Sunday, July 26, 2015

Servant of God: The Mark

July 26, 2015

Servant of God
The Mark
Deuteronomy 15:12-17

This morning we are going to begin a series of lessons I have titled "Servant of God"
  • In this lesson we will examine what it means to be a true servant of God
  • We'll also get a better understanding of the joy and love that comes from being a servant of God.

I am not a fan of snakes...never liked them.
  • My understanding is that you can tell what type of snake one is by its "markings."
  • Poisonous ones have certain marking while harmless one have different ones.

In our text this morning, we’re reading about an entirely different kind of “marking.
  • Deuteronomy describes a marking that only special people had.
  • From that we will see that we as Christians also have a "mark."

We'll see that he mark that we have been sealed with is also a covenant that we have made to obey and follow the one who marks us.
  • All too many times we become "spiritual hitchhikers"
  • A hitchhiker on the road just wants a ride, they don't want to help with gas, commitment.

In the same way, in just about every congregation you’ll find these “spiritual hitchhikers”.

They essentially say to God "If I’m comfortable. If I’m happy. If I like the preaching, the song service, and I like people… then I’ll SIT at church and take it all in."
  • I do want to be involved with personal work, visitation, benevolence.
  • By the way, if anything happens that irritates me, I’m outta here!
  • So, on my own terms, I’ll ride along with you, God"
This is not the commitment we find when we are "marked" by God.

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same. Deut. 15:12-17

In our society, a person who gets into financial trouble goes on welfare.
But in early Israel, they had a little different kind of welfare.
  • God demanded that His people have compassion on the poor and help them.
  • He commanded that a certain portion of the Temple tithe was to go to help those struggling financially.
  • He also required that a certain portion of fields and vineyards were set aside for the needy to collect food.
    • The poor were allowed to glean what they needed from the unharvested parts of fields.
There was another option open to them.
  • They could sell themselves into slavery.
    • The money from being sold into slavery would be used to pay off the person’s debts.
    • This slavery was only be for a limited amount of time...God decreed that after serving 6 years, these slaves were to be set free.
  • But what if this slave didn’t want to be set free?
  • What if he wanted to stay with his master?
    • God allowed the slave to make the relationship permanent.
    • And the way this relationship became permanent was that the servant was voluntarily “marked” for the rest of his life.
      • 17 says: “then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your maidservant.”

Does any of this apply to us?
  • "...because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9

The committed servant
In the days of Jesus if you called someone Lord you were stating that they owned you.
  • During this time slaves were slaves forever.
    • Their only hope was that their master would set them free.
  • But in Romans 10, God is telling us that you can choose to be Jesus’ servant.
    • You get to choose if Jesus is going to be your Lord/Master.
    • You get to choose whether or not you will serve Him.
    • You get to choose if you will allow Him to have ownership of your life.

In Deut. why did God choose the ear to be marked?
  • God chose the ear of the servant because - in this ceremony (where the awl was pushed thru) - the servant was declaring something to his master.
    • He was going to “listen” to him the rest of his life.
    • What the master said would be Law to him.
    • He would be eager to “hear” and obey.
When you and I became Christians we declared to God… we’re going to listen to you.
  • Your voice will be the ONLY voice that gets our full attention.
  • This implies more than just hearing what God says.
  • The implication is that you are saying, “I not only hear, I will obey!”

A loving servant of God
What is the kind of servant God wants?
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:1-2
  • I’d rather be the servant who hears and obeys.
  • I’d rather not be the branch that God cuts off and throws away.

Another thing important to the Deut. text is that his process was voluntary...the servant did not have to go through the process.
  • Jesus said “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching” John 14:24.
    • The only reason for someone to become a Christian and live for Jesus is because they love Him so much.
    • They love His family (the church) so much that they can’t think of doing anything else with their lives.
Multiple text in John confirms this:
  • “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me…" John 14:21
  • "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching…” John 14:23
  • “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. John 15:10
The good servant obeys Jesus… because he loves Him.

So the question this morning for you is this… do you REALLY love Jesus?
  • I’m not asking the question to make you feel guilty.
    • I’m just asking: are you so consumed with love for Jesus that you literally want to please Him in everything you do?

In Deuteronomy 15 we find that the servant was marked for life.
Are you are marked?
  • Well, yeah. Once you became a Christian… God marked you.
    • 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13-14

When do we receive his "seal" or mark?
  • Eph. says comes by "hearing the word of truth" and "believing in Him".
  • Deut. 15 shows us that the slave could not stop by simply declaring they wanted to belong to the Master.
    • There was a piercing that took place.
    • We too can't stop at a confession.

In Acts 2 there was a confession, "What do we do?" was the question.
  • Here is the answer:
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Isaiah 53:5 say “… he was PIERCED for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
  • We weren’t pierced to belong to Him.
  • He was pierced so WE COULD belong to Him.
And where did that piercing take place?
  • On the cross… where He died for our sins.
  • So we did NOT have our body pierced to belong to Christ.
But the beauty of the salvation act is that God allows us to identify with what Jesus did on that cross.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

When the Rock Rolled: In the Darkest Times

July 12, 2015

When the Rock Rolled
In the Darkest of Times
Acts 12:1-19

(Advance Slide #1)

Have you ever experienced dark times in your life?
  • Your struggle with sin, depression, a lack of faith.
  • Maybe your loved one is sick...death is certain and you feel alone.

(Advance Slide #2)

How do you respond in situations like this?
  • Does it pull you closer to God or does it drive a wedge between you and God?
    • Sadly, for many they lose their faith during the darkest of times.
  • Is it possible to overcome the darkness and see the light of day?

So far in this lesson series we have considered the first century church.
  • Specifically, the infant church right after the rock was rolled away from the tomb.

(Advance Slide #3)

    • The lessons have been:
      • Keep on something to advance the gospel.
      • Shake things up...share those hard messages that others do not want to hear.
      • How will we handle the reaction of these messages?
      • Are you willing to reach out to different people?
      • Have you become too comfortable...or are you willing to change.

Now, thing do not seem like they are go fact Peter is facing a personal darkness.

(Advance Slide #4)

  • He is in jail..facing death.
  • This morning we will examine what happened and what we can learn from it when we face these dark times.

(Advance Slide #5)

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Acts‬ ‭12‬:‭1-5‬

(Advance Slide #6)

What is going on here?
  • The church is in danger...
  • James, the brother of John, is dead.
  • And Peter finds himself in 'chains'...he's in jail chained to two Roman soldiers.

This was not the first time he was in chains in jail.
  • You see a few years earlier he was in jail and an angle can and opened the door.
    • And as simply as we walked in here today Peter walked into the temple courts and began preaching Jesus.
  • That time he wasn't facing death, and he wasn't chained to soldiers but King Herod is not going to take a chance.

(Advance Slide #7)

Herod, no there is an interesting character.
  • He is the grandson of Herod the Great...actually he was anything but great.
    • He was a wicked man and his grandson King Herod was not any better.
  • Can God use someone like Herod?
    • It has happened before...consider the Apostle Paul

It is in the darkest of nights that we experience doubt.

(Advance Slide #8)

Have you ever doubted?
  • We should not be ashamed...even those who walked with Jesus.
    • Even those who walked with Him, those who experienced all the power and majesty doubted.
  • Peter remembered this and wrote, "casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you." 1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭7
    • Peter knew first hand!‬

Back to Acts 19 we find the rest of the story.

(Advance Slide #9)

  • Chained to two Roman soldiers and all of the sudden...the chains are gone!
    • This shouldn't have surprised him but it did!
  • As soon as he realized that it was real he hurried to Mary's house.
    • Inside the house they were having a prayer service or me...the entire church was praying for him to be freed.
    • He knocks and knocks on the door but no one answers.
  • Finally a servant comes and asks who it is and she doesn't believe him!
    • She leaves him outside while she goes and tells the others.
    • They finally recognize his voice and let him in.

They prayed all night for him to be released and when he was...they didn't believe it!

(Advance Slide #10)

There will come a time in your life, if it hasn't already happened, when we will feel like we are bound in chains.
  • We will feel like Peter in the dark night, bound to soldiers.
    • It will feel like the entire world is caving in around you.
    • Everything that you hold true seems to be going away from you.

When this timed comes we cannot be ashamed...even in those dark nights.

(Advance Slide #11)

  • We need to understand that it is in the darkest of nights that God shines His most powerful light.

(Advance Slide #12)

REMEMBER - Jesus, the light of the word was born in the middle of the night, a light for the darkest world.
  • That is why Jesus came...He came to a world that feels pain and suffers loss to give them hope!
  • We will suffer in this word and we will die in this world.
  • In this world we will experience pain and loss and death!
  • But we can rejoice...WE DO NOT BELONG TO THIS WORLD!

(Advance Slide #13)

Jesus' death on the cross broken our chains of sin and death!
  • He gives us hope even in the darkest of nights...
In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. John‬ ‭14‬:‭2-3‬


Let's not sugar coat things, in this world we will have trouble...we will experience the darkest of nights.
  • The great blessing is that this world is only for a moment!

(Advance Slide #14)

While in this world we know the darkness of despair and doubt.
  • But we do not belong to this world.
  • One day...Jesus will return for us!

Are you ready?