I’m not sure what you THINK this is going to be about, but let me say right up front, it is NOT about gossip and other useless whispers. This is about the Whispers of the Spirit of God. This is about the Quiet Words that prepare us for the Loud Battles. This is about the things in the secret, that prepare for the public.
Matthew 10:26-30 – Jesus speaking says therefore, don’t be afraid of them since there is nothing covered that won’t be uncovered… nothing hidden that won’t be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light, what you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops. Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body… aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny? Not one falls without the Father’s consent… Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.
So much beauty here, but this is our Savior speaking real to us about the struggles of ministry. This is our King and General sending the 12 out into battle and telling them the reality of going on Mission for God.
So, let’s start with the Sparrows first. Matthew tells us that Jesus said, “aren’t 2 sparrows sold for a penny?”. But when Luke tells the story he records, aren’t 5 sparrows sold for 2 pennies? These are NOT conflicting accounts they are 2 tellings of the same event. Can’t you see Jesus walking with his disciples in the market? There a sellers selling little sparrows perhaps for those who can’t afford something better. “2 Sparrows for a penny” “2 Sparrows for a penny”. And then another says “5 sparrows for 2 pennies.” They are just throwing in the 5th one to sweeten the deal. I used to preach a sermon titled, “The Forgotten Sparrow”. Sometimes we feel like that don’t we, and Jesus says, “you are worth more than many sparrows. Oh he loves his sparrows. He does not let one fall without his consent. And so WE know that he loves us MORE than a flock, more than all the flocks of sparrows, so if he cares for them, you, do NOT BE AFRAID, especially out there on the battlefield. You will not fall without his consent.
Don’t be afraid, I cannot control fearful circumstances, but I CAN Combat Fearful Feelings, and Counter Fear with TRUTH.
You perhaps have heard me said, and one day I will finally write this book, but I believe fear is based on a combination of 4 Lies or False Perceptions.
We believe 1) I’m alone 2) I’m Unloved 3) I’m Unable and / or 4) I am Uninformed. In other words, No one knows, No one cares, I can’t, or I don’t know how. All of those assumptions are false for the child of God. You are never alone, always loved, able, and instructed, if you are of Christ.
Don’t be afraid because you think no one knows, or no one cares, or you can’t survive this, don’t know how, because it will be uncovered, revealed.
In the meantime, seek the whispers of your loving God and Savior in the dark. It’s like a parent soothing a child at night, haunted by nightmares. Our God quiets us with singing, he whispers “peace be still”. He tells us, “I know child, I’m here, I care, I love you, you can do this.”
He will give us revelation in the dark, in the quiet place to get us through the battle in the daytime. Are you rising early in the darkness? Are you spending time in the late dark hours? Are you pulling away to spend time listening to the Lord? It’s that only idea of a “quiet time”. I’m NOT telling you when it needs to happen, or even HOW to do it, but it NEEDS to HAPPEN. Are you spending time crying out to him, listening to him, learning from him?
Too many people want to stand and proclaim, but they haven’t spent time with the Savior in the dark so they don’t have anything to say. But if we are listening to the whispers alone, then we are ready to speak in public. We will know what to say, and when to say it.
Then we understand in the hard times that he knows, he has consented though perhaps not caused your circumstances. And we know that YOU are WORTH His Time. You are Worth His Effort. You are Worth the Death of the Son of God. So, don’t be afraid, draw near, listen, then speak boldly, and survive the struggle, and thrive in it.
Why is this important? You go back to v16 and he says “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves… beware… bear witness… you will be given what to say… the Spirit of your Father is speaking through. Yes, we understand betrayal, and death threatens, but you are NOT above your masters, if it happened to him, guess what may happen to us? But don’t be afraid.
Listen to the Whispers of the Savior and Go on Confident Mission
What would be said about you in Chapter 1 Verse 1 of this book of your life?
The authors of the letters often wrote what I call a “twitter bio” – you know, a short listing of words or descriptions for you at this time in your life, or specific to this current reflection of yourself.
Paul, writing to those Christians in Rome, began his letter:
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – Romans 1:1
Wow, I love that, as a preacher I see three important words of distinction
A Servant – doulos = a slave, bond servant, What I find interesting often about bond servants is that they were set free but chose to bind themselves in gratitude to their greater master. Paul says, “I’m a slave”. The sense there is that it is someone owned by another, legally, whose entire livelihood and purpose is determined by their owner. Paul says “I belong to God, I am his servant and everything about me is at his discretion.”
Then he says I’m called an apostle. The key word for me is NOT apostle, that was specific to him, but it’s the idea that he was called. That word, kletos– logos bible says “someone whose participation or presence has been officially requested; especially a request to which refusal is NOT AN OPTION. Wow, Hello! I do what I do because there is no option. God has requested my presence, with him, obeying him, serving him, in the field he chooses, and refusal is NOT an option. If it is an option, then it is not a calling.
Do you have a “call” that is from God and of which refusal is not an option?
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul begins that letter, “Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will”
I am called as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by God’s will, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul says he is a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and
Set apart – aphorizo = to be selected and separated for a purpose; to mark off boundaries, to mark one oneself, to appropriate for or to oneself
That word “appropriate” – carries the idea of resources that have come in for some purpose, or by some means, but now has been selected and designated for something else. It means “suitable for the circumstance; devote a resource to a specific purpose; take for one’s own use”
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, and set apart from the gospel.
My twitter handle is jamesgoforthjr – my profile description says – James L Goforth Jr, Christ Follower, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Preacher, teacher, Golfer, Musician, Songwriter, Thinker, Pastor of FBC Ferguson.
But if i made it even more focused I would say – James Goforth – Called and Set Apart Servant of Christ and the gospel he provides, Husband and Father, Friend to any who will allow, Worshipper of God.
What would verse 1 of this chapter or book of your life say?
Even more focused mine might say,
Jim Goforth – Called and set apart as a Shepherd at FBC Ferguson, a Missionary to the City of Ferguson, a lover of people, an agent of unity
Acts 26:16 – I have appeared to you For This Purpose
Staff meeting devotion for today
God always has a purpose. When he called Paul, he gave him a vision statement from the start. Oh he’d been calling Paul for awhile, “why are you kicking against the goads” that tells us that he had been trying to get Paul’s attention and prod him in the right direction, but when Paul finally listened on the road to Damascus, God cast a vision as he called him into salvation.
God always has a purpose. God doesn’t cause all things; in the way we understand causation, but he is on the throne, Lord of all things. So, as he allows things, or causes things, he has a purpose.
Joseph understood that from Egypt, when he told his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”
Mordecai told Esther, “Who knows, perhaps you have come to royal position, for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)
God uses our life experiences for his purposes. Rocks make rapid, moving water faster. Falls increase power. God always has a purpose, as rapids and water falls shape terrain and drive seeds downstream, and power the electric grid. When we believe that God has a purpose, we can trust him with the outcome.
Esther 4:16, after committing to fast for 3 days before she acted, Esther said “If I perish, I perish.” She understood that the Lord is still Sovereign over all we just obey and move.
Back to Acts 26:15-16 – I Am Jesus… in other words, my very name is, Jehovah Saves.
So, Get Up and Stand on your feet … we get knocked down, but we get up, God is in the Knocking down and in the Rising.
“Get Up” – the word means to rise for the purpose of action. Think about that tomorrow morning, Rise for the purpose of Action. Plant your feet and STAND.
I think of Joshua telling the Israelites, consecrate yourselves today for tomorrow the Lord is going to do something amazing. Often God doesn’t work because he spoke but we haven’t moved, we haven’t risen, gotten up, made ready, stood, ready to be used.
Get Up… Stand, “FOR” – that little preposition means into, in, for the purpose of …
God says to appoint you… Oh My, we need to do LESS Giving of Appointments to God, and Let HIM GIVE US Appointments. He is the vine, WE are the Branches.
to appoint you as a Servant and a Witness – that’s a beautiful two-fold ministry, serve and witness. That word for servant is NOT doulos that bondservant. It is hyperetes = officer, assistant. We are an officer under the authority, and mission of King Jesus. to Witness, martys = see and report. We are to serve and witness to what we HAVE SEEN and WILL SEE – Oh there is a past and a future in the work of witnessing the move of God. What have you seen, what will you see God do.
And he tells Paul that he will use him to open the eyes… so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of Satan, and receive forgiveness and a share
Oh, praise God our ministry is to tell people the wonder of forgiveness but also that there is a portion for us in the wonderful inheritance of Christ Jesus our Lord
What a message, what a vision God is calling us into.
Last Sunday’s message recording had a glitch and didn’t make it, so let me give you a condensed version
Do you ever wonder if maybe you heard God wrong? Or maybe you were slow in getting started, or unexpected obstacles arose, or uncontrollable circumstances arose. Maybe you’ve gone too far the wrong way. Now, you feel like perhaps you’ve lost your chance? Well Abram knew that feeling.
God gave him a clear call and a clear promise in Genesis 12: The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you 2 “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; … 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land”…
But a lot had happened since then. Abram had been through famine, war, faced Pharaohs and Kings, he had lied and cheated to protect himself. He had worshipped the Lord, had displeased the Lord. 20 years had passed, and Abram wondered, “Is the Deal still on?” “Have I missed my chance”? “Have I Disqualified myself”?
READ Genesis 15:1-7
The Word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision…Do not be afraid, I am your shield, Your reward will be very great.
There are some important truths for us to consider, First:
1. Don’t Settle for Less than the Vision of God
Don’t Be Afraid
Don’t Let Fear make You impatient
Don’t in impatience make your ownway when the promise seems “slow” in coming to pass. God does not delay, he is not slow, that’s what 2 Peter 3:8-9 teaches. God’s clock runs differently from ours, and it also runs PERFECTLY. Fear is often the issue and is manifested in Lack of Trust
God says, “do not be afraid, I am your shield, and great reward“
We talked about fear a few weeks ago. Fear is based on lies we believe:
I’m alone – no one knows
I’m unable – I can’t
I’m uninformed – I don’t know how
I’m unloved – no one cares
Those are lies, but we think they are true… Yet God says: DO NOT BE AFRAID
God says here: “DON’T be Afraid.” How do we fight fear? With FAITH!
Make Sure the Path Leads you to God’s Vision
God had promised him a “great nation” and “offspring”. Abram thinks that he must have “heard God wrong” or “missed his chance”, so he needed to find another way. I don’t think he was mad at God, but just resigned himself to doing things a different way.
You have given me no children… So a servant … will be my heir
He was going to make Eliezer his “son” and heir. Eliezer was a good man, Abram’s most trusted and faithful servant. This was a “good plan”, but Eliezer, good as he was, was no more than a SUBSTITUTE for God’s Best!!
In his book, “Good to Great“, Jim Collins says “Good is the enemy of great.”
“We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good — and that is their main problem.” Collins writes, “That good is the enemy of great is not just a business problem. It is a human problem. If we have cracked the code on the question of good to great, good schools might become great schools. Good newspapers might become great newspapers. Good churches might become great churches.”
God’s path is always GREAT
Be Honest About Your Reservations
Sometimes we get Stuck because we won’t be honest about where we are. We say the right thing. Make appearances of doing the right thing, but aren’t honest with God about our reservations, frustrations, fears, anger, with others and even with God.
V2 – Abram says, Lord God, what can you give me, since I am childless… Look, you have given me no offspring, so a slave born in my house will be my heir.
Abram doubts his ability not God’s ability. “Lord I’ve been willing, I left my hometown, I’ve come with you on this journey, but here we are, 20 years later, and we are past the opportunity. You didn’t give it and I can’t do it.”
If you’ve come to the end of your rope… if you’ve tapped out your resources… if you no longer have anything to offer… Then maybe God has your right where he needs you.
2. Take a Second Look at God’s Vision
I Am Your Shield
15:4 now the word of the Lord came to him… this one will not be your heir; instead, one who comes from your own body will be your heir.
When God gives us a word, it may seem impossible, but if it is God’s word, he’s not looking for our help, or a different plan. He’s not looking for our permission to change the process.
If it seems unbelievable, that’s what God does.
Step Outside The Tent
Sometimes it’s hard to see from INSIDE. It’s hard to see past the “reality”.
Abram looked around the tent and all he could see was no children, no blessing, no fulfillment of the vision. Inside the tent, you can only see so far. Inside the tent our view is limited, our imagination is limited. Inside the tent you are blinded from seeing the beauty of the vision.
God took him outside the Tent
An Unimaginable vision of God.
V5 Look at the Sky.
Stop looking at what is NOT and look at what IS. Look at what God has already done, and imagine what he can do.
“Count the Stars“
– you can only get a glimpse, the gist, an idea, but you can’t even understand it. It’s imagined that IF he COULD count the stars visible they would number more than 4000, but in reality the stars in the field of vision would be more than 50,000.
If you are able to count them… your offspring will be that numerous
Abraham’s offspring included those who would be his by family birth. But they also included those spiritually who would follow his way. Those who would become “sons of Abraham”, Paul called them.
If you are able to count them…
You can count the apples in a tree. And you can count the seeds in an apple. But who can count the apples in a seed? Until the story of life is over, you never can count the apples in that one seed.
God’sways truly are higher than ours
Isaiah 55:8–9 (CSB)
8“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not my ways.” This is the Lord’s declaration. 9“For as heaven is higher than earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The Vision of God will be glorious and beautiful
His Vision will inspire others who view it displayed in You
3. You Can Believe The Promise of God
Your Reward Will Be Great
The only thing that God required of Abram was
Believe and Walk in the Promise
The “currency” that Heaven recognizes is FAITH
Hebrews 11:1 (CSB)
1Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Then Hebrews 11, lists the “Hall of Fame of Faith”. It tells the story of those Saints of Old who were faithful to follow God. None of them were perfect, but they were full of Faith. Not full of excellence, not full of strength, not full of talent, or so many things we might list. But they had FAITH.
And then Hebrews 12 continues
Hebrews 12:1–2 (CSB)
1Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
How do we join the Hall of Fame of Faith? Were they “SUPER-SPIRITUAL”? No, they were real, they struggled, they waivered, they fell down.
“Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness”
believed – means confirm/trust
credited – parallel to a bookkeeping transfer, like an item is moved from one column to another. Abraham’s faith is moved into the column of Righteousness
Romans 4:17–21 (CSB)
17As it is written: I have made you the father of many nations— in the presence of the God in whom he believed, the one who gives life to the dead and calls things into existence that do not exist. 18He believed, hoping against hope, so that he became the father of many nations according to what had been spoken: So will your descendants be. 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body to be already dead (since he was about a hundred years old) and also the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 20He did not waver in unbelief at God’s promise but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21because he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.
He believed based on the Power and Faithfulness of the One making the promise
See it as alreadycompleted
Paul speaks of us as believers in Romans 8 and says that those he “foreknew, he predestined, called, justified and glorified” All of those things are in the Past Tense, COMPLETED. Before we ever knew, it was already true in God’s mind.
Live in it untilGod brings it to fulfillment
Abraham so fully believed here; that years later when he was called to Sacrifice Isaac, he carried on without even a doubt because he believed God was going to fulfill his promise, and it wasn’t hinging on Isaac, but on God.
Before Faith flowered, Abraham saw God’s promise based on his own ability, but AFTER Faith was credited as Righteousness, he lived ACCORDING to it, then he knew That the promise wasn’t based on him, it wasn’t on Isaac, the Promise was Based ON GOD the Giver of the Promise.
Faith is what pleases God.
Everything else is a byproduct of the fact that you believe him.
John 6:27–29 (CSB)
27Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set his seal of approval on him.” 28“What can we do to perform the works of God?” they asked. 29Jesus replied, “This is the work of God—that you believe in the one he has sent.”
If you’re current situation doesn’t seem to fit the vision, trust the God of the vision in spite of the nature of the circumstance.
Remember what he’s alreadydone for you
Abram had to become a NOBODY before God could work through him.
“I brought you From…”
Oh my don’t forget where you have been, from wince you come
Ur was a place of false worshipers, idol worshipers, it was the area of Nimrods people.
I brought –
You didn’t get to God by anything you have done
I brought you
You didn’t leave because you thought of it
I brought – yatsa = to come, to go forth
I brought you FROM
– The heart of the message of the Gospel is “REPENT” – come FROM where you are …
I the Lord brought you from Ur… TO GIVE you this land to possess
Oh yes, Lord. The call of God is based on HIS Promise, on His Power, Based on his GRACE
To give you this land to POSSESS
Nehemiah 9:7–8 (CSB)
7You, the Lord, are the God who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and changed his name to Abraham. 8You found his heart faithful in your sight, and made a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites…
God says, “I wanted to save you because I had a plan that included YOU
God says, “because of my power I delivered and continue to deliver you”
He didn’t have to do anything, but it was his GRACE, working in Abram’s life that gave him what he didn’t deserve. He brought him to a place of promise and blessed him over and over.
WillyougoOutside the Tent with God?
Jeremiah 31:16–17 (CSB)
16This is what the Lord says: Keep your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for the reward for your work will come— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return from the enemy’s land. 17There is hope for your future— this is the Lord’s declaration— and your children will return to their own territory.
Will You Believe?
Walk in Faith?
Don’t Be Afraid – BELIEVE
I Am Your Shield – Rest In Me
Your Reward Will Be Great –– I Have Your Reward – I Am Your Reward – Your Reward is GREAT
I was reading again this morning a favorite encounter with God in Genesis 28
Jacob came from that wonderfully dysfunctional family in Abraham’s line. They certainly put the fun in dysfunction didn’t they? Well they aren’t so much different than we are, are they? Jacob had tried to arrange his future, even though God had already declared that he would be the lead, even before he was born, but he tried to “work it out” for himself. Hmm, I wonder where he learned that from? (Abram). But after he stole his brother’s birthright, Isaac sent him to find a wife among his family relatives in Paddan-aram. Along the way to Haran, he stopped to spend the night. Genesis 28:11 says he took one of the stones from the place, put it there at his head, and lay down in that place.
On my desk, I have a little collection of stones. They are from different places where I have been, reminding me of things I have done places I have gone. There is a piece of coral I got with my wife in Tulum, Mexico, there is a stone from the place where Paul met Lydia, outside of Philippi, there is a piece of volcanic rock from a hike with my wife in Guatemala to the top of an active volcano, there is a little piece of tile from near the Inn where the Samaritan brought the man injured by thieves, and several others, even a piece of salt rock from the Dead Sea. They remind me of things that have happened in life. When our sons were little we collected a rock from ever state we’d been to, every significant place, and we would carry them home and place them in the rock garden in front of our house.
Well this stone, was just a place to lay his head. And yet v12 says and he dreamed…
Oh my my my, do you take time to dream? You should dream, we should dream more. We should imagine the things that God can do because of what Ephesians 3:20-21 reminds us. Paul said, “now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us – 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.(CSB)
We need to dream more, we need to imagine what God CAN do because he CAN do MORE than we can ask or think, dream or imagine, exceedingly abundantly, immeasurably more than … so we need to dream.
But THIS dream was more than just thinking, or imagining, but God was at work revealing himself to Jacob. Jacob needed to begin to understand who God was, and what he could do. And he saw, in his dream, a stairway from the earth reaching to heaven. And there were angels of God, that is messengers of God, and they were coming down and they were going up. Messengers of God and Messages of God, come FROM God, do his work, and Isaiah 55:10-11 tell us that things from God, do what GOD plans, and then they return to God. God is both the source and the destination. The messengers and messages of God are also for God’s intentions, that passage in Isaiah says that God’s word DOES what God INTENDS, what he purposes, what pleases him.
And seeing this amazing scene, v13 says, there above it stood the Lord (NIV) or The Lord was standing there beside him. Oh wow things are more than they seem. This is a Christophany, a Theophany. This is an appearance of God, God the Son, because John tells us John 1:18 no one has seen God (the Father). So if we see “God” in the Old Testament, it’s Jesus. So there is this beautiful revelation of the working of God, but it’s NOT about the working, it’s about The LORD! And his message for Jacob is, I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your offspring the land on which you are lying. Your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out toward the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for you I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.
Wow, if you look back Isaac had sent Jacob to find a wife and told him he would receive “the Promise of Abraham.” And now, here is the LORD himself confirming that this promise is an eternal promise to the offspring of Abraham through Jacob.
And Jacob Woke up
Oh we should dream, but we have to wake up and come back to the world in which we live. And Jacob woke up and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it… What an awesome place this is! This is none other than the house of God… the gate of heaven.
Oh folks. Do you realize the door to heaven, is right beside you? The place where you are IS the House of the LORD. That’s not just a church thing, it’s a world thing. What makes it so? The recognized presence of God. We need to recognize that God is right here. Jesus said, My father is always at work, and I too am working. When we walk into work, walk the streets of our neighborhood, we need to recognize that God is HERE, and he is Working, this is the house of the Lord, the Gate of Heaven, this is a HOLY PLACE. Our question needs to be, not, “is God working”? But, “Lord, what are you doing here, and how can I join you?”
Let’s get with God and ask him to open our eyes to see what he is doing. Ask him what he is saying about you, and what he is inviting, and then commit to join the messengers of God, coming and going From God, To GOD, FOR GOD.
And when God speaks, and when we join, and when God moves, REMEMBER. V18 Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel (House of the Lord)
Make note of the revealed presence of God in your life. Make a memory.
Then REMEMBER what God says, and speak it back as Truth – v20 If God will be with me and watch over me… That’s exactly what God had just promised to do… if he provides… if I return safely… then the Lord will be my God.
Oh we don’t have to make God prove himself, but when God gives us a promise, and we abide by the promise, and God does what he says, we need to be READY TO GO and to DO, according to his Word.
V22 this stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to you a tenth of all that you give me
Hear, Commit, Obey, and Give – Surely the Lord is in this place, and it is AWESOME!
Let’s be honest we sometimes are thinking, “what’s the least I can do to be acceptable here”? Or we will say, ”well, that’s the least I can do.”
So, here’s a study I will teach tomorrow, it’ll be up on YouTube, but I’ll give you the basics for those that prefer to read versus watch.
In Romans 11:33-36 Paul talks about the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God and that from him and through him and to him are all things
and then he says therefore… in view of God’s Mercy… present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you will discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2)
Because of God’s Mercy, Greatness, Wonder, Riches; because everything is from him, through him, and to him…
Paul says this is URGENT, when we view it according to the mercy that’s poured out on us.
And we present ourselves as LIVING SACRIFICES. Tie this into God’s mercy and we recognize there are Two Types of Sacrifices, 1) sacrifice of atonement 2) sacrifice of acknowledgement. God’s Mercy and Grace are revealed in that Christ offered the Sacrifice FOR Sin and so we Offer a Sacrifice of Praise. The Death Sacrifice is DONE, once and for all offered in Christ. What is holy and pleasing to God is when we offer our lives to him daily and moment by moment acknowledging and praise him for what he has done for us. That is TRUE WORSHIP
That is the LEAST I can Do
So, How do we do that? 2 Things
2. Do Not Be Conformed
Gene Peterson renders it don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking
we do that by NOT being Conformed. When you break down that original word it means to assume the outward expression that does not come from within. Assuming the pattern of a thing. It’s talking about putting on the special dress or costume of an occasion or office. So Paul is saying stop putting on a worldly costume, because that’s not who you are on the inside.
Then he says
3. Be Transformed
Yes, Supernaturally when we receive Christ we are a New Creation 2 Corinthians 5:17 – but that’s talking Justification, the inside. But here we are talking about Sanctification, letting our Outside start to look like our Inside.
The word is where we get the word metamorphosis. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 3:18 when is says we are being transformed Day by Day with ever increasing likeness.
We do that then by Renewing Your Mind. We allow God to renew our thinking, our desires, and that affects our actions.
God’s Spirit – lives in us, reminds us of what God has said, intercedes for us, encourages us, and empowers us
God’s Word – 1 Peter 1:23 has birthed something new in us and 2 Peter 1:3-4 has given us everything we need for life and godliness so that we can be participants in the divine nature of God and escape this corruption
Man’s Surrender – As we humble ourselves, admit our need and inability, we drop the costume of the world at the door to our prayer closet. From that same prayer closet we put on the armor of God, living according to his holiness, we operate in the fruit of the spirit, by the gifts of the spirit in us, and find that we are being transformed. Oh that’s beautiful
Then You will KNOW God’s will
This closes the “circle” – can you see the cycle? God’s mercy is displayed to us, we offer ourselves to Him, that pleases God, in worship we take off the costume of the world, we are transformed toward his likeness, we understand his will, and that is even more pleasing, and we understand his mercy more, and we offer more of ourselves, and he is further pleased, and the circle continues.
That’s the Least We Can Do
he was offered a PERFECT Sacrifice For Our Sin, Once and For All, Died, Rose, Ascended to the Father, there he intercedes for us. And SO, I want to present myself as a living sacrifice to him, holy, pleasing, not conformed to the world but transformed by renewed thinking, an act of true worship to the object of our affection
I’m preaching a series in the first 12 chapters of Genesis, entitled “In The Beginnings”
This week we were in Chapter 11. This series has been a broad sweep with only one sermon in each chapter, trying to see the big picture. The big picture is that God is at work in creation, in family development, in correction, in the second chance, we will finish with ch12 and the beginning of Abraham’s line, from whence will come the Messiah, an answer to the promise of God in Genesis 3:15 to “bruise the head of the serpent”.
So, in chapter 11 the most famous story is the Tower of Babel. Yes, it is an amazing story, and yes I believe it. But God inspires the telling of the story, we get the details, and then the Story goes on. The Purpose of Man is to Glorify God and to enjoy him forever. That’s what The Westminster Confession says. That’s what got these people in trouble. It’s NOT that they didn’t know God, they knew him, but they forgot or abandoned their purpose. Paul seems to be writing their story in Romans 1, but he is writing all of our story. Though they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or show gratitude… exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images… They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator(Romans1:21-25)
So, let me give you the last part of my message yesterday and write about,
– Returning to our Purpose
Puritan preacher, Thomas Watson, preaching Body of Divinity – a series on the Westminster Confession, was addressing the Chief end of man – to glorify God and enjoy him forever. If we ask the question then, How Do I Glorify God? I want to use the 4 words that Watson uses, and then I’ll give my thoughts and comments on those words.
How do I Glorify God?
Gratitude, or a lack thereof, is where it starts and finishes. A lack of appreciation, or gratitude, leads to discontent, distance, and disobedience. STOP and think about those 3 results of the lack of gratitude for God, or anyone you are in relationship with, discontent, distance, and disobedience.
Robert Emmons of http://www.greatergood.com says that gratitude is an affirmation of goodness… recognizing that the source is outside ourselves. Georg Simmel calls gratitude the moral memory of mankind. Wow that’s good.
Forgetfulness by these descendants of Noah, quickly became discontented, distant, and disobedient to God, as they failed to appreciate the Sovereignty and Salvation of God.
Gratitude makes us faithful followers that live to glorify God. Cicero calls gratitude the mother of all virtues, and I think he has something there. When we fail to get gratitude right, the rest doesn’t fall into place.
Second, to Glorify God
That is loving worship. My PERSONAL DEFINITION of Worship is “an expression of adoration to the object of our affection” (JLG2003).
How do we do that in the daily? Jesus told us to pray, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. How is it in Heaven? You go to Revelation 4. There are 4 “Creatures” at the throne and all they do, day and night they never stop saying “holy, holy, holy, Lord God, the Almighty, who was, who is, and who is to come.And WHENEVER they do, the 24 Elders say, Lord and God you are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because you have created all things, and by your will they exist and were created. – I personally believe the “24 Elders” is the church, so this is what the church does in Heaven, and it’s what we should be doing “on earth as it is in heaven”
Adoration recognizes God’s greatness, his goodness, and gives him glory in all things here on earth, just as they do in heaven.
Thirdly, to glorify God
When we talk about affection or love, we need to be more specific. Watson says that there are 2 kinds of affection or love. The first is a “love because”. He likens it to when we say “I love you for the harvest” – or we are loving the blessing. We love the raise, or our health, or our food, whatever, but we are loving the Blessing. But Watson says the affection that truly Glorifies God is to take delight in.
Oh my, when we get our “delight” in something besides God, everything else gets out of tune. If you remember Genesis 3:6, it was misplaced delight that got Adam and Eve in trouble, a lack of gratitude. God had only said, “no” about ONE THING, the tree. But 3:6 says the woman saw that the tree was good for food and DELIGHTFUL to look at… desirable…
Love, Worship, Adoration, Affection comes when we delight in God, because he delighted in ME. Oh there is nothing in my sinful self that is delightful, but he did. Psalm 18:16-19 says he reached down from on high and took hold of me; he pulled me out of the deep water…he brought me to a spacious place; he rescued me because he DELIGHTED in me.
Somebody hold my mule, I need to shout!
He delighted in me, and I delight in him because of WHO HE IS.
When I think about that word, delight, I think about the sweetest part of my relationship with my bride. When I see her smile, at fireworks, or at a favorite song, I just watch her smile, it is a delight to me, to see her smile.
Delight for God is to know what pleases him, makes him smile, and just look to his face to see him smile. That is to GLORIFY GOD.
Appreciation, Adoration, Affection, don’t lose that JOY, grateful joy and then lastly to Glorify God is
That might not be a word we use. But think Allegiance in Service.
Subjection is what those 4 creatures at the throne of God do. They stand before the throne, waiting for the instruction of God, at his Disposal, at his Discretion, reporting for Duty, for His GLORY.
And this then is the problem in Genesis 11. God gave a commission, and they wanted to do what they wanted to do. They were busy, grand, amazing, but they were NOT GLORIFYING GOD. Oh, selah, stop and think about that. God is great and greatly to be praised. He is to be adored, honored, in grateful obedient service.
Romans 11:33, 36 – oh the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!… For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Psalm 100 – Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Acknowledge that the Lord is God. He made us, and we are his – his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and bless his name For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever; his faithfulness through all generations.
Nimrod tried to steal God’s glory, he tried to Tower over God.
A couple of weeks ago I shared my thoughts on my first look at Genesis 8 for my series “In The Beginnings”
So, I thought some of you might like to see how that came together into a sermon.
Here you go, from yesterday – In The Beginnings #8 – Genesis 4:1-14
We are in a series called, In the Beginnings. We are looking at the first 12 chapters in single messages for each chapter. Creation, Man, The Fall, Calling on the Name of the Lord, The Created Order, the Invitation to Life, and Surviving the Storm (The Flood), have preceded. But God put Noah in the Ark, so he could bring him through and Begin Again.
How we begin again is connected to what we know and believe about God.
I don’t know what you are facing today. God called Noah into his plan, and we don’t know much about the next 120 years, except that Noah obeyed God doing everything he commanded him. He built an ark, he raised a family, and he was a preacher of righteousness and judgment. Then they got into the ark and the rain came.
7:11 says all the sources of the watery depths opened, and the floodgates of the sky were opened, and the fain fell for 40 days and 40 nights.
7:24 then says the water surged on the earth for 150 days.
So, 120 years, then 40 days of rain, and 150 days of surging waters. Now, stuck in the Ark with who knows how many animals, imagine that aroma. You ever feel stuck in the plan of God in the middle of the ocean with no way out?
Now, before we read chapter 8, let me set the stage.
I’m not a scientist, nor an expert on these things; but, I believe this account because:
1) God said it and inspired men to write it
2) Jesus believed it, and
3) the Apostles believed it.
There ARE great Christian scientific writers that you can read for more scientific explanations. I recommend “The Genesis Record” by Henry M. Morris. He explains what we believe the Bible teaches about the World before and after the Flood. He puts science to the commentary, and it’s a deep and profound read. Scientists like Morris teach that the world changed dramatically after the flood. They observe it to be a complete change of environment, atmosphere, the earth was different.
Read the Psalmist talking about it.
Psalm 104:1–9 (CSB)
1My soul, bless the Lord! Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with majesty and splendor. 2He wraps himself in light as if it were a robe, spreading out the sky like a canopy, 3laying the beams of his palace on the waters above, making the clouds his chariot, walking on the wings of the wind, 4and making the winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. 5He established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken. 6You covered it with the deep as if it were a garment; the water stood above the mountains. 7At your rebuke the water fled; at the sound of your thunder they hurried away— 8mountains rose and valleys sank— to the place you established for them. 9You set a boundary they cannot cross; they will never cover the earth again.
Think about those last 4 verses. And imagine the violent things that happened in this storm; subterranean and subaqueous volcanic eruptions, mountains created, valleys cut, canyons carved, fossils created, sediment crushed.
I remember when Lisa and I took the boys to the “painted desert” in Arizona. They said “the only way this could have been created was with a “large regional flood” – WELL that’s close.
So, READ 8:1-14
God Remembered Noah… God caused a wind to pass over the earth… the ark came to rest in the 7th month on the 17th day, on the mountains of Ararat.
Go with me on a journey now. We are going to tread over and over the same theme and hopefully drive it home. Three sections for my thoughts today.
1. Truth To Communicate
Three important truths in these first four verses:
A. God Knows
God remembered Noah
Oh my, I barely got past this verse. God remembered Noah.
Ever felt like God has forgotten you? 120 years of building and preaching, then months in the ark, a floating casket, completely in the hands of God. They couldn’t sail, they couldn’t steer, the could only trust the hand of God.
God has not forgotten you. Stay here for a minute. As I read the story of God, and God building a people to love. God sees all things completed. 1000 years is like a day. It only seems long to us. He measures the universe with the span of his hands, and yet this world seems big to us, but for God it is but a dot on a finger.
As I read this story, again and again, this truth rings out, God Knows, God Remembers.
Abraham thought he missed his chance, but God took him outside the tent and said, “look at the stars, so shall your descendants be”.
Rachel was loved by Jacob, but she couldn’t have children, and wondered where was God
Hannah too couldn’t have a child, and sought the Lord, year after year.
Zechariah and Elizabeth, served the Lord, but their prayers for children seemed unanswered.
But God remembered Rachel in Genesis 30:22
He remembered Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:19.
In Luke 1:13, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and said, your prayer has been heard
Joseph was sold into slavery, falsely into prison, but God remembered Joseph
Israel was 400 years in Egypt, but in Exodus 2:24, God heard and God Remembered his covenant. Then he told Moses in Exodus 3:7-8, I have seen… heard… I know… and have come down to rescue
Psalm 136:23 says, he remembered us in our humiliation, his faithful love endures forever
Taken to Babylon in captivity, Israel had hung their harps in the trees,
Daniel was praying and fasting in captivity in Babylon, then after 70 years
Daniel 10:10–12 (CSB)
10Suddenly, a hand touched me and set me shaking on my hands and knees. 11He said to me, “Daniel, you are a man treasured by God. Understand the words that I’m saying to you. Stand on your feet, for I have now been sent to you.” After he said this to me, I stood trembling. 12“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers.
God remembered his promises and brought them home.
Oh what might have happened, But For God
But for the memory of God
But for the Knowledge of God
But for the Power of God
Remember in Genesis 6:18 he told Noah, I will establish my covenant with you. God had made a promise to SAVE Noah and his family. God never speaks hastily or frivolously, always clearly and truthfully.
The idea in Scripture of God “remembering” doesn’t mean he forgot, but that he paused in his working toward, but now he is working again directly on the promise, because…
B. God Works
Notice the working of God
God caused a wind to pass over the earth.
Oh God was at work all along.
In John 5:17 Jesus says, my Father is still working, and I am working also
God was working in the rain, working saving Noah in the Ark. God was always working, but now the storm has stopped, but that was nearly four months ago.
Then the WIND. Oh my, like the rushing of a mighty wind
Wind, or Breath. The presence of wind always brings the image of the Spirit of God. Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God was hovering over the earth as creation began. Now, I’m certain this is REAL Wind here, not a symbol. It’s like the wind that God caused to blow all night like parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Children of Israel to cross on Dry Land. And the same wind STOPPED, allowing the waters to cover their pursuing enemies.
The Holy Spirit came blowing into the Upper Room at Pentecost.
Yet even in every natural action, the Hand of God was at work. Colossians 1:15-17 says, he created all things… and he holds all things together. He is in the Gentle Zephyr and the Turbulent Tornado, or the Harrowing Hurricane.
The wind blew in the working of God and The Waters began to Recede
Then v2 says the sources of the water depths and the sky closed.
The same sources that God opened to allow the Flood, God closed to allow it to recede.
God is Working
Creation Scientists tell us they believe that before the floods there was a dense vapor in the atmosphere creating a perfect global climate. But when God opened the floodgates, everything changed.
The depths were opened, God was working. There would have been violent waters and waves. Magma would have rumbled in subaqueous eruptions, mountains created under the floodwaters. Imagine the violence in the working of God, and the ark at God’s mercy riding through it.
God knows, God Works, and
C. God Finishes
The Ark came to rest…
The storm, the surge, then God rested the ark. We already know that when God finished creation, he rested.
Remember the Ark is a type, a picture, of Christ. So, in the 7th month, on the 17th day, day, the Ark Rested. Why would God want us to know the exact day?
Well, the Civil Calendar 7th month, is the same as the Religious Calendar 2nd month for Israel. So, Henry Morris points out that this 17th Day is the same day that Jesus Rose from the Grave. The Ark Rested. Jesus Rose, salvation’s work complete. Let that sink in.
Then I read something else. The Ark came to rest on the Ararat range of Mountains. Now, there were mbountains on earth before the flood. But Ararat, if you visited there, you would find it is made of “pillow lava”. That means that this was lava formed in deep waters. Ararat also has sediment with Ocean Fossils. Do you see that? While the storm raged and the floodwaters surged, God was creating the place on which the ark would come to rest.
As the waters receded, the mountains rose and the Ark came to rest.
Whatever you face today, whatever the storm, God Knows, God Works, and God Finishes.
So, in the Truth, there are…
2. Conclusions to Make
God knows, God works, God finishes, what’s the Common Denominator?
It’s God, First, Last, Always
Oh, some of the greatest words in scripture are the first words in John 3:16,
He is BEFORE all things, he will be AFTER all things, and he is IN all things. He is Eternal, Self-Existent, Constant, the same yesterday, today, and forever. All things were made BY Him and FOR Him
God is the who, the what, the why, and the when. He is the Answer, the Reality to explain everything.
It’s God, and
B. God Knows
I know we’ve already said it, but I’m saying it again. God knew before, what was coming. He is never caught off guard. God never makes a surprised face. He never says, “I didn’t see that coming”.
God knows in the middle what is happening and how it will end, and then…
C. God Remembers
His silence doesn’t mean he has forgotten or changed his mind. The promises he made are as good as the day he gave them.
Jesus was on the cross dying for the sins of the world, yet he had time for the prayer of one single sinner by his side. There was a thief at his side, worthy of his own sentence. He had mocked Jesus earlier, but then, he looked at Jesus with eyes of faith in Luke 23:42 and said, Jesus, Remember Me when you come into your Kingdom. And Jesus replied, Today, you will be WITH ME in Paradise.
Why? Because he remembers and
D. God Responds
Jesus had said in John 3 that he didn’t came to condemn but to save.
He said he came to seek and save those who are lost. (Luke 19:10).
If we confess our sin he is faithful and just to forgive. (1John1:9)
God Remembered Noah, God Works, God Finishes
Yes, God Remembered NOAH… because
E. God Knows My Name
God Remembered Noah. God Remembered Abraham, Rachel, Joseph, Israel, Hannah, Daniel, Zechariah, The Thief on the Cross, and so I know the Lord Remembers Jim Goforth, The Lord Remembers YOU.
“the Lord Remembers ME”
He Knows My Name
He knows My Every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And hears me when I call (author: Tommy Walker)
Psalm 91:1, 4-6, 14-15 (CSB)
1The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
4He will cover you with his feathers; you will take refuge under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 5You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon.
(And God says)
14Because he has his heart set on me, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. 15When he calls out to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will rescue him and give him honor.
Yes, he knows my name, and I know his name, so one other conclusion
F. God Has A Timetable
All those timetables, dates. Did you notice those details?
1) These are REAL Historical Events.
2) These were appointments on God’s Calendar. We have an ordered God. He may be eternal and outside of time, but God made time. He made the sun and caused the earth to spin, to orbit the sun. He made the evening and the morning. He created time and seasons. And so, God is always right on schedule, right on time.
Because of these truths and these conclusions, we have…
3. Confidence To Trust
A. God Is On The Throne
The flood itself said to those who were opposed to God that though, Every inclination of their heart was evil all the time, still God will not be mocked
Psalm 93:2–4 (CSB)
2Your throne has been established from the beginning; you are from eternity. 3The floods have lifted up, Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. 4Greater than the roar of a huge torrent— the mighty breakers of the sea— the Lord on high is majestic.
He is on the throne, and we’ve said he has a timetable, but it isn’t just a plan, but
B. God has Perfect Timing
It may not be MY time, or YOUR time, but it’s the RIGHT Time.
Romans 5:6 (CSB)
6For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes 8:6 (CSB)
6For every activity there is a right time and procedure, even though a person’s troubles are heavy on him.
Then it asks in v7-8 no one knows what will happen… no one has authority over the wind… no authority over the day of death
Well, No One But GOD, He has Authority of the Throne and the Knowledge of Perfect Timing.
If God is silent, he will speak at the right time. If God is doing something else, he has perfect timing.
The confidence is that
C. God has Not Forgotten
Psalm 25:7 (CSB)
7… in keeping with your faithful love, remember me because of your goodness, Lord.
Psalm 56 says that God knows, he takes note, he gathers our tears in a bottle, and written a book about me, about you. Oh, in God’s office, he has a little shelf for “nik-naks” and he has a bottle with your tears in it. He has a library and there is a book with your life concerns written down. He has not forgotten
So know this, in his silence, inactivity…
D. God is Not Lazy, He is BUSY Working On The Finish
He is Patient, he is right on time, making preparation for the finish.
Did you notice, the mountains of Ararat, where the Ark came to Rest, was created in the Flood. The surging storm, storm, formed the place of Rest for the ark.
Could it be that the storm that is surging around you right now, may be forming the place where the finish of God will come to rest? God knows what he is doing. God is Busy working on your behalf.
What you thought was Evil, God means for good.
So… While you Wait
E. Trust and Obey; Pray and Praise
Call out For Salvation
That thief on the cross, in the midst of the final and worst day of his life, He Called Out – “Remember Me” – You are my only hope for the “day after Tomorrow doesn’t Come”
Cry Out to Our Only Savior
Jeremiah 15:15 (CSB)
15You know, Lord; remember me and take note of me. Avenge me against my persecutors. In your patience, don’t take me away. Know that I suffer disgrace for your honor.
Pray For Strength To Serve One More Time
Samson had great highs, and an embarrassing Low. But then as he turned back to the Lord,
Judges 16:28 (CSB)
28He called out to the Lord, “Lord God, please remember me. Strengthen me, God, just once more…”
And his last act was greater in the War Against Evil than all he had done before
Trust God’s Timing
Job 14:13 he says …if only you would appoint a time for me and then remember me
Well, I know this, God does have an appointed time, and he will remember you, if you will call out to him
So, you can trust God, trust his timing, trust his working, trust his finish
Psalm 106:1–2,4 (CSB)
1Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever. 2Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts or proclaim all the praise due him?
4Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people. Come to me with your salvation
I’m preaching through the first 12 chapters of Genesis right now. Today I’m doing some prep work for chapter 8.
So, let me allow you to peek in on my thought process preparing for preaching on chapter 8. This series is different than breaking down every verse, it is a single message of importance from each chapter. Well, as I turn the page I can’t get past verse 1, “God Remembered Noah”. Oh Somebody, I might just shout right here. I don’t know if you ever feel like God has forgotten, or worse yet doesn’t care. Oh it was 120 years from the call to the rain. Then 40 days of rain, and months of waiting for the water to recede. Remember they were floating in a casket shaped water vessel. They couldn’t steer it or control, they were in the hands of God, literally and figuratively.
So, this isn’t the sermon yet, just some observations I would share with you.
God Knows – God Remembered Noah
God Works – God Caused a Wind to pass – the same God that opened all the necessary sources of water in chapter 7 to bring the flood, now closes all those sources in chapter 8. God is working
God Finishes – The Ark Came To Rest – while we rest IN Christ, dead to self, alive to Christ, we can know that the Ark will come to rest where God intends.
So then there are some important Conclusions
God – it is God, First and God Last. Alpha / Omega, Beginning and End. He starts and he finishes
God Knows – Always – Before, During, and After – God knows
God Remembers – even when he is silent, he doesn’t forget
God Knows My Name – God Remembered NOAH. And I am reminded right now that God remembers Jim Goforth
God Has a Timetable – As you read this story beginning in chapters 5 and 6, notice all the timetables. Why? a) these are TRUE accounts of Historic Events b) These are appointments on God’s Book
So, finally let me give you some Confidence Today
God is on the throne
God has perfect timing
God has not forgotten
God is not lazy, he is busy, he is patient for the right time
What do we do while we wait? There are plenty of passages you can read today.
Luke 23:42 – the thief on the cross said, “remember me Lord” and Jesus said “today you will be with me”
Judges 16:28 – Samson has failed the Lord but he asked “Lord remember me. Strengthen me just once more”
Jeremiah 15:15 – “You know Lord, remember me, take note… that I suffer… for your honor” – Oh Child, God knows, and takes note, and he has your tears in a bottle and a book about you written himself. (Psalm 56:8)
Job 14:13 – “if only you would appoint a time for me and remember me” don’t worry he has and he does
Finally go to the 106th Psalm and read verse 4, then back up and use the Psalm to Praise the Lord. ” remember me… come to me with salvation” so while you wait “Hallelujah! Give Thanks for he is good and his love endures forever”. The writer says “remember me so that…” a) I can enjoy being chosen b) I can rejoice c) I can boast about my heritage.
Well I could go on and on, but just know this today, whether in the height of success, the depths of failure, the dirge of death and suffering, God has NOT Forgotten you. Look up, Trust Him, Take his hand, he is leading to the House of the Lord. Surely, Goodness and mercy are following you. They may not always be with you right there, but they are following you, pursuing you, that is the truth you can trust!
Every year after I attend the SBC Annual Meeting I bring a message reporting what we are doing in the Southern Baptist Convention, based on the inspiration of the messages I heard, and the reports about our primary ministries.
Here is my message, it’s sort of long, but maybe NOT as controversial as you might think.
Convention Inspiration 2021
Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 7:9
From Commission to Culmination
IN December of 1975, two weeks before my 11th, birthday God called me to preach. I heard it in my heart as clear as can be. But I waited. I didn’t tell anyone, not because I didn’t want to respond, not because I wasn’t sure, but because my dad was called to preach when he was 11 and I had heard that all my life, and when I heard that voice, I waited because I wanted to be 11. So, I waited two weeks and I felt guilty for two weeks because I wanted to be 11.,,
That call has shaped my life. It has taken me to 4 continents, it has taken me to concerts, and preaching engagements, revivals, church staff positions. But it has also had me share my faith one on one with people on planes, and over lunch, and on street corners, in coffee shops. That call was to preach the Gospel. But that is NOT the first call for the Christian. The first call of a Christian is to share their faith, meet Jesus, share Jesus. It will be different for different people, but it is still an expectation.
What then is the Commission of the Church and When is the Culmination of that Mission
Mission should be measurable and attainable, so what is our mission and how do we know how we are doing and when we are finished?
The Southern Baptist Convention is 175 Years old. We didn’t start for ALL the right reasons. We split from Northern Baptists primarily over slavery. We have confessed that sin as a convention. But our focus has always been on people meeting Jesus.
What was Our Commission? – Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8
Read Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8
Why Does Jesus have the Right to Commission Us? 28:18
Because he has the Authority. All the Authority has been given to him.
Why? Because Philippians 2 tells us he emptied himself of glory, took up the nature of a servant, was obedient to death on the cross. So that passage says
Philippians 2:9–10 (CSB)
9For this reason God highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow— in heaven and on earth and under the earth—
Ephesians 1:20–22 (CSB)
20He exercised this power in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens—21far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he subjected everything under his feet and appointed him as head over everything for the church,
The Father has given EVERYTHING to the Son. The Spirit is pointing everyone TO the Son. It is ALL his … and he says;
– We are commissioned because he is the Boss. Because it is HIS Kingdom, not OUR Kingdom. It is his plan not our plan.
Because HE HAS ALL AUTHORITY. And Dr. Tony Evans preached from this passage and several speakers referred to it. Why because it is where we start. It is why we are here. It is why he left us on earth. He hasn’t left us here because he needs 2000 years to get Heaven Ready. He can SPEAK IT READY. But he left us here because he has a commission for us. Tony Evans reminded us that he has Authorityekousia = power in legitimate hands – authorized authority.
So, the authority IS his, legitimized by Father’s Will, and Spirit’s Power, but by HIS Obedience and Faithfulness to the Cross.
Evans called that process a transformation of worldviews
Certainly, before we can disciple people from being lovers of self into being lovers of God, we have to lead them to Christ through Evangelism. But discipling is copying the Master. But not just discipling THE ONES WE LIKE or the ones like us…
OF the Nations – ethnos
That’s the Kingdom work that Evans has been focusing on all of his books recently, Kingdom People, transformation of the people, the structures, the systems. Yes, we want to see worlds change, but that happens as we change people, and people engage with structures and systems and we change systems – discipling the nations
And right here we need to be careful. Because the question I asked myself in my notes was, “how can we do this without being trapped by Politics?” and I believe the answer is in WHOM we seek to glorify and WHY. It’s not about the Church being Political. It’s about the People of God sharing Jesus, Engaging in Society, Transforming Systems, with the Good News that though we are sinners, there is transformation and LIFE in Jesus Christ.
Our hope is NOT in ANY Political System – One speaker this week reminded us that Christ is “not riding any donkeys or elephants.”
And our Outgoing President J.D. Greer, Pastor of The Summit Church Durham, happens to be sending Pastor to our Children now on the Mission Field, he said, when the Church gets into bed with Politics it always gets pregnant and the offspring never looks like our Heavenly Father”
But we are to Go and Disciple the Nations
How? By going to where they are!
Dr. Evans had been using a football game as a metaphor and said there three teams in every conflict, home, away, and the kingdom representative, the referees. But he said, that the offense gets into the Huddle … but no one came to watch the Huddle. You don’t MIND the Huddle, but you came to watch them break the Huddle and play the game. The question is DID THEY SCORE? Or Did they Stop them? So, we have to GO. And honestly if you go to the book of Acts, they had been commissioned, and they had been given clear instructions. And the instructions weren’t to build a Huge Jerusalem Church. It was to GO, empowered, to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the Church.
And so, what happened?
Before Saul became Paul. Before he became the great Preacher of the Gospel, I think you could say he became the greatest SENDER of the Gospel. Because there he is at the stoning of the deacon Stephen. And in the CHAOS of Persecution, the Church is forced to DO what they were called to.
Go – Baptist, Teach to Observe
Baptizing them, who, the Nations
Baptism is how we identify with Christ and with the Church
And Tony Evans said that our Identity as a Christian is MORE than any other identifier we have. He said God went to SAVE the NATIONS and commissioned us to do that. He says God is NOT Colorblind. Still in Heaven they were every race, tribe, color, and tongue – God is NOT Color Blind, but he is also not Blinded by Color.
Baptizing the Nations in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit
Teaching Them (the nations) to OBSERVE
It is NOT in the Knowing but in the Doing that we truly identify AS Christians. Doing doesn’t MAKE us Christians, but it DOES Identify us as Christians.
It’s about Transformation. Our job is to evangelize but to share the accountability to BE Like Christ. And if WE will Observe all that he is Commanded … THEN as Kingdom People, we can see Kingdom Impact in the World.
Tony Evans said, we can’t expect God to “Skip the church house, to fix the White House”
And then as Evans closed, he reminded us that the I am with you always – literally I even I am with you always to the end of the age … he was NOT talking about salvation, he was talking about how he is WITH us, accompanies us. And that God only Accompanies us, is with us as we are with HIM. As we are doing what we’ve been told to do, THEN he is WITH Us.
As we are Kingdom people, living with Kingdom Authority, For Kingdom Glory … THEN he is with us. In John 2:21-25 Jesus preached and many believe in his name … Jesus, however would not entrust himself to them,
There is and can be a time, when we believe, have faith, but we are on our own Agenda and he is not WITH us.
2. Why Is Our Commission? – Acts 1:3-8
If Jesus only has 40 days on earth what is going to focus on? What is mostimportant. He taught them about the Kingdom of God
The kingdom of God NOW is in our hearts surrendered to God. The Kingdom of God to COME is the Eternal Rule of God over all things – Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength, in a Unified Universe of Surrendered Creation and Creature. And he had spent 40 days teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
And the commands them NOT TO LEAVE Jerusalem but to WAIT for the Father’s promise … What was the promise? John 14 don’t let your hearts be troubled… believe in me… I am going to prepare a place for you… I will come again and take you to myself… but then he says in v16, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor… I will not leave you as orphans… the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send me my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you. Peace I leave with you… don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful and in John 15:25 he continues, he will testify about me. You also will testify… chapter 16 I came from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father… 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.
So, he has told them he is leaving. Now the time is here. He is leaving. He has also promised them that he will return. But In the Meantime, we have a Person, we have Power, and we have a Purpose. Oh wow that sounds like a sermon doesn’t it.
The Person we have is the representative of Jesus Christ, the Person, 3rd Person of the Trinity, The Holy Spirit. He is NOT the Father, He is NOT the Son, He is the Spirit, and He is GOD! His purpose is to teach us, to convict us, he will encourage us, and he will empower us.
The Power – Jesus says he is leaving. We are going to be wondering what to do. But peace comes in realizing that when Jesus left, he was sending all the power we need. There is power in knowledge. There is power in a message, there is power in purpose.
I have been running 3-4 times a week since I started focusing on running, back in August. It’s been a different thing for me. It has stretched my endurance, my perseverance. There is a trainer that I have been using via video, Tommy Rivers Puzey. And he will be ramping things up and he often says, “come on, you can do anything for a minute”. And so, we would press on and push forward at this new rate, for a minute. We can make it for a minute. And by breaking it down, my endurance increases. What the training is doing is increasing my power, but also increasing my mental, and even spiritual power to continue.
So, Peter said, to the Lord, a day is “like 1000 years.” So, a day is 24 hours right. So, if 1000 years is a day, then 41 years is an hour. So, I’m going to live to 100 at least. That would simply be living 2 ½ HOURS. And if 41 years is an hour then 8 months is a minute, and 4 days is a second. Tommy Rivs says, “you can do anything for a minute”
And Jesus said, “for a little while you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.” If your whole life is TROUBLE – it’s just a couple of hours. But in those HOURS – we can make it because we have the Power of the Holy Spirit.
But IN THOSE HOURS … let’s focus on the RIGHT THINGS
The Purpose – I’m giving you the Holy Spirit to work on the KINGDOM. Now there in Acts 1 the disciples are trying to get the verbiage right. And He has just again promised them that they would be BAPTIZED with the Holy Spirit with Power for the Purpose, IN A FEW DAYS … and the disciples ask, Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?
Oh my they got the word right, but not the concept. We ARE Kingdom People in Christ Jesus, but it’s NOT that kind of Kingdom. Some of us step into the voting booth trying to bring the Kingdom and that’s NOT the place. OH YES. THAT Kingdom is Coming. And that Promise will be fulfilled, but Jesus isn’t asking for our help with THAT Kingdom, but he DOES want to USE us in the Advancement of the Kingdom of God here on earth IN the Heart of All who Would Believe.
And Jesus gently answers their question by saying, it’s not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority …
… BUT you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
So, if that’s our Commission, WHEN will we know we are finished?
3. When Is the Culmination? – Revelation 7:9
Until we get to Heaven and see Revelation 5:9 and 7:9 become a reality, we have work to do.
What does that look like?
Revelation 7:9 (CSB)
9After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands.
This is the vision that Great Commission Baptists are Committed to. Yes, we are still the Southern Baptist Convention. We are not all “southern”, but we are all Great Commission Baptists. We adopted this moniker 10 years ago as a way to refer to us. That is our Mission, that is our Focus, to fulfill the great commission. And we put our money where our mission is.
SBC Budget 2021/22 – $190,000,000.
We can do that because we are 48,000 churches cooperating together for the Great Commission. Some might expect that to be a bloating of facilitation and administration, but that’s the beautify of the SBC.
Of the $190Million only 2.99% is spent on Facilitating Ministries, that is the Executive Committee which operates for the SBC between Annual Meetings, and the overall Operations of the SBC.
1.65% is spent on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission which works with Culture and Engagement of Issues. It assists churches in moral and ethical issues, engagement and education. They work with faith-based adoption issues, human rights issues, and religious liberty engagement.
22% is spent on our 6 Seminaries, training the next generation of Pastors and Staff.
Then 73% of our Budget is Spent on World MissionsMinistries!
That includes $43,000,000 on the North American Mission Board. The North American Mission Board is focused in the USA and Canada in Compassion Ministry, Evangelism, Church Planting, and Chaplains (Hospitals and Military)
The IMB and NAMB work together on www.sendrelief.org When there is a tragedy worldwide, if you want to give to a specific need, go to send relief. You can give directly to them and know that in addition to meeting needs they will share the gospel. You can also know that they will work WITH Salvation Army and many others on the field to make the most of the opportunity, not compete.
The NAMB is focused heavily on Church Planting and Replanting of existing churches struggling and ready to reengage. Church planting is the strategy to spread the gospel, respond to brokenness, and bring spiritual, emotional, economic and social healing.
Look at this.
Notice the church plants in 2010.
Now SINCE 2011, look at this.
In 2020 we have truly LIT up the Continent with the gospel. 7,300 churches planted in 10 years. 80% are still thriving after 4 years. 18% of the baptisms in our 48,000 churches come from church plants. And notice a little but exciting thing. Down there on the bottom right in Puerto Rico. 16 New Church Plants. No new churches had been planted there in 25 years previously. That’s Great Commission Baptists at Work. http://www.namb.net
Then our Biggest Focus on Revelation 7:9 is the International Mission Board. And we allocate $95.6 Million or 50% of our budget to the IMB, and that does NOT include the $159Million given to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, in spite of COVID, that was the 2nd largest Offering every. And with that investment, there are more than 3,500 missionaries and their 2500 children on the field right now. The world becomes more hostile to the Gospel daily and so they have to be creative and create jobs that allow them to work and connect overseas. Companies like www.kingdomgrowers.com in Forney Texas. I’m not a coffee drinker, but you can order online. Check it out. And you can buy plants that go overseas to farmers in need. The IMB is a Partner for the Gospel with Kingdom Growers so you get great Coffee and people learn about Jesus. I could go on and on. But what happens with that money and those missionaries. And with the thousands of short-term missionaries that partner?
Well, last year in spite of covid 422 new missionaries went to their fields. 18,000 local pastors received training. 127,000 received leadership and theological training. In Healthy Church Formation 35,000 groups are meeting intending to BECOME a church. 15,000 groups were just started with the intention of becoming a church. 18,380 New Churches were formed 57,888 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Generation churches are meeting with only 670 churches that have stopped meeting. Then the Big Winning Numbers. 769,494 people heard a Gospel Witness by our 3552 missionaries and partners. OF those 576,395 had an opportunity to respond to Christ. 144,322 became New Believers. One of those new believers was a young man who met our son and the went through the Gospel of John and He said, “I can’t believe what they did to Jesus”. He is a brother now. Then of those new believers 86,587 baptisms. You realize that is equal to nearly Two Mission Baptism for EACH of our Churches.
That brings us to ONE other Focus. $200,000 has been allocated for a new effort from our Executive Committee President Ronnie Floyd.
We are Great Commission Baptist. The Great Commission Compels us to Go. Why? Because Matthew 25:46 says that without Christ, they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. What’s common, ETERNAL. What’s different is the address. If we want to take the Gospel to the Nations, leading to faith, baptizing for declaration, teaching to live according to the truth of the Kingdom, We have work to do.
So, we have been presented with Vision 2025 with 5 Initiatives. It was amended to include a 6th initiative.
Increase the total number of Missionaries by 500. That will account for 100 lost annually.
Add 5,000 new Church Plants taking us over 50,000 churches.
Calling Out the Call – each church taking their role in calling on students, adults even retirees or career change new Pastors and Staff Ministers.
Turn Around Current Reduction in Baptisms by focusing on children and students between the ages of 5 and 17. The numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 10 years
Increase % giving, and Numbers given to the CP to 500,000,000
Then from the Floor came a recommendation for an addition to this task, of these important things:
Prayerfully Endeavor to eliminate all incidents of sexual abuse, and racial discrimination, in our churches – those two atrocities’ damage people and damage the work of the church. We will seek to END their incidence, and end churches being silent when it happens. We must protect the next church after you put that pastor out. We have a responsibility to protect one another. And there is no place for hatred of any kind in the Church of Jesus Christ.
I read Francis Bacon – he said that what gives rise to Atheism is primarily 3 things, 1) divisions in religions. When we fight, the world doesn’t believe. 2) Scandal among the preachers of the gospel. 3) Profane Scoffing in Holy matters, which he says defaces the reverence for God. He then added a 4) learned times especially in peace and prosperity. When times are GOOD, and we are “smart”, we forget God.
We can combat Atheism, not by ARGUING truth, but by Living the Gospel we Speak of
David Jeremiah says “Preach the Gospel with Word, Picture the Gospel with Life, Practice the Gospel with Love.”
The Prayer is to engage the 331million Americans, and 7.9 Billion worldwide, with the Gospel.
But until we stand around the throne, we have work to do.
What does that mean for us? There is a Message for Everyone. Oh, you might say, “well, there are mostly white people around us.” If that’s TRUE. I would still say the word “mostly”. Reach the rest. But Revelation says, “every tribe and people”. Are there people you don’t reach out to because they are of a different “tribe” or a different “people”? “Oh they aren’t LIKE US”. Praise God … go get them! Different Tribe. Is there a place for Republicans here? How about Democrats? How about Independents? What about other Tribes? You name the divider do they need Jesus? Will we allow Jesus to be the only definer? Will we allow his WORD to be our only Teacher? We still have work to do.
And so, the Call for you and for me is to Go
Go To friends
…To hard places
…To near places
…To far places
Give to facilitate the work of others
Pray for the advancement of the gospel
Cooperate with others on the same mission
You may not be called to be a preacher, or a missionary
But you have a Commission to Share your faith, from home, across the street, into the hard places to the ends of the Earth.
Are you A Great Commission Baptist? I am, We are, There’s room for you.