Sunday, December 05, 2010

Hope In A Future

     Hope In A Future     

Introduction: As we read and think about great Christmas passages of the Bible, one of the things we need to do is to resist the influence of our culture to trivialize Christmas and its powerful meaning for our lives.
  1. One of the true message of Christmas is about hope.
  2. At Bethlehem, for today, and for tomorrow.
  3. Hope is one of the greatest messages of the Christmas story. Incredibly, it is one of the greatest needs of the human heart.
  4. Sometimes in English the word “hope” describes a wish.
  5. But in the Bible hope is a kind of confidence.
Read: Luke 1:39-55 Pray Tran: Edward Mote was born into poverty on January 21, 1797, in London. His parents, innkeepers, wouldn’t allow a Bible in their house, but somehow Edward heard the gospel as a teenager and came to Christ.
He eventually became a skilled carpenter and the owner of his own cabinet shop.
“One morning,” he recalled, “it came into my mind as I went to labor to write a hymn on the ‘Gracious Experience of a Christian.’ As I went up to Holborn I had the chorus: On Christ the solid Rock I stand / All other ground is sinking sand. During the day I had four first verses complete, and wrote them off.”
In 1852, Edward, fifty-five, gave up his carpentry to pastor the Baptist Church in Horsham, Sussex, where he ministered twenty-one years.
He resigned in 1873, in failing health, saying, “I think I am going to heaven; yes, I am nearing port. The truths I have been preaching, I am now living upon and they’ll do very well to die upon.” Today his hymn, “The Solid Rock,” is still popular with Christians around the world: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
T.S. Let’s look together at the lessons about hope that Christmas brings:
  1. Hope is the conviction that God will fulfill his promises (1:45).
    1. When Mary the mother of Jesus meets her cousin Elizabeth, she says: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:4)
    2. That’s the language of hope.
    3. Hope is knowing that what the Lord has said to you will be accomplished even though we have little direct evidence that it will happen.
(Appl.) Have you ever been disappointed about something you really hoped for? Was it a gift at Christmas? A person that you had hoped to spend the rest of your life with?
    1. We need the confident expectation that God can be relied on to fulfill the hopes He has awakened in our hearts through the promises of His Word.
    2. And that leads us to our second point this afternoon:
  1. Hope trusts in God in spite of problems (2:25).
    1. The whole Christmas story takes place against the backdrop of all kinds of serious problems.
    2. Yet its entire message is filled, not only with deep happiness in the midst of great darkness, but also profound hope in the face of perplexing problems.
    3. For example, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him” (Luke 2:25).
      1. Simeon was waiting and believing.
      2. That’s hope.
      3. Simeon’s hope was not based on a denial of the problems of the day but rather on a decision to trust in God despite the problems of the day.
  1. Hope Trusts God to Transcend Understanding and Expectations (Luke 1–2).
    1. Mary, Joseph, Simeon, the shepherds, and all the others in the Christmas story are not given full explanations that describe in detail how God will fulfill His promises.
    2. Mary and Joseph don’t understand the spiritual and biological details of the miracle of the virgin birth.
    3. Simeon doesn’t know precisely how this little baby will be a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of his people Israel.
    4. But Mary, Joseph, and Simeon do not allow the limitations of human understanding to determine the height of their hope in God.
(Ill.) Have you watched a candle? If I were to light it right here, it would not appear very bright – in fact you wonder what good is that candle? But if we were to wait till the sun goes down, we might say that the candle adds “atmosphere” to the room. And if we waited till it was really dark, we might find that the candle actually gives us enough light to read by.
    1. Hope trusts God to fulfill His promises in ways that transcend our understanding and expectations.
  1. Hope waits for God to accomplish His will in His way (2:28–30).
    1. One of the most revealing things about this man, Simeon is the way he describes his own relationship to God: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace” (v. 29).
    2. The word “Lord” is “despota”. It is the word from which we get the English word despot.
      1. It is not the common word for Lord that is found throughout the Bible.
      2. Though a despot is thought of as cruel or mean, that was not its original meaning. It does mean that Simeon has an absolute master who has complete rule over the lives of those under him.
      3. To hope in God for Simeon is not to come to God with his agenda and ask God to bless it and “hope” that He will do it.
      4. It is to come to and ask God for His agenda and ask Him to bless it.
(Appl.) In every life something rules as sovereign. What is it that rules as sovereign in your life as you prepare for Christmas? Where do you place your hope?
  1. Hope does not disappoint (1:45-47).
    1. The exchange between Elizabeth and Mary shows how hope does not lead to disappointment, but sees the fulfillment of God’s promises for our greater good and His greater glory:
    2. Remember the words of Elizabeth“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”
    3. And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (vv. 45–47).
    4. Mary trusted the promises for good reason.
    5. They were all fulfilled in Christ as He was born that first Christmas in a manger with heavenly signs and hosts, with shepherds and wise men bowing at His feet, with kingly gifts, and so much more than Mary could have expected; not to mention His ultimate role as Savior.
Conclusion: As we move through this holiday season, I hope that you will remember that Christmas is about HOPE
  1. Not for what we want
  2. But for what God wants

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Planned For The Future

      Planned For The Future      

Intro.: How long in advanced do you make plans in advance for a major activity?

  1. For example – right after Christmas we will be traveling to the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism – like we have done the last five or six years.

  2. Our planning started almost a year ago – as we left last years congress when they offered a reduced price on registration on the very last day.

  3. And then we had to decide whether to attend – after all we are no longer part of a United Methodist church. Once we decided to go – then we had to make hotel reservations and we had to choose four workshops each.

  4. Now we still need to make our travel plans – three days down, three days back – driving route, plans for overnights, gas, food.

  5. Then, just before we leave, Sandra will take most of the responsibility for packing – for 10 or 11 days. We don't want to forget our medications – or our toiletries. And we need to make arrangements for BoDandy – his vet has great facilities for him, they allow our son to visit, the allow him to be their office dog while he is there. And one of his long time friends from here at Royal Gardens works there. But we have to make those reservations!

  6. We make all those plans for a 10 or 11 day trip –

Read: Isaiah 9:6-7 Pray Trans: God made plans for his Son starting back in eternity –

  1. The first reference to a coming Messiah was in Genesis 3 – right after Adam and Eve's fall

  2. We start speaking of Christ with His birth

  3. But God doesn't – He knew the role that Jesus would play in the life of His people before day one – and then God created all that we have.

T.S. When I think of the Messiah pictured in the Old Testament, two authors come to mind.

  1. Now before I mention those two authors, I want to be careful to remind each of us – myself included – that virtually every OT book has some reference to the coming Messiah. There is no doubt that the OT authors in scripture looked for God to send his servant to show men how they ought to live.

  2. But when I think of those promises, two authors come to mind – he first is not only one of my favorite OT characters, but also he has a special place in the heart of the Jews. Of course I am speaking of David – the King of Israel that brought the nation together. Rather than being a group of twelve families, it was now one country under one King. Not something God wanted, but something that the Jews wanted.

  3. The other was the first of the major prophets – Isaiah. Important to remember that the “major prophets” get their name because they were more important, but because the five major prophets had more of their thoughts and teaching recorded than the twelve minor prophets. There are several of the minor prophets that I enjoy reading and studying – but none of their books are as long as those of the major prophets.

  4. But when I think of the OT presentation of the coming Messiah, I find myself coming back to the Psalms (most of which was written by David) and the book of Isaiah.

T.S. In the next few minutes I want to look at the two book contributed by David and Isaiah – and give a brief glimpse of what told their people about the coming Messiah.

  1. The Messiah will be both God and Man

    1. If there is anything to be gained from Isaiah's description in Isaiah 9:6-7 it is this.

    2. Of course this is a basic truth of our faith – Jesus was totally God and totally man.

    3. But this is not the only lesson that we might get from Isaiah – Listen to the some what we learn from Isaiah:

      1. Isaiah 7 reminds us that Jesus will be born of a virgin

      2. Isaiah 40 foretells the role that John the Baptist will have in introducing Jesus' ministry to his world.

      3. Isaiah 50 will foretell some of the persecution Jesus will experience during his life.

(Appl.) At times it may seem like discussions such as these are purely academic – not of much interest to the average believer. But it was during one of the darkest times of my life passages like the ones mentioned here kept me hanging onto my faith. I could not ignore the fact that in passages written 750 years before Christ proclaimed a great deal about his life. Passages over which he could have no control, still gave details about events would take place nearly 800 years after they were written.

    1. I don't know how Isaiah could have known these things – He was not there to know Jesus. But my understanding of inspiration is that God so prepared the hearts, minds, and souls of the scriptures that what they wrote was what God intended. Did Isaiah understand it all – I do not know. Brian Edwards put it this way, “The inspiration of Scripture is a harmony of the active mind of the writer and the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit to produce God’s inerrant and infallible Word to mankind.”

  1. David also knew a great deal about God coming Messiah

    1. I am glad I am not God.

    2. You see, if I used a normal human standard for determining who I would use to communicate a picture of the Messiah, I would not use David. Why?

      1. Here was a man who was so afraid and had so little trust in God, he had to hid in caves for a great deal of his life. He knew That Saul was out to get him – and though his best friend was the kings son, he knew that would not save him. I probably could forgive him for this – I would hide too, but when combined with his other sins, no way would I choose him to tell my world about my Messiah.

      2. He was a murderer – oh, he would not admit it at first, but when one of God's prophets confronted him, he knew it was true. Uriah had not chance given the assignment that David gave him – he would surely die.

      3. And to top it off, David was an adulterer.

    3. We set our standards so high – really no one could really serve God, by our standards.

    4. It isn't that God's standards are less than ours – no not less than our, but they are different.

    5. You see, to paraphrase Lee Venden, God accepts you just the way you are, but he loves you way too much to leave you the way you are.ii

    6. David found this out – even as Elisha confronted him about his sin, he confessed his sin. The same book that points us toward the Messiah contains David's personal confession of sin. Listen to David's confession – Psalm 51:1-12

      1. It takes a man of real faith to get to that point. Recognizing our sin is tough. Oh, we know it is there, but to confess it and acknowledge it before God is hard – but it is what God asks of us.

      2. And when we do, God can give us great responsibility. He gave David the privilege of telling the world about the coming Messiah.

Conclusion: God's plan had its roots in eternity Pray

iWater, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (921). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

iiWater, Mark. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd, 2000.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Road To Joy

Road to Joy

Intro.: Nisswa, Minnesota, is known for its turtle races. Every Wednesday afternoon in the summer, the people of Nisswa and the surrounding communities gather at a designated parking lot for the races.

Vendors rent turtles; others sell “turtle products.” And the fans gather early, placing their chairs and blankets in the best viewing sites. In a recent contest, 435 turtles raced in fifteen heats over a six-foot course.

The announcer calls the turtle holders to the mark and gives them the “Go!”—and the crowd goes wild as the handlers release the turtles and scream at them, jump up and down, wave furiously, and throw water, trying to urge the racers to the finish line. The winners of those heats then race their turtles in the championship race.

The winning handler receives $5—along with a turtle necklace. It’s an uncharacteristic frenzy of emotion for the normally reserved folks of northern Minnesota. And to think that some people get upset when Christians are too expressive in church on a Sunday morning.

Per Nilsen, Burnsville, MNi

Read: Philippians 2:14-16



  1. Paul's Expectations

    1. Easy to state – do all things without grumbling or arguing.

    2. At first glance, it sounds as if Paul is asking two things of us

    3. But it seems to me that these two requests are really two sides of the same coin -

      1. grumbling is a very personal activity. It allows me to sit at home and complain – not to anybody in particular, but to myself.

        1. It is individual,

        2. I can grumble in my home, in my car, or while doing my odd jobs.

        3. And grumbling is best done when I am by myself – with no one around to talk me out of it.

      2. arguing is quite the opposite.

        1. It normally takes two to argue – making it a much more public activity

        2. If I find myself arguing with myself, it means I have not made up my mind. But if I am arguing with another person, I have most likely made up my mind!

    4. Paul is not concerned about where we find our discomfort – he is concerned about our attitude. He is concerned how we face the difficulties, the discomforts, the unfair situations that will surely come our way.

    5. Paul makes this clear with how he begins the paragraph – “Do all things ...” or, in some translations, “In everything ...”. It makes sense to me that does not leave many options for me. I cannot say, okay, “I won't grumble about anything except my wife.” Or, boy, am I glad, that Paul allows me to grumble about the price of food this week. Paul does not give us an out .. “Do all things without grumbling or arguing.”

(Ill.) Benjamin Franklin once said, “The sentence which has most influenced my life is, ‘Some persons grumble because God placed thorns among roses. Why not thank God because He placed roses among thorns?’ I first read it when but a mere lad. Since that day it has occupied a front room in my life and has given it an optimistic trend.”ii

    1. May we, like Franklin did and like Paul admonishes us to do, see the roses among the thorns, rather than the thorns among the roses.

  1. without blemish

    1. To Paul, when believers start to grumble or start to argue it becomes a blemish – not just to the church, but on them individually.

(Ill.) This week, as we said earlier, Sandra had her catheterization. The procedure started in her arm, but almost all of the work was done in her heart. But when it was all through she was left with two marks on her arms – blemishes. She says they have embarrassed her a bit and she has worn long sleeve sweaters or blouses to cover it up.

    1. Just as those bruises on her arm are blemishes, so our grumbling and arguing become blemishes in our lives.

    2. Some thoughts -

      1. Blemishes are embarrassing. We would rather not have them, we want to cover them up.

      2. We take care to not get them – we keep our faces washed, we are careful about where we walk,

      3. When we get them, and other see them, we feel like we have to explain them.

    3. Our spiritual lives can also be bruised – and Paul is telling us to use the same care with our spiritual lives as we do with our physical lives

    4. Paul describes what a spiritual life that is blemish free will look like – it will be blameless and innocent. This is the second time Paul has used almost this this phrase – in Chapter 1 of Philippians he prayed that the Philippians' love would grow. Why? So that their love would be “blameless and pure” in the day of Christ's return.

(Ill.) Let me ask you a question – how long has it been since you have stood outdoors and looked up at the sky.

  1. I feel so small when I do

  2. I want to see every star – but know that I cannot.

  3. But I also realize something else, there is far more black space than there are stars.

  4. That is what Paul says we are to be - “lights in the world”, or like “stars in the universe”.

    1. We live in a crooked and twisted generation – and we in the midst of that world, we are to like “stars in the universe.”

    2. Should not be surprised that so few attend church – whether it be here or your local church. The blackness of the universe is far greater than stars – and, except that they shine, they would be lost in the darkness.

    3. My prayer for you, I hope your prayer for yourself is that you become a star in your universe. Not a TV star, but a star that shines with the grace of God in your own life.

  1. so we can all rejoice

(Ill.) If we go south just bit from our house there is a county park – Black Creek Park it is called. At the far end of the entrance road is a shelter for picnics. If the shelter has not been reserved by some group, we like to use it for our family picnics – either put together a quick meal, or pack hamburgers or hot dogs to grill, or buy a pizza. We have done all three. Just past the shelter is a large pond or a small lake – not sure which. It is a good walk to go around it – but one that all three of us enjoy taking. We are not the only ones that like that walk around the pond. Other take it as well with their dogs. Some of those dogs (let me make it clear I am not talking about BoDandy here), take a detour and jump into the pond. And when we do, all our attention is on the dog. But you know what, something else is happening. While that dog is enjoying a brief swim, the water around him or her is all messed up – there are splashes, sprays, and the water is agitated in ways that are not normally seen. But it does not stop there – because as the dog frolics in the water, ripples go out and out and out. In fact those ripples cover a far larger area of the pond than the dog will ever see.

    1. The same is true of our Christian life – if we follow the advice Paul has given.

    2. Paul illustrates this from the worship experience of his readers. They are use to going to the temple and offering an offering – a dove, a fatted calf, etc. But then the priest would offer a liquid offering on top of the offering offered to on the altar. We are the sacrifice – when we are obedient. But Paul becomes the “drink offering” that is added to the worship experience.

    3. And at that point – both the reader of Paul's letter and Paul can rejoice.

    4. It becomes a ripple effect – our lives, our obedience, impacts the lives of those around us.

    5. … and the end result is joy.



iLarson, C. B., & Ten Elshof, P. (2008). 1001 illustrations that connect. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Philippi – Worship the Lord

Philippi – Worship the Lord

Intro.: When I think of a model, several things come to mind.
  1. There is the super model that see on the cover of magazines everyday or on TV commercials everynight. Their job is to demonstrate other products – but they are not models themselves.

  2. I also remember the plastic airplanes, cars, and boats, that I built as a kid. They were scaled so they looked as close the real thing as possible. They modeled what already existed.

  3. And then there are those models that show us how things are supposed to be. They are the role models that we had has kids.

  4. Or maybe you heard of the pitcher this week who had been pitching a perfect game – it was the last out. And the batter got his bat on the ball. The first baseman played the ball – the pitcher ran for first base. It was a play that teams practice for hours – the first baseman threw the ball to the pitcher. And the umpire call the runner safe. No more perfect game.

  5. Except – that once the umpire reviewed the tape, it was clear that the player had been out. I had been a perfect game – but like the saying goes, “You can't unblow the whistle.” It was an amazing error on the umpire's part.

  6. But just as amazing was the response of the umpire and the pitcher as they interacted over the next two days. The umpire apologized, the pitcher apologized, and the world witnessed a model of sportsmanship that everyone of us can learn from.

  7. Paul reminds us that Jesus was also a role model for all of us.

Read: Philippians 2:5-11


Trans: Jesus' example calls us to three behaviors that should define our Christina Life.

  1. Paul's hymn can serve as A Call to Humility

    1. Jesus was God – but He did not scream “GOD IS HERE”

    2. He was God, but, for the time He was on earth, He did not care.

(Ill.) The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.i

    1. It is not the incarnation that saves us, but without the incarnation, there could be no salvation.

    2. If Christ can put it all aside, then we can as well. Our accomplishments, our education, our gifts.

    3. In the next chapter, Paul flips the same attitude upon himself, “Philippians 3:8–9 (ESV) Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” We'll look at why later – but it is important to know that Paul followed Jesus' example.

    4. Jesus demonstrated His humility through the incarnation. Paul demonstrated humility through his life. As believers, we too need to be willing to demonstrate humility in the face of world that wants accomplishments

  1. Paul's hymn can serve as A Call to Service

    1. Paul tells us that Jesus was obedient – obedient unto death

    2. But if Jesus was obedient – it means he was obeying someone

    3. And if Jesus obeying someone, he was serving someone.

    4. And this too is the mind that we are to have.

(Ill.) I don't know if any of you remember a young girl by the name of Joni Erickson Tada.? As a teenager, in 1967, she was diving off of some rocks, hit her head, and now spends her life in a wheel chair as a quadriplegic. But over the years, she has served the church in several ways – writing, speaking, being a voice for the disabled …. Her faith has been an example for many – in her book Diamonds In the Dust, she wrote, 'Always, love is a choice. You come up against scores of opportunities every day to love or not to love. You encounter hundreds of small chances to please your friends, delight your Lord, and encourage your family. That’s why love and obedience are intimately linked—you can’t have one without the other.”ii Jesus was obedient – but in being obedient, he was demonstrating His love for us. His death was the perfect love letter to us and to our world.

    1. We too are called to obey, to serve, to love – and when we do, we are being faithful to God's expectations of us.

  1. Paul's hymn can serve as A Call to Worship

    1. About 9 or 10 years ago, Sandra and I made a trip to the middle of Illinois. We went, so did about 20000 other people – mostly college students.

    2. The event is called the Urbana Missionary Convention – and at the time it was held at the University of Illinois campus at Champaign, IL. Because the size of the convention has grown too large for the U of Illinois campus, it is now held in St. Louis, MO. But provides an opportunity to see how God is working throughout the world – the people, the countries, the opportunities. But it also provides opportunities for worship. One of the songs we were introduced to that year was a song by Brian Doerkson called Come, Now is the Time to Worship:

Come, now is the time to worship.

Come, now is the time to give your heart.

Come, just as you are, to worship.

Come, just as you are, before your God.


One day every tounge will confess

You are God.

One day every knee will bow.

Still the greatest treasure remains for those

Who gladly choose you now.

Come, now is the time to worship.

Come, now is the time to give your heart.

Oh, come.Just as you are to worship.

Come just as you are before your God.


One day every tounge will confess

You our God

One day every knee will bow.

Still the greatest treasure remains for those

who gladly choose you now.


Come, now is the time to worship.

Come, now is the time to give your heart.

Come, just as you are to worship.

Come, just as you are before your God.


Oh, come.Oh, come.Oh, come.

Worship the Lord.Oh, come.

Come, come, come...iii

    1. A day will come when we are everyone will be called to worship God … to worship Jesus as Lord.

    2. But we are called to do so today -

Conclusion: As we come to the end of our service, let us take time to continue our worship of God.

  1. We may not be able today to bow today

  2. But we can confess with our tongues, “Jesus is Lord”


iJ I Packer quoted in Larson, C. B., & Lowery, B. (2009). 1001 quotations that connect: Timeless wisdom for preaching, teaching, and writing (219). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

iiJoni Eraekson Tada quoted in Larson, C. B., & Lowery, B. (2009). 1001 quotations that connect: Timeless wisdom for preaching, teaching, and writing (301). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

What MOM Stands For

What MOM Stands Fori

Introduction: According to a survey by Ladies Home Journal, 85 percent of women say that motherhood is the best thing that ever happened to them.

  1. What’s the greatest part? Twenty-one percent say it’s watching their kids grow.

  2. A category called “Everything” came in second (18 percent),

  3. followed by kids’ “unconditional love” (14 percent).

  4. But 70 percent of all mothers consider motherhood incredibly stressful.

  5. In the next few minutes, I want to look at one mother who experienced a great deal of stress.

Read: Luke 1:26-35


Transition: It was certainly stressful for Mary.

  1. She was the mother of no ordinary boy, but she was a mother still, with all of the concerns, hopes and dreams of any mother for her children.

  2. She had found favor with God, was a recipient of His grace, and therefore could say, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (v. 47).

  3. Yet at times a sword pierced her soul. The calling of motherhood is not an easy one, but Mary demonstrated how to be an effective parent, living a life in His favor and grace.

T.S. From varied scenes in Mary's life we can see three attributes every godly mother needs.
  1. Models. A godly mother is a model to follow.
    1. Luke 1:26–35 reveals the divine dialogue of God’s plan for this young “mother-to-be.”
    2. At first it must have been hard for Mary to understand God’s plan for her life, but she was faithful.
    3. Though she struggled to understand, she depended on God moment by moment.
    4. This is exactly what God wants mothers to do today.
(Ill.) Have you ever watched a electrician or telephone repair person climb a pole. The make it look so easy, but in reality, telephone-pole climbing is an art.
In order to climb, one must have a belt that goes around the pole and wear spiked shoes. The secret is to lean back and depend on the belt so the spikes can dig into the pole. Depending on the belt is hard to learn; often a beginner slides down the splintery pole because he won’t depend on his equipment. It only takes a few such experiences to convince the beginner that it is better to depend on the belt.
In the Christian life, God wants us to climb by depending on him. When we are hurt by splinters, we should recognize that they are reminders that we need to depend on his strength and loving protection.ii
    1. Moms are still the significant caregivers. They have an awesome responsibility to nurture these gifts from God we call kids.

    2. Although overwhelming at times, parenthood was never meant by God to be undertaken alone. He is our strong ally.

    3. Ruth Bell Graham said, “As a mother, my job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible.”

    4. Godly mothers are models who trust and who can be trusted.

  1. Optimists. A godly mother hangs on to an optimistic attitude.
    1. In John 2:1–11, a wonderful scene unfolds between a mother and a son.

    2. Moms believe their kids can do anything. How true this was of Mary’s son, Jesus! The wine had run out at the wedding feast. Mary apparently had some responsibility at the wedding, so she asked her firstborn for help. She didn’t know what Jesus would do, but she knew he would do the right thing, and she told the servants to follow His directions.

    3. She believed in Him, and this is an attribute children desperately need from their parents today.

(Ill.) Psychologist Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania has demonstrated that children’s attitudes are more shaped by their mothers than by those of anyone else. “The mother’s level of optimism and the child’s level were very similar,” he wrote in his book Learned Optimism. “This was true of both sons and daughters.... If a child has an optimistic mother, this is great, but it can be a disaster for the child if the child has a pessimistic mother.”
  1. Mainstays.
    1. In John 19:25–27 and Acts 1:12–14, Mary demonstrates one outstanding attribute - she was a mainstay of the faith.
    2. At the foot of the cross when the world had turned its back on Jesus and in the Upper Room when the world thought Jesus was dead, Mary was firm in her reliance on God.
(Ill.) A mainstay is the supporting line extending from the mainmast of a ship. It is the chief support of the mast and crucial to the ship’s ability to set sail. This is a beautiful description of Mary. She was a mainstay of faith for her son's closest followers and the early church. This is also a beautiful picture of all godly mothers.
    1. Without faith, it is impossible for a mother to please Him (Heb. 11:6). Their faith in God makes mothers a source of continual strength for their children.
Conclusion: The greatest and most unselfish substance in the world is the love of a mother for her child. Mary was a model to follow, an optimist at all times, and a mainstay of faith. Mary was a godly MOM, and every mother who partners with God can be a light of inspiration to her children as well.

i Based on a sermon by Rev. Drew Wilkerson in Morgan, R. J. (2001). Nelson's annual preacher's sourcebook : 2002 edition (electronic ed.) (130–131). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

iiGreen, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Biblical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Philippi - Balancing Life's Choices

        Philippi – Balancing Life's Choices        

Intro.: What question would you like to have answered?
  1. Where is a long lost friend?

  2. How do I make strawberry cheesecake?

  3. How do I get rid of the dang cold?

  4. We all have questions that need answers

  5. As we continue our look at Philippians, we will understand that Paul also had at least one question that had to be answered.

Read: Philippians 1:19-26


Trans: We have said several times that Paul writes this letter from Prison
  1. The catch is that we do not know where he is being held.

  2. Three answers have been given as possible solutions

    1. Some scholars suggest an imprisonment in Ephesus – the only problem is that Paul was never known to be jailed in Ephesus

    2. Twice Paul was imprisoned in places that could be the source of this letter. Some have suggested the imprisonment in Caesarea described in Acts 23-24 – except the circumstances Paul describes in Philippians do not match those described in Acts 23-24

    3. The most like location is Rome. There were two times Paul found himself jailed in Rome – the first is at the end of the book of Acts. It is during this 2 years that many think Philippians was written.

  3. Ultimately, our understanding of Philippians does not depend our where and when it was written outside of knowing that he was writing from jail.i

T.S. Philippians 1:19-26 allows us to see Paul's heart in ways few other passages do.
  1. There are some things that Paul is convinced of

    1. Paul knows that it will work out in the end: for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance

    2. Let me note three things about this

      1. Paul knows that the Philippian church is a praying church. It is not prayers in general that will help, but “your” prayers. The Philippian church is the healthiest church to whom Paul wrote – one of the things that made it healthy was that it was a praying church. One of the things I really love about this service is not only that we pray, but that we take time to list our prayer requests. We are a praying community – a group of believers that will lay our needs before God.

      2. Paul knows that prayer is not magic. There are some who think that the importance of prayer are the good thoughts that it produces. The positive thoughts. Not Paul. He realizes that it is prayer followed by the work of the Holy Spirit that becomes effective. Prayer is not magic. It is only because we are talking to the one and only living and loving God that we can expect answers to our prayers. I have no way of knowing how God will answer your prayers, I know that He will.

(Ill.) Years ago an old lady had no money to buy food. She prayed, “Dear Lord, please send me a side of bacon and a sack of corn meal.” Over and over again she prayed the same prayer aloud. One of the town’s unscrupulous citizens decided to play a trick on her. He dropped a side of bacon and a sack of corn meal down her chimney. It landed in front of her as she knelt in prayer. Jumping to her feet, she exclaimed, “Oh Lord! You have answered my prayer!” Then she went all over town telling everyone the good news. This was too much for the scoundrel who dropped the food down her chimney. He ridiculed her publicly and told her that God did not answer her prayer; he did. The old lady replied, “Well, the devil may have brought it, but it was the Lord who sent it!” God does answer prayers in many ways.ii

      1. Prayer and the Holy Spirit will bring, Paul says, “deliverance”. That word deliverance is not what I would expect. It is the word “soterion” - the same word that is translated as “salvation” in most of the NT. But Paul here is not talking about salvation – he most likely talking about being freed from his confinement. Paul will eventually be taken into custody again, in the future, but this time, he will eventually be set free so he can again visit the Philippian church and, history tells us, travel as far as Spain with the message of Jesus Christ.

(Appl.) God is not only interested in our salvation – He is interested in every area of our lives. For Paul, that meant his imprisonment; for us, it will mean our health, our families, our futures, our homes, just for starters. We can not hide some part of our lives from God's concern – he knows it all. And he is concerned about it all. Prayer and the Holy Spirit will bring about our deliverance, whatever that may be for us.

    1. Paul knows this in his own life. But ...

  1. There are also some things Paul is less certain of

    1. Paul has a special role in the early history of the church. But in some ways he is no different than you or I – he has hurts, he struggles with sin, he gets hungry. And like all of us, he is not all-knowing.

as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.

    1. Like many of our choices – there are benefits to whatever may happen. Paul belongs to Christ – even as he writes, he belongs to Christ. Whether he lives or dies – he belongs to Christ.

    2. And because of that, Paul is not afraid of death. It means he will not only belong to Christ, but will be serving in His very presence.

(Ill.) A believer from the 7th century understood this relationship between life and death. John Climacus wrote, “Obedience is a freely chosen death, a life without cares, danger without fears, unshakable trust in God, no fear of death. It is a voyage without perils, a journey in your sleep.”iii

    1. Even as Paul wrote his letter, he had no fear of death. It was a pleasure to serve his master, it would also be great to join him in heaven. But ...

  1. In the end, Paul wants what God wants

    1. There really is no contest – his feeling may leave him torn between living and dying, but ultimately, Paul knows that he will not be dying, at least not yet. He will live – to serve Christ here, to serve the church here, because of his desire to visit Philippi one more time.

But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

    1. Paul's real desire is the same as ours should be – above all else, to serve God.

(Ill.) I was reminded of the slogan that is on the shield of many police cars around America, “To Protect and To Serve”. As I was reading today's passage, it came to me that the shield of believers ought to read, “To Serve – On Heaven and On Earth”

    1. And my prayer for each of you this morning, is that you will plan to put this slogan on your shield.



iPfeiffer, C. F., & Harrison, E. F. (1962). The Wycliffe Bible commentary : New Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

iiAMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

iiiJohn Climacus quoted in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (157). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.