SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.20.17

 The Judgment That Matters

 

by Pat Tedeschi

 

1 Corinthians 4:1-5

In order to promote unity that reflects the Gospel, we must carefully consider how we regard our church leaders and our evaluations of them. Instead of making unbiblical judgments, we should give our energy and attention to the only judgment that really matters.

 

1.  How we should regard our church leaders? (vv. 1-2)

Church members should regard their leaders as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God (that is, the Gospel and the truths of God revealed in the Scripture).

Pastors are responsible to serve as Christ calls them to serve-but those they serve in the church are not to decide how pastors are to serve. Only Jesus does that.

Pastors can sometimes allow themselves to feel unnecessary pressure from their congregation.  

Pastors are not required to do all that people may desire or expect. All we are required to do is what Jesus expects.

Pastors and church members are to serve Christ and the church with the mind or perspective of Jesus and the Gospel. See Philippians 2:2-8

When we love and serve each other as Christ did, we become a living testimony of the power of the Gospel- and God uses it to draw people to Himself.

2.  How should we regard our own judgments? (vv. 3-4)

Paul says if church members use the world’s wisdom to judge a church leader- or anyone for that matter, then their judgment means little when compared to God’s judgment.

Jesus is the only one capable and qualified to do judge.

In fact, Paul says he doesn’t even judge himself. He knows he can’t even trust his own judgment.

Even though he believes he’s been faithful to promote the Gospel in word and deed, that doesn’t mean he is without fault.

Paul clearly wants to be careful in and how he goes about his life and ministry, but he doesn’t want to get caught up in judging himself according to his own standards or even his own conscience.

He simply wants to concentrate on the work God has given him to do as a servant. In the end he will entrust himself to the only judgment that really matters.

3.  Look to the only judgment that really matters

Every one of us is prone to make unbiblical, inaccurate and premature judgments of others.

So Paul says, don’t judge before the appointed time- that is when Jesus returns- at that time Jesus will “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart”.

The church is responsible to discern of how a person is living out what he says he believes, according to God’s Word. The church is to make judgments about outward works.

But here in verse 5 Paul is speaking about the heart.

God’s ultimate judgment is never flawed. God will expose the motivations and intentions each heart.  

Paul ends verse 5 in a surprising way- there he says, “Then each one will receive his commendation (or praise) from God”.

Maybe you’re not much different than the Corinthians- maybe you really do have your perspectives and priorities mixed up- maybe you really do need the correction that Paul has given.

Paul doesn’t want us to be satisfied with half-hearted service. He wants to spur us on to Christ-like thinking and living.

If you are in Jesus, God’s committed love is at work to complete what He began in you- and as you trust His Word in the power of the Spirit, He will conform you to the image of His Son.

“How wonderful! The king of the universe, the sovereign One one who has endured our endless rebellion and sought us out at the cost of his Son’s death, climaxes our redemption by praising us! He is a wise Father who knows how to encourage even the feeblest efforts of his children” (DA Carson).

Are we people in need of help? Yes we are.

Are we believers who need to be corrected for our inaccurate judgments and self-centered expectations? Yes we are.

But are we people greatly loved by a good father God, who is deeply committed to our good and glory in Jesus? Yes we are.

Then let that move you to live for Him, honor Him, trust Him and desire to hear those precious words from Him, “well done, good and faithful servant”.    

 

TOO DESTRUCTIVE TO IGNORE!

Destruction is a word we use to express radical loss.

Destruction is a fearful word for good reason, and destruction is an accurate way to describe the consequences of pornography.

Pornography is a monstrous problem in our culture, in the church – and perhaps in your life.

If you don’t struggle with pornography, you know many people who do!

A struggle that was thought to be mainly a problem for young men, has now seeped into every corner of the culture, affecting men and women – young and old.

Tim Challies regularly provides excellent articles and resources on the subject of pornography through his blog @Challies

In time for Valentine’s Day, he gathered 10 of his best articles covering many aspects of this plague. There are articles specifically geared for men, women, and parents. His list contains a brief synopsis of each article to help you choose which to read.

At the end of the post, Challies gives his suggestions on the most beneficial books to read on purity and pornography, for men and for women.

Pornography is too destructive to ignore.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 2.13.17

 What are we building?                    

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Throughout chapters 1-3, Paul is leading the church to reassess how they are thinking about wisdom and applying it

 

Christ is the only lasting foundation (v11)

1.  There is no other Creator – who invented life and sustains it

‚2.  There is other Savior:  he takes our guilt – by paying full price for it

ƒ3.  There is other Lord:  no one else rules over eternity, he alone judges time

 

Paul wants us to consider how we build on Christ (v10)

The context of what is being built is the Church

But who is doing the work, is communal.

These verses are more than how we live as individuals, v16 affirms that vs 10-15 is speaking about the Church, not just individuals

What are the implications of this word picture?

(1)  Our spiritual health is part of the health of our church  

(2)  We all have responsibility for the health of our church (12:12-25)

(3)  We can be spiritual craftsmen, or we can be poor builders

Paul’s focus is not our abilities, but the materials we use, which is the wisdom we use

Paul describes reward and loss so we will take this matter seriously (vs 14-15)

The “loss” is not wrath or punishment – in Christ we are justified fully and forever

Our work is judged according to how it followed God’s Word

Loss is to stand before Christ knowing we wasted and misused life in half-heartedness

What is the “reward”?  Bible doesn’t teach class distinction in heaven

In Matthew 25:21, the master tells faithful ones, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’

Our motivation is that we love Christ, and want to honor him

As Christians, we need clarity on reward, loss, priorities – and wisdom

If none of this stirs your heart at all, you need to ask, Does God have your heart?

Paul takes his warnings a step further (vs 16-17)

Beware of tearing down the church

Divisiveness is Paul’s immediate concern (we can disagree without disharmony)

The world’s way:  hold offenses, justify our attitudes, and spread them

The biblical responses:  forgive them, pray for them, thank God for them, love and bless them

 

Paul brings a couple of conclusions

1.  Be willing to live foolishly in the eyes of the world (vs 18-20)

v18 asks, are you willing to “become a fool”?  This means to live foolishly in the worlds eyes, because their sense of wisdom is upside down

2.  Be content in a lifestyle of humility (vs 21-23)

v21 and 23 tells us that “All things are ours”. This is because everything is in God’s hands and in Christ, we are ‘heirs’ to the riches of God’s grace

We don’t need to live trying to get ahead – in Christ, we are!

We don’t need to be anxious about being accepted – in Christ, we are!

No one who lives wholeheartedly for God is a fool

MAKING PROGRESS!

 

Earlier this week, I shared Richard Baxter’s list of 20 hindrances to living fully for God.

Today, I have a list from William Perkins, who is often called the Father of the Puritans. His list comes from the positive side. He gives 6 evidences that we are committed to progressing in godliness.

Find encouragement from where you see yourself in this list. And gain wisdom by adopting those you still need.

1.  We have an earnest and hearty desire in all things to further the glory of God.

2.  We show a care and readiness to resign ourselves in subjection to God, to be ruled by his word and Spirit, in thought, word and deed.

3.  We have a sincere endeavor to do his will in all things with cheerfulness, being conscience of everything we know to be evil.

4.  We walk upright in our lawful calling, while by faith rely on God’s providence, so that we are content with whatever He sends.

5.  Every day we humble ourselves before God; wholeheartedly seeking his favor through Christ; being daily renewed in faith and repentance.

6.  To continually maintain a fight between the flesh and the spirit, drawing on grace and resisting what pulls us from God.

WHY AM I NOT MATURING AS I WANT?

 

Every Christian is called to be a Great Commandment person who loves and serves God with all that we are. Yet, we all recognize that we still have progress to make.

If we are serious about loving and living for God more fully, then we need to be serious about specifically identifying what is getting in the way.

Once we are clear minded about obstacles, we can prayerfully and humbly make true progress in rising above them. This is not only important for God’s honor, it will flood your life with grace and lift your heart with joy.

Richard Baxter was a puritan pastor who wrote extensively on what it means to live fully for God. In one of his treatises, he listed 20 hindrances of conversion.

As I read over his list, it occurred to me that for the most part, this is also a list of what hinders us from being Great Commandment people.

Tremendous progress can be made once we identify one or two areas of stumbling and then daily seek God’s grace to overcome them.

This is Baxter’s list of hindrances with my own comments in italics:

(1)  willful neglect of the means of grace – this includes the habits of godliness God has told us to follow

(2)  bad company

(3)  gross ignorance of biblical truths – how can we know them well, if we are rarely in God’s Word?

(4)  unbelief – as Christians, we don’t believe all biblical truths as fully as we think

(5)  thoughtlessness – when we read the Bible or hear a message and shutdown as soon as it’s over

(6)  hardness of heart – every time we push off the Holy Spirit’s voice, we build up a callous

(7)  great esteem and interest in the world 

(8)  habits of sin subduing the mind – yes, every sin does affect us

(9)  foolish self-love and presumption 

(10)  counterfeit conversion 

(11)  living among strong temptations to sin

(12)  scandal and division in the church – divisiveness harms the church and our witness to the world

(13)  the poor education of children – parents are not all Bible experts, but all parents can read and talk about the Bible to their children

(14)  striving against the Holy Spirit

(15)  half-heartedness in religion

(16)  delay 

(17)  failure to follow through on good beginnings – this is one reason we need the example and accountability of biblical community

(18)  misunderstanding some Scriptures – bad teaching makes it harder to mature

(19)  pride and unteachableness – the Bible shows pride to be the great root of sin

(20)  willful obstinacy

HOW TO SPEAK TO THE KING OF BORNEO

 

If you want to speak with a king, be prepared to either be ignored, or jump through an impressive series of hoops.

An interesting example of this comes from the pen of the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who led the first voyage around the world from 1519 to 1522.

In his journal, Magellan records his visit to the king of Borneo, which is the third largest island in the world, at almost twice the size of California.

Here is the description of what was involved in speaking to that king:

When we arrived at the city, we were obliged to wait two hours, until there came two elephants covered with silk, and 12 men, each carried a porcelain vase covered with silk, for wrapping and conveying our presents. 

All the streets were full of men armed with swords, spears, and bucklers, the king having so commanded. 

We entered the palace and ascended a staircase, accompanied by the governor and some of the chief men, and entered a large room full of courtiers; there we sat upon a carpet, with our presents.

There were placed 300 men of the king’s guard with naked daggers in their hands, which they held on their thighs.  At the end of a second and higher hall was a great opening, covered with a curtain, and on this being raised, we saw the king sitting at a table.

One of the chief men informed us that we could not speak to the king, but if we wished to convey anything to him, we were to say it to him, and he would say it to a chief of higher rank, who would lay it before a brother of the governor, who was in the smaller room, and they by means of a blow pipe placed in an opening in the wall would communicate our thoughts to a man who was near the king, and from him the king would understand them. 

He taught us meanwhile to make three obeisance’s to the king, with the hands joined above the head, raising first one foot, then the other, and then to kiss our hands to him.  This is the royal obeisance.

Magellan’s experience doesn’t surprise us, because people in power often want to demonstrate their greatness.

How amazing it should be to us, that Jesus Christ, our Lord and King, allows us to have immediate and constant access.

You don’t need an appointment

You don’t have to speak through a priest

You are not limited in the time you have to spend with him

You can come as often as you want

And you always have his focused attention

Child of God, consider how sad and wasteful, when we neglect to use the wondrous access we have to speak to the King of kings!

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.30.17

‘Know Where to Get Wisdom’                    

 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

 

We all want to be wise in life. But the world’s views of wisdom and foolishness are upside down. This makes it hard to protect against being influenced by false wisdom. Paul strengthens our convictions, by helping us understand how wisdom is obtained.

 

1. True wisdom will not come through those the world thinks are wise (v6)

Paul starts by repeating his point of where wisdom is not found

This present age (this world order), exalts us instead of God, that is not wisdom

That means the rulers of this age (people of influence), don’t have wisdom

Paul refers to all who embrace the gospel of Christ as “mature”

Those who know wisdom is in Christ, have a certain measure of maturity

Their thinking is on a secure foundation, and it is leading you in a wise direction

Don’t turn back to the wisdom of those who are “doomed to pass away”  

 

2. True wisdom must be revealed by God (v7a)

Paul calls the gospel “secret and hidden wisdom”

God is not hiding wisdom from us, he is declaring where wisdom is found

The gospel had to be revealed; and a crucified Messiah was totally unexpected

We will not find wisdom by our effort, or what makes sense to us  

Christ is the treasury of wisdom and the full answer to all we need (Colossians 2:3)

Christ is the door to all wisdom, every other door leads to a dead end

 

3. The wisdom of God is eternal and unchanging (v7b)

The world denies that truth can be definitive. So it changes with each new “ruler”

But God is a perfect and eternal being – all knowledge is his possession

God is the Creator – all that exists flows out of his wisdom

God is the Judge – we are all accountable to his standards

True wisdom doesn’t change, it embraces the ways of God

New wisdom about life and godliness will always be false wisdom

 

4. Our response to Christ reveals whether we have wisdom (v8)

The proof that this world is blind to wisdom, is their rejection of Christ

God displays the fullness of his power and wisdom in Christ 

Jesus was perfect man and “glory” on display, but the world didn’t recognize it

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s wondrous plan, but the world doesn’t care

What wisdom can the world give us, when Jesus is nowhere in it?

In v9, Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4

He points out that the gospel of Christ contains glories beyond imagination

We cannot grasp all the gospel brings, but we have tasted it!

How can we consider neglecting the glories of gospel wisdom, to pick up what the world exalts?

 

5. The wisdom of God can only come from the Holy Spirit (vs 10-11)

The wisdom that created life and rules over eternity, flows from the mind of God

People emptily proclaim how life, eternity and God should operate; but unless God shares that wisdom with us, how can we possibly know it?

The Holy Spirit does know “the depths” of God

And he dwells in every believer to empower and ‘teach’ us (v12)

He makes the wisdom of God available and understandable to all believers

(1) This doesn’t mean every line in the Bible is instantly clear, it means it is all intelligible

(2) The Spirit who teaches us also inspired the Bible; so what he teaches us will always be in-sync with the Bible

If anyone’s thinking is not Holy Spirit inspired, then it’s not true wisdom

 

6. The wisdom of God can only be received by a “spiritual” person (v13)

v14 contrasts the spiritual person to the “natural person” (someone not born of the Spirit)

The natural person can study the Bible and recognize what it claims, but the realities of Christ don’t impact them

As spiritual people, we judge, but we are not judged (vs15-16)

This verse has been widely misused. It cannot contradict the rest of the Bible and mean we can avoid accountability

The context is clear, Paul is still rebuking the false wisdom of the world

God’s truth enables us to judge the world’s truth; but they don’t judge our truth, because it is God’s truth

Believer, you have “the mind of Christ”, which is the light of gospel wisdom. Use it!

Being wise in any situation is always tied to the cross and what it speaks to us

 

WOMEN’S RETREAT!

by Debbie Huber

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:37-39

There are a lot of things that seem fearful in this world. Concerns for our family, our finances, our world…. How do we respond to these fears and pressures?

Many women tend to control things by attempting to fix them. We listen to the untrue voices telling us that we must take matters into our own hands. But God’s love speaks loudly to our fears and our desires to control life.

This year at Greentree Church’s annual Women’s Spring Retreat, our guest speaker, Trish Donohue, will be teaching from Romans 8 to help us see that God’s love is worthy of our trust.  We will be encouraged to love God’s truth to counteract the persistent lies that bombard us.  

And as we grow in our trust, we are called to reach out to other women to sow this love and truth of God, to build His kingdom.

Our retreat, “A Love We Can Trust”, is at the beautiful Inn at Mendenhall in Chadds Ford, PA, The hotel is nestled on an historic Brandywine Valley road between Longwood Gardens and Winterthur Museum.

If you have never attended a retreat, you are encouraged to consider coming this year. Our retreats are a unique and wonderful way to connect with other women and with our God. If you need to be matched with a roommate, we can try to help you! 

And if you have been before, look to invite someone new!

Registration is open on the church website

You must reserve your hotel room separately for you and your roommates by calling the hotel directly and requesting the Greentree Church group rate. Details are on the church website.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 1.23.16

Rest in the Wisdom and Power of Christ        

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

In chapter 1, Paul tells the Corinthians they need to change their categories for “wisdom” and “foolishness”

Human wisdom is foolish, because it doesn’t bring anyone to God (1:21)

The gospel of Christ crucified seems foolish, because Jesus died! Yet, it is wonderful wisdom, because it solves our sin problem!

Until we see wisdom and foolishness correctly, our priorities of life will be mixed up. This point is so crucial, Paul doesn’t move on, he keeps digging into it in chapter 2

 

Paul uses the example of his ministry with them

He describes his ministry to them with two sets of contrasts

1. The 1st contrast, involves the wisdom he used (vs 1-2)

Paul did not present the gospel with “lofty speech” or with “wisdom”

This means he did not use the stylized oration of the time, and he did not try to make the gospel fit into their sensibilities

Instead, Paul made the “decision” to preach nothing but Christ crucified

This doesn’t mean he ignored all other doctrines (Acts 18:11), but that in all his teaching, the gospel remained central and foundational

2. Paul’s second contrast, presents the power he depended on (vs 3-4)

Acts 18 tells us his initial ministry to Corinth was strongly opposed. The opposition was so threatening, the Lord had to reassure Paul in a vision!

This helps us understand what Paul means by coming to them ‘in fear and trembling’

Paul recognized his ministry would only bear fruit by the power of the Holy Spirit

Only the Holy Spirit can give eyes to see and a heart to believe

“The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” John 16:8

“Unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” John 3:5

Paul was not hesitant to admit his weaknesses, because they were not an obstacle

In fact, the opposite is a danger to us, when we rely on ourselves

3. Paul sums up the reason for his approach (v5)

He wanted their faith to rest on God alone, because he alone can sustain them

As Christians, we talk about relying on God’s strength and wisdom; but do we practice it?

 

What does it mean to rest on the “wisdom” and “power” of God?

1. Trust the Bible – where all wisdom for life and godliness has been placed (v5)

Do you have complete confidence in God’s Word?

Do you see it as being fully sufficient for your life and wonderfully good?

You must decide where The Truth is found

The Bible doesn’t allow for half-hearted approval or partial trust, God expects complete submission and obedience

Guard against the seepage of the world’s wisdom

The world’s wisdom is not only prevalent, it sounds good, because it elevates us

Since Eden, human wisdom has been pride based; it tells God to move aside

Be prepared to rise above the world’s mockery: 

Keep in mind who has last word

God’s word will never be popular with the world’s culture; because the Bible condemns it. But the gospel will always be powerful to save any individual who bows to it

Parents, are you protective of God’s Word in your home?

Make sure you allow nothing to keep your family from reading the Bible together

2. Depend on the Holy Spirit – who empowers us

Paul could not change his situation, and he felt overwhelmed (vs 3-4)

Yet, he did not stop persisting in his calling, because the Holy Spirit was the one enabling him

Your life is meant to serve God; so, we can serve him regardless of circumstances

Evidences, that we are not depending on the Holy Spirit

(1)  When we think if a famous person was saved, they would accomplish a lot for God. No, believer, if God has all your heart, He will accomplish a lot through you!

(2)  When we habitually walk through our day without spending time with God – it shows we think we can handle it

(3)  When we think we cannot change an attitude or a behavior – this denies the power of the Spirit 

(4)  When our first response to problems is to try fix the situation, or the person ourselves

 

3. Keep the implications of the cross at the center of how we live (v2)

The cross cuts against the values of human culture, because it cuts against the values of self

Life will drift, if the values of the Cross are not kept freshly in mind

The values of the Cross declare:

(1)  Sin is a serious issue! God hates sin, so we must not allow any resting place for it

(2)  Humility is the only path to a Christian lifestyle. Pride has no business guiding us

(3)  God’s commitment to us should overcome all doubt, fear, hurt or loss

THIS HOPE IS REAL

Nathan Barry recently died from cancer.

He was 16

He knew Christ

His hope remained

Nathan shared his simple, yet deep testimony while knowing that death was most likely soon before him. You may not be facing a challenge this big, but we all desperately need a hope that is secure and can never diminish.

Nathan’s Testimony from Wazza on Vimeo.