Sermon of the Day: Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Part 1
The Life-Changing Ministry of Why
Following Christ means making disciples. His words echo in the back of our minds, “Go therefore and make disciples . . . ” (Matthew 28:19). Not first and foremost “have daily devotions” or “give to the poor,” but make disciples. We don’t become a Christian by making disciples, but once we are in Christ, few things come closer to capturing the heart of our calling while we’re still here on earth.
The reality, though, is that we have always been involved in disciple-making, even from birth — just not always disciple-making for Jesus. You are a disciple. The question is: Who are you following? You have disciples. The question is: How are you influencing the people watching you?
Every one of us — young or old, American, African, or Asian, believer or unbeliever — is engaged in some form of discipleship. Every one of us follows someone, and every one of us carries significant influence over someone else. As Mark Dever writes in his book on disciple-making, “To be human is to be a disciple. God didn’t present Adam and Eve with a choice between discipleship and independence, but between following him and following Satan. We are all disciples; the only question is, of whom?” (44).
Christian disciple-making — or “discipling,” as Dever refers to it — wields the universal human patterns of influence, modeling, and formation for the fame of Jesus.
Not All Teachers, But All Teach
What is discipling? Dever says, “At its core, discipling is teaching.” He goes on, “Your discipling should help people understand more. . . . Through discipling, you want people to know why Christians pray, why we share the gospel, why we join the church, why knowledge of God’s sovereignty impacts how we live, and more” (83).
Discipling is a ministry of how, but it should be even more so a ministry ofwhy. Discipling others absolutely involves modeling faith and godliness with our lives (Philippians 3:17), but effective discipling also imparts the reasons for believing in and living for Jesus (2 Timothy 2:2).
Anyone can imitate Christianity for a while without any real conviction, but that kind of “faith” won’t last, and won’t save. The younger men and women looking up to us need the truths we believe — the truths behind how we live — far more than they need a good example to follow. You can never teach anyone all the how’s, but when you teach them the why’s, you prepare them to exercise wisdom and generate their own how’s long into the future.
To be clear, it matters how our disciples live (Hebrews 12:14), and we should be training them to live rightly before God (Matthew 28:20), but it will not matter how they live if their lives are not shaped and motivated by the word of God and his gospel. All discipling should involve teaching — stopping to tell those over whom we have influence why we believe what we believe and why we live like we live. Discipling doesn’t just walk them around the car; it pops the hood and shows them the engine.
Five Things Love Does
In discipling, we model and teach toward a deeper love for and obedience to Christ. The engine of our discipling, though, runs on love. Without love, all our effort, intentionality, and strategies are as nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1–3). Attempting to disciple others apart from growing and overflowing love may look virtuous, even heroic, but it will eventually wear thin and run out. If we try to disciple without love, we may help others look like Christians, but we’ll lack what they need most: a new heart filled with real affection and devotion.
I’m not mainly thinking of our love for the various people in our lives. Dever warns, “Ultimately, our toil and labor cannot root in our love for them or their love for us. It must root in our love for Christ, his love for us, and his love for them” (33). We won’t find the well we need in discipling somewhere deep inside ourselves. We must draw from a deeper, fuller, living well of grace, truth, and love.
Are your discipling relationships — with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and so on — marked by real, genuine love? Dever offers five characteristics of true love in these relationships. I’ve added questions to help them serve as ways to test our own hearts in our efforts to disciple others.
1. “Love initiates a discipling relationship.”
- Am I willing to initiate intentional time together with this person?
- Beyond starting the relationship, will I bring up the hard conversation we need to have?
- Am I bold enough to consistently move our conversation to spiritual things?
2. “Love perseveres in a discipling relationship.”
- Am I ready to keep calling after months of seeing little fruit or progress?
- Will I give up if this person falls back into an old pattern of sin?
- How will I respond to the inconveniences in this relationship?
3. “Love humbly receives criticism that often comes in a discipling relationship.”
- How do I respond to criticism or opposition in general — with humility or pride?
- Specifically, what will I feel or say when this person pushes back on what I’m teaching them?
- What healthy ways am I encouraging give-and-take in this relationship?
4. “Love humbly gives of itself in a discipling relationship.”
- What sacrifices am I making to spend time discipling this person?
- Do I tend to feel bitter or prideful about the sacrifices I make for others?
- Jesus says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Can I say the same?
5. “Love allows us to end discipling relationships.”
Dever helpfully unpacks this last statement about love, “We need a love that humbles us enough to recognize that what they need is not us, but God, and that God can use us for a while, and then use someone else” (91).
- Do I think of myself as savior or as one instrument among many in the Savior’s hands?
- How do I think about my role in this particular person’s life — as essential and irreplaceable, or as complementary and temporary?
- Am I willing to help move this person on to other disciplers when their needs or circumstances suggest it’s time? To that end, it may be wise to establish a clear time frame up front (e.g. a month, a year, two years), so that neither person assumes the disciplining relationship is indefinite.
What Will We Leave Behind?
You will follow, and you will lead and teach. What will be the legacy of your life and example among the people in your life who outlive you? Again, Dever writes, “The people around you will influence you, for better or worse. And for better or worse you in turn will affect the people around you. . . . None of us is an island.”
A sea of seven billion people, and no islands. We may feel like we live on an island most days, like our decisions mainly affect us and only us. But the reality is that others will notice what we do and how we do it, what we say and how say it. What they notice will either inspire them to follow Jesus, or comfort their animosity or disinterest. We disciple in everything we do, so we should be intentional in everything we do to model joy in Jesus — and as often as we can, to teach them how to find that joy for themselves.
Dever asks, “When you step out of the hallway of this life into the room of eternity, what will you have left behind in the lives of others?” (26). Will we leave behind a bright, but fading image of ourselves — our gifts, our interests, our successes — or a bold and lasting image of Christ leading to eternal life?
Sermon of the Day: Why Did God Create the World?
A man’s steps are of the Lord;
How then can a man understand his own way?
Copied from: illustration source
Men, are there areas in your life that you would like to improve in? Maybe your devotion time? Your marriage? Parenting? Work? I’m sure for many, if not all of us the answer is yes. Right?
Awesome, glad we are in agreement with that.
Now, in all those areas you want to improve in, how much time are you investing to grow? What are you reading, watching or listening to in order to grow in those areas?
Would it be safe for me to say that most of us are not investing into ourselves in many of those areas.
No one has shown us that’s why. We have watched the men before us and around us just work it through blind.
Some of them turned out alright, but we are smarter and more skilled than them. So I’m sure we can do better. Right?
Men, we have been created from dust, and to dust we will return. (Genesis 3:19)
Men that sinful disease in all of us called pride needs to be a target in your life. We need to target pride with all our might and put it to death daily.
Men, humble yourselves in those areas you want to grow in. Seek counsel. Seek wisdom and above all things, seek the Lord.
Your every step, whether you want to admit it or not is of the Lord. So why not seek Him whole-heartedly and align your thoughts with His Word.
Then and only then; understanding your way may not be crystal clear, but the peace and clarity will be undeniable.
We need to stop doing life blind. We need to stop thinking we are doing okay. We need to have the humility to say I need to do so much better and we need to have the grit to do something about it. We need to love our wives and children more than ourselves. Live a life of seeking personal growth and development through God’s Word, and gifted teachers. We need to stop making excuses and make it happen.
Please know that I love you, but please hear the urgency in my heart and tone. Men if we don’t work on changing we will be old men of regret and shame.
The Biggest Temple in Town
Few seemingly neutral realities today claw for our hearts like sports and athletics.
Many Christians aren’t allured in the least by spectator sports. God bless you. But for those of us who claim Jesus as Lord and also get hyped about our favorite teams, we need a regular soul-check. And especially at the onset of football season.
Sports and athletic competitions are good gifts from God, but we dare not go all-in without our eyes wide open. Not in this culture. Sport is one of the most alluring, and subtle, competitors for our heart’s deepest allegiance.
“Watching football has become deeply religious for millions.”
Our favorite teams are not just after our wallets; they’re after our hearts with every detail of carefully constructed game-day liturgy — from tailgating to cheers and chants, fight songs and the national anthem, concessions and fireworks, the rhythms and habits of what it means to be a fan. Watching football has become deeply religious for millions, and for the Christian, becoming aware of the draw that our favorite teams have on us is not meant to spoil our sanctified enjoyment, but to preserve it.
And college and professional football have a particularly powerful effect on its faithful. I confess, I’m excited about the new professional football stadium in town — and even more excited about my favorite college team — and I want to save myself, and those I love, the long-term grief of my being unhealthily engaged.
Seventy Thousand Worshipers
For years, we Minnesotans have been looking forward to this weekend. Our pro-football Vikings play their first regular-season game in the new billion-dollar stadium in downtown Minneapolis — and against our rivals from one state over, the Green Bay Packers.
The new stadium sits on the same site where the Metrodome sat for more than thirty years. The dome was a sight in its day; now the new house dwarfs it. Word is the old Metrodome could fit fully inside the new stadium without even touching its walls or roof.
Beginning two and a half years ago, we watched as demolition workers deflated the dome, imploded her walls, and carried away the pieces to clear the site. Then for months on end, we have seen the new structure rise, higher and huger than we thought was possible for a stadium. The new structure is so massive and imposing that it’s seemed to some of us who frequent that part of town (Bethlehem Baptist is only a couple blocks away) as if an invading army is building the siege works to conquer our city.
Now the edifice is complete, and this Sunday chiseled soldiers in helmets and shoulder pads will come streaming in to the deafening roar of 70,000 worshipers.
And if the cheapest ticket this weekend wasn’t going for $200, I’d be eager to be in attendance. As a sports enthusiast, I’m excited. But as a Christian, the pomp and extravagance of it all is eye-opening, and serves as a reminder to keep my fickle heart in check.
What Is Your Temple?
There was a Colosseum in ancient Rome too, completed in A.D. 80, as the sect of the Nazarenes was emerging from Judaism and becoming what we know today as Christianity. This veritable temple to humanity towered over the building-less fledging church of the first century, which met in homes and faced increasing persecution. Some Christians even died as spectacles in the stadium, chewed up in the entertainment juggernaut of the Colosseum.
Today that Colosseum stands in ruins. The church it once dwarfed now has more than a billion members worldwide, and stands ten thousand times taller in the world today. And it will be infinitely more significant in the age to come.
Our team, and our new stadium, and each weekend’s big game can feel so significant in the moment. They tug at our heart strings. They yank. Victory can make us unfittingly happy, while defeat unsuitably drags us down. At these junctures — and perhaps every weekend during football season — it is wise to ask ourselves how much this derivative reality is calling the plays in our hearts. What is the biggest temple of our affections? Where is our worship? What captures our idle thoughts? Because what captures our idle thoughts threatens to be the idol of our hearts.
“What captures our idle thoughts threatens to be the idol of our hearts.”
How much am I building my life around my favorite team and its games, and what important things in life are suffering because of this growing priority? Am I getting so attached to this team and to this season that I’m neglecting much more important realities like family, friends, work, studies, and most significantly the stirring of my heart for Jesus? Am I closer to him because of sports, or are the games subtly moving me away by eclipsing him in my heart?
If you’re with me in often feeling the unrighteous pull of sports and athletics on your heart, you may need to withdraw and take a break. I’ve done that before, and may do it again. But that also can be the easy way out. God is indeed the giver of every good gift, but no gift is truly good apart from him.
We don’t enjoy his gifts most by intercepting them and running the other direction, but by letting their unique joys and thrills lead us back to him — the greatest joy and the truest glory. That may not mean we say a prayer before every down and sing a hymn after every score, but the full life is a Godward life — Godward in our marriages and families, Godward in our work, Godward even in our rest and entertainment. When Jesus is our greatest treasure, then football can find its good, chastened, and truly enjoyable place.
With holy resolve and the help of the Spirit, we will not let the biggest temple in town become our temple as well.
Sermon of the Day: Conversion to Christ : The Making of a Christian Hedonist
2 Chronicles 33:9-13
9 So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. 10 And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. 11 Therefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. 12 Now when he was in affliction, he implored the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, 13 and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.
This passage was an amazing encouragement to me the other day.
Here we have King Manasseh, one of the wickedest kings ever to rule over the land of Judah. He completely turned God’s people from the living God. In worship, in their hearts and minds, the people were lead astray. In every possible way, Manasseh was wicked.
What happened to Manasseh will happen to all men without Christ, judgement. God finally judged the wicked actions of Manasseh. In his imprisonment he repented.
This must have been some pretty intense treatment. For someone this wicked and evil to actually humble himself before the Lord and completely repent is a complete miracle.
This is a beautiful picture of the abounding grace and mercy of our God. God says in His Word that He wants all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). The only reason this does not happen is because God has allowed us to have free will. We choose our own paths.
I have to be honest, there are individual where in my narrow and judgmental mind, I have thought there is no way they will ever humble themselves before the Lord. I could not have been more wrong.
The Love of Christ is truly able to penetrate any heart. No matter how wicked, evil, bitter, angry and everything else. God in His loving power and grace is fully capable and ready to love and forgive any man.
So for those of you that may have had my thoughts, my encouragement for you is to keep praying. Pray with confidence that God wants that individual to be saved and come to know Him and love Him personally.
Please don’t make the horrible mistake I made, of putting Almighty God into a box that limits His power and love.
Lay Aside the Fear of Man
Why do we fear others’ disapproval so much? We all experience this fear, and most of us don’t want to admit how serious its tyranny can be.
The Bible calls this the “fear of man,” and it can weave a web of ambiguity around issues that are biblically clear. The fear of man can immobilize us when we should take action, and gag us into silence when we should speak. It feels powerful, but its power is deceptive.
That’s why the Bible tells us, “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe” (Proverbs 29:25). The Hebrew word here for “snare” refers to traps hunters used to catch animals or birds. Snares are dangerous. If we get caught, we must do whatever it takes to free ourselves.
God has the power to free us and he wants us living in the safe freedom of trusting him. But he frees us not by removing our fear of disapproval, but transferring it to the right place. And typically, he frees us by helping us face our false fears so that they lose their power over us.
God’s Design in the Fear of Disapproval
It’s important we understand why our desire for approval and fear of disapproval is so strong.
Due to our sin, weaknesses, and perhaps traumatic past experiences, we might assume these things are merely consequences of the fall. But at the core, they’re not. God actually designed us to be motivated by these emotionally powerful forces, for they uniquely reveal what we love.
Each of us instinctively knows, as creatures, that who we are and what we’re worth are not things we define for ourselves. We didn’t create ourselves. We didn’t choose our DNA, intellectual and physical powers, families, cultures, early education, time periods, or most other major influences. We are not autonomous but contingent creatures.
And each of us also instinctively knows our existence fits into a larger purpose or story and, despite postmodernism’s attempts to convince us otherwise, it is impossible for us to create our own ultimate meaning. Deep down, we know such self-created meaning is absurd.
So, we cannot help but derive our identity, value, and meaning from external sources. Moreover, we instinctively seek them from external personal sources; we know deep down they are bestowed on us by a Person.
The person(s) to whom we ascribe most authority — to define who we are, what we’re worth, what we should do, and how we should do it — is the person(s) we fear the most, because it is the person(s) whose approval we want most.
God designed us this way, for it reveals who and what our heart loves. This fear comes right from the place where our heart’s treasure is stored (Matthew 6:21). It is a fear of losing or not obtaining something we really desire, which is why it wields such power over us.
You Obey the One You Fear
When we feel this fear, it can stir up emotional fog and psychological complexity. But we cut through to the heart of things if we remember a simple biblical truth: we obey the one we fear.
The person(s) whose reward of approval we desire most — whose curse of disapproval we most fear to receive — is the person(s) we will obey, our functional god. That’s why the Bible so often commands us to “fear the Lord.” Here are two examples:
“And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the LORD, which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12–13)
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Both Moses and Jesus command us to love God supremely (Deuteronomy 6:5;Matthew 22:37), and both of them command us to fear God supremely. They’re not mutually exclusive commands; they’re two sides of the same coin.
They’re commanding us to seek the massive eternal reward of God’s approval more than puny man’s fleeting approval, and to fear the terrible eternal curse of God’s disapproval more than puny man’s fleeting disapproval. They’re commanding us to direct our love and fear to the right God.
Lay Aside the Fear of Man
The fear of man is a snare because man is a false god, but the fear of the Lord is safe because he really is God (Proverbs 29:25). The fear of man is a closely clinging sin that entangles our legs in the race of faith and we must lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). How?
- Confess your fear of man. As soon as you recognize fear of man, confess it as sin to God and repent. If possible, confess it to faithful friends who will help you fight it.
- Question your fear of man. What exactly are you afraid of and why? Do you really have good reason to fear, especially in light of Matthew 10:28? Articulating your fear often exposes it as the pathetic thing it is.
- Courageously confront your fear of man. “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Obedience calls for courage. Courage is not the absence of the emotion of fear, but the resolve to obey despite what we feel. Exercise your trust in God by stepping out in obedience. “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Trusting God is safe; fearing man is not (Proverbs 29:25). God usually teaches us this through the hard lesson of obeying in spite of feeling afraid. For then we learn to trust God’s promises more than our perceptions and reach the place where “we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).
10 But He knows the way that I take;
When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.
11 My foot has held fast to His steps;
I have kept His way and not turned aside.
12 I have not departed from the commandment of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth
More than my necessary food.
What a powerful passage of scripture.
God allows us to go through things (tests) so that we can grow. So that in the end, all things work together for His good. So that in the end we can shine forth like gold. This gold is faith, peace, love, joy and hope; for starters. Allow the testing of God to draw you closer to Him, not push you away. The best in our mind is not the best. God has your best interest in mind. We just need to have the servant mindset and humility to trust Him.
How does Job hold fast to God’s steps? How does he not turn aside from the commandments of God?
It could not be any more clear than the last two lines.
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than necessary food.
Brothers do you treasure Gods Word like this? Do you see God’s Word as more necessary than food? When we do we shall surely taste and see how good the Lord is. We will surely break the chains of sin in our lives. We will stop flopping back and forth from part time christian to part time heathen.
Grow in Him. Hunger for Him men.