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?
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
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.
How to be Great
March 20, 2022
What is the measure of greatness
The World has a standard
Jesus set the standard
Christians still struggle with Christ’s standard!
We must “turn and become like children”
-repent of our human definitions of greatness
-become- choose a new lifestyle, attitude
-like children- fully dependent on God our Father
We must “humble” ourselves
-Matthew 23:12 The proud will be humbled, the humbled will be
-James 4:6 God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble
The opposite of humility: Matthew 18:6-7
Jesus warns abusers of divine judgment
-FWPD: Crimes against persons division
-Sexual harassment, abuse
Do whatever it takes to stop offending “little ones”!
-Great people will always care for the “little ones”
-“little ones” are the great people in this world!
How do we do this?
1. Identify what you are trying to control
-people, situations, a project, a ministry responsibility
-something that affects how you feel about your self-worth
2. Admit you don’t control anything!
-your successes depended on a Holy God who enabled you to succeed
-your personal worth is not determined by how successful you look to other people or even to yourself
-Admit that you are prideful and independent, and that you are opposing Almighty God.
-my story: pride = referring to how our church was before the pandemic. St Joe successes don’t define our worth, God does! Our focus on “the little children” now is what matters most!
3. Surrender to Christ’s full control
-Depend on God like a little child depends on a parent
-Trust God to provide all you need to be great!
John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in hi produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.
4. “Welcome” the least important people
-Matthew 25:40 serve the least of these = serving Jesus
-hungry, thirsty, stranger, without clothes, sick, in prison
-Stand up for the oppressed, marginalized, discriminated
-Welcome people who have no voice in this world
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 have your Bible, please turn to Matthew 18. If you have it on your smartphone or you have the physical copy. And for those of you who are interested, we do have Bibles to my left in the very back on the foyer on top of the piano back there, there are Bibles. And if you don't have one, you're welcome to take one with you. If you want a modern translation, the one we use and you don't have one of those, you're welcome to take that as well as they disappear, we buy more. That's just how that works. So if you want to borrow one today, you can put it back when you're done and that's fine as well. I mentioned how we'd love for you to be a greeter. I failed to mention that the best way to let us know is to either send us a note on our contact page on the website, or use a connection card and physically write your name and best phone number.
We have connection cards in the back as you walk out and you can actually grab it and put it in an offering box out in the great room, just stick it in there. Especially also for those of you who are new, welcome, and we would welcome you to do so. We'd love to thank you in person through a note in the mail. We won't come knock on your door, I promise, unless you want us to. We also have a gift for all our newcomers today, and I hope that you will grab that as you go out today. Thank you for coming and being with us today and worship.
Matthew 18, we are highlighting stories from the time that the crowds of Jesus were starting to peel away from Him because He was not fulfilling their expectations of what a Messiah king was supposed to be all the way he traveled down, and He's traveling down to the cross where He would be crucified and then three days later rise again from the dead. So we're basically between now and Easter Sunday, the next four weeks, and it's that quick. We are going to highlight stories in between this time period and we're using the gospel or the good news story that was inspired by the Holy Spirit that Matthew wrote down by the inspiration of Holy Spirit in Matthew's gospel. So we'll just keep staying in Matthew. And if you want to read ahead and look at what we're are doing ahead of time, or kind of soak it up beforehand or afterwards, Matthew 18 and following is pretty much where we're going to be from here on out.
Not only was He coming towards Jerusalem or heading towards Jerusalem, but it was actually in the geography of the land, it actually is going down. So yes, in literary terms, He was going down to His death, and in physical terms, He was physically traveling down to Jerusalem. Interesting note, maybe not important to your spiritual life, but I thought that to be an interesting fact. And we are coming off of the heels of a conversation where Peter's saying, "You're the Messiah. You're awesome. You're the one. You're the one true God." And then there's this argument here and there about who's the greatest in the kingdom or who's more important. And they're getting the idea that Jesus is claiming to be the king, and they believe in Him as the king. And now they're thinking who's going to be on His right and left. Who's going to be hanging out with Him? Who's going to be important in your administration? The closer people get to being electable, the more friends they seem to make. You're like, "I want to be around this guy. He's a winner. And when he's a winner, he's going to take me with him so I can be a winner." Greatness!
You see, the world has a measure of greatness. They have a measure of greatness, and we all are subject to that definition. Any of you back... I mean, some of us are old enough to remember when were allowed to play King of the Hill in the playground. Yeah, the biggest and the baddest got to the top and they just kept kicking them off, whatever they had to do, probably not allowed to play that anymore. We used to play that on the monkey bars. That was painful. Anybody here have a chip tooth from that, anybody? The world has a standard. Have you ever felt like the rung on somebody's success ladder? They were just climbing over you to get to the top and you were a pawn in their game of success.
There just seems to be the world has it all figured out what to be successful is. You have more money, more stuff, and you can just say what address you live in, in town and your eyebrows are, "Oh, you live in that part of the neighborhood. Oh, you live over there. Oh, you live over there." We do this. And maybe we do it naturally and we don't think about it, it's ingrained in us. Greatness has been defined for us and we've bought into it too many times. In no way am I denigrating worth based on someone is highly skilled or someone is smarter. I know a lot of people smarter than me, I will give honor to whom honor is due. Don't get me wrong. Somebody has a lot of power and they're able to lead well with that power, man, God bless them. You need to pray for leaders with responsibilities of leading and the accountability they have over lives in the decisions that they make. But ultimately, Jesus sets the standard for greatness, not us. We got to listen to Him.
I've been touring some art museums recently. I got to go out with my dad out to Virginia Beach and there was an art museum out there, and that was one thing you did and walked around. And some art you look at and you go, "Hmm." Anybody? And I'm not really a big [unclear06:32]. I'm not really a big, but hey, there's art, it's free and it's me, I'll go watch the art. So I went there and I'm like, "Hmm." And then you read the little caption next to it and the artist tells you what he or she depicted and you go, huh? And then sometimes you read it and you still go, "Hmm." But anyway, at the end of the day, the artist tells you what you're supposed to be looking at.
One time my dad... Robert Frost, anybody? Poet, right. He wrote some poems. And is it whose was is this - I think I know. Anybody? My dad used to quoted all the time. He's probably going to watch this online. Dad, thank you for ingraining this in my brain. He's an important person. And his professor said, "Well, I think that this means that" - and he had this big extrapolated reason for why he wrote "whose was is this". And so when he came to town, my dad asked him at the campus, college campus. He said, "So does this what you meant?" No, it's just a woods. His professor didn't care for that. But you let the artist tell you, you let the poet tell you, you let the king of the world tell you how to run the world. Let's not call the shots. Let's let the one who made this world tell us how it works best.
And last I checked, there's a lot of self-help books out there, marriage self-help books, how to gain your self-esteem, how to be a better you, better you tomorrow, better you in 10 days, a better you in - how about a whole lifetime? I don't know. Whatever it is, that wouldn't sell. And these self-help section is growing by leaps and bounds. I mean, there's been more trees sacrificed in the name of self-help for books that would've been better if they'd just been left trees so they could walk around in the woods instead of read the books. And all of these books have not really helped humanity get any better. Putin is still trying to take over Ukraine, last I checked. The self-help section has not showed him what greatness is. And the last I checked, the oppressed in our country are still being oppressed. And the little ones, the least of these, still don't have a voice in the machinery of government. And when it seems like even when government says they have a voice for them, it's really a ploy to abuse and use them. Not always, but it seems so often disappointing.
And by the way, Christians are still struggling with this standard as well. If you know anything about the history of the United States church today, you know there is this thing called celebrity pastor, and they're put on a pedestal. And the greatest and coolest, and so many times some of these movements called a church are more interested in being hip than holy. I'm not throwing a rock at anyone I'm saying in particular, I just know this is a phenomenon that's going on.
Even in this church, we are going to fight the humanity of this church to fight against clique and fight against groupings, and fight against looking down and looking up, and having some kind of a pecking order in our mind based on social status or money. It's just something we're all going to fight till Jesus comes. So let's not say it's happening out there. Let's look in the mirror. I'm looking in the mirror. As I read these few verses, let this be reflecting back to us, are we doing this? Say, "Oh me, oh my, Oh God, help me."
Let's read together. I'm reading from the Christian Standard Bible version, Chapter 18:1, "At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'So who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' He called a child and had him stand among them, 'Truly I tell you,' he said, 'unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child, this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in my name welcomes me.'"
What is he saying here? What is he saying in terms of what greatness is? What's the definition of greatness? How do you become great in this world? You turn and become like children. That word turn means to repent. You're going one direction and you're going to go a new direction. You're making about face. I'm going to make this... I'm heading towards - greatness is measured in status, social status, power, money, things, he who has the most gold makes the golden rule is, what? He who has the gold makes the rule, right? Okay, that's what it is. I want all the gold so I make all the rules. And God is saying, no, you need to stop trampling on the least of these to get where you're supposed to go, and you need to become like a little child. You need to turn from your way of thinking. Repent of our human definitions of greatness and choose a new lifestyle or a new attitude. We need to be like children, fully dependent on God the father.
I don't mean the bratty little kid, no tantrums in the room, please. That's not what we're saying here. Jesus is taking a child in a culture and time period where children worth zero value. They couldn't work, you had to feed them, you had to take care of them; they were like livestock until they became valuable and working. Let's just be honest, women bear children, take care of the house, men go out and work. As a division of labor and until you were good enough to be a laborer of either of those two, you weren't much good to society. They worth zero value. There was another time period where the children were coming up to Jesus, even after He said this, and the disciple's like, "Get away," like secret service. Here comes the celebrity Jesus, stay away children. Get away, get away. Bogie on nine o'clock, we got to get them out of here.
And Jesus is like, "Stop! Don't keep the children from coming to me, that's the kind of people that's in the kingdom of God, children. Children, the least of these, the unimportant, because they are important to God. The ones that understand and know that they're the neediest people in the world. When a baby cries, it needs to eat, it needs to sleep, it needs a diaper change. I think that one, what's that - away in the manger and no crying He makes; Jesus probably cried. He was a baby. If He didn't cry, they wouldn't have fed Him. That's just normal for children to do. It's normal for a child. They need help. They're needy. And that's how we need to be in front of God.
I need you God for every part of my life. I don't know, there's animals out there that are born in this world, they don't need nurturing. Humans need nurturing. And if you don't nurture them, they die. My wife is in business the rest of her career as a social worker, because parents don't know how to be parents. She'll never be out of a job; so sad, because children need parents. If the parents won't be parents, they need other parents. And we need families around families, around families. We need people. We need help. And here's the deal; you need help and I need help. I am a middle aged guy and I still need to be like a child in front of God saying, "God, help me. I need you." Yeah, I've learned a few things, I've read a few books, I've learned a thing or two, because I've seen a thing or two, you know that little commercial. So, how do you know this? Well, I put my hand on the burner once too. And it was hot and I burn my hand, so I'm just encouraging you not to do that. So learn from my mistakes.
We've all arrived at a spot where we're at, where we are better at things than we used to be. We are growing in our skills. I hope you are. I hope you're growing hope. You're better than you were five years ago, two years ago, maybe even six months ago. But we haven't arrived. We still need help. And the success that you did have, or you did gain, even if you didn't acknowledge God, came from God in the first place. We must humble ourselves. Matthew 23:12, "The proud is going to be humbled in the humble they will be exalted," Jesus said. And in James 4:6 it says, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." What? Did you hear that? God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. I don't know about you, but have you ever been resisted by somebody like opposed like a human being, that they've just opposed you at something you wanted to do? Or maybe in something that you should do that was the right thing to do and they just kept stiff arming you? If you're an athlete, maybe you're a defender and the receiver grabbed the ball and they stiff armed you and they knocked you out of the way to make a touchdown.
God will stiff arm you if you're proud. Heaven help us. I don't want God stiff arming me. I don't want God to resist me. I want him to give me grace. And the only way I receive the help, the unmerited favor that God wants to flow out into my life is if I humble myself and acknowledge that I need it. Jesus said I didn't come for the people who were well, I came for the sick. A doctor doesn't go to well people, he goes to sick people. If you don't realize you need Jesus, you won't look for Jesus and you won't get the help that He gives you. And the great physician will not heal your home, your life, your attitude, your addictions, your problems, because you're too proud to ask Him for that kind of help.
Now, as a little side note, but I want to get back to the ending of these first few verses, but I want to highlight real quickly the next few verses because since we're here, I want to talk about it. The opposite of humility Is Matthews 18:6-7, "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to fall away, it would be better for him if a heavy millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depths of the sea." What? Whoa to the world, because of offenses, for offenses will inevitably come. That's just part of humanity, part of life, but woe to that person, by whom those offenses come. Jesus warns abusers of divine judgment.
I've had to walk with too many people who have a childhood memory that they should never have had because of an abuser. People who have been bullied because they were the weaker In the crowd, women because they were not as strong as the men in their lives were abused, thrown away. And God warns the abuser that it would be better if you not only drowned, but you were so drowned that you were at the bottom of the sea drowned with the heaviest stone you can think of wrapped around your neck. That would be better for you than to face God's divine judgment for abusing a little one.
I stumbled in one day, I do my rounds at the Fort Wayne Police Department and I came into the Division of crimes against persons. And I knew existed, and I talked to people, but I got to talk to the detectives. And this was a particular week when a couple of cases actually made the newspaper that they had had some major convictions and some major sentencing, some major confessions. And so, I don't know if you can celebrate that, but we're just grateful that those people could no longer harm anybody and that justice was being done to show the victims that they mattered. And I was just saying, thank you for what you do. You don't want to have to be in the witness room interrogating and trying to get out of somebody the kind of information you would never want to hear, ever. You can't unsee it, you can't unthink it. Jesus warns, abusers of divine judgment.
I think there's other abuse that we can think of - financial exploitation, racial discrimination, because in some way you have some kind of power over somebody because of your status as a person. Any kind of way in which the least of these that society has marginal and not given a voice to, and you're choosing to join the world and not giving them a voice or raising them up, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. And churches do this too. We have a pretty stringent policy to protect children. We have a pretty high bar for protecting ourselves from the temptation of crossing the line in terms of relations as far as staff. I talk to Bra, our leader here and David and myself, and we just say, you know, and the elders and I, we have some kind of accountability rules for making sure that we're just lying on the up and up, and that we're holding each other to a higher standard of respect and accountability in terms of the way we handle our lives.
The three person rule for guy and gals is a very common rule. And society laughed at it a handful of years ago when one leader said that he would never be a woman alone. And I'm just telling you if I've ever been with anybody accidentally, or somehow we were somewhere, my wife knows right away. Not because like, oh, Greg's going to go do something crazy. Well, you know, I'm still a human being. And the pastor that has said that'll never happen to me is usually the one that falls. And so, we just have some ideas of rules for how we just keep hedges of protection around our lives. I would not in any way, want to give off the impression that I was trying to exploit any kind of person nor would I want this community to know that anybody in this church was ever trying to do the same, that we're trying to lift up people, not tear down people.
And we're trying to create safe space for our children so that families know their kids are safe. And we really aren't comfortable relating well to churches that are sloppy about that. It's an important thing. We must take care of little ones. We must take care of the little ones. You see, great people will always care for the little ones. And the little ones are really the great people in the world anyway. So Jesus goes real quickly to, this is how you humble yourself and this is the person that's not humbling themselves. So, how do we do this? What are some key things? I want to give you four thoughts before we leave today. Number one, let's identify What we're trying to control. Are we trying to control people, situations, a project at work or at our house? In the church, leaders, are we trying to control a ministry responsibility because somehow we think that our control over that is measuring our worth and value? Something that affects how you feel about your self-worth, is you're just trying to control this.
So many times when somebody is really trying to be a real bossy controlling person, they're usually out of control over here, or they're not in control over here because of a search circumstance, or maybe they have a background story that they were completely out of control of. And they said, that'll never happen to me. And they fight tooth and nail to be in control of that part of their lives only to turn around and destroy other people in the process and destroy relationships. Marriages struggle with that. If one spouse was abused or something bad happened in their past, and they're like, "You know, my dad spent all our money or my mom did this or that. And she did all this wrong and she had a secret gambling habit." And then there's this dead set fight for finances. Or a husband that says I'll never be this or that and because something happened in his past and instead of giving it over to God, they're trying to control this part of the world because if they can control that, then everything's fine. And I look better and I am better.
We need to identify what is that one thing that you're trying to control and not give God control of; you're not turning and becoming like a little child in that area, and admit that you don't control anything. Your successes - even when you didn't depend on God in your mind, was still dependent on God giving you that success. There is no self-made millionaire. God allowed that person to be a millionaire. God allowed that athlete to be successful even if they blasted Him every Sunday during the game. You didn't get there by yourself. And your personal worth is not determined by successful you look in other people's eyes or even in your own eyes. You are already valuable in God's eyes. He still loves you. His love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on you. Did we just sing that? There is nothing you can do to lower or raise your value in God's eyes. He loves you this much. He died for you. He gave his life for you. Admit that you don't control anything; that you are prideful independent, and that you're opposing almighty God, you, you, you, you. Pastor, what about you?
Yeah, I'll tell you what I got nailed between the eyes this week. I'm in a luncheon and we're talking about, oh, isn't it great to see everybody again? And we had a big CEO that was there talking to us and praying over us and encouraging us and saying, we're so glad you pastors are still in the game and in the hunt and going after it. And this is the great resignation season they say. There's a lot of pastors resigning and everything, and you guys are making it, go for it. And then they got to thinking about how we still aren't in control and how we felt so out of control before, but who were we in control before COVID? And then they started doing some gut checks and they said, "So what's your vocabulary like? How are you treating the future instead of the past?" And I got to realizing that whenever someone would ask about our church, I'd say, "Well, you know, before COVID we, blah, blah, blah, blah. Before COVID we were doing... and now we're kind of like, you know?" Do I need to fill in the blanks here?
My self-worth as a pastor was being based on what we used to be instead of where we're headed and instead of what God thinks in the meantime. And I had to put my pride on the altar and say, "God, forgive me for using past language." I'm looking in the rear view mirror instead of the front windshield of life. And there's so much more to see because it's a bigger window than the rear view mirror. I can't change the past, but I'm living right now. That's the best season to live in, by the way. Say what? I'm saying because you're alive and you're living in it, so get on it and trust God. You've never been in control. You never will be in control. Admit it, and let God be in control and surrender our full control to Christ. Surrender, I'm done, I raise the white flag. I surrender - old song on the radio. We need to depend on God like a little child, depends on a parent. I need to pretend - I need to have that visual picture that I'm walking across and I see parking lot, and I'm not very good on my feet and I need my heavenly father to hold my hand so I don't slip and fall. I need help and you need help and we need help to surrender to Christ full control.
Oftentimes when I send out a little note to graduates or resend them a graduation congratulations, we'll write in there Proverbs 3:5-6. It was in one of my graduation cards when I graduated from high school. It says trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding, in all your ways know Him or acknowledge Him (King James) and He will make your or path straight. And then it goes on to say, don't be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. This will be healing for your body and strengthening for your bones. I needed that in high school. I needed that in college. I need that as a middle aged guy. I can't trust in my own understanding. Sometimes I have the worst thoughts in the world about how to solve a problem. And then sometimes God gives them to me and it's like, yay. And if it matches with what this says and pretty much what the body of Christ and godly people are saying, let's go for it. Let's see what's going on. But I don't trust in myself. We should trust completely in Christ. What did he say in John 15:5? "I am the vine. You are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit because you can do nothing without me." You can do nothing without me. The double negative packs a punch.
Finally, if we're really do this right, if we've identified what we're trying to control and we admit, and we admit that we can't control it and we've surrendered to Christ's full control, then the result is going to be that we will welcome the least important people in our lives. That's going to be the test. Have you done it? "Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child, this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven," verse five, "And whoever welcomes one child like this in my name welcomes me." Later He describes the least of these in Matthew 25, He says, that's the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the person without clothes, the sick, the one in prison. God calls us to stand up for the oppressed, the marginalized, the discriminated against. We need to welcome people who have no voice in this world and be voices for those people in this world.
I close with one particular project that has been brought to our attention in the last few weeks. I had a meeting downtown and had several email requests. We are officially a partner of the Fort Wayne Rescue mission. Not because we give the largest amount of money to the Rescue Mission or that we send the most amount of volunteers to the Rescue Mission, but because they've identified something that you all have continued to do over the past three to four years, kind of slowed down during COVID, but it's starting to ramp back up again, that you have become a bridge to help men and women walk forward beyond the Rescue Mission into the family of God.
And one of the ways in which they're asking for us to pray about, and I'm praying about, we talked about it. We had a little prayer meeting here on Wednesday nights is that we're praying for a team to advocate on behalf of St. Joe Community Church for the Rescue Mission at our church, that they're a bridge team, that through them, we would send qualified volunteers. We would learn from them what the needs are for volunteering. And ultimately, not just to go and pour soup in a bowl for somebody, but build relationships that would lead to discipleship and growing them spiritually. And as these clients walk in and they start getting on some meds because 60 to 70 to 80% of them have mental disease, and they start walking through recovery programs to get out of their addictions of choice and they start stabilizing in ways that they may not have been given opportunity to in past environments. They're going to step out of the Rescue Mission and they're going to step into somewhere else. And they're praying that churches like ours would be that stepping block that they would say, "Look, there's homeless people that came from the 05." Well, they're going to go back to the 05, 46805.
So, why don't we be the choice church that's trusting that receives them? And not when they get here, but while they're still down there, and down there being the Rescue Mission, and we bring them in. I'm just praying that we will continue to be a safe harbor for the least of these, that particular part of our city being case in point. We're going to sing this last song. This is a song of blessing over us, but I pray that as God blesses us, that we will leak and that our blessing from Him will spill out into other people's lives. It might be that you need to put on that connection card, show me how to get involved on this new Rescue Mission team. I just need to keep coming. I would like to know more information about X, Y or Z. Let us know how to partner with you and encourage you and resource you and pray for you as you take your next step forward in the name of Jesus. Turning from the world's definition and our own worldly definition of what greatness is, to become great in the way that God wants us to be as we continue to lift others up who are very great in God's eyes. God, help us to be obedient to whatever you call us to do in this moment in Jesus name. Amen.
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.
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For Pastor's Notes, click "read more."
Are you an imposter Christian? If so, you’re not the first, and you’re not alone. The early church struggled with this, and the apostle Paul offers a solution in Romans 6:1-14. Listen to “Faith Changes” by Pastor Greg Byman, delivered on Sunday, February 28, 2021 at St Joe Community Church in Fort Wayne. Today’s message is the 14th in a series on the book of Romans and available for free, like the rest of the St Joe sermon library. Just go to your favorite podcast platform or download directly from www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org.
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Romans, part 9: Stop Trying
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B: Bible book