Tag Archives: Paul

End Times Requirements

(sermon notes)

The Bible is FILLED with references to the END TIMES…

In the OLD Testament: “The Day of the Lord”

In the NEW Testament: “The Second Coming of Christ”

Are there requirements for those of us who desire to be on the Lord’s side when it comes to those END TIMES?

How did the Disciples and the New Testament writers see themselves?

Because that is probably a good indicator as to how WE ought to see ourselves.

JESUS

“whoever wants to be first among you must be your servant

(Matthew 20:26) (NIV)

“Well done, good and faithful servant

(Matthew 25:21 +) (NIV)

PAUL

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus”

(Rom. 1:1) (NIV)

“Paul & Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus”

(Philippians 1:1) (NIV)

“Paul, a servant of God”

(Titus 1:1) (NIV)

JAMES

“James, a servant of God”

(James 1:1) (NIV)

PETER

“Simon Peter, a servant & apostle of Jesus Christ”

(2 Peter 1:1) (NIV)

JUDE

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ”

(Jude 1) (NIV)

THE REVELATION TO JOHN

“This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place.”

(Revelation 1:1) (NIV)

In every one of these places where the English NIV translation reads: “servant” the New Testament, written in Greek, actually has the word: doulos. While the NIV translates it as “servant”, doulos is better translated as “slave.”

According to the NLT Study Bible, doulos (Strong’s: 1401) “… refers to a person who is the property of another person. A slave can be bought, sold, inherited, leased or jointly owned. This language is also used figuratively to identify something that exercises power over a person (e.g. “slave to sin”). In the NT, believers are often identified as slaves of Christ Jesus, with an emphasis on their identity with, obedience to, and humble service for their master.”

NLT Study Bible (Tyndale: 2008) p. 2222

So… The attitude of the disciples and the writers of the New Testament was one of being SERVANTS, or more accurately, SLAVES. Ones that looked to their Master for direction, guidance, and commands.

As Servants of Jesus, what is expected of us as we approach the End Times?

In Luke 12, verses 35-48, we see a series of four servant/slave pictures that Jesus uses to emphasize the expectations of his followers as the end times get closer to the end.

As servants (or slaves) of Christ, looking for our role as we approach the End Times, we are expected to:

1. Be Ready for His Coming

35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.”

–LUKE 12:35-37 (NLT)

As servants (or slaves) of Christ, looking for our role as we approach the End Times, we are expected to:

2.       Be on Guard for the Enemy

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

 –LUKE 12:39-40 (NLT)

As servants (or slaves) of Christ, looking for our role as we approach the End Times, we are expected to:

3.       Be Ready to Be Caught By the Master Doing Your Job

41 Peter asked, “Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?“

42 And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. 43 If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44 I tell you the truth, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45 But what if the servant thinks, ‘My master won’t be back for a while,’ and he begins beating the other servants, partying, and getting drunk? 46 The master will return unannounced and unexpected, and he will cut the servant in pieces and banish him with the unfaithful.

— LUKE 12-42-46 (NLT)

As servants (or slaves) of Christ, looking for our role as we approach the End Times, we are expected to:

4.       Be Aware of What the Master Wants… and Do It

47 “And a servant who knows what the master wants, but isn’t prepared and doesn’t carry out those instructions, will be severely punished. 48 But someone who does not know, and then does something wrong, will be punished only lightly. When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.

 — LUKE 12:47-48 (NLT)

SUMMARY:

As servants (or slaves) of Christ, looking for our role as we approach the End Times, we are expected to:

  1. Be Ready for His coming
  2. Be on Guard for the Enemy
  3. Be Ready to Be Caught Doing Your Job by the Master
  4. Be Aware of What the Master Wants… and Do It
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All Possible Means

This was my pastor’s letter for the August newsletter from Clarks Mills UMC.n2014-08a

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.

  — 1 Corinthians 9:23 (NIV)

      The Clarks Mills church has a long history of using creative ways to get God’s message of love out to people.  We’ve held Vacation Bible School’s using themes and dressed up as angels, or island natives, or weird animals. Throughout the years, we’ve used flannel boards, stuffed animals, soloists, special music groups, choirs, instruments, dramas, games, computers, videos, audiobooks, stories, and interactive events like ‘Night in Bethlehem’ and ‘Journey to the Cross.’

Some may wonder “Why?” Why not just preach sermons and teach regular Sunday School classes? Why do we have to do all these other things? Well, we got the idea from the Bible.

We all know the Bible shows people lecturing or preaching pretty often, but the Scriptures are also filled with examples of people using stories and parables to get the message to their listeners. Jeremiah used pottery, Ezekiel acted out the siege of Jerusalem,  Jesus made up stories to illustrate his points (parables), Paul talked of wrestlers and racers, and John describes dragons, beasts, scrolls, and  seals. God even had the prophet Hosea choose a wife based on God’s need to teach the people a lesson using Hosea and Gomer as an example! They used whatever means necessary in order to get the message of God out to people.

No matter how different it might appear, no matter how many times something might have been done before, the prophets and teachers in Scripture assessed what their situation was in their setting and, under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit, used the means necessary to proclaim the unchanging truth of God’s word.

At Clarks Mills UMC, we want to get the message out in whatever way we can. Come and join us… you may meet a weird animal, hear the word acted out like a reader’s theater, see a Jewish High Priest (Caiaphas), or hear angelic voices… but you’ll definitely hear the word.

Pastor Dayton

 

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The Rest of the Story

My notes from my Sunday sermons at Reynoldsville: First UMC yesterday.
First Scripture Reading: Mark 1:4-11
Second Scripture Reading: Acts 19:1-7
– – – – – – – – – – – – –

This morning, we look at a short passage from the book of Acts, where Luke has recorded details impressed upon him as important by the Holy Spirit of God, as he follows the ministry of Paul and the early church. But it’s part of a bigger story…
In the chapter before this, Paul has been on an extended tour, preaching and teaching about how to faithfully live life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Paul’s travels, in that one chapter alone included stops in Athens, Corinth, Syria, Ephesus, Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia… and the Bible says that he “held discussions” (18:4,19), and he was “preaching the message” and “testifying” (18:5), “teaching” (18:11), “greeted the church” (18:22), and “strengthening all the believers” (18:23).
And we know that this took a while, first of all because there were no turnpikes… or airports… or taxis, but also because we know that he spent at least a year and a half in one spot alone, Corinth (18:11).
And in our text this morning, he’s at it again and ends up back in the city of Ephesus, where he had stopped briefly in his last set of travels (18:19-21).
And the first thing Luke tells us… is that Paul gets there to Ephesus… “while Apollos was in Corinth…”
OK… so who’s Apollos… and why do we care that he’s in Corinth when Paul gets to Ephesus?
Well, at the end of the chapter before this, in verse 24, we find that Apollos was a Jew who was “eloquent” when he spoke and had a “thorough knowledge” of the Scriptures.
Verse 25 of chapter 18 then lets us know that he had received instruction in “the Way of the Lord” and was able to teach others the facts about Jesus… correctly in fact.
In fact, he ends up teaching and preaching in Ephesus, where Paul had stopped back in verses 19, 20, and 21, but where Paul had not been able to stay long enough to do any long term explanations or teaching or discipleship.
And here comes Apollos, filling in the gap… teaching what he knows… and doing it really well.
But, the Bible goes on to say that Apollos “knew only the baptism of John.” (18:25)
And then here we are now in chapter 19 with Paul encountering Christians from that very same Ephesus and he finds that they “haven’t heard” that there even was a Holy Spirit, let alone received the Holy Spirit.
They, like Apollos before them, had only received a piece of the story… and had followed the form of what they thought was good religious practice… they were baptized in the way that John the Baptist had done… a baptism of repentance.
Folks, without stepping too deeply into the deep waters of baptismal theology, I think there are a couple of things God might be saying through these verses for you and me as we minister here in this place.
First of all, we, like Apollos and the Ephesian Christians Paul encounters, may have all of the instruction and training about Jesus and still be missing a major piece of the life of a Christian disciple.
The head knowledge about Jesus is good, and it’s a great place to start… that’s why we spend so much time and effort and money in having Sunday Schools… We want our children (and even us as adults) to have the godly, Christ-centered head knowledge to make informed and godly decisions… about salvation, about discipleship, about living in the midst of the world as an ambassador for Christ…
But that’s can’t be where it ends… Like Apollos, it’s not enough to simply be knowledgeable, or even eloquent and convincing…
Luke spends several verses, over the course of two chapters, explaining the difference and the incompleteness of Apollos and these Ephesian Christians who only had the baptism of John… Their baptism was simply a response on their part to symbolize their own repentance… And twice, Scripture emphasizes that that simply isn’t enough…
Christian baptism isn’t just a symbolic representation of your repentance or mine… that became clear when Jesus insisted on John baptizing him… Jesus had nothing to repent of… and John knew it… If you remember, John didn’t want to baptize Jesus and said ‘no Lord, I need you to baptize me…’ Because in John’s mind, baptism was a matter of repentance.
But, as would be the case so often in Christ’s ministry, Jesus turned John’s whole idea of baptism on its head… It could no longer be just about repentance. Jesus refused to baptize John in a baptism of repentance and insisted that John baptize him… and Christian baptism changed from that moment on.
John found out from Jesus, Apollos found out from Aquila and Priscilla, and these Ephesian disciples found out from Paul. Christian baptism doesn’t represent what you and I do or decide…
That’s why we, as United Methodists, don’t get all hung up about baptizing children and infants… because it’s not about their repentance, it’s about God choosing to pour his grace and mercy out on people who were still sinners and don’t deserve the gift of salvation… and yet God chooses them anyways.
And babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and even senior citizens all need God’s grace equally… and God pours out his grace on each one… whether they’ve repented yet or not… Baptism is a visible sign of what GOD has already done and is still doing… Offering and grace and mercy to all…
In fact, Scripture teaches that God’s grace is what enables us to even experience the gift of repentance so that we can respond to Christ’s offer of salvation…
Baptism represents God’s grace…
“Well, preacher,” you may be thinking, “I don’t see why this is so important… what difference does it really make anyways?”
Well, enough of a difference that it was included in the Scriptural text as part of the words of God that are for our instruction, doctrine, correction, and training in righteousness. God Himself felt this was important enough to make it into the book…
It makes enough of a difference that the Ephesians were then baptized as Christians in the name of Jesus… because the baptism of repentance simply wasn’t good enough… not for a Christian who had freely experienced the grace of God poured out on him through no effort of his own.
So what do we see here that we can specifically apply, in our day and age, in our situation, in our lives?
First, On this day when we remember Jesus’ baptism, let’s not get baptism and repentance confused… repentance is US recognizing our sin and US choosing to give up that sin. However, baptism is all about what GOD does… not what we do.
Second, let’s take a lesson from Paul, and make sure that we leave people like Aquila and Priscilla, good and mature Christians who can follow up and disciple newer Christians… It’s not enough to have Sunday School training and head knowledge, but rather we want to entrust our young in age and young in faith to people who are living out the Christian walk of faith… and can lead by example as well as by words…
Third, let’s remember that our journey of faith, including our baptism, and also times when we respond to God, are nothing until we allow God to pour out His Holy Spirit on us… filling us and immersing us in His presence and His power through His Spirit.

This morning, I want to encourage each of us to ask ourselves a question…
Where do we find ourselves in these passages?
Are we like these twelve Ephesian disciples? Trying to be faithful, doing all of the right things as best as we can understand them? And yet, still basing our entire Christian walk on our efforts and our decisions and our rational choices and logical understandings?


If so, reach out in prayer to God and allow him to take you beyond mere religious response and fill you with His Spirit… that your life would be a life marked by the outpouring and experience of grace, not merely a religious set of ‘gottas’ and ‘can’ts’ based in your own understanding.
Perhaps, you have already come to that place where you’ve gone beyond the head knowledge and have experienced the power of God being poured out into your life… If so, then according to Scripture there is some gift of the Holy Spirit that He has also given you… for these twelve Ephesians it was tongues and prophesy… Do you know what spiritual gift (or gifts) He gave you when He poured out His Spirit on you?
Finally, are you one who’s experienced the maturing power of God in your life? Then, like Paul, and Aquila and Priscilla, we need you to be reaching out in ministry to those who are still en route… What ministry are you actively involved in… where you are using those spiritual gifts and helping to teach, preach, encourage, or strengthen those younger in the faith like Apollos or the Ephesian disciples?
Can we… WILL we… take that next step?

–Adapted from a sermon I preached Jan. 12, 2003 in Patton, PA


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My Confession

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.

I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does.

–Dayton Mix, 2007, AND ALSO The Apostle Paul, Romans 7:19-25a from The Message

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