stone
-Jesus was already gone
-The guards “became like dead men”
-men guarding a dead man became like dead men!
-The angel knew the women were looking for
-Jesus who was crucified- killed, executed
-He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said.
-was raised- God the Father raised him from the dead
-Jesus predicted his resurrection
-We don’t know HOW Jesus was raised
-The stone was rolled away to SHOW he was raised
-Come and see- Jesus was not where they put him Friday
-Then go quickly and tell his disciples
The Resurrection Story
Told by all four gospel writers
-no one ever stayed “raised from the dead”
-Matthew is writing much later, a body was never found
-Lazarus may have died by now, he did at some point!
-Jewish men would NEVER have fabricated a story with
Women as the primary witnesses
-all four gospels write unique details, no collusion, no lie
-everyone who saw Jesus alive staked their lives on it
-many were willing to be killed than recant
He is not here. He is risen!
Stop looking for answers in dead places
Trust that Jesus can take care of any problem you face
Trust everything Jesus says
They set everything up, they allowed us to come in early and set things up. And when you joined our church as a portable church, it was more like you'd say, "Great, you own a truck with a hitch because you can join, right now. Like, no membership fee if you come." No. And now, if you can walk to church from your house, that's great because we don't have a lot of parking. Anyway, all kidding aside, we were sitting there looking and waiting for cars and people to come. We'd sent the flyers out. We'd sent word of mouth. We'd had public events to tell people, people were praying all over the country for us. And we were just like, you know, 20 minutes till, and I knew - pick your denomination. They had to have been some denomination because everybody comes in late, you know, like whatever's going on here. And we're like, who's coming? Who's coming? Who's coming?
And if it's just us, we're still going to praise and worship God. But it'd be really nice if some people joined us. And they did. And suddenly it's like a traffic cop... I mean, literally it felt like policemen just stopped on Maple Creston and said, turn, turn, turn, turn, turn. And they all just started coming in. And a bunch of people that we had never met in our entire lives joined us for worship that day. Some are still members and worshipers with us today and others have moved on. A lot of our people that were with us at the beginning are still with us and we're still with most of the people that join. Anyway, but seriously, we had a blast of a time.
And so, Easter Sunday - so we always celebrate our anniversary on Easter, even though the 20th of this month is actually when we started, but we celebrate on Easter. And what a grand time it is to talk about the stories of lives that have changed, hundreds of people that have come to faith in Christ; many of those baptized in our church family. Over a hundred people that have been sent on missions somewhere, either here in the United States or somewhere around the world to send them out in Jesus name, to come back. God is doing His work and he's continuing to do work. And we're not looking at the rear view mirror to say, look what we were, but we're then the wide front window, the windshield of life to say, where is God taking us next? That's what it's all about, because we haven't arrived. We've arrived when we're in heaven. We've arrived when we're in heaven. And until then, we got something to do. We got something to do for the Lord Jesus Christ. And I prayed that you've come here ready to hear what God wants for your lives. I pray that I'll just share what God wants me to say that it might be an encouragement to you, it might be strengthening; it might illuminate what God's word has already said in this very familiar story.
Someone asked me that was John. He says, isn't it hard to sometimes - you have to share the same story everybody knows every year on Easter. And so, I'm going to talk about Jonah today. No, I'm not going to do that. You know, because you're like, what can you say? And you don't want to be creative, so creative that you like out create God, and that would be like blasphemy, so I'm not going to try to do that, so very simple story. I pray in very real ways that you will hear a fresh word from God this morning. That's my prayer. So the first thing I'm going to ask you is what are you looking for? What are you looking for? What are you looking for in life now?
Now, I am one of those... if you are married, one of you is a shopper and one of you is a buyer. Somebody brought that up. That was a good analogy. And I go back and forth, you know, put me at Menards, I'm a shopper. I'm just looking around. What are you looking for? And you know, they're helpful - some of them are, at Menards, and they're saying, can I help you? And you're like, not really, you know, my wife is tried, but you know, I joke with them. And then at the end of the day, you know, like, is there something you're looking for? And I'm like, "Well, no." You know, and if I am there quick, yeah, but some days I am looking for something, but you know, there's a kickball and you know, we might need a kickball, or cereal, Menards sell cereal. What's that? I'll buy some lumber, buy corn flakes; they both taste the same. I mean, we can do this. This is all good. I like cornflakes by the way, put lots of sugar on it. But I'm telling you what; it's a fun place to be for me. Now, I'm a guy, I like guy things, you know, put me at Joanne's Fabric Shop and you're like, "Well, when can we get out of here?" And as a kid, my mom was a sewer. She sewed my first leisure suit.
Anybody have the privilege of wearing a leisure suit in the seventies that your parents - your mom made you? Well, pray for me. I've got scars. But anyway, I've got awesome pictures of the leisure suit. I think it was burnt orange. I'm serious. This is true, but my mom would go and she would look and look for patterns and bolds of fabric. And I had the most wild, crazy imagination and I can make believe anywhere. I was an only kid for five years and I was the only boy in my house forever, and I had two sisters. I knew how to make things up; you cannot make up make believe in a fabric store. It was just so stink and boring in there. I mean, it was just like, there's another bold of fabric, and there's another bold of fabric and the chairs are too high to get to the fabric. Anyway, it is an awful place.
Some of you, you go shopping because you love your spouse and you go with them. And some of you, you love your spouse enough to not go with them and make them suffer while you're going, "Are we going home yet?" You know, but you're looking for things and you'll know it when you'll find it. And so, I'll know what I'm looking for when I find it. Anybody said that, thank you, pastor, I receive that word. You hear that? Okay. And for those of you, we pray for you, but pray for me because you never get home. And this is a rabbit trail. How many of you say, "Look, honey, I saved $50." How much you have to spend to save $50? That's in my brain. I'm like, there's a percentage here. It was 30% off, that's $50. Like, I wasn't good at math, but I can do the math. We're going to pay for this. Anyway, it's all fun. It's all fun. But, what are you looking for?
Some of you, if in all seriousness are looking for relief, you're looking for answers. You're looking for some kind of a situation, a career change. Maybe no more career. Maybe it's a new season of life. But it's, what do I do with these little children in my life? What do I do when I get children? What do I do, I'm brand new married? How many it's their first Easter married today? Ooh, you're newlyweds. Right here. Right here. Let's give them a round of applause. Awesome, awesome. Okay, have you decided where you're going to go to this afternoon because that's the family you love the most, right? Oh, that's awful. That's awful. That's awful. Okay, but pray about it because you know, we don't want you to offend anybody, no.
How many here - that's the real question is which family do we go to and not offend the other? Yeah, that happens. That's a real story on Easter. But anyway, we're praying for you. We're praying for you. Anyway, I had the privilege of walking up and being with both these couples this year.
Some of you're looking for forgiveness. You're looking for absolutely or some sort of redemption from something. And the question really is, where are you looking? Where are you looking for those answers? Where are you shopping for your life values? Where are you shopping for your self-worth? Where are you shopping for hope and healing? I talked to somebody - I use this phrase and most of you have heard me say it before; "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result is just silly." It's insanity. And I used that at a car parts store. Yeah, I was shopping. I don't know - I went buying. I needed a part. But I went there and a guy was talking about something, and he says, I work seven days a week. I'm like, really? "Done it for five years." I said really? That is amazing. Seven days a week. I didn't have time to ask him what his family thought of that.
Young man, and I said seven days a week, wow! Are you getting ahead? That's a lot of time to be getting. He says, "Not at all. I'm getting behind." Huh? I said, you know, if you don't take off a regular time, like take of; God will give you a bunch in a row. And I said are you getting ahead? "No, I'm not getting ahead. I'm farther behind than when I started all this. I said, you know, doing the same thing over and over again as what - and the counter clerk, her name is Angel she said. Insanity! And why is it that we think we're looking for all the answers in all the wrong places, looking for that country song. I'm looking for love in all the wrong places. You're looking in the wrong places and you keep thinking you're going to find it. How many times you go to the closet looking for the one thing that you thought you put in that closet? And how many times are you going to look there and realize it's not there?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a game changer for anything you're looking for. It changes everything. If this is just one more club, then we need a great marketing program to get a bunch of people here and entice them. And maybe we'll do a like half off price to join or something. Really, we don't charge people to join. But I mean, you know, what are we going to - you know, we're just a business. We're just the lions club. We do a little bit better philanthropy than others. We give a little bit more to this. We do this niche of helping people in Jesus name, but you know, Jesus is dead, so it's not... but He's a good figure of follow because He was a really nice guy when He lived on the earth.
I mean, if that's all it's about, then we've really kind of missed the mark here. The resurrection of Jesus Christ isn't just something we think is important on Easter Sunday. It's something that so changed the spiritual world that people began to worship, not the Sabbath, but on Sunday. Like Jewish people, that it was ingrained in their brain, you worship on Saturday. And they switched to Sunday because on the first day of the week. In the early breaking dawn, some girls went to a tomb and found it empty. And it so changed the world that we even whoever does or does not believe in Jesus proclaims that Jesus at least made a mark in history because they write a date down that's tied to BC and AD.
If you're looking for real answers, you're going to find it in the empty tomb. You're going to find it in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, let me tell the story here - kind of unpack it. You've already read it. John read it for us in Matthew 28. If you have your Bible turn there, and I'm just going to walk through the story a little bit here. After the Sabbath, the week was dawning, the first day of the week, then Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, they came to the tomb. Was it a tradition of them to go to the tomb and mourn in the death and the loss of a friend, of someone they cared for deeply? Were they coming to prepare the body a little bit more? Who was going to roll the stone away? In one passage it says in another gospel story, that they were going to go, and in haste had prepared the body because it was about to be Passover, and they had to get his body off the cross and into that borrowed tomb.
And they thought, well, but we need to fix them right. But they were going to the tomb. And it says here, Matthew kind of inserts while he's telling the story of them coming. But by the way, there's a big earthquake that took place. And it took place because an angel descended from heaven and it was so powerful when he came that an earthquake occurred. And now, Matthew's explaining these things to us about 90 years of AD 90 - 40, 50 years later he's telling the story. And I'm going to tell you that this would not have lasted or the test of time if he had been telling a lie. What he's telling and when it was received by the Christians, it was a commonly understood story. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have it in our Bible today because there's a lot of stories that were made up about this whole event that were not real, that did not have truth in them, and we don't have them today.
And anybody that you watch those history stations, they really love on Easter to take, oh, the lost gospel of Judas, the lost gospel of James, the lost gospel of Thomas, and most of those that they have the label of a person's name were written hundreds of years later, or at least over the time, beyond the time in which the actual disciples name, the disciple existed, he was dead by then and somebody was faking it. And it's very easy to see as a historian, if you really wanted to look at it credibly; anybody can say that's not a lost gospel of Mark; that's, somebody's attempt to pervert the real gospel that we have. You know why it's lost? You know why the church voted it down? Because it was false, and they would've quickly voted out the resurrection story that Matthew told if it was false. They didn't. We have it today in antiquity. We have it today in current times.
The angel descends down, caused an earthquake, and it says here that he rule rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. And I was listening to David Jeremiah on the radio, and he made mentioned that in one of the versions of one of the gospel stories, the word is that he picked it up and moved it. The stone would normally be in a groove and it would roll across the opening of the grave of the tomb that Jesus would be in. And it was so big, it would be as big enough to be like a four foot by this wide, really kind of a doorway. And the stone would have to be so big; it would be about one to two tons in weight. And they would leverage it with several people to get it out of the way. They'd put the body in there; put it back so that they wouldn't be desecrated by wild animals. And in this case, the guards were guarding it because they didn't want the disciples to come and steal the body and pretend like Jesus had come back to life.
And it says the angels picked it up, moved it aside and He was sitting on it, waiting for the ladies to show up. There He was, bright, white, glowing, and incredible. You know how big of a story it was? Read in there. The soldiers, the grown men that were supposed to cover the grave, fell back in fear and were like dead men. They passed out. They fainted. Tell that to your commanding officer. How bad was it? I fainted. You don't get to go back out again. They bought them off, by the way, you can read that later, to tell a lie about what had happened there. It's interesting that guards who were there to guard a dead man; when that dead man came back to lie, they became as dead man. Kind of ironic. Little twist in the story that, you know, wow, that's interesting.
The angel I think knew that He was coming. In fact, they said, "You're looking for Jesus, aren't you? The one who is crucified! You know what? He's not here. He's alive. Come look and see where He lay, where He used to be." He was raised the Bible says. God, the father raised the son. Jesus himself had predicted three times. I talked about this already, last handful of Sundays ago that He predicted that he would rise. In fact, He says it's the same one. He said that He told you that He would do this. That's the one.
Now, the Bible doesn't say how He was raised. It doesn't say that anybody witnessed his resurrection. All we have is the evidence. They rolled the stone away, not to let Jesus out, but to let us in to see that He was no longer there. And He says, you can see he for yourself, ladies. He's not here. Come and see. It's not where we put Jesus. Jesus isn't where you put Him on Friday. He's gone. And then says, go quickly and tell his disciples. They got to be the first ones to declare that Jesus was alive. I remember some of the early times, I can't remember the first time I ever did it, where I was able to actually share my story with somebody and help them find their story by trusting their lives in Jesus Christ. Wow. What a blessing to tell somebody the story, my story, but really tell His story and let them and invite them to have their story enveloped in His story, where they put their faith in Jesus Christ.
And at the end of my sermon this morning, I have three words. And if you write those three words down, you could with your story, talking about His story, use those three words to help someone else find Jesus this week, or whenever. Just have it handy, have it ready. And when people ask you, "Why do you have hope? This is kind not such a cool thing - situation going life. Why are you not so jarred by the horrible things that are going on in this world?" Oh, I'm sad. I'm very sad. It really breaks my heart. I get emotional when I see the images on TV right now, what's going on in another continent. I'm struggled to see the bad things that are going and I struggle to see the hopelessness. I struggle as I watch the news of what's going on in our city, as I watch people in their lives with hopelessness in their hearts and minds, because they don't feel like it's worth moving forward.
It breaks my heart. I can't stand to see the abuse that takes place to our children, when Allen County is one of the highest infant and toddler mortality rates in the State. I know that's a give and take, ebb and flow, and it is not something that anybody... we want it to disappear. Being a metropolis, being so many people by percentages, we're going to have more things happen, probably that are not good, but I want to have that percentage reduced to zero, by the way. It breaks my heart. I'm not here to say I'm not affected by it, but I know who I'm serving. And who's in my heart and where my real hope lies. And I know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fact that He conquered death, the fact that He overcame evil, the fact that I am forgiven of my sins and I can offer that to anybody in this place, anybody around the world and they too can find forgiveness in Christ, and their lives too can be changed by the power of Jesus; that's the only hope I know for this world. That's the only hope I have.
And some days if I come up to a scene and I have to be a chaplain and I have to be there; I'm just the presence of Christ. They don't know that I'm the presence of Christ, because I don't have an opportunity to talk to them about that. But boy, as soon as the door is open, I'm ready, and it's exciting to share Jesus. These women we're the first one. And you imagine how excited they were. He's not here. He's risen. We went there. And the guy said I don't believe you, in another story, another gospel story. They ran in to find out for themselves, because what do women know?
No, I mean, I have to see it to believe it. I'm going to bring it... I say that for a reason. You are like, "Man, you're really hitting the numbers today." No, I got a reason for telling you that. You see the resurrection, I'm telling you this morning was told by all four Gospel writers and you say, but there are differences. One gospel writer said it this way, Matthew said it this way, Mark said it that way, Luke said it this way, John said it this way, and yet it doesn't look like they match in their story. Now, how many of you are teachers or you've worked with preschoolers, actually teachers with older kids? Anybody? You ever had to - how about your own kids? You have more than two or three kids in your lifetime. Okay. And what if something bad happened? You know, somebody carved their initials - well, that you would know who it was.
They used a permanent marker on a dry erase board or they did something that shouldn't have done or somebody stole something or something bad happened. And you pull them in one at a time to tell story, right? You tell little Johnny, little Julie and you go what happened here? And they both have the exact same story verbatim. What do you know? They're called a liar. They're telling a story, because they somehow got together and says let's get this right. We got to figure this out, because they're going to ask us what happened. Okay, you're going to say this and I'm going to say this, and they collude with one another. And police officers know this when they're investigating a crime that when two guys are saying the very same story, it ain't the same story that actually happened. Odds are, it's a story, but not the story.
So when you have all four gospel writers looking at, let's just say an accident occurs in the middle of the intersection and they're sitting on all four corners. They all have a different perspective. My perspective is this is the angle how I saw the cars hit. This is how I saw the cars hit. This is how I saw the cars hit. And all four are a collection of the story that actually happened because none of them had the same viewpoint of the accident. And all of the gospel writers come from their own personal viewpoint; not viewpoint like opinion, but their own facts that they know about out on their corner of the street as they looked at the story of Jesus. And so it's the additive principle. You add them together to find the real story. You don't subtract from one another, because one didn't say this and the other said and say that.
This resurrection story is, if you looked at it from human perspectives - incredible. It's incredible. No one ever stayed raised from the dead. No one ever stayed raised from the dead. If Lazarus had died again, because remember he got raised by Jesus. They'd still be talking about it. If that little girl who was raised from the dead; that Jesus raised from the dead was still alive, there'd probably be a gospel in her name. Some kind of a name like, wow, who's this person? But all evidence suggests that Lazarus and that little girl eventually did enter the grave on this side of heaven. Their faith was in Christ, my hope and prayer is I'm assuming Lazarus did, but they died. The one that didn't was Jesus, and that's the one we're still talking about. That's the one we're singing about. That's the one that people gave their lives for. It's incredible.
Matthew is writing much later, like I told you already, and so if they had found his body in a Creek somewhere, tossed aside somewhere, buried in a different grave - Oh, they just got the wrong tomb. That's a theory out there. Don't you know they would've done everything they could to unearth the truth about this. Who was in charge, the Christians? No, there were very few Christians at that moment. Who was in charge were all the people that had everything to lose if they didn't find the body of Jesus, and nobody did. It's incredible. But you know what? It's also a very credible story. And here's the part that I referred to just a moment ago.
You see, truth be told, and thank God, women have a say legally. And they have as much right and they're just as equal in their opinions in their weight of what they say in our world today, than they ever were hundreds of thousands of years ago. And it's been in recent history that women have had equal rights. And so, I say that not to say, yay, I say that's not good. But the thing is, if this story had been fabricated by the men who wrote it down, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they would have never made up the story that a woman found Jesus alive before men. They just wouldn't have. And say well, that's not right. I'm just saying that's how it is; that it's even more credible to believe that it's a true story because you can't make it up.
I mean, I've come home and said, "Honey, you won't believe what I witnessed today." And she'll do the same with her job. And we'll say, and you know, we won't share names but share stories and we try to decompress a little bit and we go - you can't make this up. It just, you can't make it up. You have an incredible story. You can't make up the fact that these women found the tomb empty, because in that day and time, it would've been knocked aside as poo-poo. No, there's no way. That gives women some kind of status that they don't even have in this world, and so, it's very credible. It's very credible that all four Gospels would write unique details that these women were the ones that found the tomb empty.
And it's very credible. When you think that the people who believed and saw that Jesus was alive, staked their very lives and died many of them for that truth. What would you die for? What lie would you die for? What lie would you die for? At one point you'd finally say, "Okay, that crossed. No, He's dead. I just lied." They didn't do that. They willingly suffered for the name of Jesus Christ because their lives had been so changed. What did it say in 1 Corinthians 15, "For I passed on to you as most important what I also received." Paul says this, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures and that He appeared to Cephas, that would be Peter, then to the 12, and then he appeared to over 500 brothers and sisters at one time. Most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. And then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, He also appeared to me.
And then Paul goes on later and he says, verse 17, "And if Christ has not been raised, you’re worthless. You are still in your sins. Those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be petty more than anyone." This resurrection story is not just a good story to tell on Easter and we get a nice little outfit or in my case, in the seventies, a leisure suit. This isn't one of those things where we just say, "Oh, He has risen." Oh, you got the story; you know how to do this, yeah. It's sort of like Christians. We know how to do this. God is good - All the time. Oh, you got it. You're in the club.
This isn't ritual. It's ritual with a purpose. I ritually come to church on Sundays because I believe Jesus came back to life. I ritually pray to God because I believe God is alive. I ritually thank God for my sins being forgiven because He really forgave me of my sins. He paid the price. And so, you might call it a ritual, you might call it a religious practice, but the meaning behind it is not ritual or religion. The meaning behind it is relationship - knowing Him personally. And so, He's not here, He's risen. I want to end on that note before we leave today. He's not here, He's risen. Look, what are you looking for? He's here. What are you looking for? Store clerk comes up, "What are you looking for?" "I don't know. I'm looking for this." "We don't have that here." You've ever been somewhere like that? Boy, try to find a fan belt on the first big day of snow, or try to find a snowblower belt on the first big day of snow. We don't have one of those; they were all out all over this city.
There's no dead body here, He's gone. What are you looking for? Why are you looking somewhere else for your answers? Stop looking in dead places for answers to live life. Stop looking in dead end places. Stop looking where you already know the answer does not exist. Stop looking where you know you should not be looking. Don't go into that rebound relationship. Don't go into that new debt program. Don't go into that buy one more new thing; I'll maybe be happier at this place than that place. Quit trying to buy your love into what's going on trying to find someone else. I'll tell you what; some of you, you're still living in a past that someone created for you in an evil way. They're chirping in your ear; "You're not good enough. You're not pretty enough. You'll never amount to anything."
Heaven forbid it, it's your parents, it might be a teacher; it's somebody in your life, and you can't overcome being last picked at the playground at kickball because of how awkward you are when you went and played, you can't get over a shadow story that is not in charge of you, but you're letting it be in charge of you. You keep going to the graveyard for answers and he's not there. Stop it! Stop it! He's risen, and His power and His life, and by His authority you can get over. You can go over. You can be healed from. You can grow. You can become, and you have purpose and meaning in the name of Jesus Christ.
There's living proof in this room that that's true. Trust Jesus to take care of any problem that you're facing. Trust Jesus and everything that he says. He said, "I'm going to come back to life. Oh, by the way, guys, I'm coming back to life. Oh, by the way, I'm going to be raised from the dead." And he did. And if God, the father and God, the son could walk together in a situation and bring the holy spirit and all that; if all of that can happen and they can bring together a story that so shook the world that we talk about it today. And if Jesus is true to His word and He fulfilled everything that the father had for him to do, and scripture was fulfilled from the Old Testament and it was written about in the New Testament; if Jesus kept His word all of that way, He will keep His word with you. If He said you're forgiven, you are. Quit bringing up something you've already asked His forgiveness for.
I know there's a thing called regret. It's horrible. I know there's a thing called I have a past and I remember it. I know a thing called that - you know, we just don't like what happened. But we don't have to live in the chains of the way it was. As I mentioned our earlier, we have a windshield full of opportunity; don't look in the tiny mirror, mu mirror of what used to be. Look forward, not behind. Put on the full armor of God, the Bible says. You know that full armor; it's that frontal stuff, nothing on the back. It means that we keep moving forward, but we don't go with some kind of a death wish; we go in the name and the power of Jesus Christ. He promised to come back to life. He did. He promised security, peace, and hope. He gives it. He promised forgiveness. Will you trust Him this morning?
Stop trusting in your past story. Stop trusting your broken family. Stop trusting the things that you know are lies from the pit of hell, and trust in the risen savior, Jesus Christ. Three words and we're out of here. You know how you start believing in Jesus and trusting Him complete with your life; you start admitting that you've missed the mark. You admit to Him that you are a sinner for all of sin and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. I deserve punishment forever. Apart from a holy God, I deserve to be separated from God forever. And you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ if you've not first, come to him for forgiveness of your sins.
He's not just some good story that He put across on your chain and now I'm a Christian. No, you need to admit to Him. Repent therefore, and be baptized. Let people know. I'm no longer going to live that way. I know that's wrong. I know what you call wrong is wrong, and I admit that. I fall short of being perfect like you, Father. I ask you to forgive me. And then I believe - I believe, Jesus, that you've died and rose again. If you believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead and you confessed with your mouth Jesus is Lord, you'll be saved. You got to believe this story is real. This isn't just something you talk about that's a fun little story. This actually happened. Real man really died, really came back to life, and I believe that. You believe. I believe, Jesus. You're the hope. Jesus said I'm the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. I believe Jesus, you're the only way to heaven. There's no other door I can get in. It's through you.
And finally, I commit. I'm all yours, Jesus. With all my breath I give you my life. Paraphrasing what we sang a little bit ago. I commit as best I know how, I give you my life to do with as you please. Whatever you want from me, I'm yours. Even unto death, Jesus, I want to live for you. I'm tired of living a lie. I'm tired of living my shadow past that isn't good. I'm tired of living in answers that don't give true hope. I admit I'm a sinner. I believe Jesus you died on the cross and rose again, and then now commit my life to you as my savior and Lord.
Let's stand one last time this morning, if you would. It was mentioned earlier that we had these connection cards. They're on the back table. As you go out this door, maybe you need to grab one, put something on there. Lord, I've got something. You're talking to God and you say, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And this card might help you. It says here, accepting Christ as savior. Maybe the first time you've never put your life in Jesus' hands. Today would be the day that you admit, believe and commit your life to Jesus Christ. Maybe it's a re-surrendering of your life. Maybe it's requesting baptism. Maybe your next step is I'll come back next week. Look, if you've never gone anywhere for a long time, your best next step might be just; I'm committed to coming back, but don't not do what God's told you to do.
And by the way, you're ready to make a decision right now. You might not be ready tomorrow, so I encourage you to do it now. And let someone know that you've done it now so that we can be praying for you and encouraging you and helping you to make good on what you know God has asked you to do this morning. And so, don't be silent. Speak up, let us know. I'll be down here in the front. Jerry will be in the back. Some others will be in the back, Becky as well, to help encourage you and to pray with you if you feel led to do so. And so, please, let's just respond as the Lord has called us to do. Father God help us all to be obedient to whatever you've told us to do. Nothing I want them to do, God, this isn't about me. It's about you, Jesus. So Lord, speak to every heart in this room, including mine, and help us to move forward the way you want us to spiritually in Jesus' name, amen.
B: Bible book