Church Health Check-up
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
July 3, 2022
Jesus is building His church
Matthew 16:18 “I will build my church”
-Jesus is building his church
-Paul planted the church in Thessalonica under Christ’s
authority (Acts 26:12-18; Rom 1:1; Gal 1:1)
-the church is plan a; there is no plan b!
Acts 1:8 “…and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-Jesus does not lie, we WILL be and ARE his witnesses
Jesus is the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:2-23)
-Paul reminds the church that we follow Jesus, not men
-1 Pet 5:4 Pastors answer to the Chief Shepherd
-Hebrews 13:17 Pastors will answer to God for their work
A church must continually examine her spiritual health
-Celebrate changed lives- what Christ has already done
-Examine the spiritual health of believers
-Examine how well church is following Christ and His Word
-Pray for the church’s future until Christ returns
Church Health Check-up: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
Check-up #1: How well do leaders care for the church?
-Paul cared deeply about their faith- a father’s heart
-He sent Timothy to check on them
-Paul wondered if they had survived persecution
-Real pastors and elders care deeply for the church
-they can control how they serve and what they teach
-they cannot control the final outcome! Just like parenting
-Every church leader must care deeply about the spiritual wellbeing of believers
-Every ministry (preaching, singing, property care, etc)
ultimately aims to build up believers!
-church leaders must never have personal agendas!
Check-up #2: What is the church’s current testimony?
-Timothy reported good news to Paul and his ministry team!
-They still appreciated their church planter
-They stood firm in their newfound faith despite persecution
-Their spiritual growth gave Paul joy and thankfulness
-Who is encouraged by our church’s testimony?
-how have we persevered through opposition and trials?
Check-up #3: A vision for more spiritual growth
-Paul prayed he would be allowed to be with them again
-Paul did return later!
-Believers must continually grow in their love for one another
-John 13:34-35; John 15:17
-Believers must become more blameless and holy
-We answer to God, not ourselves, feelings, the culture
-Believers look forward to Christ’s second coming!
-Every day is spent knowing it may be our last
-We continually confess and forsake sin, and re-surrender
constantly to our Lord and Savior who we will answer to for
What would our church health check-up reveal?
-Do our spiritual leaders really care about every believer?
-Are we growing despite cultural opposition?
-Do we overflow with love for one another?
-Are we becoming more blameless and holy as we await Christ’s return?
How must we grow our love for one another?
-keeping the main thing the main thing, forgiving one another
-serving one another, bearing one another’s burdens, ??
What must we change to become more blameless and holy for Jesus Christ?
-Trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord
-Submit to God’s Word to change our attitudes and behaviors
-Live within the accountability of the local church community
-Connection Card, Discovering Church Membership Class
-Seek out our Prayer Team Today- in person or online
Well, we are back in 1 Thessalonian 3 now and continuing on. For some of you, you may have come the last two Sundays and said, who's that guy up there? I'm the pastor of St. Joe Community Church. I have been absent for two Sundays and my son got married the 18th, and we were out that weekend. And then we went straight to church camp with our kids on Monday, and then Friday, we turned everything around, including our laundry. My family did, and we loaded up in Saturday morning, my wife and I, and our kids went to Myrtle Beach to be with my mom and dad and my sisters and their families. So we've been out for this last week, enjoying the sunshine, some rain, but bad weather at the beach is still the beach, so we've had a great, great time.
And I'm just thankful for St. Joe and your support for our family to be able to get away and to do things that we do, and just enjoy family. I say work hard, play hard. And if you don't have time off to refresh and rejuvenate, then you need to find time if you can. Sometimes it's just finding that one day or two a week and try to protect time to just rejuvenate and grow and just rest. Just take lots of naps. I believe in naps. I just think it's great. Just awesome. Anyway, Jesus slept in a boat. I mean, I'm thinking, it was a storm, but He didn't care, He was asleep. Anyway, it was good. And thanks Jacobs Well, they're going to be with us this Sunday, next Sunday, the band, to help us worship while Brae is still on his mission trip in Brazil. And for those of you that are connected with him, I pray you'll continue to pray for him and hear his reports, and as our worship leader, prayerfully considers his future and what God has for him. And just appreciate young people saying, I've got time, I've got energy, I've got ambition, what does God want me to do with my life? Yay, that's the best question you could ask. And when you don't have a lot of responsibilities or newlyweds, like you got, go for it, go do something for God, go do something big.
Some people, they save up a bunch of money and then they take a year off to hike the Appalachian Trail. Bonita has a cousin that did that, and he just raised enough money for himself and went on the Appalachian Trail and did it, the whole thing, found his wife along the way. I mean, he found a girl that he married along the way, sorry, let's say that the correct way. And she was doing the same thing. And so, we quit and we invest to do all kinds of crazy stuff. And I think it's really important for us to invest and think about what does God want me to do and spend time thinking about that, especially you who are younger. And but for us who are whatever age we are, we need to keep thinking about that as well. But I'm thankful for our church. And I believe that as we think about that tomorrow we celebrate the 4th of July, the birth of our nation or the celebration of our independence. Yeah, and we praise God for that. But you know what, the best thing we can do is to be the church that God wants for our nation. That's the best we can be.
We may have voted and everything went south and wrong in whatever we voted in the last 15, 20 years, it doesn't matter. God's in charge and He's building His church. He builds nations. He tears down nations, but He is always, and will it be about until Jesus comes again, building His church. The church is what has stood the test of time. Local churches come and go. Sometimes local churches last a long time. And sometimes churches last a short time, but God, Jesus Christ said, I will build my church, so today is a church health checkup. We're going to talk about in chapter three, how Paul is excited about wondering how they were, he hears the report of how they are, and then he praised for them in their future.
And we're going to use that as kind of a way of thinking about our church, because we, as a church, have much to offer the community of people around us. We have our faith, we have our convictions, we have our beliefs, we have our energy and time and talents. Just recently, and I am celebrating the 4th of July in a fresh way because we now have an opportunity to enact laws that protect the unborn. We as a pro-life church, and we praise God for that, and we celebrate that. We celebrate the fact that we have an opportunity to do something that I wasn't even sure would even be possible in my lifetime to turn the clock back on a culture of death, to maybe pursue a culture of life. However, even as we have made a legal maneuver that I think was strategic and thoughtful, and people were a part of that, and some people voted their conscience in order for that to happen, and I think God worked in all of that in all of those different ways, we have much to pray about as well.
So while we celebrate, we have a lot to pray about. Even one of our local churches was graffiti by pro-choice people. And I'm like, what? And I actually was kind of holding my breath to hear while we were out for two weeks, if somebody might graffiti us because we talk openly about supporting a Hope Center and we talk openly about supporting adoption and supporting pro-life things in our community, and so I wondered, would that happen to us? And I'm grateful it hasn't, I hope and pray it doesn't. I'm not living in fear, don't get me wrong. But there was a church that somebody online from the Gospel Coalition article that they actually had a mob of people come and absolutely smash out every window on the first floor of their building. It's like a block of buildings, and wrote all kinds of horrible [epitas05:52] and graffiti all over their building because they knew that they stood for life. And these people were standing for not life. And it was just a sad moment to realize that people not only do not like when you are pro-life, but some are becoming more hostile.
I'm praying for safety as people continue to pursue life. And I'm also praying that we will be able to in a loving way, help people find and follow Christ and know what the Bible says about that, because our culture's not going to change until the heart changes in the culture. And that means that we need to be about the business of sharing the love and the life of Jesus Christ with our friends, our family, our neighbors, people all around us with our community. We need to be missionaries in our own hometown to share the good news of Jesus. Laws aren't going to change lives. Laws are important, but they don't change hearts. Jesus changes hearts. And so, let's just keep praying for that. So celebrate, but pray.
I'm going to say something much more carefully prayed over and thought out and edited in a way that I would like to say it in this week's newsletter in the eNewsletter, and I hope you'll look at that and prayerfully consider some thoughts that I have when I say that.
1 Thessalonians 3, I just want, as we head into this chapter to remind ourselves that Jesus is building his church. We're not building it, it's not about our budgets and baptisms; it's about what Jesus is doing to change lives. We have a budget, we love to baptize. We're supposed to, the Bible says to. We receive resources so that we can spend those resources to invest in lives, to help people find and follow Christ and to grow in Christ and to go in Christ, but Jesus is the one building His church. It's not my church. How's your church doing, Greg? It's not my church. It's Christ church. How's your church doing, they might ask you. If your neighbor says, how's your church doing? What is your church? Because you're part of this church, but it's really Christ church. It's His church.
He said at Matthew 16:18, "I will build my church," emphatically, and He continues to do that. Acts 1:8, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." The church is going to invade every culture everywhere, the whole world. That wasn't one of those, "Well, you might be my witness." No, you will be my witnesses. You are going to tell about my resurrection and the salvation of me through faith in me because there's no one gets to the father, except through me. Jesus was very emphatic about that. He says, "And you're going to be my witnesses of this fact. You're going to be witnesses that I'm alive, that I came back from death after dying for the sins of the world, and you're going to be telling the whole world about me.
Ephesians 1:23, that He is the head of the church. He is the head of the church. In fact, we know that in 1 Peter 5:4 that pastors, although we are called shepherds, pastors named shepherd in the Greek, that we're just the under shepherds underneath the chief shepherd. Jesus is in charge of this church, not me. Yeah, the elders and myself; at the end of the day, we are responsible for the spiritual wellbeing and where we go up or down, right or left, east or west. We have to finally account to God and to kind of discern. And we, as a congregation must discern together. We are congregationally led, so there's an accountability to the whole body of Christ, but we're underneath the authority and headship of Jesus Christ. He's the one that's building His church, and He's the one that's in charge of His church.
It says, by the way, in Hebrews 13:17, that we are going to answer. Pastors are going to answer for their work. It says, obey your leaders because they're the ones that are going to give an account. It's not like, obey your leaders because they're in charge. No! Just help them do better as leaders because someday they're going to answer to God for their actions. There's accountability to your pastors and elders that is above and beyond the accountability that you'll have to the Lord Jesus Christ for what happens in this church.
It is just like in our political cycles; if you're in charge of a city, a State or a nation, at the end of the day - "Well, yeah, but I can't help what inflation does." Some presidents, they benefit from the great decisions that were made by their predecessor, and then the ones get to not benefit from their predecessor, but who gets blamed? The guy at the top. Well, that's kind of generally true, but you know what? That is true in the church. At the end of the day, I'm the one that has to answer to God for how I served you all and how through my actions, God worked in a way or didn't work. It's up to Him to do the work, but at the end of the day, I have to answer to God for the work as I was responsible as your pastor. It's not what I think it is, it's what does the Bible say we ought to do. What does Jesus think we ought to do? I've made a lot of unpopular - I've made decisions I don't even like to make because it's not what I think, it's not my feelings, it's not my personal preferences; it's what does God think? What does he already said we ought to do? And we have to answer to him for that.
A church must continually examine her spiritual health. We need to celebrate our changed lives, what Christ has already done. We need to examine the spiritual health of believers on an ongoing basis, that's why we believe in small groups, connection groups. Why we believe that even being on a worship team; that's a small group in itself. And we make sure that people are spiritually growing. Examine how well our church is following Christ in His word. And we need to keep praying for our church's future until Christ returns. We're not in a holding pattern. We're not in a holding pattern.
How many here, your flower bed is in a holding pattern? What does it look like if it's in a holding pattern? It's not looking so good. You got to keep tending to it. But what does your car look like if it's in a holding pattern? It's full of junk. You got to clean it out, guys. Come on. What does your garage look like? We don't talk about garages. I don't want to talk about my garage. Anything you don't tend to gets worse. That's a scientific principle, isn't it? Things go from order to chaos, not miraculously from chaos to order. The only crazy thing that happens from chaos to order is when Jesus enters our life and takes our chaos and turns it into order. Amen. That's when life happens. And once He's in our lives, we have to keep tending the spirit, tending ourselves and doing the examination of, are we living up to what God has called us to live up to? Are we investing in His word? Are we growing?
As we look at these three different sections in 1 Thessalonian 3, I want us to think about our own church health checkup. Checkup number one is, how well are leaders caring for the church? 1 Thessalonian 3:1, "Therefore, when we could no longer stand it, we thought it was better to be left alone in Athens. And we sent Timothy our brother and God's coworker in the gospel of Christ to strengthen and encourage you concerning your faith so that no one will be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. In fact, when we were with you, we told you in advance that we were going to experience afflictions. And as you know, it happened. For this reason when I could no longer stand it, I also sent him (that was Timothy) to find out about your faith, fearing that the tempter had tempted you and that our labor might be for nothing."
This is a more personal moment in Paul's letter to Thessalonians where he is saying, "I really care about your faith. I really want to know how you're doing and I couldn't be with you," as we learned in previous messages, a persecution broke out. Paul had to kind of go in hiding after three weeks of serving and seeing people come to know Jesus as their Lord and savior, including some very prominent women, probably prominent business women in that community. But people got upset with this new movement and started to make false accusations against them.
And they even took them to the authorities and said, "These people have got bad religion, this is bad stuff for our city. It's not helping us at all and you need to get rid of them." And these guys are housing those bad people, and they're wanting to beat him up and they're wanting to imprison them. And literally, the guy that was hosting Paul, he actually paid off - he paid a fine to the authorities so they wouldn't come against them. And Paul disappeared from their midst and went on to the next town to share the gospel, knowing that his presence was not helpful in the building up of that church, it was more of a detriment than a benefit. And so, he had to abandon them right after he had planted the church. And he was really concerned, how are you doing? Are you okay?
"And I sent Timothy," he says, he sent young Timothy; his protégé in the faith was growing up to be a pastor. And he said, "I sent him to go see how you guys are getting along." And so he was caring about them. He wondered if they had even survived the persecution. He was wondering if our labor was in vain. There's pastors that have been called to plant churches, they planted them and then they move on to the next church and they go back and they find that there's a church there, and sometimes they find there's no church there. In Ecuador, it was so clear when we were... and by the way, some of you knew that my daughter and I were praying about going to Ecuador. And that actually disappeared that we're not going to go to Ecuador this week on a mission trip with another church in Evansville. We had talked about doing that and was trying to get Janae to the country. I've taken all my kids there and this opportunity presented itself, we thought, but there's political unrest, there's civil unrest, and so it's not safe for us to go to Ecuador right now so that's on hold.
But I remember being there and we would share the faith and we would start these little churches. We, the teams of people, and I was just part of a little tiny cog and a big wheel of cogs of activity, that we would go in there and we would go up to this mountaintop area and say, is this church even here still? Are they still meeting? Are they still gathering for worship? Are they still following Jesus Christ? And sometimes we'd see them flourishing and sometimes we'd see them struggling. It was kind of a back and forth thing. In one church, they kept abandoning so much that Dave Wilson, the missionary finally said, "Look, you guys are going to have to decide whether you're going to follow Christ or follow culture, your choice. I can't keep coming up here if you're going to just only do things when I'm here and do nothing when I leave." And he said, "There are people that are hungering for us to be in their cities. And if you don't hunger for us to be here to grow the church, I'm going to have to find..." It was a heartbreaking tearful moment when he realized these people really don't want a church; they just want him to show up once in a while.
And it was heartbreaking to see the investment that was made, that there was no spiritual activity to show for it after the fact. Paul didn't know if they were going to survive. In 2003 when we launched St. Joe Community Church, we had no idea what God was going to do. This is like parenting. When you have kids, you raise them up, you help them to find God, you help them to grow in their faith, but at the end of the day, we all have freedom to choose whether we're going to follow God or not follow God. As Grant was getting married to Sarah, I said to my son, "You know, I look..." He says, "Man, thank you, dad." And we were having those moments. I teared up a little bit - a lot, and it's like emotional and it was fun. And it's like, "Oh, it's my second born son getting married. Oh my goodness, what's this all about?"
But I said to him on more than one occasion, and I believe I kind of said it that weekend, or maybe over break this past vacation time, I'll know that I've done my job, if God gives you kids, follow God, because you've passed on the faith that I've given you to them. And maybe even more so, great-grandchildren, if I'm alive then, I probably won't be. But if I am, that they're growing in their faith. But I have no control over that; I have no control over that. And so, you do what you're supposed to do; Paul did what he was supposed to do, plant the church and hope that God did the work. And He did. This church was flourishing. It was happening and He was excited about it. But a good leader cares well for their church.
If you're a leader in our church and all you care about is your little sphere of influence and your budget line item, then you shouldn't be a leader. It's not about having a title. It's about carrying a towel in order to serve people in Jesus name. If I were to stop being a pastor of this church, like that position, the title pastor, would I be diminished as a person or as my identity in Christ, not in my position? That's a hard one for us, pastors, by the way. When you're not a pastor anymore, does that mean you're... What's your status? It's important for us to know that it's not about what we're doing and what our title is or what ministry position is, is that what we're doing as a leader is growing the greater cause, and that is helping people find and follow and grow in Jesus Christ. And if you're in charge of cutting the grass, if you're in charge of singing on a worship team, or you're in charge of something that nobody even knows is going on in the church, but is necessary in order to keep the church functioning well; you're doing it to the honor and the glory of Jesus Christ. That's what a leader does. They care about the people they're serving, not the position they're performing in.
How well do leaders care for the church? That's a church health checkup for all of us, not just for the pastor; although I think about it often, but for all of us who are in leadership in the church. Checkup number two, what's the church's current testimony? Let's read in chapter three verse six, "But now Timothy has come to us from you and brought us good news about your faith and love. He reported that you always have good memories of us and that you long to see us as we also long to see you. Therefore brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction, we were encouraged about you through your faith. For now we live if you stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experienced before our God, because of you; as we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and to complete what is lacking in your faith."
What's the current testimony of a local church? Well, Timothy came back and said, "Great things are happening, Paul. This church is flourishing. Good things are happening. They still love Jesus. They're still following God. They love one another." In fact, earlier in the chapters as I talked about it in other sermons, they were an example for other churches of how to be a church. Isn't that the kind of church we ought be that people want to emulate us? They want to say, "I want to be that kind of church. I want to be part of that kind of church family. I want that kind of church to be in my town, in my city, in my community, across town." If we were to start another church, we want one to be sort of like St. Joe, not like St Joe, but sort of like in the way in which we do things that we're spiritually healthy. And that's what Timothy is saying. There's some good things going on. They still appreciated their church planter.
It's enjoyable to go and see people from previous churches I've pastored, and we still have fond memories of our time together. I enjoy that. I still have friendships from people from my very first church. And I'm grateful for that. But I'm more grateful when I see these same people who I'm friends with growing in their faith, not just, "Oh, that was a good time. And did that. Been there. Got a t-shirt. Moving on with life." Is they're actually growing in their faith. They're still involved in church. They're still becoming what Jesus wants them to become in their own local church, beyond my presence as their church planter. These people stood firm in their newfound faith in spite of the persecution.
I imagine, we can only imagine that these prominent people who had come to faith may have lost their jobs. They lost their prominence. They didn't have their social status that they had because they were followers of Christ. And that was not popular. It's still kind of okay to be a follower of Christ in America. It's okay to be a follower of Christ in America. There's a time when it was really popular to be a follower Christ in America. There are places in the world where it is totally unpopular to be a follower of Christ. And you may even be in some work environments where it's unpopular to be the preacher boy or the preacher girl. I don't know. I know that to be true in some personal instances where I hear people talk. And so these people in spite of the cultural opposition to their faith were standing firm.
Is that true of us? Are we standing firm? Not like in some like militant, oh, there we are. No. It's oh, we love Jesus too much to abandon Him. We love the word of God too much to abandon what it says on how we ought to live our lives, and how we ought to practice our faith, and how we ought to be the kind of people we ought to be. And the citizens that we are, and the families that we are, raising our children the way we do, believing in marriage, the way we believe in marriage, believing in all the things that God has put forth in His word, the way God has put forth in his word; boldly standing even when it's unpopular culturally to do so.
What's our current testimony? Collectively, do we represent what God wants to be doing in local churches all over the world? We have our own unique footprint and fingerprints of how we do church and life. But in generally, are we following the New Testament pattern of a local New Testament church? What's the church's current testimony? Who is encouraged by our church's testimony? How have we persevered through our own oppositions and trials as a church family? If we stopped existing tomorrow, how many people outside of our fellowships and friendships would care? Would Fort Wayne notice if we disappeared tomorrow, other than the building's vacant? How little or much are we making a difference in our community for Jesus' sake will determine the answer to that question?
If you disappeared tomorrow from your workplace, from your neighborhood; would Christ's presence be diminished or would it be a non-issue? Nobody knew that you were a follower of Christ. It matters what our testimony is for the Lord. Jesus Christ. It matters that we're making a difference in our time and place until Jesus comes again. And then finally, in this checkup, we need to have a vision for more spiritual growth.
What does it say in verse 11, "Now may our God and father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you." That was a personal request. He wanted to get back to see them again, and he did get to see them again, by the way later. In verse 12, this is the prayer that I believe we ought to pray over our church all the time. "And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone just as we do for you. May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints, amen.
Real quickly, as I closed this morning, we need to have a vision for more spiritual growth. We must continually grow in our love for one another. We don't come from the same political landscape from each other. We don't come from the same. We may have had diametrically different ideas within this body of how to handle this current pandemic. We may have all kinds of ideas. Some of you might be conspiracy theorists. Some of you don't believe in any conspiracies at all. I don't think anybody has a bunker, but if you do, you're not supposed to tell anybody. All I'm saying is, we don't sit here and try to figure out how different we are from one another. We're trying to figure out how we're moving together in the name of Jesus Christ together. And love, you know, we have a vision, it says, around our beliefs, we have unity. Our convictions, those core statements, we have core belief statements in our doctrine, doctrinal statement. You can learn that in the new members class that we teach, and it's just basic Christian beliefs. It's based on the word of God. It's our own way of saying what God says. And again, it's pretty common to so many churches and we have unity around that. And if somebody doesn't believe that, well, there might be nuances they may have to maybe attend a different church, but those are our unity unifying statements.
But in those areas where we don't have those unifying statements, those things that we don't openly talk about; they're the absent of conversation about in our convictions, we have agreement to disagree agreeably with one another. We don't all come at it from the same angle. Some people they strategically voted for what happened at the Supreme Court. Some people said, you know what, God's going to do what God's going to do and voted their conscience in a different way than some other people. But at the end of the day, what brings us together is our love for Christ and His word that we are all trying to be Christ-like. And we all going to answer for whatever we did at the ballot box. Not trying to make everybody toe in line exactly what you ought to do what I think you ought to do. I've said many times before; I have opinions nobody's asked me about - may not ever want to.
If you want to know my thoughts, I'll take you to lunch sometime, maybe, but up here, it's God's opinion about His word and how we move together in the spirit and the love of Christ. And we walk together in the spirit of Christ and that spirit of Christ involves loving, increasing in our love. John 13 says that we must love one another. That's how people know we're his disciples, that we love each other. We love each other even sometimes when we don't like each other, because we've got to love each other. And love is practical. It's not like a feeling. We're talking about laying down our lives for one another, caring for one another, truly stepping up to the plate. When you're going through crisis, we want to be there for you. We want to help you grow and go. Through whatever circumstance, we want to be a true body of Christ for one another. We do that best through small groups, by the way, it's hard to do just to know what's going on generally on a Sunday morning, but when your connection group knows what's going on, that's when we can really minister and serve and show God's love in a practical way.
Do we overflow in love for one another? And then finally, we need to be blameless and holy knowing that we are going to finally answer to Jesus who could come at any moment and make us accountable for our lives. We're looking forward to the second return of Jesus Christ. We're looking forward to Him finally finishing and putting a period on the end of the sentence of history in a world. Some people say, "Boy, I'm ready for Jesus to come today." Well, I am too, but you know what? I know a lot of people that aren't and they'll be separated from God forever if Jesus came right now.
Here's another scary thought. Are you ready to face God and be accountable for wherever you're standing right now in him spiritually? If he were to show up right now, have you prayed up? Have you been able to confess up and to recant and to move away from the things you know that He's asked you not to do - He's told you not to do in His word? Are you right with your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you harboring bitterness and unforgiveness? How can you go to the throne of God and say, "Oh, I still hate so and so"? That's not going to fly in front of God. Are you ready to meet Jesus? I'm ready for the return of Christ, are you?
Are you blameless and holy in God? Blameless doesn't mean perfect. Blameless like we said earlier, Paul said he was blameless. It meant that he was continually confessing his sins, repenting and turning away from and re-surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in his life. Is that where you are right now? You're ready to meet Jesus. Do you have a vision for more spiritual growth in your life? Or do you feel like you've arrived, you got enough of Jesus, now I'm going to get into little more of this, a little more of that, get a little bit of Jesus, move on? Is coming to church just a stop along the way of many things to do or does what we do here affect the rest of what you do during the week?
So, what would our church health checkup reveal? What would it look like? Jesus, you're a consultant. You're the Lord. You're not a consultant. Jesus come down here. What do you think? What do you think our church looks like? What do I look like in front of you, Jesus? Do I really care as the leader of this church the way I ought care for this church? Are we still growing in our faith in spite of the spiritual and cultural opposition that's around us? Are we really growing in spite of the tendency for people not to grow in their faith? Jesus, do we overflow in our love for one another? Or do we find getting along with people in our church a chore, some sort of a legalistic habit that we got to come up with because it's the right thing to do? Do we really love one another? Are we leading blameless lives? Are we hypocrites in real recovery? Christians or sinner, we're just saved as there's bumper stickers. You know, we're not perfect. We're just forgiven.
Well, is that an excuse to do whatever you want because you got free grace? No.
What would our church health checkup reveal? How must we grow in our love for one another in our church? What step do you need to take to be part of the love growth in our church family? What must we change to become more blameless and holy for Jesus Christ? I hope that you'll take this connection card and you'll let us know how to pray for you, how to encourage you that you'll go online and look at the contact information area on our website and get in touch with us so that we know how to help you move forward. It might be this altar. This could become the place where you publicly say something to God in prayer. It might be that you go back in the back and talk to a prayer team that will be waiting to receive you and to pray with you about whatever's going on.
Let's just honor God with whatever decision we make, that might be the example that He wants for us to be here in little old Fort Wayne, Indiana. Father, God help us to step forward in our faith and to honor you with our lives. For someone this morning, it might be for the first time they put their faith in you. And that would be their first step to tell the world that they're a Christian and have the courageous bold step of getting baptized. I pray that they will identify themselves this morning if that be their need. And for all of us who know you, I pray that you'll show us how to take our next right steps. Maybe someone's contemplating their faith and they're still not there; I pray that they would just hang on and keep coming and learning and growing and being around us. Not because we're special by ourselves, but because we follow one who is so special and worthy of our worship and adoration. I pray that our lives will be an example and a testimony that will cause them to want to know you. I pray these things in Christ's name, amen.
Jesus Predicts His Death and Resurrection
Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19
March 27, 2022
Jesus came to die for our sins!
-He didn’t just teach good principles to live by
-He wasn’t just a good example of a human to follow
Jesus clearly explained his mission
-Matthew 9:15 he makes a passing reference
-Matt 10:38 A follower must be willing to take up his cross
-Jesus explains his plan to the disciples three times
Read Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19
The combined details of Christ’s prediction
1. He will be killed and resurrected in Jerusalem
-16:21 and 20:17-19
2. He will be betrayed and be handed over
-handed over= 20:18
3. The elders, chief priests and scribes will condemn him
-16:21 and 20:18
4. Gentiles will kill him by crucifixion
-killed= all three times
-Gentiles will crucify him= 20:19
5. He will be raised up on the third day
-all three times
Jesus demonstrated his
-specific predictions of future events
-his enemies fulfilled Old Testament prophecy
-Jesus said “it was necessary” 16:21
-Jesus was undistracted from his purpose
-Jesus refused to let his disciples stop him
-Jesus carried this burden alone- disciples didn’t understand
-Romans 5:8 But God proves his own love for us in that while
we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-Jesus overcame the punishment of sin by rising from death
-God planned all along to save us from our sins
-Jesus became the final High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice for us
Trust Jesus to be right
-He correctly predicted his death and resurrection
-He will correctly lead us right now!
Trust Jesus to save us
The Son of Man
The Son of Man
The Son of Man
He must go to Jerusalem
We are going to Jerusalem
Suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes
Be betrayed into the hands of men
Handed over to the chief priests and scribes
They will kill him
They will condemn him to death
They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified
And be raised the third day
On the third day he will be raised up
On the third day he will be raised
Peter rebukes Jesus
The disciples were filled with grief
A mother asks Jesus to give her sons special status in His kingdom
All or Nothing
What Is Worth Dying For?
Jesus declares He is worth dying for
Matthew 16:24 If anyone wants to follow me…
1. Deny yourself
-free will, voluntarily submitting to Jesus
-renounce everything that might personally hinder our loyalty
To Jesus Christ, or keep us from being more like Him
-NOT self-abuse or lack of self-worth
-A child of God should be the most secure in self-worth!
-Jesus came to die for us, redeem us, adopt us
2. Take up your cross
-echoes Matthew 10:38
-opposite of what Peter thought- Matthew 16:21-23
-willing to suffer the shame and rejection by this world
-willing to pay the ultimate price if necessary
3. Follow Jesus
-energetic and active decision, not passive
-we follow Jesus in the way he already lived
-Hebrews 4:15-16 He knows our struggles!
What do we have to lose?
Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.
-Does your object of worship promise eternal life?
-Are you experiencing true meaning and purpose?
-Does what you worship truly satisfy your soul?
-Jesus invites us to trust in Him to find real life and purpose!
For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?
-Everyone sells out to something! (we all worship)
-We must measure the cost with an eye on eternity!
-Worship this world and you will only get what this world offers
Psalm 49:6-9 They trust in their wealth and boast of their abundant riches. Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God—since the price of redeeming him is too costly, one should forever stop trying—so that he may forever live and not see the Pit.
Stop trying to redeem your life
and trust in the One who already did!
How do we follow Jesus?
Believe in Jesus John 3:16
Trust Jesus completely John 14:6
Keep following Jesus John 15:4-5
-Bible study- what did Jesus do, say, command?
-Godly People- what is their advice, encouragement, warning?
-Circumstances- what can you do right now
-Connection Card, Email, Facebook Message
Hello and welcome to St Joe Community Church online worship. We’re so glad that you joined us in the safety of your home. Maybe you’re checking out church for the first time and you’re checking out what we’re like. I hope that you will take out your bible, your notepad, you’ll remove all your other distractions, and you’ll listen, you’ll sing, you’ll read out loud. Whatever you’re doing, if you were in person doing it with us, that you would do that right where you are in your home. And while you’re watching, and after you’re watching, or whenever you can, I hope you will get in touch with us. Use our Facebook page. Go our website (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org). Some how let us know that you’re watching. Like us, do a thumbs-up on the YouTube page. However you can do it, let us know, because we want to engage with you, and encourage you, pray for you, help you take your Next Right Step, send a resource to you, whatever you need so that we can start helping you find and build community around you for the future. God bless you, and we’ll talk to you at the very end of this with some more details.
Well, if you'll turn to Matthew 16, we will be there. We're going to travel through Matthew, all the way to the cross and all the way into Easter to the resurrection. For the next several weeks, we're going to be in Matthew. We've been in Matthew already. I told you when we took to Matthew 13, what a big chapter it was with several stories - parables, and we're going to continue on through that now. And if you want, if you're one of those that likes to look ahead, I encourage you to read chapter 16 and following and kind of get a feel for the entire context of what we're going to be talking about, because we're not going to be able to highlight in the short few weeks that we'll be together before Easter; we are not going to be highlight every single story in the rest of Matthew's Gospel.
Matthew was a disciple of Jesus Christ, the tax collector that Jesus said follow me. He left his post as a tax collector for the Roman government and he began to follow Jesus Christ. And he indeed was... it is rumored tradition that he was murdered for his faith in Jesus Christ. He writes this story to us of the life and times of Jesus Christ that we might believe in Jesus Christ. In the context of this particular passage that we are going to discuss this morning in chapter 16 is right after the moment in which Peter uttered his famous words about who Jesus was. Jesus said, "But who, who do you say that I am?" And Peter would say in verse 16, as it's recorded in Matthew's Gospel, you are the Messiah, the son of the living God, and Jesus said, "That's the right thing. You got it. Bing, ding, ding, ding, ding, winner, winner, chicken dinner. You got it."
And then he begins to talk about the church and how Peter's faith was the kind of faith that the church will be built on, and the rock. All of this imagery that we see here, and then Peter, just like you and I - don't we like, yay, victory. We win. And then we do something really silly. Dare I say the curse word stupid. Hi Cindy, let's give it up for Cindy, she's here today. I can't believe I didn't see her, man! You can't know a person that tries harder to get to church than that lady right there. I'm just telling you right. So anyway, I'm glad you're here. Good stuff.
So Peter he's like puts his foot in his mouth immediately because Jesus says, "Oh, by the way, this Messiah that you've just proclaimed, me, the Messiah, I'm going to die and rise again. I'm going to suffer at the hands of the Jews. We're going down to Jerusalem. And this was the moment literally that they're kind of on this upper area of kind of north or they're above Jerusalem. And literally, in the topography of the land, they were actually higher than Jerusalem. And Jesus is walking down towards Jerusalem and He would be going down, down, down, down, down, down, down to His death. It was at this moment that more and more people were scattering. They didn't want to be around Him because He was saying things that they didn't like. They were there to get, get, get, get and Jesus was giving it. He was feeding them. He was healing them. But He began to say the hard things that were causing them to go, wait a minute, I thought He was the revolutionary that would overthrow this government that was oppressing us.
And when He began to say things that didn't mix with what they thought He should be saying, they began to leave Him. So this is the moment in life, where we are with the life of Jesus Christ. It's going down, down, down eventually to the cross and more and more people are appealing off of Him in His public ministry. And Peter's like, "There's no way that's going to happen. God forbid that this would happen. There's no way that was going to happen that you're going to die." And Jesus turned to Peter, the one who he had just said, "Boy, you got it right." And he said, "Get behind me, Satan." Have you ever kind a by Satan? I mean, that person is a representation of evil. Get away from me. What you just said, I don't want anything to do with. That's a very serious statement. Jesus didn't say anything flippantly; everything he said was perfect.
Now, you calling someone Satan, I'm not. I don't know if that was perfect or not. But Jesus, He was absolutely spot on when He said, "Peter, what you're saying is Satanic. I must suffer and die for the sins of the world." What do we just sing? We just sang it. They said His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished. We just sang that. We know on this side of Calvary, this side of the cross, that it was His death that brings us life. But Peter didn't see that yet. He didn't know the end of the story. The end of the story hadn't yet been lived nor written about. And so, Peter just get had it all mixed up and Jesus says that is Satanic, get away from me.
So this is the context that we're in the middle of, and so Peter's like, what? You can imagine the disciples are like, you know, Jesus is saying all these things and we don't really think about what were the expressions of the disciples. Like, "Whoa, he just called Peter what?" And Jesus explained himself. Jesus said to His disciples, verse 24, "If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life, or what will anyone give in exchange for his?" I have a question to ask this morning, what is worth dying for? What is worth dying for? Freedom? We live in the land of the free because somebody decided - quite a few people decided that they were going to fight the tyranny of England and break free to be what would we now have called the United States of America. And people died in wars to fight for the freedom of our nation.
When you see a soldier, when you see somebody who's signed on the dotted line, they'll pay the ultimate price. I just say, thank you, I'm grateful for what you've done. I'm glad that you didn't have to pay the ultimate price, but you were willing because you believed it was worth fighting for. Ukraine, you know, that whole nation could have said, "All right, Putin, you can have it. We're out of here." Now you can't move that many people as fast as what Putin is coming across them, such an evil thing that's going on. But there are people that are moving, they're doubling back into the country. Young people that are saying, I can't stay over here in Poland, I got to go back over there and fight for my country because to them, it is worth dying for the cause of the independence and the sovereignty of the nation of Ukraine. Standing up against evil; we know that police officers and others, keepers of the peace, they choose to put themselves in harm's way because it's worth the dying for the innocent lives that would be lost if somebody didn't stand to protect them.
And then most recently there was the story, you may have read about it, when the massive tornado came through, which is unusual for this time of the year in Oklahoma. I believe it was Oklahoma where a husband paid the ultimate sacrifice because he laid on top of his wife to save her from the storm; he died and she lived. He believed that his wife was worth it. What's worth dying for? We all have our limits, we all have our answers, and we're not looking for courage in the room today for those issues that I just talked about. We're not even here to vote on what I just said. I just want you all to know that we all have a line. We all think about that. Some people believe in the right to carry arms and bear arms - concealed weapons. Around here, it's a don't ask don't tell. People are protecting us in this room, usually every Sunday, somewhere; we don't know who they are. I might know, but you don't know and it doesn't matter. And they believe that it's worth making sure that if some deranged or very clearly minded evil person comes in here to do harm as has been done in some houses of worship, they're willing to do what it takes to stop that person. And then other people would not necessarily make that decision.
All I'm saying to you is we all have an answer to that. And I'm telling you that Jesus proclaimed that He is worth dying for. He said in this passage, he said, "I am worth dying more. If you want to follow me, you need to deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me." And I want to unpack what He was asking of His followers in those three things. First of all, He said we need to deny ourselves. This is a free will voluntary submission to Jesus Christ. We're renouncing everything that might personally hinder our loyalty to Jesus Christ or keep us from being more like him. We're saying following Jesus is more important than satisfying my flesh. Following Jesus is more important than any other loyalty that I might have to this world system.
Now, this denying yourself is not saying I'm self-abased, I'm just a worthless worm. Some theologians call it worm theology. I'm just a worm. I'm just nothing. You know Christian ought to have the most highest self-worth feelings of any person in the world, because we know that the creator of the world looked down on where we were and saw what we were doing and said we were worth more than the behavior we were exhibiting in our lives and chose to come down, crawl up on a cross and die in our place that we might not have to pay the eternal punishment for what we did wrong. We were valuable. We were worth that much. You all clap for a sign. Can we clap for the fact that Jesus loves us? We're worth it. And if there's anyone here that says, “I don't mean anything, I'm not valuable" - you're listening to a lie. Get behind me, Satan. That's not true. You are valuable. You are loved. And He loved you this much. And he loves you this much where He invites anyone who might come. No matter where you are, no matter where you came from, no matter how far you feel, you are from God, He calls you out and wants you to be with himself.
He wants to free you from the tyranny of sin and death and suffering. He wants to free you from addiction. He wants to pull you from the things which you know are not satisfying and you need help escaping. This is not self-abuse or a lack of self-worth when you deny yourself. It's the same denial that a soldier says when he or she puts their name on the line that says, "I will suffer as a person, I will renounce the privileges of normal citizenship in our nation in order... I'll give up my rights in order to serve a higher cause. I'll deny myself."
It's the same conversation, right or wrong, like or not like it. When that man decided that he would not go into the school when there was a shooting going on and he hid, right or wrong, I don't know the whole story, but he was vilified. Why? Because he had put his name on the line that he was willing to sacrifice himself, and he put the uniform to say that he would, and he didn't, and he was ridiculed for what he did because he didn't do what he said he would do. I will deny my personal safety in order to protect the safety of other people. That's what military people do. That's what police officers do. That's what firefighters do. It's a normal thing. And Jesus is just saying in that same way that you would renounce yourself in normal circumstances, I'm telling you, deny yourself for the sake of me that others might find and know me, that your family might know me personally as savior and Lord, that your children and your children's children, and that all that you influence in the world would know that I'm more important than your personal gratification.
Deny yourself and take up your cross. Echoing Matthew 10:38, where He had said it earlier in His ministry, you must take up your cross and follow me. Luke adds that Jesus said, during this moment; take up your cross daily. This is a daily dying to self - the opposite of what Peter was saying, "No, Jesus, you're not supposed to die." If you follow Jesus, he died, if we follow Jesus we might possibly die. Now, this is not saying that everybody's going to. John the apostle did not die a martyr's death; he died of old age. Many, many, many, many, many Christians will never die a suffering death because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Praise God! This is not like a death wish. I don't want to die for Jesus, but I am I willing, right? Will I if I had to pay the ultimate price? If you're in the Columbine High School and that young lady said, do you believe in Jesus? And she said yes and he kills her. Would you have stood that test if you were asked by the gunman? I hope none of us have to answer that question. But Jesus is saying, when you sign up to follow me, the answer is, yes, I'm willing to do that. God help me if I ever have to.
Take up your cross, willing to suffer the shame and the rejection of the world. You know what a cross is. This was very common. This was something, this is not a, you know, my daily cross is my cancer. Cancer's horrible, but that's not a cross. My cross is the abuse I suffered at the hands of somebody who should never have done that to me. That's horrible. That's a scar. That's not the cross Jesus is talking about. Bear with me, somebody said, wait a minute, come on. Now I'm telling you, you got to read the Bible according to the context of the people listening to it for the first time, none of them would've ever put those things inserted into Jesus conversation. What they immediately went to were all the crosses were lined up along the public road of non-Roman citizens that were guilty and sentenced to capital crime, to capital death, and they were executed on these crosses. They were beaten half to death, stripped naked, nailed to the cross and made to rot there and die a horrific several days death.
And if they were dead enough acting, maybe the birds would start picking at their flesh while they could do nothing about it until they finally succumbed to death. And it was the most humiliating, most horrific, most excruciatingly and painful death known to man. And if you're a Roman citizen, you weren't allowed to die that way; they'd cut your head off. If you were sentenced to death, they'd cut your head off. That was mercy killing. But if you were not a Roman citizen, they'd strap you up on that horrible thing. And the Romans, they pretty much... they almost relished in this. It was a fear factor. Don't do what that guy did. Don't do what that girl did. Don't do what that guy did. If you do that, that's what happens to you. That's called deterrence to an nth degree. Get in line or suffer that. And when Jesus said, if you follow me, you need to be willing that even if it comes to that, get on a cross and die for me. And that the whole world might laugh at you, ridicule you, humiliate you in your suffering.
And Jesus says, it's all or nothing. It's not, "I'm a Christian now, I'm going to get a bunch of crosses and put them on my chain. I'm going to get a little sticker on the back of my car." A lot of people don't get bumper stickers anymore, but they put these little fish on there, they do little things here and they put little sayings. And once in a while, you post a nice little saying on Facebook because you're a Christian now, you do these things. And you get a little devotional book and you put here and there, and you get a little Jesus something for your work. And that's my cross. No, your cross is to die to self. Your cross is to follow Jesus no matter the cost. It's a whole different thing than this beautiful little thing that we have up here on the wall or we have behind the screen when we have the baptismal open.
It's an ugly reminder that when you are friends with Jesus, you're an enemy of the world system. We live in the world system, I pay my taxes, I pray for our governmental authorities, I pray for, I support, I do things, people we serve. Just because you become a Christian, you don't stop serving in the military. I mean, we move through this world, but we're not of this world. We're of a world to come that's eternal. And Jesus says, if in the midst of this world, it takes you suffering for me, that's what I'm asking you to do if you're following me.
And he says follow me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me. The wording in the Greek indicates an energetic and active decision. Not some passive decision. "Well, I'll think about it. I'll kind of follow Jesus today. I got something else doing this weekend, maybe I won't get the people of God. You know, I'm going to read my Bible. I'm just so - there's so many pages. I mean, there's not even pictures in mind." I mean, we have all these excuses of what we do and we say, I just don't know if that's really going to... No, following him says I'm actively participating in what God's up to in this world. End of discussion.
By the way, you're not measuring up to my standard, you're measuring up to His, because I'm at times, and even this week, sometimes a miserable example of the standard. Do you hear me here? I'm preaching to myself this morning. There ought to be a mirror on the back wall so I can see myself while I'm talking. I'm still working on this. I'm still what we call ourselves hypocrites in recovery. I'm not there. And last night as I was praying through this and this morning as I prayed through, I thought how much of a failure I am. And you might not see it on the outside, but on the inside, you know, have you ever been openly accepting of what's going on around you, but inwardly rebellious in your attitude? Have you ever done something but you didn't feel like doing it, but you did it anyway because your boss made you? How about kids? Have we ever obeyed our parents but we didn't have the right heart attitude? I mean, both hands in the air. I mean, we've done this. I mean, this is normal, sadly, unless they were really wrong about what they were making me do.
But when it comes to Jesus and He makes you do something, we should be going, "Yeah, I don't want to, but I need to, help me want to. Help my attitude." Forgive your enemies. Yeah, I just stepped on a toe, didn't I? I mean, that's hard to do, and Jesus says do it, energetically, enthusiastically, that's what I'm calling you to, follow me. And by the way, we follow a Jesus who already lived this way. Jesus, the one who it is said about in Hebrews 4:15, "We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need." This Jesus that says follow me was to tempted in the same way you were tempted, but he never sinned.
If any of you have ever tried to get over something you know is wrong in your life, it's called an addiction. It could be addiction to overeating, it could be addiction to a substance, it could be addiction to lust and sex, it could be an addiction, to you name it; it's just pure and simple rebellion. We do what we want to do and we know it's wrong but we want to do it anyway. But you stop doing it for a while - there's a word for that. We have a craving. Our flesh is still saying, feed me, feed me. What's the movie, Feed Me Seymour. Yeah, a little shop of horse. I'm a product of the eighties. And it grows. And the longer you don't do it, your body's saying, "You haven't taken care of me lately. Come on!" Jesus never gave in to the cravings.
If anybody knows how to get over anything, He does. Well, He never had to get over anything because He never started anything. If anyone knows how to be completely victorious, He does. And if anybody knows what it feels like to want to do something and not do it, He does. If there's someone to follow, I want to follow winners. Don't you? I want to follow someone who wins and is victorious. I sometimes am a bandwagon fan. I just want you to know that. Team starts winning a lot, I go, "Yeah, I'm going to root for that guy in the super bowl," because they're winning. I want to know how to win. I like being around winners. How many of you like to be around losers? I mean, I don't know, I don't think. We like winners. Jesus is the ultimate winner. If you're following Him, you're following a winner.
I don't know about this death thing, this suffering thing, but okay, He walked through the cross to the victory of resurrection Sunday. I want to find resurrection Sunday, but it does come through. It could possibly come through and it does come through denial, cross and follow. And that's what Jesus is saying here. And the question is, what do we have to lose? What do we have to lose? We have everything to lose. What does it say? "Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it." And that next verse, "For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life, or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?"
I have a question as we it closer to the end here this morning. Does your object of worship promise you eternal life? You said what do you mean my object of worship? I mean that which you cherish the most, other than Jesus Christ. How much time do you spend on something that is apart from your worship of God? I'm not talking about that I love taking nature walks and it's God's nature and I'm enjoying what God gave me. I'm talking about you worship that thing more than you worship God. Like if it was like, be a part of what God's up to or be a part of this over here; I like that more. What do you spend your money on? Do you spend money on God honoring entertainment or do you spend your money on things that are very much against God in entertainment? I'm not saying that all secular entertainment is ungodly. I'm just saying, are you investing in things that are leading you away from God, more than leading you towards God?
Some people worship their children more than they worship God. If it's all about the children, more important than God, himself, modeling for their children that they are God. And that is a very sad moment because no child should ever be put the pressure on to perform like God performs. What do you invest your money in? I'm not talking about boosting the money for the building fund and all I'm talking about. How do you spend your money? Do you spend it in a way that God is telling you, you can spend it, you do whatever you want and you kind of have this, well, I'm supposed to give God percent and the rest I do whatever I want with? Or have you really come to the realization that God owns it all and you manage all of it of which a portion of it, He does ask us to trust him in tithing and offerings? But He owns all of it, which means I answer to Him how I spend my money on my house, how I spend my money in entertainment, how I spend my money on cars and things and food. I answer to Him for all of that, not just the part I give to the church.
In other words, what are you investing in? Are you investing in now? You're going to get what now gives you. Or are you investing in eternity, and eternity gives you forever? You see, everyone sells out to something. We all worship something, and we've got to measure the cost with eternity in mind. Worship this world and you'll get what only this world offers. You worship God, and as you're doing what you do, you're investing in what lasts forever. You're not going to preserve your life by investing in anything that this world is saying that you need to invest in. Yeah, I'm trying to save up enough money so that when I get old and feeble I don't move in with my children, unless they want me to and then I'm okay with that. No, she said no. I'm praying for one lawyer, doctor or somebody.
That's not the... you know, but I'm not living for retirement. I'm living for Jesus, even when I'm retired. Zero sum. I'm okay with that too. The last check is for what it costs to bury me, that's it. I wouldn't mind passing some onto my kids; I think that's a valuable noble thing, but my money's not going to buy them happiness. What they do with it and how they view it to the glory of God, that's where happiness comes from. What I'm saying is, Psalm 49, and maybe Jesus was alluding to this. When he was saying these things where it says in verse 6-9, "They trust in their wealth and boast of their abundant riches, yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God. Since the price of redeeming him is too costly, one should forever stop trying so that he may forever live and not see the pit." Don't try to ransom your life with stuff. Jesus already redeemed your life. His dying breath has brought me life, I know that it is finished. I have been to the cemetery, and rich and poor alike, the answer is, have they trusted in Jesus? Some are in some wonderful caskets, beautiful crips, [musilums30:47], some are in cardboard boxes that are made to look a little bit nicer than cardboard. They're all dead. And they're all answering to almighty God for how they invested themselves eternally.
While I wouldn't give up somebody to have a beautiful casket; that's not the point here. I don't care which, I go for it. That's kind of cool looking. I'm kind of mesmerized by some of the awesome statues and things in the cemeteries. I'm not here knocking any of that - I'm just saying. And I'm not here knocking going to an entertainment venue. I'm not here knocking going to the 10 Caps. I'm not here, no, I'm just saying that when you're done, sort of like at Christmas time, I love getting Christmas gifts. I get a Christmas gift or I get a birthday gift or I get something; the anticipation of getting it is more fun than a minute after I open it. You get home from vacation, you almost got to recover from vacation for a day, right? I mean, my son just went out west. He has all these awesome pictures of this landscape I've never seen with my own eyes and I'm sure his camera could not capture. And he is home now, he's back in Muncy. Nothing like where he was at. I mean, it's a nice place. My wife's from there, so I got to be careful. She's listening maybe.
But seriously, it's going to wear off pretty quick, because he's not there anymore. He's back in class on Monday. What's rewarding is beyond the experience, and that's the abiding experience of walking and being with Jesus while you're on vacation, while you're at home, while you're in entertainment, while you're doing the hard labor of work. When you've accomplished something at work and after you've accomplished something at work, because what you know is that what you've accomplished will fade, will have to be rebuilt, refixed, revived, renovated, remodeled, no matter what. Whatever you do is going to last for a season, but how you do it and who you do it for lasts forever. That's the bottom line.
Stop trying to redeem your life by what you're doing or what you're investing and trust in the one who already redeemed it. So how do we follow Jesus as we close? John 3:16 says we need to, whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We had to believe in Jesus that he's the one true savior of the world, that He died for our sins and came back to life three days later. Believe in Him. We've got to trust Him completely. Trust in Jesus. He said, "I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life. No one comes to the father except through me." We believe in Jesus. But more than belief, we got to really trust Him. Like, He's not one option of many. He's every option. He's the option. He's the only option. We trust him alone to save us.
We don't hedge our bets on other things and other religions and other practices; we say He's the one. Jesus said that, not me. You want to follow me? Deny yourself, take up your cross, follow me, no other. And finally this morning, we need to keep following Him. For those of us that have put our trust in Jesus, let's keep following Him. Let's not just say "I followed Him, I got my baptism certificate. That's it. I'm done. I went to membership class. I'm in, yay." Oh, it's a continual process. Take up your cross daily and follow me, Luke explains Jesus to have said. You keep following Jesus through our Bible study time. How do I know how to follow him? Well, he said a lot of things in here about what to do, how to follow and what to do the right things.
His example, the example of other believers in the Bible, the letters that were inspired by the Holy Spirit to the churches. This Bible is the textbook for right and wrong. It's the template upon which we put everything else we do in life. If it squares with this, we got it. But then you say, "Yeah, but there's things that the Bible doesn't exactly talk about, you know, like how much should I put in retirement? Or how much should I do to this or that? Or should I go to this or that venue or situation." To that I would say we pray about it. We talk to other people that are following God. We get godly counsel. If a bunch of people are saying, you probably ought not do that. Some of us, we have to make financial commitments; buy a house, buy a car, this or that. And you're like, "I'm not really sure if God's in this or not." Go ask some people that are godly that know how to handle money. And if they all say, maybe not, then don't. I mean, you can, if you want, but it might be wise not to.
Ultimately, prayer, Bible study, ask some godly people, and finally the circumstances. Of the best doors that were closed for me, it just closed before I had a chance to go through them. Some of the worst girls I could have ever married just never said yes, or I was too scared to ask them. And that was a good thing. Me being a bashful kid early on, kept me for the God wanted me to be with for the rest of my life. That's my story. I'm sticking to it. Yeah, there you go. Thank God she said yes.
But all aside, keep following Him. It's a process. This thing doesn't happen overnight. It's not a one-time event. It's an ongoing life choice, one decision at a time. This morning I want ask you to make that decision, to put your faith in Him for the very first time if you've never done so. Don't let me tell you to do it. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you and you know this is exactly what you must do, then make the decision today. Follow Him. Put it on a connection card say, "I am putting my faith in Jesus Christ. I want to be baptized. I want to tell the world I'm a Christian."
Maybe some of you have been baptized, but you've never joined our church officially and it's time for you to get serious about becoming a family member of the church. We got our class today; we still got a few spots available. I'll give you my ham sandwich if there's too many people there. I'll figure it out. But no, we'd love to hang out with you a little bit and tell you what it means to belong to our church family. We'll have some other classes, but there's one today. Sign up for the next one if you can't make it today. I don't know what God's telling you to do, but I pray that you'll do it before you leave this room. Make good on it, make it public. Tell the world, tell me, tell somebody so we can pray for you to take your next step forward. Let's stand. Let's get ready to sing. God help us to act on what you've called us to do, and I pray this in Jesus name, amen. Take that time, maybe on your phone you need to put an email to us or go to the contact page on our website. I don't know what you need to do, but let's just all worship God with either our voices or our action, one way or the other, let's do so.
Thanks again for worshipping with us online. I hope that you will contact us. Go to our Facebook page, our website (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org). Put a comment at the bottom of this video. However you can do that. Just let us know that you’re out there. We want to be able to pray for you, resource you, encourage you, answer any questions you might have. For those of you who have been giving online, thank you very much. We continue to have needs and continue to do things like this online worship experience, and other ministry needs and practical ways, and if you don’t know how to do that, just go to our website and there are instructions there. (www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org) so that you can also participate in our ministries and partner with us. Again, I’m Pastor Greg Byman, and on behalf of St Joe Community Church, God bless you, and we’ll see you next time.
Thank you for joining us today. For more information about the St Joe ministry, visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org or call (260) 471-4704 or email StJoeCommunity@gmail.com. If you are looking for a church home, St Joe meets for worship and fellowship each Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. St Joe is committed to your well-being 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.
Full worship service
Full worship service
B: Bible book