The Church

PRAYING FOR YOUR PASTOR

It is always meaningful when someone earnestly lets me know they are praying for me. It simply never gets old.

We all need prayer and we all need to be praying for one another.

I don’t know if pastors need prayer any more than other believers, but I do know that we don’t need it any less!

Pastors do have some unique pressures which make them vulnerable to the enemy and to weariness.

Jason Allen is a pastor who shares a few reasons why it is good to pray for your pastor in this article.

Praying for your pastor will not only bless him and his family, it will bless you and your church family.

 

CHURCH HUNTERS

This tongue-in-cheek video cleverly exposes many of the casual and self-centered attitudes our culture has toward church life.

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 3.13.17

How Should We Respond to Sin in Others?   

 

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

“Don’t judge me” . . “Be more tolerant” . . “Coexist” . . “You’re an extremist”.

These are common allegations that Christians often struggle to answer. As Paul corrects the Corinthians lack of response to sin in their midst, he helps us answers those concerns we may not know how to answer.

 

Why is Paul Upset?

A church member is sexually involved with his stepmother, which violated Jewish and Roman law

His father died or is an unbeliever, and the stepmother is apparently not in church

Paul was offended by this sin, and their lack of response

Paul accuses them of ‘arrogance’ v2 and ‘boasting’ v6

They were taking pride in their tolerance, or more likely, this is further proof that their sense of maturity is empty

Either way, pride has led them to a perspective of inaction

This scene is a strong example for why pride is dangerous

Instead of holding a perspective that exalts God, pride holds to our own thinking

If we love God, we will hate sin (anything that rebels against God)

v2 humility would not only ‘mourn’ the sin, it would act to ‘remove’ it. This is because humility submits to and fully embraces God’s ways

 

Paul guides them in ways we may need clarity

1.  Paul Addresses Judging One Another 

The Corinthians failed to correctly assess the situation, Paul didn’t v3

v12 instructs us to ‘judge’ fellow-believers. Yet elsewhere Jesus and Paul say “Don’t judge”. What are we to do?

We saw the answer in 4:6, when Paul told them not to go “beyond what is written”

God is the Judge v13. When we repeat what’s ‘written’, we are not judging – we are faithfully echoing his judgments

We cannot live obedient and discerning lives unless we apply God’s judgments

However, holding people to our standards and opinions is improper judgment

If we love God more than ourselves, we will be grateful for biblical correction from others

2.  Paul Addresses Church Discipline   

Paul gives the church specific action to take vs 4-5. It’s the ultimate action Jesus tells us to take with believers who don’t repent (Matthew 18:15-17)

Notice when there is serious and unrepentant sin, the whole church (believers) is called to participate v4

To “deliver over to Satan” is to put them out of the fellowship and care of the church

They should never be out of our hearts or prayers. Rather church discipline is a time that guides and unites us in prayer for them

“But that’s not loving.” God knows what is loving far better than you. His purpose is greater than for their comfort, it is for their soul’s eternal condition

The ultimate purpose of discipline is always gospel fulfillment v5 (this is also true for discipline of our children)

In the church today, discipline is widely ignored, because it is hard, messy and potentially explosive. But we don’t want to be guilty of v2

3.  Paul Addresses Zeal for Purity vs 6-8

Paul points out the broader context of why the church must respond. The nature of sin is to aggressively spread. A little sin acts like “leaven”

v7-8 Paul refers to the Passover festival to illustrate our new life in Christ

At Passover, all leaven was removed from the house. It symbolized putting away all sin to follow God

We cleanse out the old leaven, so we can have a “new lump” made with new leaven v7

Just as sin spreads so should the “new lump” of zealous purity

Purity and zeal should not be fearful or limiting concepts to us. In truth they are freeing and fulfilling!

4.  Paul Addresses Coexistence vs 9-13

Christ is Lord of all, he has authority over everyone. Matthew 28 says in his “authority’”, he sends us with the gospel to “make disciples”

Unbelievers are not disciples, they are under judgment and outside the church

To them we are ambassadors for Christ

We have authority from Christ to freely offer the gospel to them

Those in the church, claim to be disciples

They are citizens of Christ’s Kingdom

This brings them under the authority of the local church as we exercise the rules and benefits of Scripture for the church

We are to mourn what grieves God, wherever it is found

We are to celebrate what honors God, and spread it wherever we can

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”.    

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.28.16

 Members Care for Their Church

by Eric Huber

The Bible established two offices for the church – elder and deacon. 

Elders are called by God to teach, lead and protect the church and her members through the ministry of the Word. 

Deacons are responsible to ensure proper care is provided to those who are most vulnerable in the church – the sick, the elderly, and the widow.  Deacons are to work alongside the elders to ensure a gospel-centered ministry in the church of both word and deed. 

These are complementary offices in the shepherding of the local church.

Elders and deacons do not do all the work in the church. 

Together, they equip and mobilize the church for ministry.  God calls every believer to commit to some local church in order that we all would experience church life as shared ministry together as we care for one another.

Members of the local church are to be equipped for ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). 

As a church, we build ourselves up in love as Christ works to grow us through our life together.  We grow only as each part is working properly in the context of our shared life together as our leaders equip us for one-another ministry.

We are each gifted for ministry.

God also gives us spiritual gifts for our one-another ministry. 1 Cor. 12:7 tells us, “To each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  God gives spiritual gifts not primarily for our personal benefit, but for the benefit of others. They are given for the common good – our life shared together.

God gifts and empowers each of us to serve one another.  When we do not use our gifts for life in the church, then our shared life together is impoverished.

We are also to be obedient for ministry. 

God calls us to submit to and obey the leaders in whom God has entrusted our spiritual care (Heb 13:17).  Those leaders will give an account to God for how well they cared for us as they lead us to fulfill the biblical picture of life together in the church. 

Now, that does not mean that we cannot disagree on how things should be done.  We can, but God instructs us to follow their leadership as they seek to follow Christ.

We are gifted for ministry, and we are to be equipped and obedient for ministry. 

Finally, we are to be involved for ministry. 

We cannot receive or give the care and encouragement God wants for us if we are not living in community with the other members of our local church.  We are a spiritual family called to love and serve one another, which requires knowing one another. 

It can be scary to be vulnerable with others, but the pay-off is greater because God has promised to work in our shared life together. 

May God’s Spirit enable us to see, understand, and live out the truth of the local church as Christ’s loving Kingdom on earth.

 

WHAT DO PASTORS LOVE TO HEAR?

 

When I saw this article, “10 Things Pastors Would Love to Hear from Their Church Members”, I was obviously interested in seeing what was on the list and comparing it with my own experience.

#1 on the article’s list is undoubtedly first on my list as well (you have to read the list to discover what that is).

#10 “I will never compare you to a previous pastor” has never been an issue for me. The pastor who preceded me had an unusually powerful ministry. I don’t mind that his ministry “shoes” are bigger than mine. Plus I love him too much to worry about comparisons.

#7 “I will make certain your family has an adequate income.” Like everyone else, I could always use more money, but God and our church have always cared for my family.

#6 “I see my role as one who will confront the perpetual critics in the church.” I must admit, that is a nice one.

And #9 is pretty sweet as well.

#8 “I am available to babysit your kids.” This was helpful at one time, but now I have grandkids and you’re not taking any babysitting opportunities away from me!

Items that belong on the list:

“Let me tell you how God is using me in someone’s life”

“What are some helpful books to read?”

“This is how I have been growing lately in my love for God”

“I love my church”

“This is why I am thankful for the people of our church”

“I am interested in going on a mission trip”

“Let’s get some coffee”

“This pie I baked for you is still warm”

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.21.16

Deacons Bring Strength to Their Church     

 

The establishment of deacons is described in Acts 6:1-6

The role of deacon came in response to weakness in the church. The Greek speaking widows were receiving the same care as the Hebrew widows

The Apostles recognized that word ministry had to remain their top priority

They realized this problem must be addressed, but that they should not be distracted from word ministry to organize the solution.

The role they established to help this need was taken seriously v3

Deacons were not simply good church members who were available and willing

Everything that a church does represents Christ and his kingdom. All we do should have gospel priorities

The Apostles made the point in v3 that deacon work flows from the ‘Holy Spirit’ and requires biblical ‘wisdom’ 

The deacons were commissioned v6

The significance of this is that the seven were not just given a task to solve, they were given an ongoing ministry role in the church

The word “deacon” not used in Acts 6, but the intention seems clear

An ongoing role was established in Acts 6; and later we see the church has an office called deacon

If this was not the beginning of the deacon role, then the Bible has given the church an undefined office to fulfill

The title deacon is the Greek word for ‘servant’ – diakonos, which is used twice in Acts 6

v1 “widows were being neglected in the daily distribution (or deacon)

v2  “It is not right we give up preaching the word . . to serve (or deacon) tables”

We can see how the role established in Acts 6 soon became known as ‘deacon’

 

The role of deacon appears solidified in Philippians 1:1

Philippians 1:1 is the first time the word diakonos is clearly used as an official office in the church

Paul groups deacons with overseers which indicates the  prominence of their role in that church

 

Qualifications for deacon 1 Timothy 3:8-13

This list directly follows the list of qualifications for pastors in vs 1-7

Just as the qualifications for pastors focuses on godly character, so do the qualifications for deacons

The main difference in the two lists is that deacons are not required to be “able to teach”

Churches often view elder as a spiritual role and deacon as a practical role

Yes, it is true that elders have a word ministry focus, and deacons have a deed ministry focus

However, the point of the two lists in 1 Timothy 3 is clearly that both roles are spiritual

These are complimentary roles that together bless the church

Pastors/elders have authority over deacons based on:

(1)  Pastors are responsible for Word ministry which directs all that the church does

(2)  Pastors also called overseers, indicating their role of leading the church

(3)  Pastors are given significantly more emphasis in the New Testament

Like the office of pastor, the deacon role should be essentially unchanging

Like pastors, what deacons do in a church is what deacons in every church in every culture and age should do. Obviously some of the practices change with time, but the heart for being a deacon or a pastor are set by Scripture and should not be altered.

From the context of Acts 6, our view is that deacons are called to represent the church in caring for the sick, hurting and vulnerable within the local church

Like pastors, deacons are not responsible to do all the work, but coordinate all the church in it

v13 tells us that to be a deacon is blessed role

Deacons help make sure the church is unified demonstrating love in action and in putting works to our faith

Each church should honor its deacons and be grateful for their work before God

A faithful deacon is a blessing and a strength to their church!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.14.16

 Shepherds Care and Protect

Acts 20:28-30

by Paul Long

 

In Acts Ch 20, Paul calls for the pastors of the Ephesian church to give them some final instructions, as this will be the last time he will see them face to face.  His overall concern is how the church is protected and cared for.

 

Shepherding the flock begins with shepherding yourselves

In addressing these pastors, his first instruction is for them to watch themselves. 28 Pay careful attention to yourselves. 

Paul will say the same thing to Timothy – 1 Tim 4:16.

Pastor – guard your heart, in the busyness of ministry don’t neglect your own soul.  Don’t get so caught up in pastoring people that you forget to pastor yourself.

Sadly, personal holiness of leaders is not often the standard by which we measure success in the church today.  It is possible for the pastor to have outward ministry success and have a personal and spiritual life that is not pleasing to God.

Personal watchfulness need to be applied to any type of leadership position in the church or in the home.

Your own personal holiness is the starting factor in parenting.

If you neglect your own soul – time with God in prayer, Bible reading, weeding out sinful actions and attitudes – then you are unable to shepherd your children well.

So, whether we are parents, pastors, small group leaders or Sunday school teachers, we are called to this type of vigilance and personal watchfulness is necessary because sin always starts small.

If we personally are not loving Jesus well, then we are not leading the well.

 

Shepherds are also called to watch each other.

Pastors are fellow sheep as much as they are pastors –  so we not only give care, but receive care as well.

 

The purpose of this watchfulness is care for the church  vs 28

A good shepherd is constantly scanning the flock looking for signs of danger so they can care for the flock well.

Overseers are those that have a spiritual alertness for souls under our care.

Watchfulness is driven by what we teach–feeding the flock is the pastors main responsibility, protecting and leading flow out of that.  1 Timothy 1:3, 1 Timothy 6:3-4, Titus 2:1

At Greentree the main avenue of protection and care is through small groups and membership.

Pastors can’t get close enough to everyone to truly know you so small group leaders serve as under shepherds.

The small group is the main channel of discipleship, protection and care.

Through membership we submit to a corporate watchfulness of one another as we open our lives up to the other members for the care of our soul.

We should take these responsibilities seriously and they should be very precious to us.

At times, we miss the precious value of what we are caring for.  v 28…to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

 Jesus is the Chief Shepherd who is so committed to his sheep that he died for them.

Jesus is the Chief Shepherd; he is the Chief Pastor & Overseer of our soul.

Pastors are those who are called to shepherd the church of God under the Chief Shepherd.

As pastors, we want to follow Jesus’ example of giving our lives for the sheep- that is the heart of pastoral ministry.

This was Paul’s example in his life.  Acts 20:18-24

Our agenda is to testify to the gospel of the Grace of God.

 

Shepherds protect the flock against threats both foreign and domestic  vs 29-30

The influences of culture is one of the main wolf attacks we face.

Not only do we face danger from the outside but also – dangers from inside.

Shepherds protect from disease within the flock.

NT letters full of examples of those that seek to twist truth and draw others away.  Titus 1:10-11, 3:10-11

 

The Blessings of Protection and Care of Godly Shepherds

 1.  Blessing that someone is keeping watch over your soul

 There is a blessing in knowing that someone is tasked with the job of caring for and protecting your very soul!

Consider the seriousness of how God has designed the church to work for your care and for your good, and thank God for the blessing of someone keeping watch over your soul.

 

2.  Blessing of following and promoting Godly leadership in the church

I thank God for the spiritual protection and care that He has given us here at Greentree.  We have been blessed with Godly leadership, shepherds who keep a close watch on themselves and on the flock and for that blessing we should thank God.

Hebrews 13:17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

How you relate to and respond to this command sets a major tone in the church.

 

3.  Blessing that someone is coming after you if you wander

The blessing of the protection and care of the church and of the shepherds God has put in place is that if you wander – someone is coming after you.  The protection is that you won’t wander too far without someone encouraging you to come back.

SERMON LEFTOVERS 11.07.16

Pastors Feed and Lead their Church

 

1 Peter 5:1-4

The title ‘pastor’ comes from the biblical picture of ‘shepherd’. Pastors fulfill their role as shepherds by Feeding, Leading, Protecting and Caring for the flock (we will look at the first two in this message). Understanding the pastors’ role helps guide our expectations of pastors and our responses to them

 

God calls pastors to feed his people

Feeding is essential to the biblical intention of shepherding

The KJV even translated “shepherd the flock” as “feed the flock”

In John 21 Jesus restores Peter who had denied him 3 times, with the 3-fold charge of “feed my lambs . . tend my sheep . . feed my sheep”

Feeding is our primary responsibility, leading and protecting flow out of it

The only food we have to feed God’s people is God’s Word  2 Timothy 3:16-17

God’s word needs to be continuously Exalted – it is to be honored as being “God-breathed”

God’s word needs to be continuously Loved – more than simply revered

God’s word needs to be fully Trusted – as the highest truth, and as completely sufficient for our lives

God’s word needs to be continuously applied – that is how it “profits” us

Our spiritual diet has to mature if we are to mature  Hebrews 5:12-14

v12 we must start with the basics and be firmly rooted in them

vs 13-14 but we should not stay there

To shepherd a congregation to fully health, the teaching diet must be healthy

Pastors need to challenge how we think; because we  don’t believe as fully as we think we do

We need to dig in more by reading and thinking more deeply

We saw in 2 Timothy 3 that pastoral teaching is not merely presenting info biblical truths are to transform and mobilize our lives

Word ministry is a serious responsibility  2 Timothy 4:1-4

Pause to digest the magnitude of this “charge” (v1)

Pastors dare not hold back by avoiding or minimizing God’s word

Listeners dare not push off what they don’t like, or receive it casually

 

God calls pastors to lead his people (v2)

Christians are people in motion, we are going somewhere

(1)  We are headed for life in a kingdom that is not of this world

(2)  We are being transformed into the image of Christ

Pastors ‘shepherd’ God’s people in the direction we are to be going  Ephesians 4:11-13

They are to help everyone under their care to become more like Christ, which includes engaging everyone in service to his kingdom

This is Challenging!      

If everyone is to participate in all that maturity requires, there need to be church programs and processes to guide them

If everyone is to participate, those who are lagging must be challenged in the areas where they need to move forward

Pastors answer to God in how we fulfill the role he has given  Hebrews 13:17

It is hard to stay fully and unyieldingly biblical; so it is important that congregations encourage their pastors to remain faithful and as they are faithful

How we lead is as important as the fact that we lead (vs 2-3)

Peter presents 3 contrasting ways pastors can serve

1.  Our Attitude is not to be as under compulsion (drudgery), but willingly for the gospel

2.  Our Motive is not to be shameful gain (money, notoriety, power), but eagerly serving Christ

3.  Our Approach is not to be domineering, but as examples of godliness. We cannot lead where we are not going

Any God-given authority or responsibility is built on God-shaped character (who we are), and desires (what we want)

There is mutual accountability in the church

How the pastors lead and how the congregation follows

“Submission to pastors is not subservience, it is living orderly under the leadership of the pastors”  Scott McKnight

The entire church must be abounding with gospel truths for one another to both correct and encourage

All of us are under the leading and care of the “Chief Shepherd” (v4)

We will never truly understand the church or have a healthy church, unless Christ is our exalted head

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.24.16

God Gave Leaders to His Church

 

The New Testament uses 3 titles for those who lead the local church

(1)  Elder – this comes from the Old Testament title for the leaders of a community. Acts 11:30 is the first time it is used for church leaders

(2)  Overseer – first used in Acts 20:28. The title bishop came from this word and over time it became a higher office in the church

(3)  Shepherd – this word is used in Ephesians 4:11 and it is the basis for the commonly used title of “pastor”

Churches today may use these terms differently, but in the New Testament they are interchangeable

We see language representing all three titles in 1 Peter 5:1-4

Many churches have elders with the chief leader called pastor; but we don’t see this distinction in the New Testament

‘Pastor’ is probably the title used most often because it best fits the overall role

The essential role of the pastor is unchangeable. It is the ministry of the Word in teaching, leading and protecting

 

Biblical parameters for pastoral leadership

1.  It must be Qualified leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

Notice there is only one skill required in this list which is “able to teach”

Word ministry is central to pastoral ministry, because it is what we lead from

This shows us that Word ministry must be central to all aspects of church life

Each member of the church fulfills their role through biblical faithfulness

The rest of the qualifications for pastors are character driven

Biblical truths are displayed by character

We don’t truly know biblical truths until we live out those truths

2.  Pastoral leadership is to be Male (1 Timothy 2:11-13)

This is seen by many as a proof that the Bible is outdated and misguided

But this is not an attack on women or a degrading of them

v11 actually contained a radical elevation of a woman’s role, since middle-eastern culture kept women from education

Paul was expanding how the Church looked at the worth and role of women

Yet, Paul does add what is “not permitted” v12

Galatians 3:28 tells us all believers are equal before God,

But here in v13 God has ordained an order of authority and submission

Submission is a dirty word in our culture. However, it is an essential perspective of Biblical Christianity

Submission was required of Christ:  equal to Father, yet submissive

Submission is at the heart of the gospel, as we submit to Christ as Lord

Submission is essential to a biblical family and a healthy church

What is the role of women in the church?  

Women are to be fully engaged in church life for they are needed and fully gifted by the Holy Spirit

Women are to be a source of influence and learning for the whole church

3.  Pastoral leadership is best Shared

The references to elders in the New Testament Church are almost all plural (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:17, Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:5, James 5:14. 1 Peter 5:1)

This is not mandated in the Bible, but it appears to be the example

Wisdom itself also calls for shared counsel (Proverbs 11:14 etc.)

Our church views all pastors as equal in authority

Reason #1:  we see no convincing biblical evidence of a higher level of pastor

For those who point to James in Acts 15, Galatians 1:19 tells us he is an Apostle

Many claim the so called Moses model, but Moses was not a pastor, nor did he lead a church

Reason #2:  we want to follow what helps us best glorify God

To operate as a plurality forces us to continually work on character issues; it helps build our sanctification

A major criticism of operating as a plurality is that it is less efficient

“Less efficient concerning what?”  Moving faster or building character?

We have found that it brings greater continuity among the various areas of responsibility held by the different pastors

4.  Pastoral leadership is Servant leadership

All pastors/shepherds serve under the “Chief Shepherd” (1 Peter 5:4)

Servanthood is the only form of life or leadership that the New Testament gives to us

This is true of pastors, small group leaders, parents, husbands, and anyone who wants to be a gospel influence