Monthly Archives: October 2015

DRIVE-THROUGH CHURCH?

 

Our church is in the midst of a series of sermons on Biblical Community.

In the coming weeks we will be renewing our Membership Covenants together. These messages are mean to refresh how we look at our commitment to one another and to God.

Biblical Community is a value at Greentree which receives significant  attention year round. This is because the Bible gives it significant attention.

To be biblically accurate, we not only need to affirm biblical truths, we also need to give truths the same emphasis that the Bible gives them. For example the Gospel should receive far more emphasis than ‘end times’.

On Sunday we entered two weeks of looking at Biblical Community through 1 Corinthians 12. With that in mind, I encourage you to read this article by Daniel Hyde recently posted at Ligonier Ministries.

The article entitled “The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant”, leans heavily on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.

However, it doesn’t matter what text or topic your church is currently preaching, Hyde’s thoughts are worth taking in. The Church is always in a battle against having its members view it according to the prevailing culture rather than the Bible.

Let’s be sure we are not falling into that trap which is detrimental to the church and displeasing to God.

FAITHFUL TO THE END

letter
George Petrillo entered eternity on August 23rd of this year.

He leaves a legacy of love for his family and a wonderful example of abiding trust in Jesus Christ to all who know him.

Over the years George attended Greentree Church, I would often receive a card or letter from him. These were always encouraging. It might be a simple note of thanks for our church, or a comment on how a recent sermon affected his soul.

More recently his notes would contain updates on the serious health issues faced by him and his wife Joan. George had fibrosis of the lungs which meant they were hardening. Doctors informed him that nothing could be done to stop this condition from gradually worsening and resulting before long in his death.

On top of this, George’s beloved Joan, suffers from Alzheimer’s. For George, care for Joan far outweighed concern for himself.

Despite carrying what we would all agree are heavy burdens, George remained an encourager to his family and those who knew him.

George’s notes continued right up to his final days on this earth. My last card from him arrived the day after he passed away. Knowing his time was short; George filled out one last card and insisted that his daughter deliver it to the post office that day.

In one of his recent notes, George once more graciously shared his love for our church. He emphasized the impact of both the preaching of God’s Word and the consistent care they received from their church family.

In typical fashion, George closed with these words:

“I am always aware of God’s may, many blessings to (us), and I am also aware – so vividly of the hurts and heartaches of so many people.

The hope we have in Christ Jesus is so wonderful and so liberating! For in this HOPE we are saved.”

I hope George’s legacy can extend further to influence each of us to see God’s faithfulness in all circumstances. And along the way, may we follow his example of frequently sharing expressions of love, faith and thankfulness to one another!

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.26.15

Gifted for Life Together

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Spiritual gifts are an individualized aspect of Christian life. In Corinth, their use was selfish, divisive and creating classifications. Paul corrects them with a richer understanding of biblical community

 

#1 We Are Gifted By A Trinitarian God (vs 1-6)

God is a Trinitarian being (vs 4-6)

One God who always existed as three separate, yet equal persons

This is not an awkward doctrine; it’s transcendent

It ought to be celebrated, because it is part of God’s glory and beauty

Paul makes this emphasis here, because it brought needed clarity

God by nature has always lived in and delighted in community

A Trinitarian God has never been alone; he has always been communicative and interactive

The biblical emphasis on community is driven by God’s very nature

Paul wanted us to see the rich reality behind the scenes, which is that our individualized gifts are meant to reflect God’s communal nature

 

#2 We Are Gifted in Diversity and Uniformity

A three-fold diversity of spiritual gifts is described (vs 4-6)

There is a wide range of spiritual gifts; no list is exhaustive (Romans 12, Ephesians 4)

Paul here lists the gifts that were being misunderstood and misused

The presence of gifts doesn’t indicate maturity, how we use them does

Our concern is not to be for gifts that we don’t have, but to use what we were given

Despite this diversity, all gifts contain threads of uniformity

The “same” God empowers them all; the gifts in us are to work harmoniously

All gifts are given to serve one kingdom and it’s not ours!

All gifts have the same purpose which is to serve and strengthen the church (v7)

 

#3 Our Gifting is Holy Spirit Driven v11

The Spirit’s operation in us is contrasted v2 to ‘mute idols’

The Holy Spirit works in power: every simple gift is the activity of God who is Almighty  v11 

The Holy Spirit works in wisdom: distribution of gifts flows out of his eternal plan  v11  

The implication is that someone extraordinary is at work in us and through us

Regardless of our weakness, we have manifestations of the Holy Spirit

Regardless of our ignorance, we have the right gift(s)

This knowledge brings expectation in our service and activities for God

v6 the Holy Spirit empowers the activities wherever our gifts serve him
God never sends us to serve him on our own so don’t act like it

Do you want your giftedness to flourish (even if not sure which you have)?

Based upon v7 there are two keys for us:

(1)  Have a soft heart for the Holy Spirit to use

(2)  Be involved in the lives of the people of your church

 

Application of Our Being Gifted for One Another

1. Our presence is important

Our presence is meant to be enriching

The Church (your brothers and sisters) are weakened by your avoidance of church life

Our presence not simply important in church services, we need to be active in sharing life together

2. Being creative is good, but cleverness doesn’t drive fruitfulness

Reliance on the Holy Spirit is the engine of fruitfulness

We show this reliance through submission to God, and prayerfulness in all things

3. Our gatherings (at all levels) always have a supernatural element

We ought to be in expectation as we gather and the gifts are multiplied

Our gatherings are an orchestration by God of his gifting to all

We have been Gifted for Life Together – so let’s BE together

BACK IN THE SWAMP

 

How did we get into the swamp of sin – again?

John MacArthur gives us an obvious, yet insightful clue:

“Nobody just falls out of a tree. They climb up in it, move around a bit, and then fall out.”

Erik Raymond, shares this quote and some very helpful thoughts in this article found on the Gospel Coalition Website, “A Secret Life of Prayer Will Prevent a Secret Life of Sin”.

Erik’s article is only an important reminder if you are ever tempted or struggle with sin.

Temptation will keep coming, but that doesn’t need to overwhelm or discourage us.

Because God’s presence, wisdom, strength, and commitment are all greater than our temptations and our Tempter!

However, we do need to operate in God’s grace and not keep walking in our own ways. Let’s become more consistent in holding onto the handrail of God’s abundantly offered grace to us.

SPEND MORE TIME DAYDREAMING

 

I enjoy planning and thinking about trips.

The anticipation and the preparation are part of the fun.

Time spent daydreaming about an upcoming vacation or a quick getaway, not only builds excitement – it brings some of the joy of this trip into life now

I think about . .

Places we will visit

Restaurants where we will eat

The company of friends we will enjoy

The churches where we will worship

The books I will read

Sleeping in – staying up

And the lack of deadlines to meet

Why not take a similar approach to our impending entrance into eternity?

As Christians, we believe we will be with Christ in heaven, but it does not seem real – so we give very little thought to this great reality.

There is much to think about and to be excited over:

Seeing Jesus!

The feel of his arms around us

Listening to the Heavenly host – and singing with them

Being perfected

Knowing that we actually do love God with ALL our heart, mind, soul and strength

Reuniting with loved ones

Conversation and a meal with Moses, David, Mary, Paul, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards or any other believer you admire

If anything is worth daydreaming over, it is eternal life with our Savior in the new heaven and the new earth.

Add some anticipation to your worship and to your life – the plans that God has made for you are worth it!

 

WE ARE MORE THAN GOD’S PROJECT

 

Christians sometimes hold incomplete perspectives about God’s gospel work in us.

A common viewpoint that is only partially true and so misguiding to us is to think of ourselves as a good works project by God.

We imagine our salvation as similar to when people save birds caught in an oil slick. Rescuers gather the poor oil soaked birds. After they carefully clean them off and make sure they are healthy, the rescued birds are then released to continue on with their lives.

Yes, it is true that God rescues and cleanses us, but we are not merely a project He looks on with satisfaction and then sets free to live out our now “better” lives.

God rescues us in order to remove us from our state of rebellion and then brings us into His kingdom as dearly loved and adopted children. God has no intention of watching us go on our way – He calls us into His way.

God never stops working in us until the moment when we are complete, ready to be presented to Christ as His perfect Bride.

God does not settle for anything less in anyone He has saved.
Christ desires nothing less in anyone He has redeemed with His blood.
The Holy Spirit will produce nothing less in anyone in whom He has begun His work.

So we should not consider ourselves as anything less than people restored into a forever relationship with God. We cannot explain why, but God wants His eternity to be spent with us!

What are the implications of having a correct and full understanding of our salvation?

We never consider going back to life on our own

We never think of any aspect of life apart from God’s role in and over it

We recognize that we are more than clean (as wonderful as that is), we are literally “new creatures” in Christ

Our purpose now remains God-centered

Our kingdom is Christ’s Kingdom and our home is where Jesus lives

God should receive ongoing declarations of praise and thanksgiving for His ongoing work

We should see ourselves as “overcomers” of all that is sinful and in rebellion against God

Obedience of God’s Word is our heart

Following Christ is our path

Being with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is our destiny

SERMON LEFTOVERS 10.19.15

Transformed Community

 

Colossians 3:12-17

by Paul Long

 

What should you wear to church? 

In Colossians 3 Paul describes a way we should dress that will absolutely transform the community of our church.

He gives us qualities of a transformed community that should characterize our life together. 

Compassion, Kindness, Humility, Meekness and Patience

These virtues are like articles of clothing we are to put on as Christians. 

It is within our relationships that these virtues must be put on, and it is within our relationships that we grow in the practice of these virtues. 

Let’s look at each virtue and see how putting each on transforms our community.

1.  A Compassionate heart

Compassion is how we feel about and toward one another. 

Putting on a compassionate heart means that when we see or hear about those that are in need we are moved to do something.  That means we need to be aware of what others are going through.  Compassionate hearts flow from the compassion we have been shown by our Father.  Psalm 103:13

2.  Kindness

Kindness is speaking and acting with tenderness and sensitivity. 

3.  Humility

Pride threatens community life.  When we are prideful we compete with others for glory.  Pride is a concern for my own personal glory and greatness.  Humility is the opposite it’s living for God’s glory.         

Humility is deferring to others –counting others as more significant.  We allow the needs of others to rise above our own.  Phil 2:3

4.  Meekness

Meekness is strength under control.  When we are hurt or offended, though we could retaliate, we don’t.  We respond with grace and gentleness.  The meek are willing to put up with what others throw at them. 

Do you struggle with being meek?  Consider the meekness of your Savior, the greatest example of meekness the world has seen.  Jesus was all powerful, yet submitted to God’s will completely. 

5.  Patience

Patience is how we respond toward others when they are not acting the way we want.  Patience is being long suffering when we are being insulted or hurt. 

1 Corinthians reminds us “Love is Patient.” Our love for others is expressed when we are patient with them.  If we are not patient, we are failing to love and we are failing to grasp God’s love and patience toward us. 

Patience is often tested in the context of community. 

Losing our patience is sin that needs to be repented of.  In the context of confessing our sin of impatience to God, we should be reminded of his patience with us.  2 Peter 3:9, 1 Tim 1:15-16

God is patient.  How many times since become a Christian have you messed up?  How patient has God been with you? 

 

Practicing these virtues will transform the community of our church,

At some point someone in this church will do something that bothers, offends or hurts you. 

In addition to putting on these virtues we are to be

[13] bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

One way our community is transformed is that we are able to bear with one another’s shortcomings and quickly forgive one another’s faults. 

When we are slow to forgive we must look to the cross.  In v13 we are instructed to model our forgiveness after the forgiveness God has shown us.

What offense of yours is God still holding onto?  What have you done that God has not completely and totally forgiven?  God has completely forgiven us – we should forgive others in the same way. 

What offense are you holding onto today? 

Like a good belt – love binds every virtue we have put on together in perfect harmony  v14

Love is the motivating factor behind each virtue Paul mentions.  Love is the strength behind bearing with one another.  Love is the reason we forgive. 

Paul says v15 let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body

The word “rule” literally means to umpire.  In our church community peace is to be our umpire.  The peace of Christ is to be the decisive factor in our lives – it should be given preference over all other concerns and interests. 

We are called to relate to one another in a way that shows the peace Christ provides for us by his death and resurrection  v15

Our community is transformed by word ministry and worship ministry.  vs 16-17

“Let the word of Chris dwell in you richly.”

We do this on an individual and corporate level.

We individually allow the word of Christ to dwell in us richly as we read the Bible. 

There is also a corporate word ministry – as we gather together to hear the word preached and speak the word into one another’s lives. 

Part of our life together is word ministry.  It is when we teach and admonish one another.

Teaching can be gathering as the church body to hear the word preached OR sharing with your small group OR the simple act of speaking a word of encouragement into the life of another believer. 

To admonish is to speak a word of correction or warning, to strongly encourage someone in a direction or choice.  Admonishment is the application of teaching in our lives. 

As we teach and admonish we do it “in all wisdom”, wisdom that flows from the word of God we have allowed to dwell richly in us. 

How we teach and admonish matters. 

That brings us back to the five virtues, and love as the motivation for all of our interaction together. 

A transformed community is a community that overflows in worship to God v16 

When we allow the word of Christ to richly dwell in us, it will overflow and transform our community. 

How is your life transforming this community of believers? 

How is your life transforming the world around you?

 

DO YOU LIVE BC?

Most people think the Church is a Biblical Community.

However, for that to be true, the people who make up the Church actually need to practice Biblical Community.

Biblical community is not merely a gathering of people who agree with the Bible (although this is required). Biblical community is sharing life together in ways that reflect the biblical picture of care and love. It is to fulfill the many “one another” passages God placed in His Word.

Romans 12:10  Outdo one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:16  Live in harmony with one another

Romans 15:7  Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you

2 Corinthians 13:11  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace

Ephesians 4:2  With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you

Ephesians 5:19  Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs

Ephesians 5:21  Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ

Colossians 3:16  Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Encourage one another and build up one another

1 Thessalonians 5:15  See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another

Hebrews 3:13  Exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened
by the deceitfulness of sin

Hebrews 10:24  Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works

James 5:16  Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another

1 Peter 4:9  Show hospitality to one another without grumbling

1 Peter 4:10  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another

1 Peter 5:5  Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another

1 John 4:11  If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

Dustin Willis wrote this article for the Challies Blog entitled “Living on Mission through Biblical Community”. He writes,

“We can’t choose Jesus and not choose the church. They’re a package deal. That’s because God never intended for us to live out the Christian life alone.”

Is biblical community something you have thought about?

How do you make provision for it?

If you don’t, what is the reason?

Do you think this issue is important to God?

Do you see biblical community as a blessing for you and for others?

If you are committed to biblical community, what are some creative new ways to walk in it?

 

LADIES WE HAVE A CONFERENCE FOR YOU!

Sovereign Grace Women's Weekend

by Debbie Huber

Sovereign Grace Church of Marlton, NJ has invited the women of Greentree to attend a special regional Women’s Weekend Conference with speaker and author Nancy Guthrie.

The theme for this conference is “Oh For Grace To Trust Him More”. Pastor Warren Boettcher and his wife Kim of Sovereign Grace Church are dear friends of Kyle and mine and I am confident that the Greentree women will feel warmly welcomed!

Nancy is a prolific author, Bible study teacher, and international conference speaker. She also offers companionship and biblical insight to the grieving through Respite Retreats that she and her husband, David host for couples who have faced the death of a child, through books and through the GriefShare video series. She has also written a series of books, “Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament”.

I first heard of Nancy Guthrie a few years ago through her testimony that appeared on a blog. Nancy and her husband had two babies born with a rare metabolic disorder who both died before they were six months old. The sadness and suffering that they experienced touched my heart, but her response to this great loss was what stood out to me. She learned that God allows suffering into our lives for a purpose, “instead of running from it, we can embrace it, and look around for God in it”.

Nancy’s message to those who are hurting:

“Instead of urging them to pray away their suffering, I want to encourage them to look for God in the midst of it. If God has allowed suffering into your life, it is for a significant purpose. So rather than just focusing on getting rid of it, seek to discover God’s purpose in your pain, to submit to his plan and his purpose, to please him in how you respond to adversity. You have an incredible opportunity to glorify God just by your simple trust in him during these dark days. He will bring you from the darkness into the light, so look for him in the darkness.”

The conference is November 13-14, 2015. It should be a wonderful weekend of refreshment for us with strong Biblical teaching, worship and time for reflection, as well as food, skits, and prizes. There are a block of hotel rooms available at a discounted rate.

This conference is close enough that you can drive both days to avoid hotel costs. Or you can invite a friend to stay with you and enjoy a ladies fellowship getaway!
Whether you stay over or just attend the teaching, consider someone new in our church you can invite to share the experience with us

You can find out more and register here at our website. Remember the deadline for registration is November 1!

THE SERVANT’S TOWEL

wash20feet

Jesus rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.

Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:4-5, 12-17)

This is a simple, clear and powerful picture that Jesus has given us.

Washing a guest’s feet was the mark of a gracious host. It was meant to serve the guest who had been walking dusty roads wearing a sandals.

The job of washing feet was left to whichever servant had the lowest rank in the house.

Jesus example for us is not to go out and find someone’s feet to wash. It is to place ourselves in the role of a servant who is willing to humble ourselves to care for the needs of someone else.

How can you serve the people you will interact with today?

What unimpressive, yet helpful task of care can you bow your heart to perform?

Are you willing to go through today wearing a servant’s towel?

Next time you are tempted to resist the Holy Spirit’s encouragement to serve someone, picture our Lord Jesus on his knees, before a basin of dirty water as he carefully washes a long row of feet.

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them”