I’ve just received some great pictures of one of our ESL groups at work! We are so blessed to share our building with them!
Today’s sermon has been edited, and loaded onto the site (it’s under Grace Sermons). Let us please (!) keep praying for all who have suffered such horrific loss–both in Clackamas and Newtown.
…THANK YOU, all who attended, for a great congregational chat after worship yesterday! The reason have these “chats” is to provide regular times for congregational conversation in an informal setting, where we can discuss our concerns and thoughts about our dear church without the encumbrances (and, to be honest, intimidating nature) of a formal business meeting. No formal decisions are made: we just talk with each other, nicely and honestly. I like to think of the chats as wonderful opportunities for us to learn how to speak and listen to each other in a way that pleases the Lord Jesus! So, here’s what I took away from our chat yesterday:
1. Our congregation notices the sometimes lack-luster quality of our PA system when I preach, but it doesn’t bother the church as much as it bothers me as I preach. You understand that I need to do something to resolve the issue (Knute’s helping me with this), but don’t want me to get too obsessive about it. All is well. Cool.
2. Our elder team needs to move a bit faster in welcoming people into membership of the church. We’re slow about that, sorry! We have a very unique situation here in downtown Portland, in which every single week we have first-time visitors, non-members, etc., to the degree that we always have more people in attendance than the total number of members of the church. We’re used to that, and grateful for the weekly opportunity of gospel-witness, but know we need to integrate people better into the fellowship.
3. We’d like our welcoming team to consider its ministry to begin at the sidewalk of our church, not on the inside of the doors. So, they’ll give more attention to stair-safety, and helping folks get into the church who may have some trouble with our (steep!) steps! Roger is on top of this…
4. We’ll continue to have coffee-snacks after almost every service, and will begin a 3rd Sunday soup lunch, all to provide opportunities for our members and friends to develop more friendships, and to provide opportunities for any of our neighbors who might be in need of a meal. Thanks for bringing this up, Emanuel!
5. Like all churches, yes, we need more money to make budget each month, but…., as reported by Pastor Keane, we’re doing better all the time, and have a growing number of members who have committed to giving more regularly (weekly), as a weekly part of their worship. This seems to have had a wonderful effect on our congregation! Thank you for being creative and committed! God will provide the resources for His will!
6. Pastor Keane and Milena continue to make plans for future ministry, and are growing in the conviction that God has called them to a new ministry endeavor–in East County. Personally, I break out in a cold sweat at the very thought of losing this dear family, and my irreplaceable, beloved partner in this ministry, but…. there is the bigger picture here! God is at work, and we are joyful He’s let us in on what He’s doing! We look forward to the Holy Spirit including Grace Bible Church into this vision, and enlisting us as partners!
7. Next week, another Congregational Chat, and then on Dec. 16 we’ll have our Annual Congregational Business Meeting to approve next year’s budget and other issues related to our church in 2013!
Again, thanks for sticking around to chat! What a privilege and honor it is to serve you, dear church! Blessings, Pastor Ken
Verses 6-12 clearly continue with the Lord’s topic of judging. In verses 1-5 He warned against judging the sin of others when you yourself have not addressed your own sins issues. In 6-12 He continues, revealing to His listeners and us today, how His follower might find the wisdom to constructively address sin in the lives of others. He answers three questions regarding this wisdom:
1. Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them?
2. Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me?
3. How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God?
I. The need for wisdom in ministry. 6
Question: Why might I need divine wisdom if I am to get involved in ministering to others’ needs—particularly as I seek to offer spiritual truth to them? Answer: Because it is not only fruitless, but can be dangerous to insist on sharing the Word and Wisdom of God with people who don’t want to hear it.
6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
Gold, pearls = costly, valuable = (in context), the words shared as you “take the speck” out of your brother’s eye.
There has been much speculation regarding the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns us to avoid sharing our wisdom with: Jews in Jesus’ time (and Jews and Muslims today) considered dogs and pigs to be unclean and detestable. Church fathers, and the Reformers generally felt the people who Jesus referred to as “dogs and pigs” were the uninitiated and unconverted, and that the pastor should take pains to bar these from participating in Communion (the Lord’s Supper). Some modern-day scholars argue that these “dogs and pigs” are those believers who have not moved forward in a life of obedient discipleship. But, it is precisely the “uninitiated”, unconverted, and uncommitted who need to hear the words of wisdom and reproof! Does it seem consistent with Scripture to withhold truth from others on the basis of their moral condition? (Besides, it is impossible for a pastor or church leader to perfectly discern who is truly redeemed and who remains unsaved in his entire church!) I believe the identity of these “dogs and pigs” that Jesus warns His followers to avoid sharing truth with is simply those who neither appreciate nor desire to hear what we have to say to them. When it becomes clear to us, either through our perception of them, or their communication to us, that they are not interested—we are to respectfully not continue engaging them with spiritual truth.
II. The promise of wisdom for ministry. 7-11
Question: Where might I find the kind of wisdom that I need if I am to join in this ministry of Jesus of spreading and sharing His truth to people around me? Answer: Your Father in heaven promises to grant you every ounce of wisdom that you need for faithful living and ministry—if you simply, sincerely ask Him for that wisdom!
A. God will always answer sincere prayer 7-8
7 “Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. 8 “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it shall be opened.
1. Keep asking… 7a, 8a
When do we find ourselves asking for something? When we feel that we need something.
2. Keep seeking… 7b, 8b
When do we seek after something? When we want it, but it is not near or obvious to us.
3. Keep knocking… 7c, 8c
When do we knock? When we desire to be acknowledged by whoever is on the others side of the door, and let in. Having to “knock” at the door of heaven provides a consistent reminder that heaven has been opened to the believer—by our Lord Jesus!
B. God’s answers to our prayers are always perfectly appropriate 9-11
9 “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 “Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
1. Example #1: What father would give his child a stone instead of a loaf of bread?! 9
2. Example #2: What father would give his child a snake instead of a fish? 10
3. Conclusion: If even you know how to give good gifts, how much more will God give you His very Spirit of wisdom? 11
“If you then, being evil, = morally corrupted
Cross-ref: Luke 11:13: “how much more will your Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.” = The “good” that God gives is the presence of His very Spirit in our souls to give us the ability to think and reason according to His wisdom. Do we seek God for His wisdom with the same zeal and desperation as we seek Him for so many other things?
III. The application of wisdom 12
Question: How am I to apply the wisdom that I receive from God? Answer: God provides us with His wisdom so that we might live in an obedient, loving relationship with BOTH Him and with our neighbors.
A. The Golden Rule
H. Thielicke: “There can be no relationship with the Father that does not also include a relationship with our neighbor.”
The Golden Rule is distinct from other religious and moral systems, in that it calls for the positive, active commission of good deeds towards others, not simply the avoidance of negative actions and words. It’s more than simply, “Don’t do any harm to anyone else…” For instance, no law can demand that a citizen pick up a wallet found on the ground and return it to its owner—but the Golden Rule demands that the believer pick up the wallet and promptly return it (and its contents!) to its owner.
B. The Law and the Prophets
Cf: Mat 5:17ff = Here Jesus is answering the question, “How can I have a righteousness greater than the scribes and Pharisees?”
CONCLUSION: What about Grace Bible Church today?
1. Are we sensitive and appropriate in how we discuss and share the Word of God? Do we really care about how it’s received, or do we just want to cast it out there and hope for the best?
2. Do we seek God for wisdom with the same zeal that we seek Him for everything else we want in life? God is NOT our personal errand boy, cash machine, or vending machine! We usually need wisdom more than the things we think we need!
3. Is our faith defined mainly by the sinful things we avoid doing, or by the gracious, kind-hearted things that we DO for those around us?
(Preached at Grace Bible Church 9/30/2012)
We have been blessed with 138 years of continuous ministry here in downtown Portland! What a great celebration today, with a great potluck dinner after worship, and an infant dedication to boot! Sharon, you put together a marvelous feast and celebration! And to the many who helped out; before, during and after the party: THANK YOU! I’ll post some pics here, but have more of them that I’ve already put up on FB (Grace Bible Church, Portland). Blessings, Pastor Ken
In Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus continues His sermon (known to readers today as “The Sermon on the Mount”) by commenting on the potential of anxiety and worry that the believer could very well face once he/she stepped out in a life that clearly served God alone, and not wealth and other worldly pursuits (see verse 24). He teaches that the believer should not live a life of worry and anxiety over needs—wondering if his/her heavenly Father will care about meeting those needs, but instead, confident of God’s fatherly love and concern for His children, the believer can step out in life pursing a life of obeying God’s commands, extending His kingdom, and seeking to demonstrate His righteous ethical standards in all relationships.
In addressing the challenges of living an un-materialistic life in the midst of a pathologically materialistic world, Jesus alludes to three lies that the prevailing materialistic culture will whisper in the ear of a believer:
For sake of clarity, let’s define materialism as the inclination to live life chiefly in the pursuit of the wealth and possessions that one may seek to gain in order to better organize life in a way that brings about the experience and state of living that one assumes will bring happiness and satisfaction. It’s basically a life of living for oneself, to get, gain, spend, and save only for the purpose of serving one’s one, here-and-now goals…
1. Materialism’s First Lie: “There is nothing more to life than what you see in front of you, right now.” 25
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Jesus counters this first lie of materialism with the simple, rhetorical question, “Isn’t it obvious that your life itself is of more value than the things (in this instance, food, drink, and clothing) that are required to sustain that life? He points out the obvious—a car is of more value than the gasoline required to run that car, although gasoline is certainly required—it is not of greater value. Therefore, Christ’s followers should invest or sustain worry over the basic needs of life as if those needed things were in and of themselves more important than life itself. His answer to materialism’s first lie: “Wrong! There is MUCH more to life than what a person eats, drinks, and wears!”
2. Materialism’s Second Lie: “There is no one out there who gives a rip about what happens to you.” 26-30
This lie suggests that we really are all alone—and that the surrounding world of order and intricate function that we observe in nature has nothing to teach us, or demonstrate to us of a Creator who tends to what He has created with meticulous consistency and care.
Jesus reply to this lie is to point to the birds that were doubtlessly flying overhead as He preached on the hills of Galilee that day:
26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
The point? If God the Creator feeds the birds, you need not be anxious that God your Father will feed you. Then, the Lord directs His listeners to consider the wildflowers growing on the hillside around them:
28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
The point? If God the Creator is able to consistently “clothe” the hills in such matchless beauty, God your Father is certainly able to care for the needs of His own children!
3. The Third Lie of Materialism: In this world, it’s each man for himself!” 31-32
It’s logical, but tragic and unnecessary. If there is nothing else to life but what we see in front of our noses, and no divine Person who gives a hoot over what happens to you and I, then it really does end up being a battle of the species, a survival of the fittest, and, to repeat part of a well-worn phrase, “Each man to himself!!”
31 “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
But there is an alternative to such an existence that mirrors the law of the jungle. Some have gained a “heavenly Father” who knows of their needs, and therefore negates the need to continuously seek after and worry about gaining them!
APPLICATION: How can we actively resist whispered lies of materialism in our day-to-day lives? 33-34
1. We resist the lie of materialism by living the life of faith. 33
33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Kingdom = rule, reign = obedience, witnessing, etc.
Righteousness = an ethical dimension to our faith = relating to God and others in a way that is pleasing and honoring to God and to others.
Such a life of faith calls for decisions to live according to the rules of another Kingdom, and to treat others according to the ethical standards of love and grace demonstrated to us by the King of that kingdom!
2. We resist materialism by refusing to live life according to the demands of tomorrow’s fears. 34
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What does it look like for a person to live life today according to the fears that threaten concerning tomorrow? For starters, let’s evaluate the choices we make that are based in an expectation, concern, (or fear) of what might come to pass tomorrow. There such a thing as realistically, responsibly saving and preparing for what will most likely come tomorrow (such as the need for housing, food, employment, transportation, education, etc.), and compromising the obedience, joyful, generous choice of life that we should make today, because of the wonderful gift that today actually is from God!
I’m sorry these notes are a bit thin and sketchy! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to write! Blessings, Pastor Ken
On Sunday Grace Bible Church unanimously approved the change of title and position of Keane Collins to that of Associate Pastor! This is a very, very significant event in the life of any church, the equipping of leaders and recognition of their particular gifting and passion for ministry. What the Spirit of Christ has made abundantly clear to our church members is now official, formal, and public: Keane is a pastor, called to serve the Lord Jesus in caring for His precious Bride, the Church. Welcome, Keane!
Thanks, all, for a great day at George Rogers Park. Thank you, everyone who helped make it all work out! Nate and Luke, great job with music! Annie, great job with food and organization! Cliff, thanks for the doves–they were stunning, as usual! And Seth, congratulations on your baptism, brother! Here’s a few pics…there are plenty more on our FB page. Pastor Ken