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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 27, 2020

==========
September 27 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
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September 27, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Abiding"
1 John 2: 18-28

1 John 2:18-28
Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.

We should allow the Truth to take residence in us.

We should rest in the authority of Jesus

We should have confidence in the promise of heaven.

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Direct download: IBC_20200927.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Sep 27, 2020

==========
Septiembre 27, 2020
El Mundo tiene fecha de Caducidad
==========

1 Juan 2:12-17
Os escribo a vosotros, hijos, porque vuestros pecados os han sido perdonados por su nombre. Os escribo a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os escribo a vosotros, jóvenes, porque habéis vencido al maligno. Os he escrito a vosotros, niños, porque conocéis al Padre. Os he escrito a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os he escrito a vosotros, jóvenes, porque sois fuertes y la palabra de Dios permanece en vosotros y habéis vencido al maligno. No améis al mundo ni las cosas que están en el mundo. Si alguno ama al mundo, el amor del Padre no está en él. Porque todo lo que hay en el mundo, la pasión de la carne, la pasión de los ojos y la arrogancia de la vida, no proviene del Padre, sino del mundo. Y el mundo pasa, y también sus pasiones, pero el que hace la voluntad de Dios permanece para siempre.

1.    El carácter espiritual del creyente.
Os escribo a vosotros, hijos, porque vuestros pecados os han sido perdonados por su nombre .Os escribo a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os escribo a vosotros, jóvenes, porque habéis vencido al maligno. Os he escrito a vosotros, niños, porque conocéis al Padre. 14 Os he escrito a vosotros, padres, porque conocéis al que ha sido desde el principio. Os he escrito a vosotros, jóvenes, porque sois fuertes y la palabra de Dios permanece en vosotros y habéis vencido al maligno. (1 Juan 2.12-14)

a.    Los Niños
b.    Los Padres
c.    Los Jóvenes

2.    El conflicto espiritual del creyente.
No améis al mundo ni las cosas que están en el mundo. Si alguno ama al mundo, el amor del Padre no está en él. (1 Juan 2.15)

a.    Un imperativo
b.    Una evidencia
c.      Una razón

3.    El crecimiento espiritual del creyente.
Porque todo lo que hay en el mundo, la pasión de la carne, la pasión de los ojos y la arrogancia de la vida, no proviene del Padre, sino del mundo. Y el mundo pasa, y también sus pasiones, pero el que hace la voluntad de Dios permanece para siempre. (1 Juan 2.16-17)

a.    El Deseo carnal
b.    El Deseo de los ojos
c.    El Orgullo

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200927.mp3
Category:Juan -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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September 20, 2020  | Micah Cating
"Obedience"
1 John 2:1-17

1 John 2:1-2
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

YOU ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU JOIN WITH GOD

1 John 2:3-6
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

IT IS HARD TO ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU QUESTION YOUR SALVATION

ENJOYING YOUR FAITH VALUES PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION

1 John 2:7-11
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

YOU CANNOT ENJOY YOUR FAITH WITH A HATEFUL HEART

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life —is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR FAITH WHEN YOU LOVE WHAT GOD LOVES

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Direct download: IBC_20200920.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Sep 20 – 21, 2020

==========
Septiembre 20, 2020
Entre lo falso y lo genuino
==========

1 Juan 2:1-11
Hijitos míos, os escribo estas cosas para que no pequéis. Y si alguno peca, Abogado tenemos para con el Padre, a Jesucristo el justo. Él mismo es la propiciación por nuestros pecados, y no solo por los nuestros, sino también por los del mundo entero. Y en esto sabemos que hemos llegado a conocerle: si guardamos sus mandamientos. El que dice: Yo he llegado a conocerle, y no guarda sus mandamientos, es un mentiroso y la verdad no está en él; pero el que guarda su palabra, en él verdaderamente el amor de Dios se ha perfeccionado. En esto sabemos que estamos en Él. El que dice que permanece en Él, debe andar como Él anduvo. Amados, no os escribo un mandamiento nuevo, sino un mandamiento antiguo, que habéis tenido desde el principio; el mandamiento antiguo es la palabra que habéis oído. Por otra parte, os escribo un mandamiento nuevo, el cual es verdadero en Él y en vosotros, porque las tinieblas van pasando, y la luz verdadera ya está alumbrando. El que dice que está en la luz, y aborrece a su hermano, está aún en tinieblas. El que ama a su hermano, permanece en la luz y no hay causa de tropiezo en él. Pero el que aborrece a su hermano, está en tinieblas y anda en tinieblas, y no sabe adónde va, porque las tinieblas han cegado sus ojos.

1.  El creyente verdadero obedece a Dios.
El que dice: Yo le conozco, y no guarda sus mandamientos, el tal es mentiroso, y la verdad no está en él; (2.4)
a.    Guarda los Mandamientos de Dios.
b.    Guarda la Palabra de Dios.

2.  El creyente verdadero imita a Cristo.
El que dice que permanece en él, debe andar como él anduvo.(2.6)
a.    Debe permanecer en El.
b.    Debe andar como El.

3.  El creyente verdadero ama a sus hermanos.
El que dice que está en la luz, y aborrece a su hermano, está todavía en tinieblas.(2.9)
a.    Es un mandamiento nuevo.
b.    Es una prueba de nuestra fe .

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Direct download: IBC_Espanol_20200920.mp3
Category:Juan -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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Istrouma en Español
Sep 13 – 14, 2020

==========
Septiembre 13, 2020
Para ser felices no hay que ser perfectos
==========

1 Juan 1:1-9
Lo que existía desde el principio, lo que hemos oído, lo que hemos visto con nuestros ojos, lo que hemos contemplado y lo que han palpado nuestras manos, acerca del Verbo de vida (pues la vida fue manifestada, y nosotros la hemos visto y damos testimonio y os anunciamos la vida eterna, la cual estaba con el Padre y se nos manifestó); lo que hemos visto y oído, os proclamamos también a vosotros, para que también vosotros tengáis comunión con nosotros; y en verdad nuestra comunión es con el Padre y con su Hijo Jesucristo. Os escribimos estas cosas para que nuestro gozo sea completo. Y este es el mensaje que hemos oído de Él y que os anunciamos: Dios es luz, y en Él no hay tiniebla alguna. Si decimos que tenemos comunión con Él, pero andamos en tinieblas, mentimos y no practicamos la verdad; mas si andamos en la luz, como Él está en la luz, tenemos comunión los unos con los otros, y la sangre de Jesús su Hijo nos limpia de todo pecado. Si decimos que no tenemos pecado, nos engañamos a nosotros mismos y la verdad no está en nosotros. Si confesamos nuestros pecados, Él es fiel y justo para perdonarnos los pecados y para limpiarnos de toda maldad.

1.    Debemos conocer a Jesús
“Lo que ha sido desde el principio, lo que hemos oído, lo que hemos visto con nuestros propios ojos, lo que hemos contemplado, lo que hemos tocado con las manos, esto les anunciamos respecto al Verbo que es vida. 2 Esta vida se manifestó. Nosotros la hemos visto y damos testimonio de ella, y les anunciamos a ustedes la vida eterna que estaba con el Padre y que se nos ha manifestado” (1.1-2)

a.    Jesús es 100 % Dios
b.    Jesús es 100 % hombre

2.    Debemos tener comunión con Jesús
“Les anunciamos lo que hemos visto y oído, para que también ustedes tengan comunión con nosotros. Y nuestra comunión es con el Padre y con su Hijo Jesucristo”(1.3)

a.    Comunión con El
b.    Comunión con los hermanos

3.    Debemos confiar en Jesús
“Este es el mensaje que hemos oído de él y que les anunciamos: Dios es luz y en él no hay ninguna oscuridad”. (1.5)

a.    Tendremos gozo
“Estas cosas os escribimos, para que vuestro gozo sea cumplido.”(1.4)
b.    Tendremos perdón

“Si afirmamos que tenemos comunión con él, pero vivimos en la oscuridad, mentimos y no ponemos en práctica la verdad. 7 Pero, si vivimos en la luz, así como él está en la luz, tenemos comunión unos con otros, y la sangre de su Hijo Jesucristo nos limpia de todo pecado. 8 Si afirmamos que no tenemos pecado, nos engañamos a nosotros mismos y no tenemos la verdad. 9 Si confesamos nuestros pecados, Dios, que es fiel y justo, nos los perdonará y nos limpiará de toda maldad” (1.6-9)

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Direct download: IBC__Espanol_20200913.mp3
Category:Juan -- posted at: 2:49pm EDT

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 13, 2020

==========
September 13 | First John (BR)
Welcome Back! We're glad you've joined us today for our Sunday morning worship service! For more information about Istrouma, go to istrouma.org or contact us at info@istrouma.org.  

We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.
==========

Update
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https://mailchi.mp/istrouma/istroumaupdate-577670?e=%5BUNIQID%5D

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September 13, 2020  | Jeff Williams
"Fellowship"
1 John 1:1-10

Fellowship Is an intimate connection; a partnership

Fellowship is the reason God created us

1 John 1:1-7
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

We cannot enjoy our faith if there is distance between us and God

We hide in the darkness to avoid accountability and transparency.

The Gospel is the vehicle to restore fellowship

1 John 1:8
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

Extra Notes:

Pastor Updates
For all pastor updates and information go to:
https://istrouma.org/pastor

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Click here to add your name to our mailing list:
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Our Website
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John

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon September 13, 2020

"Fellowship"

1 John 1:1-10

 

That just kind of makes it feel good. I don't know why it is just does. I mean, just makes me feel good, but if you have your Bibles to turn to First, John, First John is where we are going to be for the next several weeks. And a, before we jump into reading a chapter one, I want you to just know a little bit about a what's happening here is we study this book chronologically First John was the last book that was written a that we find in the new Testament. We know that revelation comes after that in terms of what we see in our Bible, but First John was actually the first, second and third John with actually the last books that were written.

 

Ah, and it was written by John who is described as the disciples that Jesus loved. And it’s interesting too, to think about it. I don’t know about you, but a growing up in church I've heard about John and he was obviously a close to Jesus. If you knew there was 12 disciples, but then there was three Peter James and John that were kind of like in the inner circle, they spent more time with Jesus. And I believe that Jesus knew just that the impact that they were going to have a in terms of just a, the early church, and so there was this extra time there was spent with them and John was one of those and he's often described as the disciple that Jesus loved.

 

And so from that, you get this impression of this really meek and this really just warmhearted and compassionate person, a but really when you look at all of the Gospel in history combined with that, that when John first comes onto the scene, him and his brother, James were known as the Sons of Thunder. All right. So, they were a little rough around the edges. They were fishermen. That's what they did for living. And so they, they weren't the polished a theologian that we all are often think about it.

 

When we think about John he was at a rough guy. And in fact, if you looked at parts of the Gospel, now there were times when things are going on a that James and John, they're answer to everything we'll say, well, let's just blow someone or something up. That's basically that was their mindset. And Jesus throughout his ministry to them. He taught them what it really meant to love God and to level one another. So we see it at the end of John's life. He was the last of disciples in terms of, he lived longer than the rest of them and when This book was written, John was probably about a hundred years old, a in history tells us that in his last days John died, that he would travel to the different cities where the churches had been planted and he would come there to speak. And a because of who he was, his relationship with Jesus, there would be large crowds that would gather in the John. He was so a week and feeble at that time moment. At that time of his life, a that they would actually have to carry him from city to city. You couldn't even walk. He wasn't even strong at the whole of himself up like riding an animal. So they would have to literally carry him from city to city. And they said that most of the time that his message, it was simply this, that when he would go into a church or he would go into an area where people would gather together to hear his message, that his message, which is just simply this, love one another. Now that wasn't a title of his message. No, that wasn't a theme of his message. And those three words were really all he would say. And then, you know, some of you are thinking, well, I wish your message is where that at short, but they're not. But anyway, that's, that's all he would say, and people would ask him, why is that all you say, isn't there more of that? He said, well, there's a lot more that I could say, but if people could just do that, it would literally change the world. You love one another, right? So it goes from the Son of Thunder that wants to destroy people and to blow things up to becoming someone who recognizes that the idea or the all that matters in life is loving one another. And the way that that happened was is that through his journey with Jesus, through the investment that Jesus made in his life, through seeing all the things that happened through the life of Jesus, the death and the resurrection, and then beyond that seen all that God did to the early church that when John came to realize if there was something that mattered much more than what his original mindset was about the way they should function, the way that they should act, God did a work in his heart. God did a work in his life, that literally transformed him. And so as we look at chapter one today, we are going to look at what I believe is the key component of what John understood. And then really, if we're going to enjoy our faith, we need to understand what it means to have fellowship with God.

 

Think about that word. Fellowship if you grew up Baptist, you associate that with fried chicken. I'm sure. Right. That's just what we eat. We all know we all are associated with food, right? A did. If we're going to have Fellowship, there has to be food involved. Well, and listen, there ain't nothing wrong with food ever being involved as far as I'm concerned. But that, that the key component of Fellowship is This, here's the definition of what Fellowship his Fellowship, Is an intimate connection. It's a partnership. it's being together. And I don't just mean physically, but in terms of your heart, your mind, your soul, there is a connection. And here's the next part of that, that you to understand? That's so crucial in terms of John got this.  this is what Fellowship is, but Fellowship is the reason that God created us. The reason that you were created is because God desired to have fellowship with you. He desired an intimate connection with you. He desired a partnership with you. He desired for his presence in your presence to be together. Now, oftentimes we don't think about our lives in that manner. We think about that. We're supposed to obey God, which you are. We were supposed to respect God that he is his, we just sang. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. And because of that, we often have, is this mindset of being fearful of God being scared, or even sometimes to get too close to him because he might see the junk, this in our life cannot tell you something that they can. I just to take the pressure off. He already knows all the junk and your life, or whether you are close to him or not. He knows everything about you, but because the, we see ourselves as sinners and we see him as Holy, there's this mindset of fear that we have towards God, but that's not what God's desire is. We should respect him. We should be in all of him, what we should obey him, who are what we should understand that he's riding. And we need to submit to him, but really at the end of the day, that what God desires is for us to do that in the context of, of true, genuine fellowship with him. So as we look at chapter one today, we're going to see what happens when Fellowship takes place. But we're also going to see the things that cause us to really not experience that, that joy, that God desires within our relationship with him. And so, as we do that, what I want you to see and to know and understand today is there is a way for you to enjoy your faith when John, this same, John, that wrote First John what he says. And John 10, 10, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus, he said this to John then and John understand it now. he says, I have come that you might have what life and have it abundantly or to the fullest. That's a much different than oftentimes what you. And I experience. And God wants us to see that. God wants us to understand what that looks like and what that means. So first John chapter one, and let's begin reading in verse one. All right. First John chapter one and beginning in verse one That, which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Verse two the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and we testify to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the father. And it was made manifest to us. verse three, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you that you may have fellowship with us. And indeed, our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things. Don't miss this. We are writing these things so that our joy may be what's the next word say complete. It means multiplying. It means to the fullest verse five. So this is the message we have heard from him. So he says the goal was for us, for our joy to be complete. So here's the message that we've heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say that we have fellowship with him, but yet we walk in darkness, we lie, and we do not practice the truth. That sounds so harsh, right? But if we walk into the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, it, it cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us., so within this section right here, he describes in verses one, through four of the fact, they have seen him in touch with the infinite, invisible, God, God, in the flesh has come to this earth. And because of that, we had the privilege to have a relationship with you. We had a fellowship with God. And because of that, we want to convey to you what we learned here is his message. And then he goes into a couple of things that are related to what Fellowship looks like and what breaks that Fellowship in our lives. So he describes that Jesus is light. There is no darkness in him at all, or is this idea a that everything is open, that everything is real, that everything is true, that everything is right. There's no darkness at all. And then he a contrast that oftentimes with those of us, that even though we say we are in the light, we say we have fellowship with him, but yet we are walking in darkness. Think for just a moment about what that means when you are walking in darkness, in essence, and in the context of this idea of Fellowship, what it literally means is that we cannot, we cannot enjoy the faith that we say we have If there is a distance between us and God, that's what it means to walk in darkness. We see that is something that is in terms of, in our minds, that is an evil a and all sin is evil. There is no question about that, but in essence, what it is just as separation and when There's a separation between you and God things just aren't right.

 

A couple of months ago, now we took, Hannah are a fourth child to, to college. Now that it's a different experience than anything I've had to this point, because our oldest to our boys and who cares when they leave the house, right? Get out, just go, make a living. Don't cost me any more money. That, that was the mindset. Right? And then Taylor, our oldest daughter, she still lives with us and she goes to, to BRCC. So she's with us every day. And so she's transitioning, but she still there or Hannah to decide for some God unknown reason to go to Arkansas to go to college. And that's like six hours away from me. And so that separation has been hard on dad, right? Because I've taken care of her. I've been able to protect her. I've known where she was at all times. I mean, all of those things. And so now my baby is gone in and it's been very, very difficult for me, even though I know she's okay. Even though that relationship is very, very important, obviously still, but that separation is just difficult. And in my world, there's just something this just not right. I mean, there's been a couple of times that Wendy had to talk with me off the ledge, coz I was going to get in the car and drive six hours just to have breakfast with her and turn around and come back. And she was like, you can't do that. Leave her alone. That's what she, and she's a lot smarter than I am. But anyway, that, is I want to just to be with her, that separation was difficult. And I think at times what happens is, is that there's distance between us and God and we don't really recognize it. And here's the reason why we may recognize that with other relationships in our life. But because we can't see God, because we can't physically sit down across the table and have coffee or have a meal with him. There's something about a, the distance that we see. They're there, there's already distance in our minds because we think of God is in Heaven and we’re here. But the reality is, is that what God desires is for us to understand that, that he wants to be with us. He wants to be a part of everything we do. There needs to be that closeness and that when we walk in darkness and when we walk into sin, in essence, what we are doing is we're putting separation between us and God. There's a distance that's there. And what happens is oftentimes because that distance is there we begin to, to lean more towards those mindsets and the reality of the fear and the insignificance you know, and we're not worthy of him. And we feel guilty and shame about our sin. And so what happens is his, as opposed to just being in the darkness, we start hiding in the darkness. You know what that looks like, right? That you hide in the dark to me, anyone that's ever played the game of hide and seek, you always know that the best blood places to do that is a place where its alone quiet and dark right? That's the way you play the game. So what happens is, is if we're not careful, we start playing that game with God and we hide in the darkness. But here's reason why we do that. We hide in the darkness to avoid two things, the accountability and transparency. within that passage that we just read. He talks about the fact that we, when we deceive ourselves into thinking that everything is okay, or maybe it's not that you think everything's okay, it's just that you want everyone else around you to think that everything's okay. And so we just begin to hide. And the idea of accountability is it, listen, if there are things in your life that are causing you to have distance between you and God, we don't want to hear about it, right? It may be things that are areas of comfort for you. It may be areas of instant gratification for you. It may be something that you just so we're saying, Hey, here is something that I want to pursue. And it may not be what God wants me to pursue, but it's what I want in this moment. And so I'm going to keep my distance from God and look at this. I'm going to keep my distance from other people that will make me feel convicted about that because I don't want the accountability in my life is the reason that we oftentimes drift from Church. It’s not because we don't love God. And it's not even because we don't love the church. It's just because there's things that are happening in us. Listen to those things that are happening in you should push you towards the people of God. It should push you towards her relationship with God and not away from him. But that's our tendency is we just begin to hide. We just don't want that accountability. And then alongside that, we also, we don't want that transparent. We don't want to be in the light because if we're in the lie, what is going to do is going to expose all the areas of darkness that we've been in. Right? And so what we do is we just, sometimes it's just easier to keep our distance.  but here's, what's so dangerous about that. You can be so close, but still be so far away. You see, I described to you that distance that we have with Hannah and that Fellowship has not there, but the way that, that he used to be, because there's that separation. But do you realize that you can be in the same room with someone and there are still be distance, right? Anybody that's married knows exactly what that feels. Right? Right. I mean, you could be in the same room with him and be completely just a year, your distance in terms of your emotions, your distance, in terms of maybe your perspective on whatever your fighting about. Don't look at me like that. I know Wendy and I are not the only ones that have discussions about things right.  that you find yourself. have you ever been in the same room with your spouse or someone that you love may be a parent or a child and you’re in the same place, but yet you are a million miles away? And what happens with God is that we can be in the same vicinity. We can be going through all the motions. We can be doing all the right things to make everyone else around us think that everything is good and that we love God and that we're following him. But we really want to just keep our distance emotionally. And we want to keep things on the surface because the reality is it's there are things in our lives that we are struggling with and we just don't want anyone to know. We just begin to deceive ourselves. We just begin to find that is easier for us to fake it than it is to actually deal with it in all along the way Here's what happens. There are things in our lives that we struggle with. There are things in our lives. And listen, I'm telling you this from my own experience, that there are things that we hold on to then at the end of the day, they still, or are they just leave us feeling empty. Then there are things that we are a pursuing that or outside of a will have a plan of God. And that at the end of the day, when we lay our head down and no matter how much we convince ourselves and deceive ourself, that is where we want to be is what we want to pursue. That when we lay our head down a night, there's just, something is just not right. There is something that is just empty. There is something that is just missing. It, it may be something that nobody else in your life knows about it, but you recognize that it cannot tell you exactly what that is. This missing its Jesus because God created us for fellowship with him. And because he created this that way, if there's ever a point in time, when that Fellowship is not what God desires for to be when we are not a sensing that that is the priority relationships, not only in what do we say, but in a way that we live and the terms, the a, the way we spend our time. then what happens is that, that means if there is separation and when there's separation between you and God, life is never going to be what you think it should be. You're not going to experience joy. You're not going to ever enjoy the faith that you say is so important to you because you are comfortable with keeping the distance, you’re comfortable with privately hiding in the dark.  Even if everyone else around you thinks that you are living in the light, you're keeping them at a distance. You're faking it and going through the motions. But inside there is something in you that is just simply dying. You know what the sad truth is, is I believe a lot of people live that way and feel that way, man. I've lived that way in the past and felt that way. And we're just not sure how to get out of it. We're not sure what to do it. If that's where you are today, some of you, you like you, are you still smiling on the outside or your, you’re thinking, I'm a getting that face like a, would you be quiet so I can go to lunch. I mean, I'll say something of that, but an inside of you, there was something in some of you, but it's just screaming out. Yes, that's me to, what do I do? Well, I love the way that John describes the answer to this. it’s the verse of scripture that if you've been here very many weeks, you've probably heard me quote this passage because I think this is the heart in the key of everything that we do. But before I read it, I want you to think about here is the answer for whatever it is that we're hiding as is keeping us. And that is the gospel. The gospel is the vehicle to restore that Fellowship for some of you that are here this morning, you may not have a relationship with Jesus. You have been trying to get to God on your own. You've been trying to do the right thing. So in fact, you're a here this morning because you think, or maybe that will make me feel better about my life If I attend church, maybe God, we'll be happy with me. If I show up today and listen, God's glad you're here. We are glad that you're here, but that's not the answer to what's happening in your life. The gospel is the only answer. The gospel is the reality that Jesus Christ did for you. What you could not do for yourself. You say, God knew long before you were ever born, that you are going to have a period of time or the year we're going to hide in darkness because you were born into sin. He knew that was going to be a separation between you and him because of that sin. And so he planned to send Jesus long before you were ever born long before you ever sinned, simply so that he could have that relationship with you restored. in verse nine, gives us the key of how we do that. And whether you're not a follower of Jesus or whether you'd been a follower of Jesus for years, this is still the answer for you. If we confess our sins, think about what the word confess means. It means to not hide it anymore. It means to be transparent. Now I don't mean standing up in a room. The size of tell everybody all your junk, right? Nobody needs to hear all your stuff, right? But it starts with if you come before God and say, God, man, I confess my sins to you. And don't just say, I confess my sin. Be specific about the things that you're being convicted about. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just, I love those two words. He is faithful means that you can count on him. There's nothing that you've done. That God won't forgive of. There is nothing that you've done that’s caught God by surprise. There is nothing that you've done that’s a bigger than the power of God that overcome sin. He is faithful. And you can know for sure that listen. Even if there's things in your life that you've done, that nobody else will forgive you up. God promises. He is faithful. He will forgive. He is faithful. And he is just. That's crucial because not only is he faithful in that he will do that. He has the right to do it. And the reason he is just in forgiving of your sins is not because you are worthy of that is because Jesus took your place. When Jesus died on the cross, he died willingly for the sins of all mankind. That's all of us and anyone else who ever lived. So you don't have to feel like, well, I want to confess my sins, but then I have to earn God's approval. You don't need to earn God's approval, but if you will confess your sins, he is faithful. And he has just, the fact that he is just, means that when he sees you, he sees you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many of us in this room, if we could just wrap our minds around that simple fact, we went to enjoy our faith the whole a lot more, because we would recognize there, the simple reality that when Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven. If you ever had someone tell you, they forgave you, but then every time they got upset with you, they bring it back up.

You know what I think happens that oftentimes when we ask God to forgive us for the 475th time of the same thing, we see God through the eyes of that person that did that to us. But what I want you to see is we're not talking about a human being who is flawed and sinful and week and untrustworthy. We are talking about a Holy God who is faithful and just, we confess our sins. He is faithful. And he has just to forgive us, have our sins. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We get a fresh start. We get a new beginning. The weight is lifted off. I joked earlier about Wendy and at times being in the same room but being a million miles away. And I'll just be honest with you. And outside of my relationship with Jesus, Wendy is the most important relationship that I have on the face of this earth. And when things aren't right between us, there is nothing else is right in my life. You know? I mean, work's not right kids, all right with it, not right. No, they do it anyway. Anyway, right? All the stuff is just not right. And you show your just not the same. We don't have that same life in you. but when we come to a place where whatever it is causing us to be divided. When we come back together, there is a weight that is lifted off of me. It's like new life. And even if the issue that we struggle with is still there because we are together is just as our life is unbelievable, just breath of fresh air that comes all over me. That's what God desires to do with us. And when he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it is this idea of a fresh start. It's this idea of coming before him and saying, God, I surrender myself too. I humble myself before you. Here are the things of my life that I know or separating us. And God to the best. I know how I confess these sins. And God, I trust you. I believe what your word says. And because of that, I ask you to cleanse me of all the junk that's in my life. And here is the good news. If you will come to him in faith, he will do just that. And then it’s a process of moving your life in a way, in a direction where the goal every day is to maintain that Fellowship with you to walk in the light, to do the things that God calls us to do. And to recognize that because he created us for fellowship with him, that the things he calls us to do are the things that are the best for us. Not in terms of God just not being mad at us, but God knows your best. He knows what you need. He knows what will bring you joy. He knows what will bring you peace. He knows that what will make you come to a place where you can enjoy the faith that God has given you? Now let me just make sure you understand this. This is not pie in the sky, health and wealth. You know that, Hey, if you just, you know, if you just love Jesus, then you'll never have any problems in your life. The Bible says that, you know, calamities, the Bible says that bad things. They fall on the jest and the unjust. It was just a part of the living in a sinful world. Life's not going to be perfect. And God uses even those things as a way, a bolstering our faith and moving us closer to him. But the reality is that whether life is good, or life is bad in terms of the circumstances that if we are in fellowship with Jesus, life is still good. It's still good. And that's what he desires.

 

So if you're here today and you never into, in a relationship with Jesus, you have been trying to do it on your own. Cannot tell you something. You cannot do it on your own. Jesus already did all the work for you. What do you need to do? You need to believe that Jesus did that work for you and you need to come, and you need to confess your sins to him. And you need to allow him to do the work in you and through you that only he can do you didn't to give your life. You're in essence, you're saying, God, I put my life in your hands and listen. If that's where you are today, if you're in this room and you've never begun a relationship with Jesus, he will not reject you. He loves you with all of his heart and wants you to experience that today. If that's where you are, it's just simple. As you pray and say in God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've made mistakes in my life. And because of that, I'm not as good as you are. And God the best. I know how I asked you to forgive me of my sins and God I give my life to, I place my life into your hands. If you will do that today, based on the truth of God's word, he will save you. He's faithful. And he, he is just, and if that's where you are today, I encourage you that as we pray in just a moment for you to just to pray that listen, God knows your heart is not a magic prayer. You just pour your heart out to him and then you let us know how we can help you. But for others of you in this room that you have a relationship with Jesus. But if you're to be honest, you’re just enduring it right now. I mean, life is hard. Maybe you've made some mistakes or maybe others are made mistakes around you. And it's just, it's just one of those things that you're just enduring it. Can I encourage you to pray that same prayer that God I come to you? Here's the things that are separating us. God, I declare that I need you and Bible says that whatever it is separating. Whatever is, is pulling away. Don't you? That God is faithful and just, he will forgive you. He'll give you that fresh start and listen that’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we all need a fresh start. Some of us, we need it every day, right? I mean maybe every hour. I mean then all of us and we need that. It ought to be a regular routine of our life is doing whatever it takes to maintain that fellowship with him. And then let's you and I, after we pray those prayers, let's stand out from this place. Let's leave this room and let's walk in the light. Let's walk in fellowship with him. Let's spend time with him and then do the things we know to do trusts God for the rest. That's a pretty much it, right? Spin time with him, do the things he asks us to do and to trust him for the rest. If you and I will do that, our faith will begin to be something that we are excited about. And we were passionate about not just something that we endure. Let’s pray together today. And before I pray for you, just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. If you don't know Jesus man, just pour your heart out to him. Pray a prayer of faith, knowing he is faithful, and he is just, he will forgive you if you do know him, but do you feel separated from him, man? And just pour your heart out to him. Come back to him today.

 

Lord, you are a good God.  And God, sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how you can see me, see all the, the darkness, but yet you still love me. You never give up on me. God, I Thank you that there was joy in You. Thank you that there is joy that comes from a relationship with you and God. I pray right now for those within the sound of my voice, the God that they can experience what a real joy filled life looks like. Lord, I pray over the next several weeks as we study this book, that God that you will allow our joy to be complete. Thank you that you desire a relationship with us. Thank you for the Fellowship that we can experience with you. And I pray that this week we can walk and your light. Spend time with you.  Do the things you'd tell us to do, and then trust you for the rest. God thank you for never giving up on us, use us this week for your glory and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

Direct download: IBC_20200913.mp3
Category:John -- posted at: 2:45pm EDT

John

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 9:30 AM Sermon September 13, 2020

"Fellowship"

1 John 1:1-10

 

That just kind of makes it feel good. I don't know why it is just does. I mean, just makes me feel good, but if you have your Bibles to turn to First, John, First John is where we are going to be for the next several weeks. And a, before we jump into reading a chapter one, I want you to just know a little bit about a what's happening here is we study this book chronologically First John was the last book that was written a that we find in the new Testament. We know that revelation comes after that in terms of what we see in our Bible, but First John was actually the first, second and third John with actually the last books that were written.

 

Ah, and it was written by John who is described as the disciples that Jesus loved. And it’s interesting too, to think about it. I don’t know about you, but a growing up in church I've heard about John and he was obviously a close to Jesus. If you knew there was 12 disciples, but then there was three Peter James and John that were kind of like in the inner circle, they spent more time with Jesus. And I believe that Jesus knew just that the impact that they were going to have a in terms of just a, the early church, and so there was this extra time there was spent with them and John was one of those and he's often described as the disciple that Jesus loved.

 

And so from that, you get this impression of this really meek and this really just warmhearted and compassionate person, a but really when you look at all of the Gospel in history combined with that, that when John first comes onto the scene, him and his brother, James were known as the Sons of Thunder. All right. So, they were a little rough around the edges. They were fishermen. That's what they did for living. And so they, they weren't the polished a theologian that we all are often think about it.

 

When we think about John he was at a rough guy. And in fact, if you looked at parts of the Gospel, now there were times when things are going on a that James and John, they're answer to everything we'll say, well, let's just blow someone or something up. That's basically that was their mindset. And Jesus throughout his ministry to them. He taught them what it really meant to love God and to level one another. So we see it at the end of John's life. He was the last of disciples in terms of, he lived longer than the rest of them and when This book was written, John was probably about a hundred years old, a in history tells us that in his last days John died, that he would travel to the different cities where the churches had been planted and he would come there to speak. And a because of who he was, his relationship with Jesus, there would be large crowds that would gather in the John. He was so a week and feeble at that time moment. At that time of his life, a that they would actually have to carry him from city to city. You couldn't even walk. He wasn't even strong at the whole of himself up like riding an animal. So they would have to literally carry him from city to city. And they said that most of the time that his message, it was simply this, that when he would go into a church or he would go into an area where people would gather together to hear his message, that his message, which is just simply this, love one another. Now that wasn't a title of his message. No, that wasn't a theme of his message. And those three words were really all he would say. And then, you know, some of you are thinking, well, I wish your message is where that at short, but they're not. But anyway, that's, that's all he would say, and people would ask him, why is that all you say, isn't there more of that? He said, well, there's a lot more that I could say, but if people could just do that, it would literally change the world. You love one another, right? So it goes from the Son of Thunder that wants to destroy people and to blow things up to becoming someone who recognizes that the idea or the all that matters in life is loving one another. And the way that that happened was is that through his journey with Jesus, through the investment that Jesus made in his life, through seeing all the things that happened through the life of Jesus, the death and the resurrection, and then beyond that seen all that God did to the early church that when John came to realize if there was something that mattered much more than what his original mindset was about the way they should function, the way that they should act, God did a work in his heart. God did a work in his life, that literally transformed him. And so as we look at chapter one today, we are going to look at what I believe is the key component of what John understood. And then really, if we're going to enjoy our faith, we need to understand what it means to have fellowship with God.

 

Think about that word. Fellowship if you grew up Baptist, you associate that with fried chicken. I'm sure. Right. That's just what we eat. We all know we all are associated with food, right? A did. If we're going to have Fellowship, there has to be food involved. Well, and listen, there ain't nothing wrong with food ever being involved as far as I'm concerned. But that, that the key component of Fellowship is This, here's the definition of what Fellowship his Fellowship, Is an intimate connection. It's a partnership. it's being together. And I don't just mean physically, but in terms of your heart, your mind, your soul, there is a connection. And here's the next part of that, that you to understand? That's so crucial in terms of John got this.  this is what Fellowship is, but Fellowship is the reason that God created us. The reason that you were created is because God desired to have fellowship with you. He desired an intimate connection with you. He desired a partnership with you. He desired for his presence in your presence to be together. Now, oftentimes we don't think about our lives in that manner. We think about that. We're supposed to obey God, which you are. We were supposed to respect God that he is his, we just sang. He is Holy, Holy, Holy. And because of that, we often have, is this mindset of being fearful of God being scared, or even sometimes to get too close to him because he might see the junk, this in our life cannot tell you something that they can. I just to take the pressure off. He already knows all the junk and your life, or whether you are close to him or not. He knows everything about you, but because the, we see ourselves as sinners and we see him as Holy, there's this mindset of fear that we have towards God, but that's not what God's desire is. We should respect him. We should be in all of him, what we should obey him, who are what we should understand that he's riding. And we need to submit to him, but really at the end of the day, that what God desires is for us to do that in the context of, of true, genuine fellowship with him. So as we look at chapter one today, we're going to see what happens when Fellowship takes place. But we're also going to see the things that cause us to really not experience that, that joy, that God desires within our relationship with him. And so, as we do that, what I want you to see and to know and understand today is there is a way for you to enjoy your faith when John, this same, John, that wrote First John what he says. And John 10, 10, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus, he said this to John then and John understand it now. he says, I have come that you might have what life and have it abundantly or to the fullest. That's a much different than oftentimes what you. And I experience. And God wants us to see that. God wants us to understand what that looks like and what that means. So first John chapter one, and let's begin reading in verse one. All right. First John chapter one and beginning in verse one That, which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and have touched with our hands concerning the word of life. Verse two the life was made manifest, and we have seen it and we testify to it and proclaimed to you the eternal life, which was with the father. And it was made manifest to us. verse three, that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you that you may have fellowship with us. And indeed, our fellowship is with the father and with his son, Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things. Don't miss this. We are writing these things so that our joy may be what's the next word say complete. It means multiplying. It means to the fullest verse five. So this is the message we have heard from him. So he says the goal was for us, for our joy to be complete. So here's the message that we've heard from him and proclaimed to you that God is light and in him is no darkness at all. So if we say that we have fellowship with him, but yet we walk in darkness, we lie, and we do not practice the truth. That sounds so harsh, right? But if we walk into the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his son, it, it cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. And the truth is not in us., so within this section right here, he describes in verses one, through four of the fact, they have seen him in touch with the infinite, invisible, God, God, in the flesh has come to this earth. And because of that, we had the privilege to have a relationship with you. We had a fellowship with God. And because of that, we want to convey to you what we learned here is his message. And then he goes into a couple of things that are related to what Fellowship looks like and what breaks that Fellowship in our lives. So he describes that Jesus is light. There is no darkness in him at all, or is this idea a that everything is open, that everything is real, that everything is true, that everything is right. There's no darkness at all. And then he a contrast that oftentimes with those of us, that even though we say we are in the light, we say we have fellowship with him, but yet we are walking in darkness. Think for just a moment about what that means when you are walking in darkness, in essence, and in the context of this idea of Fellowship, what it literally means is that we cannot, we cannot enjoy the faith that we say we have If there is a distance between us and God, that's what it means to walk in darkness. We see that is something that is in terms of, in our minds, that is an evil a and all sin is evil. There is no question about that, but in essence, what it is just as separation and when There's a separation between you and God things just aren't right.

 

A couple of months ago, now we took, Hannah are a fourth child to, to college. Now that it's a different experience than anything I've had to this point, because our oldest to our boys and who cares when they leave the house, right? Get out, just go, make a living. Don't cost me any more money. That, that was the mindset. Right? And then Taylor, our oldest daughter, she still lives with us and she goes to, to BRCC. So she's with us every day. And so she's transitioning, but she still there or Hannah to decide for some God unknown reason to go to Arkansas to go to college. And that's like six hours away from me. And so that separation has been hard on dad, right? Because I've taken care of her. I've been able to protect her. I've known where she was at all times. I mean, all of those things. And so now my baby is gone in and it's been very, very difficult for me, even though I know she's okay. Even though that relationship is very, very important, obviously still, but that separation is just difficult. And in my world, there's just something this just not right. I mean, there's been a couple of times that Wendy had to talk with me off the ledge, coz I was going to get in the car and drive six hours just to have breakfast with her and turn around and come back. And she was like, you can't do that. Leave her alone. That's what she, and she's a lot smarter than I am. But anyway, that, is I want to just to be with her, that separation was difficult. And I think at times what happens is, is that there's distance between us and God and we don't really recognize it. And here's the reason why we may recognize that with other relationships in our life. But because we can't see God, because we can't physically sit down across the table and have coffee or have a meal with him. There's something about a, the distance that we see. They're there, there's already distance in our minds because we think of God is in Heaven and we’re here. But the reality is, is that what God desires is for us to understand that, that he wants to be with us. He wants to be a part of everything we do. There needs to be that closeness and that when we walk in darkness and when we walk into sin, in essence, what we are doing is we're putting separation between us and God. There's a distance that's there. And what happens is oftentimes because that distance is there we begin to, to lean more towards those mindsets and the reality of the fear and the insignificance you know, and we're not worthy of him. And we feel guilty and shame about our sin. And so what happens is his, as opposed to just being in the darkness, we start hiding in the darkness. You know what that looks like, right? That you hide in the dark to me, anyone that's ever played the game of hide and seek, you always know that the best blood places to do that is a place where its alone quiet and dark right? That's the way you play the game. So what happens is, is if we're not careful, we start playing that game with God and we hide in the darkness. But here's reason why we do that. We hide in the darkness to avoid two things, the accountability and transparency. within that passage that we just read. He talks about the fact that we, when we deceive ourselves into thinking that everything is okay, or maybe it's not that you think everything's okay, it's just that you want everyone else around you to think that everything's okay. And so we just begin to hide. And the idea of accountability is it, listen, if there are things in your life that are causing you to have distance between you and God, we don't want to hear about it, right? It may be things that are areas of comfort for you. It may be areas of instant gratification for you. It may be something that you just so we're saying, Hey, here is something that I want to pursue. And it may not be what God wants me to pursue, but it's what I want in this moment. And so I'm going to keep my distance from God and look at this. I'm going to keep my distance from other people that will make me feel convicted about that because I don't want the accountability in my life is the reason that we oftentimes drift from Church. It’s not because we don't love God. And it's not even because we don't love the church. It's just because there's things that are happening in us. Listen to those things that are happening in you should push you towards the people of God. It should push you towards her relationship with God and not away from him. But that's our tendency is we just begin to hide. We just don't want that accountability. And then alongside that, we also, we don't want that transparent. We don't want to be in the light because if we're in the lie, what is going to do is going to expose all the areas of darkness that we've been in. Right? And so what we do is we just, sometimes it's just easier to keep our distance.  but here's, what's so dangerous about that. You can be so close, but still be so far away. You see, I described to you that distance that we have with Hannah and that Fellowship has not there, but the way that, that he used to be, because there's that separation. But do you realize that you can be in the same room with someone and there are still be distance, right? Anybody that's married knows exactly what that feels. Right? Right. I mean, you could be in the same room with him and be completely just a year, your distance in terms of your emotions, your distance, in terms of maybe your perspective on whatever your fighting about. Don't look at me like that. I know Wendy and I are not the only ones that have discussions about things right.  that you find yourself. have you ever been in the same room with your spouse or someone that you love may be a parent or a child and you’re in the same place, but yet you are a million miles away? And what happens with God is that we can be in the same vicinity. We can be going through all the motions. We can be doing all the right things to make everyone else around us think that everything is good and that we love God and that we're following him. But we really want to just keep our distance emotionally. And we want to keep things on the surface because the reality is it's there are things in our lives that we are struggling with and we just don't want anyone to know. We just begin to deceive ourselves. We just begin to find that is easier for us to fake it than it is to actually deal with it in all along the way Here's what happens. There are things in our lives that we struggle with. There are things in our lives. And listen, I'm telling you this from my own experience, that there are things that we hold on to then at the end of the day, they still, or are they just leave us feeling empty. Then there are things that we are a pursuing that or outside of a will have a plan of God. And that at the end of the day, when we lay our head down and no matter how much we convince ourselves and deceive ourself, that is where we want to be is what we want to pursue. That when we lay our head down a night, there's just, something is just not right. There is something that is just empty. There is something that is just missing. It, it may be something that nobody else in your life knows about it, but you recognize that it cannot tell you exactly what that is. This missing its Jesus because God created us for fellowship with him. And because he created this that way, if there's ever a point in time, when that Fellowship is not what God desires for to be when we are not a sensing that that is the priority relationships, not only in what do we say, but in a way that we live and the terms, the a, the way we spend our time. then what happens is that, that means if there is separation and when there's separation between you and God, life is never going to be what you think it should be. You're not going to experience joy. You're not going to ever enjoy the faith that you say is so important to you because you are comfortable with keeping the distance, you’re comfortable with privately hiding in the dark.  Even if everyone else around you thinks that you are living in the light, you're keeping them at a distance. You're faking it and going through the motions. But inside there is something in you that is just simply dying. You know what the sad truth is, is I believe a lot of people live that way and feel that way, man. I've lived that way in the past and felt that way. And we're just not sure how to get out of it. We're not sure what to do it. If that's where you are today, some of you, you like you, are you still smiling on the outside or your, you’re thinking, I'm a getting that face like a, would you be quiet so I can go to lunch. I mean, I'll say something of that, but an inside of you, there was something in some of you, but it's just screaming out. Yes, that's me to, what do I do? Well, I love the way that John describes the answer to this. it’s the verse of scripture that if you've been here very many weeks, you've probably heard me quote this passage because I think this is the heart in the key of everything that we do. But before I read it, I want you to think about here is the answer for whatever it is that we're hiding as is keeping us. And that is the gospel. The gospel is the vehicle to restore that Fellowship for some of you that are here this morning, you may not have a relationship with Jesus. You have been trying to get to God on your own. You've been trying to do the right thing. So in fact, you're a here this morning because you think, or maybe that will make me feel better about my life If I attend church, maybe God, we'll be happy with me. If I show up today and listen, God's glad you're here. We are glad that you're here, but that's not the answer to what's happening in your life. The gospel is the only answer. The gospel is the reality that Jesus Christ did for you. What you could not do for yourself. You say, God knew long before you were ever born, that you are going to have a period of time or the year we're going to hide in darkness because you were born into sin. He knew that was going to be a separation between you and him because of that sin. And so he planned to send Jesus long before you were ever born long before you ever sinned, simply so that he could have that relationship with you restored. in verse nine, gives us the key of how we do that. And whether you're not a follower of Jesus or whether you'd been a follower of Jesus for years, this is still the answer for you. If we confess our sins, think about what the word confess means. It means to not hide it anymore. It means to be transparent. Now I don't mean standing up in a room. The size of tell everybody all your junk, right? Nobody needs to hear all your stuff, right? But it starts with if you come before God and say, God, man, I confess my sins to you. And don't just say, I confess my sin. Be specific about the things that you're being convicted about. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and he is just, I love those two words. He is faithful means that you can count on him. There's nothing that you've done. That God won't forgive of. There is nothing that you've done that’s caught God by surprise. There is nothing that you've done that’s a bigger than the power of God that overcome sin. He is faithful. And you can know for sure that listen. Even if there's things in your life that you've done, that nobody else will forgive you up. God promises. He is faithful. He will forgive. He is faithful. And he is just. That's crucial because not only is he faithful in that he will do that. He has the right to do it. And the reason he is just in forgiving of your sins is not because you are worthy of that is because Jesus took your place. When Jesus died on the cross, he died willingly for the sins of all mankind. That's all of us and anyone else who ever lived. So you don't have to feel like, well, I want to confess my sins, but then I have to earn God's approval. You don't need to earn God's approval, but if you will confess your sins, he is faithful. And he has just, the fact that he is just, means that when he sees you, he sees you through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And for many of us in this room, if we could just wrap our minds around that simple fact, we went to enjoy our faith the whole a lot more, because we would recognize there, the simple reality that when Jesus forgives us, we are truly forgiven. If you ever had someone tell you, they forgave you, but then every time they got upset with you, they bring it back up.

You know what I think happens that oftentimes when we ask God to forgive us for the 475th time of the same thing, we see God through the eyes of that person that did that to us. But what I want you to see is we're not talking about a human being who is flawed and sinful and week and untrustworthy. We are talking about a Holy God who is faithful and just, we confess our sins. He is faithful. And he has just to forgive us, have our sins. And he cleanses us from all unrighteousness. We get a fresh start. We get a new beginning. The weight is lifted off. I joked earlier about Wendy and at times being in the same room but being a million miles away. And I'll just be honest with you. And outside of my relationship with Jesus, Wendy is the most important relationship that I have on the face of this earth. And when things aren't right between us, there is nothing else is right in my life. You know? I mean, work's not right kids, all right with it, not right. No, they do it anyway. Anyway, right? All the stuff is just not right. And you show your just not the same. We don't have that same life in you. but when we come to a place where whatever it is causing us to be divided. When we come back together, there is a weight that is lifted off of me. It's like new life. And even if the issue that we struggle with is still there because we are together is just as our life is unbelievable, just breath of fresh air that comes all over me. That's what God desires to do with us. And when he cleanses us from all unrighteousness, it is this idea of a fresh start. It's this idea of coming before him and saying, God, I surrender myself too. I humble myself before you. Here are the things of my life that I know or separating us. And God to the best. I know how I confess these sins. And God, I trust you. I believe what your word says. And because of that, I ask you to cleanse me of all the junk that's in my life. And here is the good news. If you will come to him in faith, he will do just that. And then it’s a process of moving your life in a way, in a direction where the goal every day is to maintain that Fellowship with you to walk in the light, to do the things that God calls us to do. And to recognize that because he created us for fellowship with him, that the things he calls us to do are the things that are the best for us. Not in terms of God just not being mad at us, but God knows your best. He knows what you need. He knows what will bring you joy. He knows what will bring you peace. He knows that what will make you come to a place where you can enjoy the faith that God has given you? Now let me just make sure you understand this. This is not pie in the sky, health and wealth. You know that, Hey, if you just, you know, if you just love Jesus, then you'll never have any problems in your life. The Bible says that, you know, calamities, the Bible says that bad things. They fall on the jest and the unjust. It was just a part of the living in a sinful world. Life's not going to be perfect. And God uses even those things as a way, a bolstering our faith and moving us closer to him. But the reality is that whether life is good, or life is bad in terms of the circumstances that if we are in fellowship with Jesus, life is still good. It's still good. And that's what he desires.

 

So if you're here today and you never into, in a relationship with Jesus, you have been trying to do it on your own. Cannot tell you something. You cannot do it on your own. Jesus already did all the work for you. What do you need to do? You need to believe that Jesus did that work for you and you need to come, and you need to confess your sins to him. And you need to allow him to do the work in you and through you that only he can do you didn't to give your life. You're in essence, you're saying, God, I put my life in your hands and listen. If that's where you are today, if you're in this room and you've never begun a relationship with Jesus, he will not reject you. He loves you with all of his heart and wants you to experience that today. If that's where you are, it's just simple. As you pray and say in God, I know I'm a sinner. I know I've made mistakes in my life. And because of that, I'm not as good as you are. And God the best. I know how I asked you to forgive me of my sins and God I give my life to, I place my life into your hands. If you will do that today, based on the truth of God's word, he will save you. He's faithful. And he, he is just, and if that's where you are today, I encourage you that as we pray in just a moment for you to just to pray that listen, God knows your heart is not a magic prayer. You just pour your heart out to him and then you let us know how we can help you. But for others of you in this room that you have a relationship with Jesus. But if you're to be honest, you’re just enduring it right now. I mean, life is hard. Maybe you've made some mistakes or maybe others are made mistakes around you. And it's just, it's just one of those things that you're just enduring it. Can I encourage you to pray that same prayer that God I come to you? Here's the things that are separating us. God, I declare that I need you and Bible says that whatever it is separating. Whatever is, is pulling away. Don't you? That God is faithful and just, he will forgive you. He'll give you that fresh start and listen that’s nothing to be ashamed of. As we all need a fresh start. Some of us, we need it every day, right? I mean maybe every hour. I mean then all of us and we need that. It ought to be a regular routine of our life is doing whatever it takes to maintain that fellowship with him. And then let's you and I, after we pray those prayers, let's stand out from this place. Let's leave this room and let's walk in the light. Let's walk in fellowship with him. Let's spend time with him and then do the things we know to do trusts God for the rest. That's a pretty much it, right? Spin time with him, do the things he asks us to do and to trust him for the rest. If you and I will do that, our faith will begin to be something that we are excited about. And we were passionate about not just something that we endure. Let’s pray together today. And before I pray for you, just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed, I want to give you just a moment. If you don't know Jesus man, just pour your heart out to him. Pray a prayer of faith, knowing he is faithful, and he is just, he will forgive you if you do know him, but do you feel separated from him, man? And just pour your heart out to him. Come back to him today.

 

Lord, you are a good God.  And God, sometimes I'm overwhelmed at how you can see me, see all the, the darkness, but yet you still love me. You never give up on me. God, I Thank you that there was joy in You. Thank you that there is joy that comes from a relationship with you and God. I pray right now for those within the sound of my voice, the God that they can experience what a real joy filled life looks like. Lord, I pray over the next several weeks as we study this book, that God that you will allow our joy to be complete. Thank you that you desire a relationship with us. Thank you for the Fellowship that we can experience with you. And I pray that this week we can walk and your light. Spend time with you.  Do the things you'd tell us to do, and then trust you for the rest. God thank you for never giving up on us, use us this week for your glory and this in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen.

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Istrouma Baptist Church
Sep 6, 2020

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September 6 (BR)
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September 6, 2020  | Jeff Williams
Ephesians 1:15-23

Ephesians 1:15-23
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

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Ephesians 1:15-23

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon September 6, 2020

 

 

 

Good morning. So glad that you're here and that you've chosen to worship with us. If you are new to us, we have just completed last week, a series where we walked through the book of Ezra had a great time just to really looking at just the way that God provides and the way that God moves. And then next Sunday. We will begin a series just walking through the book of first John, and really excited about that. And I won’t say anything else because I'll go ahead and start preaching that series. And I want you to come back next week. So we'll just leave that where it is, but to really looking forward. And I would encourage you that one of the greatest things that you can do when you're studying a book as a group of people, whether it's in your small group or in worship, is that if you will read along with that on your own, you will be amazed at just the multiplication of what God teaches you. Because oftentimes what we do is we think about the study of the word is something that happens in this room. In many times, we miss a huge part of what God wants to teach us individually because God's given us his word individually. He's given us the Holy Spirit, which resides inside of us. And so, we need to allow God to teach us throughout the week. And then as we gather together to study that together, God just illuminates that on just a whole other level. So, if you don't have a specific plan or even if you do maybe take first John chapter one, read it a few times this week and just, just allow God to use that, to prepare your hearts as we jump into that next week.

 

And so today we're going to do something a little bit different and I want us to, and some of y'all don't know me that well, but anytime that I ever pastored a church, whenever I said that it used to scare people to death because there was no telling what I might do. Don't worry. It's not going to be that outside of the box. But I do want us to practice something that we see in scripture that I think is very important. And as we think about the church, we are obviously in a time of transition. And as we think about all the transition that's happened over the course of this year, and as we move forward, there's something at the forefront that should be at the forefront of our minds as we are in the season that we're in, it's something that's important all the time. But I think that the level of intensity that we should have towards this subject is really important during this season. So, I want to make a statement on the front end, and then we'll jump into what that is and how we're going to be part of that this morning. I want to make a statement that for those of you that have been around the church more than about 30 minutes, you know, this is true. And that is, is that the church is not perfect. Is that a shock to anyone? Right? The church is not perfect in the reason the church is not perfect, just because of you. All right, let's just get that out there, right? It's not because of somebody else or that the church is not perfect because of you, I used to have a pastor that said, man, being a pastor would be easy if it wasn't for all the people, right. That would be, it'd be so easy, right? Because the reality is that all of us are flawed. We all have opinions. We all have issues. We all have stuff that is in us. And because of that, the church is not perfect. But what's amazing about that is that God has chosen to use this imperfect organism. It's not an organization but an organism because the church is us, right. Then God's chosen to use this as his vehicle to get the gospel to the world from the very beginning of the church in Acts Chapter Two, we see, I think God chose to form the church and that through that vehicle, through you and I, that the gospel was going to get to the entire world.

 

And so, it's interesting that God would take something that is not perfect is made up of you and I, but yet that's what he would choose to get the gospel everywhere. So that means that you are important. That means for you and me, and obviously you're thinking, well, Jeff, I know that I'm here, right? But you need to understand that this is not just a ritual that we go through every week so that you can feel better about yourself. This is what God has chosen. We are a part of something that God wants to use to shed the light of the gospel across the street and around the world.

 

And I would say that this is very cliche, but it's very true. And that there's never been a time in the world that the world needed the gospel more than it does today. So, it means that we're imperfect. We don't have all the answers and we don't always get it right. But yet this is what God has chosen to use. Which means that the church should be very, very important to us. So here's what happens. Here's how we get off track. Well, we get off track because we began to see the church as something that's more about us than we do about what God really wants it to be about.

 

We see in the gospels, the famous story about Jesus coming in and cleansing the temple. You've heard that story where Jesus is upset because there are people that they're basically selling animals for sacrifices, but up in the price really, really high. So they can make money off the well that are coming to offer sacrifices. And it makes Jesus angry. There's a righteous anger that comes over here and he comes in and he cleanses the temple. He just, he just turns the tables over. He just, he just basically just confuses everything that they have going on.

 

And he makes a statement at the end of those stories that we see in the gospel when he cleanses the temple. And he says, and he quotes from the Old Testament, but he says that my house shall be called a house of what?  Prayer. Now it's interesting because what we've done with that story is, I remember growing up, I grew up in church and I listen. Some of my greatest memories in life happened in the church. I love the church, some of the most, some of the best friends in the world that I have. I met in church and some of the greatest memories personally, there's some of the greatest memories and the milestones for me spiritually. They happen inside the walls of a church or a church event. And because of that, I believe that church is an absolutely amazing place, but there's some things that are funny about the, the way that we interpret scripture within the church.  And I can remember growing up in church that, that people interpreted this passage to mean, you were sinning if you did a raffle in the church, right? I mean, that was like the worst thing in all the world you can do. Don't do raffle in the church because that's why Jesus cleansed the temple. And listen, we can debate about whether you should do a raffle in the church or not, but that's not the point of that passage. The point of that passage is what upset Jesus is that he took something that was to be about him. And people begin to make it about their own interest. They begin to use the church as a way for them to gain something for themselves. It began to be about them and not about him. And that's the reason why he comes back to this issue of prayer, because there's something that happens when we pray. Now there's no question that we see all throughout scripture and all throughout church history that God responds when his people pray. There is a power in prayer that is absolutely unexplainable. But the other thing that happens when we pray as we get our focus, right? For instance, if you have someone that you struggle with relationally, you say, man, I hate that person. Or I'm struggling not to hate that person. You know, the greatest remedy for you to get over that bitterness and that anger in your life is just to begin to pray for them because the longer you pray for them, you begin to get God's perspective on that person.

 

Well, the same thing goes for every arena of our life is that one of the things that prayer does for us is it gives us God's perspective. And over time it gives us God's heart. The book of Psalms describes that we're to delight ourselves in the Lord and that he will give us the desires of our heart. We love the second part of that, right? That is that God give me the desires of my heart, but we missed the reality that what God is saying there is that when you delight yourself in me, when you spend time with me, when the emphasis of your life is prayer, that what begins to happen is God begins to change our heart, to match his heart. And so, all throughout scripture, we see different prayers. If you have your Bibles, I want you to look with me at Ephesians Chapter One for just a few moments today. And in Ephesians Chapter One, there is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And what I would encourage you to do is you begin to develop your prayer life. As you begin to recognize that as you intercede for your, not only for your needs, but on behalf of other people in your life, that God responds to the prayers of his people. And there is absolute power in prayer. But then you're also saying that God, that as I prayed, that I, what I desire for you to do is to make my heart match your heart and think about the power of the church. When our heart matches God's heart. When we are aligned with him and the things that matter to him become the things that matter to us. And in the process of that, what God begins to do is something that is absolutely amazing in our hearts. And then it flows out from this building. It flows out from our services. It flows out from our lives to the community and ultimately the world around us. When we say, God, I want my heart to align with yours. So, as you begin to develop your prayer life, one of the things that you can do is look at scripture and find prayers that are there and begin to use those as your model for prayer. Jesus gives us the model, prayer in the Sermon on The Mount. And you can look through that and begin to structure your prayer life around that. You can go to John chapter 17, where Jesus prays for himself. He prays for his disciples. He prays for the world. It gives you the opportunity. Just something to look at, to begin to model your life. You can take a proverb every day. There's 31 chapters in Proverbs, take one that corresponds with the day of the month and just begin to read it and just begin to pray that you can pray the Psalms. I mean, there's so many different ways. One of the most, one of the things that I think that we miss a lot of times is just that the power that comes when we pray, what scripture teaches us to pray when we use that as the model for how we lift up our hearts to God.

 

So as we look at a Ephesians Chapter One, this is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And so, I want us to look at this just for a few moments together, but we're going to stop along the way. And there's three different parts here that I think are things that are relevant for us today, where we are, that we ought to just stop and pray for. So we're going to read a little bit, I'm going to talk for a second and then we're going to pray. Now I know that's a, that's a crazy concept, right? In church, we're going to stop and actually pray, right? But we're going to do that today. And so, I want, once again, for those of you that might be new or your guests with us, don't worry. I'm not going to make you uncomfortable or do anything that you're not comfortable doing, but we're just going to stop along the way. And I'm not going to just pray for us. I'm going to ask you to stop and pray. And I'm going to ask you to really a look at these aspects and look at how God uses his word to model. Because Jesus said that my house shall be called a house of prayer. So we're going to spend a few moments doing that. So Ephesians Chapter One, and we're going to begin reading in verse 15. He says, for this reason, and this, the idea of these talking about the gospel, he's talking about the church, he's talking about the people that are in the church and the things that they are doing. And he says for this reason, because I have heard of your faith, Paul had not actually been there, but he knew of the things that God was doing through the church at Ephesus. He says, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord, Jesus, and your love toward all the saints. I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. So in this introduction he says, I want you to know, I give thanks to you that for you in the, I am remembering you in my prayers. And then what follows is the prayer that he prays for the church at Ephesus. Now he's praying this for them specifically, but I also think that there's application for us in terms of where we are today.

 

So the first thing he prays for, we see in verse 17, look at what it says there, that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory may give you look at this. Don't miss this, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation and the knowledge of him. He asked for wisdom. He asked for revelation in the knowledge of him. So in essence, what he says is, is that God, I pray that you will give this. When I pray for this church, what I'm praying for is that God, you would give them wisdom. The God, you would give them the ability to see your plan, to see your wheel and that God that you would give them the knowledge of what you desire from them. Now stop and think about that for just a minute. What a great prayer for us to pray, because we can get so caught up in the things that we know we can get. So caught up in the things that we do, we can get so caught up, even in the things that we've done in the past, that we are very familiar with and that we are very good at. And if we're not careful, we can miss the reality that what we need to see for today, what we need to see for the future is what God sees. God align my heart so that I can be filled with wisdom. God, I align our leadership in a way that they have wisdom to, to have Your will for our Church, revealed to them so that we can have the knowledge of what you desire from us. Is there anything greater that we can pray and say, God, help us to see what you want us to see. I see God help us to make decisions that honor you. God lead us to the path that the God that we desire for whatever you want. And then think about this. If we pray that with a pure heart, and we really say, God, I want to be aligned with what you want. God, I want you to give us wisdom to make the right decision. If we pray that with a pure heart, do you realize that we can't lose? Because if we're praying that with a pure heart and we're praying to that to a God who is in complete control, and if we're submitting ourselves to his will and to his wisdom, then God's, this is not a game, right? It's not a game of hide and seek, and God's not attempting to hide His will from us. He's just attempting to get us to a place where we surrender to Him and then whatever He desires, God just will do that. So it's a releasing prayer, but it's a prayer that I believe is very, very important. Now I just, once again, I'm up here. So we're going to do this the way that the God is leading me. And I'll just tell you the first thing that came to my mind when I read that is really for our Pastor Search Committee, because you've heard for the last several weeks as we've just stopped and we've seen videos and we've, we've talked just about the need to pray for that group. And I want you to hear this from my heart. That there's nothing that I believe for this church. That is the more important for us to be praying for than for that team right now, thinking about the wisdom that they need and think about when you pray for them, that you're not praying for them to find the kind of person that you want, right? You're praying for them to find the person that God desires. You're praying for God to reveal his desire to them so that they can make a wise decision. Because when they make this decision in terms of, on behalf of the church and they bring this person before us as a body of believers, what we need to understand is that this is a very, very big deal for the future of our church. And we need to ask God to give them wisdom, the, the weight that's on them. And I can tell you from my own experience, the weight that’s on the person that they will eventually talk to. It is a weight that on both sides of that, we need wisdom. We need God as a body of believers to, for us to be passionate about praying for them. Because what we desire is the same way for the last hundred years that we've celebrated that God has used this church to make a powerful impact in this community and around the world, we want the next hundred years to be even greater. And the only way that happens is by God revealing to us, us having his wisdom and his, and making the decisions he desires for us today. So can we just stop for a minute and just pray? Let's just pray for that team. In fact, not to embarrass you and then we'll call you out and ask you to anything else. But if you're a part of that team, just because I know everybody doesn't know all the people that are on there, if you're a part of our pastor search team, would you stand for just a second so that people can just lay eyes on you? I know there's Adam's here. Is there anybody else that's you're in? I mean, nobody else cares about Jesus, but you've had none kidding. All right. But thank you, Adam. Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. I've just bow your heads and close your eyes. Thank you. And I want to ask you to pray. If you know anyone on the search team, would you pray for them by name? Just take a moment just in the quietness of where we are. Just pray for them by name and your prayer for them is God, would you give them wisdom? God, would you reveal your will to them? If you don't know anybody that's on that team, maybe you can just pray for Adam today. Maybe for others of you. What do you want to pray for is the person that God's going to lead us to. You don't even know who they are, but just pray for them that God would give them wisdom. On the other side. Let's just pause.

 

Let's pray specifically for this team for wisdom, for the revealing of his will and for the knowledge of what God decided, you take a moment and just pray that. Can we pause today and just say that we need you. God, we're not a perfect people. We're not a perfect church, But God, I thank you for this church. I thank you for leading me and my family to come and be a part of this church. God, I thank you for what it means to us and God. I thank you for the way that you've used it. Just such as a powerful testimony and instrument in this community and to serve not just the folks around this, but around the world. We don't know all of the answers for what the future holds and God, it's just such an odd time. And we've got at the same time, Lord, it's a great time because we don't have the answers. And so, it gives us the opportunity just to submit and surrender to you. So God is we surrender to you. God, I pray specifically for every member of our pastor search team. God, I pray that you will remove any fear. God, I pray that you will remove any agenda. God, I pray that you will remove any pressure. God, I pray that you will remove any sin from their lives so that they can clearly hear God, you have the power. God, you have the answers. So Lord, we placed them into your hands right now. You got to be thanked you for what you're going to do, because we know that when we surrender to you from a pure heart, that we can't lose. And so, God, we thank you in advance for how you're going to use this team to move us forward for the future of our ministry. God, we love you. And we thank you for hearing our prayers. It's in Jesus name. I pray,

Amen.

 

Now look at verse 18, The next thing he calls them as he's praying for them. He says, having the eyes of your heart in the light, look at this, that you may know, what is the hope to which he has called you? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the Saint? So it's an interesting verse because in essence, I mean, it's a, it's a very, you know, it's worded very well, right? But in the middle of that, he says the hope of the calling that you were called to in essence, what he says is that you would understand the power, that you would understand the riches, that you would understand the mission of what God has called you to do. And I think that's both collectively and individually that he's praying for them that first of all, that God would reveal to them the direction and what needs to happen, that there would be wisdom in the decisions they may, but as they are making decisions as a body of believers, that God would constantly remind him of in essence. What I would say is their mission. Then he would constantly remind him of who they are and what it is that they are to be about, you know, any organization over time, any established organization. And this is the, the case. And no matter what realm of business or what realm of spirituality or that, anything that is established over time has the tendency to turn inward and what used to be about the mission becomes about themselves. I was sharing with Micah, just looking at where we're going in terms of after the first John series about looking at several different churches in the new Testament, in terms of them staying focused on their mission. And one of the things we see in the church at Jerusalem, which is where the church started, that over time, they begin to struggle because as they began to be established, they stopped looking outward to what God had called them to do, and they just simply began to turn inward. And so one of the things that we have to constantly battle against as a great established church in this community is that for us to never get to a point where it becomes all about what we do in here, but we're constantly pushing ourselves outward to the mission that God has given us. And so once again, as I was reading this this week, and just thinking about the things for us, specifically as a church to pray for, I thought about where we are in terms of the emphasis of our outward focus ministry right now, in terms of what we're doing relationship to Hurricane Laura, that we have teams I've loved watching on social media this week about the number of teams even this week that have gone and taken time off of work and taking time out of their schedule to take a day or a couple of days, and just to go over and we've taken tons of supplies. I can't believe the number of things y'all brought last weekend to the campus that were sent out last Sunday and all throughout the week that have been teams of people that have been going. And I know that everybody can't do that, but that needs to be the heart of every one of us, whether we have the opportunity and the ability to go, it needs to matter to us. And all those, some people may say, well, that doesn't seem like a very spiritual thing to, you know, to take a chainsaw and cut down the tree and to clean up a yard or clean up a home or to take supplies. But the reality is, is what greater message that the church had to send then in a time of crisis, that we are there for them, not because we're such great people, but because the mission of God compels us to go. And what Paul says to the Church at Ephesus where is that I pray that you will constantly be reminded the hope that you have the joy that you have because of the, what you've been called to do. And so, what I want us to do is take just a couple of moments. Then I want us just to stop and pray that God would keep us focused on the mission. The mission is not to be the biggest church in town. The mission is not to have the nicest buildings in town. The mission is not to do the most things for ourselves, but the mission is to be, as the book of Matthew describes is that we are a city that is set on a Hill. We are the light of the world, and that we cannot be hidden, that we want our mission to be so bright that if tomorrow, if this church was taken out of this community, there would be a hole in this community because of all the things that we do to serve them and to love them and to point them towards Jesus. So we need to pray that God would use this body of believers, that we would stay focused on the hope of what we've been called to do. So let's take just a moment and I'm going to ask you to bow your heads with me again. And would you ask God for yourself? First of all, personally, that God would keep you focused on your part of the mission that he's called you to do, but that he would keep us as a body of believers focused, that we would fight the tendency to turn inward and that we would do everything we can to focus our heart and attention on the world. Around us. You take just a moment just with your heads, bowed and eyes closed. Pray that for yourself, pray that for the church, ask God to do that in our lives.

 

Let's pray together. Lord, we're grateful for our church. God, we pray that we would be a church of people as individuals, Lord, who put others first or that as we live our own lives, God, that we wouldn't be looking just to our own interests Lord, but we'll be looking to the interest of others. God, that we would be humbled. People, people who imitate the likeness of Jesus, that we would put other people ahead of ourselves Lord. And as we do that individually Lord, we pray that that's what our church would be. That we would be a church that seeks the welfare of our city that seeks the good of people in our community. Thank God that our church would be a place that makes a massive impact for those around us. Lord, God help us to be a community of believers that don't just look out for each other and look out for this place, Lord, but that we were driven to help others. God, like we've seen so many going out and serving with the hurricane aftermath. Lord, help that to not just be something we do in disasters, Lord, but that we do every day that we see needs. And we meet them Lord, because we have a desire to help them because we know that we have the message of the gospel Lord and that as we go that your honor, that your name is lifted high. God let us be that type of people or help us to be that way. Keep our eyes focused on you and not just focused on ourselves. And we love you. We thank you for Istrouma. We thank you for moments like this.

 

Amen.

 

We've been reading the book of Ezra about God establishing the people of Israel as his chosen people. And he did that because he wanted people to see him, right? He didn't do that because they were any more special than the rest of the world. He didn't do that because there was anything that was different about the way that they were created. He did that to show people how great he was. And when I want you to see at the end of this passage, the end of this prayer in the last five verses to me is a very powerful, powerful prayer. But I believe it's a prayer that we need to pray for us, for us. As we walk out these doors for us, as we encounter a world that may not agree with us, for us as we encounter a world that may have different views or may not even believe in God, but there's something that they see in us. But what they see in us is not about us, but it's about the God that we serve. There's a confidence in the end of this passage, there's a power that's in the end of this past, but there's also authenticity that shows people what we really want them to see, because what the world needs to see from the church is not just all the things that we don't do or that we are against, but what they need to see is not only what we are for, but who we are for. And they need to see the power of God that resides inside of us. And so, I want us to read this passage together, but then I want us to pray this for ourselves. And I want you to, as you read this with me, I want you to get the vision of exactly what it is that God wants us to see what God wants us to be a part of, of what he wants the world to see in us and through us. So here's what I want to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you if you would just to stand right where you are.

I am not sure we can read this part sitting down and look, I know some time to time, Pastor Jeff, again, watches the services. He doesn't think that we should sit for any of it. So I apologize if you're watching Pastor Jeff, but we are going to stand for this part. All right. I want you to think about the power that is in these verses, starting in verse 19. I want us to read this together and then I want us to pray together. And I want us to ask God for the world. When they see us, this is what they see. Let's start in verse 19. I want you to read it out loud with me. All right. It says, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly paces. Don't miss this right, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name, that His name, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church. Let's read verse 22. Again, that's great, right? And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all, you know, let's pray. Some of you just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed. You needed that phrase in verse 22. Today, all things are under his feet. All things, anything that you're facing today is not beyond his control or authority. All things are under his feet. Any challenges that we face as a church are not beyond his ability or not beyond his authority, because all things are under his feet. There ought to be a peace and a calm that floods our heart and mind. When we recognize the fact that we serve a God who is in complete control, All Things are under his feet.

 

God, I pray that That image in verses 19 through 23 can be what the world sees in us. Not a people of arrogance, not people that think they are superior in any way or that we're more Holy or that there's something that, that is different about who we are as individuals, but they will see people that are totally dependent upon you that are willing to remove all the things that don't look like you so that the world can clearly see how great you are. God, thank you that you are our ruler. God, thank you that you are our authority. God, thank you that you have all power and all dominion over everything in our lives, over everything in our community, over everything in the world that is so difficult to see so much of the division and heartache and pain and strife that goes on God. We thank You that if we will rest in You, that God, that You will give us Your wisdom, that You will give us Your plan. God, that You will keep us focused on Your mission. And then we will recognize that if the world can see you that God, you're the one who makes the difference. So God allow us as a body of believers to rests in You today, allow us to trust you because you are a God who has all things under his feet and this in Jesus’ name that I pray and all God's people said,

Amen.

 

Be seated for just a moment. One of the other things that we see come on Christian, that we see in the new Testament is that there were times that there were people that got it used a specific location, and he sent them out to other places to do other things. And so today Christian is going to lead us in a time as a Luke is in that situation where he's being called out. And so, he's going to share some things with us. Lucy will share a couple of things with us, and then we're going to close our service by praying for Luke. That's right? Some of the past three years, as we have worshiped together in this space, you have seen at Luke's face and his heart leading us in that regard for the past three years. And so today Luke's final day here with us at Istrouma, as he heads home, to Atlanta, the Atlanta area, where he is from to serve at a church there. And in his time here, he has led us well, he has fostered deep and meaningful relationships and, and discipled many of us, even in this room today. And we're thankful for the Lord giving us the chance to serve alongside of him. And we're excited about what he is doing and where he is going to continue to serve at a different sister church. And so, Luke, you had some words for us today. Yes. On my phone. It's where I read my Bible from which you can't really add to Ephesians one really. I mean, just the hope that is there and the prayer and that's all of our prayers that we would know and understand the love of God for us. And then go out to the world, just that repeated the measurable greatness of his power. Like 13 verses later in chapter two, he talks about the measurable grace of God, in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. And So this is Zachariah chapter nine. I've kind of been in this for the last few months, was in like the prophets and the minor prophets in the springtime. And so, I hit Zachariah about June and it's just like, it's exactly the same thing. Like our God is a God, who's a measurable and he's generous. And he graciously and freely gives us wisdom and revelation. So, this is Zachariah nine verse 16 says on that day, the Lord, their God will save them as the flock of his people for like the jewels of a crown. They shall shine on his land. Just makes me think of where the city on a Hill, like where these jewels in a crown that everyone can see for. How great is his goodness and how great his beauty grain shall make the young men flourish in new wine. The young women, God has God who makes things flourish to a lot of us. This may feel like a barren time. I got time in the desert, but our God is a fountain of water. Like he's living water.

He is a God who things grow and barren places. So then verse one of chapter 10 says pray. So to the people of God, he says, ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring, rain from the Lord who makes the storm clouds is the God who makes the rain. So pray to him, ask him for rain. And he will give them showers of rain to everyone, the vegetation in the field. You can't really say more than that. Our God is a God who loves to pour himself out. And he asked us to come to them and to ask him for rain. And he will do it. Every word of the Lord proves true. So that's right. And we are excited that the Lord is going to use a Luke to bring his, the message of his immeasurable grace, to our sister church in there and in Atlanta. And so, Luke will be here as the service concludes. And normally we would invite everybody to come down and place their hand on Luke is we send him out. But today where you are, if you would, if you just would extend your handout where you are towards Luke and we'll pray and, and then we'll dismiss, all right, father, we thank you for the time that you have given us with our brother. We are excited that he is, has an opportunity to be able to, to share your truth in a new place. Lord. And we arrest a short knowing that we will be shoulder to shoulder singing for eternity, with saints that you have shown your grace to here in Baton Rouge and in Atlanta through your servant, Luke Lord, we're thankful that you've given him the gifts that you have and the opportunities to be able to make your name great and known Lord, we know that you are indeed that fountain in the midst of our barren and dry land and God, we look to you and you alone.

 

Lord, we know that you are great and powerful and good and kind, and that that message is one that we want to see the world come to know. We're thankful that you've placed it on Luke's heart to do that in a new area, Lord and we're we sent him out with love and gratitude and your precious and Holy Name. We pray. We love You. Amen.

 

Direct download: IBC_20200906.mp3
Category:Sermon -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Ephesians 1:15-23

Istrouma Baptist Church – Jeff Williams, Interim Pastor

 10:45 AM Sermon September 6, 2020

 

 

 

Good morning. So glad that you're here and that you've chosen to worship with us. If you are new to us, we have just completed last week, a series where we walked through the book of Ezra had a great time just to really looking at just the way that God provides and the way that God moves. And then next Sunday. We will begin a series just walking through the book of first John, and really excited about that. And I won’t say anything else because I'll go ahead and start preaching that series. And I want you to come back next week. So we'll just leave that where it is, but to really looking forward. And I would encourage you that one of the greatest things that you can do when you're studying a book as a group of people, whether it's in your small group or in worship, is that if you will read along with that on your own, you will be amazed at just the multiplication of what God teaches you. Because oftentimes what we do is we think about the study of the word is something that happens in this room. In many times, we miss a huge part of what God wants to teach us individually because God's given us his word individually. He's given us the Holy Spirit, which resides inside of us. And so, we need to allow God to teach us throughout the week. And then as we gather together to study that together, God just illuminates that on just a whole other level. So, if you don't have a specific plan or even if you do maybe take first John chapter one, read it a few times this week and just, just allow God to use that, to prepare your hearts as we jump into that next week.

 

And so today we're going to do something a little bit different and I want us to, and some of y'all don't know me that well, but anytime that I ever pastored a church, whenever I said that it used to scare people to death because there was no telling what I might do. Don't worry. It's not going to be that outside of the box. But I do want us to practice something that we see in scripture that I think is very important. And as we think about the church, we are obviously in a time of transition. And as we think about all the transition that's happened over the course of this year, and as we move forward, there's something at the forefront that should be at the forefront of our minds as we are in the season that we're in, it's something that's important all the time. But I think that the level of intensity that we should have towards this subject is really important during this season. So, I want to make a statement on the front end, and then we'll jump into what that is and how we're going to be part of that this morning. I want to make a statement that for those of you that have been around the church more than about 30 minutes, you know, this is true. And that is, is that the church is not perfect. Is that a shock to anyone? Right? The church is not perfect in the reason the church is not perfect, just because of you. All right, let's just get that out there, right? It's not because of somebody else or that the church is not perfect because of you, I used to have a pastor that said, man, being a pastor would be easy if it wasn't for all the people, right. That would be, it'd be so easy, right? Because the reality is that all of us are flawed. We all have opinions. We all have issues. We all have stuff that is in us. And because of that, the church is not perfect. But what's amazing about that is that God has chosen to use this imperfect organism. It's not an organization but an organism because the church is us, right. Then God's chosen to use this as his vehicle to get the gospel to the world from the very beginning of the church in Acts Chapter Two, we see, I think God chose to form the church and that through that vehicle, through you and I, that the gospel was going to get to the entire world.

 

And so, it's interesting that God would take something that is not perfect is made up of you and I, but yet that's what he would choose to get the gospel everywhere. So that means that you are important. That means for you and me, and obviously you're thinking, well, Jeff, I know that I'm here, right? But you need to understand that this is not just a ritual that we go through every week so that you can feel better about yourself. This is what God has chosen. We are a part of something that God wants to use to shed the light of the gospel across the street and around the world.

 

And I would say that this is very cliche, but it's very true. And that there's never been a time in the world that the world needed the gospel more than it does today. So, it means that we're imperfect. We don't have all the answers and we don't always get it right. But yet this is what God has chosen to use. Which means that the church should be very, very important to us. So here's what happens. Here's how we get off track. Well, we get off track because we began to see the church as something that's more about us than we do about what God really wants it to be about.

 

We see in the gospels, the famous story about Jesus coming in and cleansing the temple. You've heard that story where Jesus is upset because there are people that they're basically selling animals for sacrifices, but up in the price really, really high. So they can make money off the well that are coming to offer sacrifices. And it makes Jesus angry. There's a righteous anger that comes over here and he comes in and he cleanses the temple. He just, he just turns the tables over. He just, he just basically just confuses everything that they have going on.

 

And he makes a statement at the end of those stories that we see in the gospel when he cleanses the temple. And he says, and he quotes from the Old Testament, but he says that my house shall be called a house of what?  Prayer. Now it's interesting because what we've done with that story is, I remember growing up, I grew up in church and I listen. Some of my greatest memories in life happened in the church. I love the church, some of the most, some of the best friends in the world that I have. I met in church and some of the greatest memories personally, there's some of the greatest memories and the milestones for me spiritually. They happen inside the walls of a church or a church event. And because of that, I believe that church is an absolutely amazing place, but there's some things that are funny about the, the way that we interpret scripture within the church.  And I can remember growing up in church that, that people interpreted this passage to mean, you were sinning if you did a raffle in the church, right? I mean, that was like the worst thing in all the world you can do. Don't do raffle in the church because that's why Jesus cleansed the temple. And listen, we can debate about whether you should do a raffle in the church or not, but that's not the point of that passage. The point of that passage is what upset Jesus is that he took something that was to be about him. And people begin to make it about their own interest. They begin to use the church as a way for them to gain something for themselves. It began to be about them and not about him. And that's the reason why he comes back to this issue of prayer, because there's something that happens when we pray. Now there's no question that we see all throughout scripture and all throughout church history that God responds when his people pray. There is a power in prayer that is absolutely unexplainable. But the other thing that happens when we pray as we get our focus, right? For instance, if you have someone that you struggle with relationally, you say, man, I hate that person. Or I'm struggling not to hate that person. You know, the greatest remedy for you to get over that bitterness and that anger in your life is just to begin to pray for them because the longer you pray for them, you begin to get God's perspective on that person.

 

Well, the same thing goes for every arena of our life is that one of the things that prayer does for us is it gives us God's perspective. And over time it gives us God's heart. The book of Psalms describes that we're to delight ourselves in the Lord and that he will give us the desires of our heart. We love the second part of that, right? That is that God give me the desires of my heart, but we missed the reality that what God is saying there is that when you delight yourself in me, when you spend time with me, when the emphasis of your life is prayer, that what begins to happen is God begins to change our heart, to match his heart. And so, all throughout scripture, we see different prayers. If you have your Bibles, I want you to look with me at Ephesians Chapter One for just a few moments today. And in Ephesians Chapter One, there is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And what I would encourage you to do is you begin to develop your prayer life. As you begin to recognize that as you intercede for your, not only for your needs, but on behalf of other people in your life, that God responds to the prayers of his people. And there is absolute power in prayer. But then you're also saying that God, that as I prayed, that I, what I desire for you to do is to make my heart match your heart and think about the power of the church. When our heart matches God's heart. When we are aligned with him and the things that matter to him become the things that matter to us. And in the process of that, what God begins to do is something that is absolutely amazing in our hearts. And then it flows out from this building. It flows out from our services. It flows out from our lives to the community and ultimately the world around us. When we say, God, I want my heart to align with yours. So, as you begin to develop your prayer life, one of the things that you can do is look at scripture and find prayers that are there and begin to use those as your model for prayer. Jesus gives us the model, prayer in the Sermon on The Mount. And you can look through that and begin to structure your prayer life around that. You can go to John chapter 17, where Jesus prays for himself. He prays for his disciples. He prays for the world. It gives you the opportunity. Just something to look at, to begin to model your life. You can take a proverb every day. There's 31 chapters in Proverbs, take one that corresponds with the day of the month and just begin to read it and just begin to pray that you can pray the Psalms. I mean, there's so many different ways. One of the most, one of the things that I think that we miss a lot of times is just that the power that comes when we pray, what scripture teaches us to pray when we use that as the model for how we lift up our hearts to God.

 

So as we look at a Ephesians Chapter One, this is a prayer that Paul prays for the church. And so, I want us to look at this just for a few moments together, but we're going to stop along the way. And there's three different parts here that I think are things that are relevant for us today, where we are, that we ought to just stop and pray for. So we're going to read a little bit, I'm going to talk for a second and then we're going to pray. Now I know that's a, that's a crazy concept, right? In church, we're going to stop and actually pray, right? But we're going to do that today. And so, I want, once again, for those of you that might be new or your guests with us, don't worry. I'm not going to make you uncomfortable or do anything that you're not comfortable doing, but we're just going to stop along the way. And I'm not going to just pray for us. I'm going to ask you to stop and pray. And I'm going to ask you to really a look at these aspects and look at how God uses his word to model. Because Jesus said that my house shall be called a house of prayer. So we're going to spend a few moments doing that. So Ephesians Chapter One, and we're going to begin reading in verse 15. He says, for this reason, and this, the idea of these talking about the gospel, he's talking about the church, he's talking about the people that are in the church and the things that they are doing. And he says for this reason, because I have heard of your faith, Paul had not actually been there, but he knew of the things that God was doing through the church at Ephesus. He says, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord, Jesus, and your love toward all the saints. I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. So in this introduction he says, I want you to know, I give thanks to you that for you in the, I am remembering you in my prayers. And then what follows is the prayer that he prays for the church at Ephesus. Now he's praying this for them specifically, but I also think that there's application for us in terms of where we are today.

 

So the first thing he prays for, we see in verse 17, look at what it says there, that the God of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory may give you look at this. Don't miss this, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation and the knowledge of him. He asked for wisdom. He asked for revelation in the knowledge of him. So in essence, what he says is, is that God, I pray that you will give this. When I pray for this church, what I'm praying for is that God, you would give them wisdom. The God, you would give them the ability to see your plan, to see your wheel and that God that you would give them the knowledge of what you desire from them. Now stop and think about that for just a minute. What a great prayer for us to pray, because we can get so caught up in the things that we know we can get. So caught up in the things that we do, we can get so caught up, even in the things that we've done in the past, that we are very familiar with and that we are very good at. And if we're not careful, we can miss the reality that what we need to see for today, what we need to see for the future is what God sees. God align my heart so that I can be filled with wisdom. God, I align our leadership in a way that they have wisdom to, to have Your will for our Church, revealed to them so that we can have the knowledge of what you desire from us. Is there anything greater that we can pray and say, God, help us to see what you want us to see. I see God help us to make decisions that honor you. God lead us to the path that the God that we desire for whatever you want. And then think about this. If we pray that with a pure heart, and we really say, God, I want to be aligned with what you want. God, I want you to give us wisdom to make the right decision. If we pray that with a pure heart, do you realize that we can't lose? Because if we're praying that with a pure heart and we're praying to that to a God who is in complete control, and if we're submitting ourselves to his will and to his wisdom, then God's, this is not a game, right? It's not a game of hide and seek, and God's not attempting to hide His will from us. He's just attempting to get us to a place where we surrender to Him and then whatever He desires, God just will do that. So it's a releasing prayer, but it's a prayer that I believe is very, very important. Now I just, once again, I'm up here. So we're going to do this the way that the God is leading me. And I'll just tell you the first thing that came to my mind when I read that is really for our Pastor Search Committee, because you've heard for the last several weeks as we've just stopped and we've seen videos and we've, we've talked just about the need to pray for that group. And I want you to hear this from my heart. That there's nothing that I believe for this church. That is the more important for us to be praying for than for that team right now, thinking about the wisdom that they need and think about when you pray for them, that you're not praying for them to find the kind of person that you want, right? You're praying for them to find the person that God desires. You're praying for God to reveal his desire to them so that they can make a wise decision. Because when they make this decision in terms of, on behalf of the church and they bring this person before us as a body of believers, what we need to understand is that this is a very, very big deal for the future of our church. And we need to ask God to give them wisdom, the, the weight that's on them. And I can tell you from my own experience, the weight that’s on the person that they will eventually talk to. It is a weight that on both sides of that, we need wisdom. We need God as a body of believers to, for us to be passionate about praying for them. Because what we desire is the same way for the last hundred years that we've celebrated that God has used this church to make a powerful impact in this community and around the world, we want the next hundred years to be even greater. And the only way that happens is by God revealing to us, us having his wisdom and his, and making the decisions he desires for us today. So can we just stop for a minute and just pray? Let's just pray for that team. In fact, not to embarrass you and then we'll call you out and ask you to anything else. But if you're a part of that team, just because I know everybody doesn't know all the people that are on there, if you're a part of our pastor search team, would you stand for just a second so that people can just lay eyes on you? I know there's Adam's here. Is there anybody else that's you're in? I mean, nobody else cares about Jesus, but you've had none kidding. All right. But thank you, Adam. Here's what I'm going to ask you to do. I've just bow your heads and close your eyes. Thank you. And I want to ask you to pray. If you know anyone on the search team, would you pray for them by name? Just take a moment just in the quietness of where we are. Just pray for them by name and your prayer for them is God, would you give them wisdom? God, would you reveal your will to them? If you don't know anybody that's on that team, maybe you can just pray for Adam today. Maybe for others of you. What do you want to pray for is the person that God's going to lead us to. You don't even know who they are, but just pray for them that God would give them wisdom. On the other side. Let's just pause.

 

Let's pray specifically for this team for wisdom, for the revealing of his will and for the knowledge of what God decided, you take a moment and just pray that. Can we pause today and just say that we need you. God, we're not a perfect people. We're not a perfect church, But God, I thank you for this church. I thank you for leading me and my family to come and be a part of this church. God, I thank you for what it means to us and God. I thank you for the way that you've used it. Just such as a powerful testimony and instrument in this community and to serve not just the folks around this, but around the world. We don't know all of the answers for what the future holds and God, it's just such an odd time. And we've got at the same time, Lord, it's a great time because we don't have the answers. And so, it gives us the opportunity just to submit and surrender to you. So God is we surrender to you. God, I pray specifically for every member of our pastor search team. God, I pray that you will remove any fear. God, I pray that you will remove any agenda. God, I pray that you will remove any pressure. God, I pray that you will remove any sin from their lives so that they can clearly hear God, you have the power. God, you have the answers. So Lord, we placed them into your hands right now. You got to be thanked you for what you're going to do, because we know that when we surrender to you from a pure heart, that we can't lose. And so, God, we thank you in advance for how you're going to use this team to move us forward for the future of our ministry. God, we love you. And we thank you for hearing our prayers. It's in Jesus name. I pray,

Amen.

 

Now look at verse 18, The next thing he calls them as he's praying for them. He says, having the eyes of your heart in the light, look at this, that you may know, what is the hope to which he has called you? What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the Saint? So it's an interesting verse because in essence, I mean, it's a, it's a very, you know, it's worded very well, right? But in the middle of that, he says the hope of the calling that you were called to in essence, what he says is that you would understand the power, that you would understand the riches, that you would understand the mission of what God has called you to do. And I think that's both collectively and individually that he's praying for them that first of all, that God would reveal to them the direction and what needs to happen, that there would be wisdom in the decisions they may, but as they are making decisions as a body of believers, that God would constantly remind him of in essence. What I would say is their mission. Then he would constantly remind him of who they are and what it is that they are to be about, you know, any organization over time, any established organization. And this is the, the case. And no matter what realm of business or what realm of spirituality or that, anything that is established over time has the tendency to turn inward and what used to be about the mission becomes about themselves. I was sharing with Micah, just looking at where we're going in terms of after the first John series about looking at several different churches in the new Testament, in terms of them staying focused on their mission. And one of the things we see in the church at Jerusalem, which is where the church started, that over time, they begin to struggle because as they began to be established, they stopped looking outward to what God had called them to do, and they just simply began to turn inward. And so one of the things that we have to constantly battle against as a great established church in this community is that for us to never get to a point where it becomes all about what we do in here, but we're constantly pushing ourselves outward to the mission that God has given us. And so once again, as I was reading this this week, and just thinking about the things for us, specifically as a church to pray for, I thought about where we are in terms of the emphasis of our outward focus ministry right now, in terms of what we're doing relationship to Hurricane Laura, that we have teams I've loved watching on social media this week about the number of teams even this week that have gone and taken time off of work and taking time out of their schedule to take a day or a couple of days, and just to go over and we've taken tons of supplies. I can't believe the number of things y'all brought last weekend to the campus that were sent out last Sunday and all throughout the week that have been teams of people that have been going. And I know that everybody can't do that, but that needs to be the heart of every one of us, whether we have the opportunity and the ability to go, it needs to matter to us. And all those, some people may say, well, that doesn't seem like a very spiritual thing to, you know, to take a chainsaw and cut down the tree and to clean up a yard or clean up a home or to take supplies. But the reality is, is what greater message that the church had to send then in a time of crisis, that we are there for them, not because we're such great people, but because the mission of God compels us to go. And what Paul says to the Church at Ephesus where is that I pray that you will constantly be reminded the hope that you have the joy that you have because of the, what you've been called to do. And so, what I want us to do is take just a couple of moments. Then I want us just to stop and pray that God would keep us focused on the mission. The mission is not to be the biggest church in town. The mission is not to have the nicest buildings in town. The mission is not to do the most things for ourselves, but the mission is to be, as the book of Matthew describes is that we are a city that is set on a Hill. We are the light of the world, and that we cannot be hidden, that we want our mission to be so bright that if tomorrow, if this church was taken out of this community, there would be a hole in this community because of all the things that we do to serve them and to love them and to point them towards Jesus. So we need to pray that God would use this body of believers, that we would stay focused on the hope of what we've been called to do. So let's take just a moment and I'm going to ask you to bow your heads with me again. And would you ask God for yourself? First of all, personally, that God would keep you focused on your part of the mission that he's called you to do, but that he would keep us as a body of believers focused, that we would fight the tendency to turn inward and that we would do everything we can to focus our heart and attention on the world. Around us. You take just a moment just with your heads, bowed and eyes closed. Pray that for yourself, pray that for the church, ask God to do that in our lives.

 

Let's pray together. Lord, we're grateful for our church. God, we pray that we would be a church of people as individuals, Lord, who put others first or that as we live our own lives, God, that we wouldn't be looking just to our own interests Lord, but we'll be looking to the interest of others. God, that we would be humbled. People, people who imitate the likeness of Jesus, that we would put other people ahead of ourselves Lord. And as we do that individually Lord, we pray that that's what our church would be. That we would be a church that seeks the welfare of our city that seeks the good of people in our community. Thank God that our church would be a place that makes a massive impact for those around us. Lord, God help us to be a community of believers that don't just look out for each other and look out for this place, Lord, but that we were driven to help others. God, like we've seen so many going out and serving with the hurricane aftermath. Lord, help that to not just be something we do in disasters, Lord, but that we do every day that we see needs. And we meet them Lord, because we have a desire to help them because we know that we have the message of the gospel Lord and that as we go that your honor, that your name is lifted high. God let us be that type of people or help us to be that way. Keep our eyes focused on you and not just focused on ourselves. And we love you. We thank you for Istrouma. We thank you for moments like this.

 

Amen.

 

We've been reading the book of Ezra about God establishing the people of Israel as his chosen people. And he did that because he wanted people to see him, right? He didn't do that because they were any more special than the rest of the world. He didn't do that because there was anything that was different about the way that they were created. He did that to show people how great he was. And when I want you to see at the end of this passage, the end of this prayer in the last five verses to me is a very powerful, powerful prayer. But I believe it's a prayer that we need to pray for us, for us. As we walk out these doors for us, as we encounter a world that may not agree with us, for us as we encounter a world that may have different views or may not even believe in God, but there's something that they see in us. But what they see in us is not about us, but it's about the God that we serve. There's a confidence in the end of this passage, there's a power that's in the end of this past, but there's also authenticity that shows people what we really want them to see, because what the world needs to see from the church is not just all the things that we don't do or that we are against, but what they need to see is not only what we are for, but who we are for. And they need to see the power of God that resides inside of us. And so, I want us to read this passage together, but then I want us to pray this for ourselves. And I want you to, as you read this with me, I want you to get the vision of exactly what it is that God wants us to see what God wants us to be a part of, of what he wants the world to see in us and through us. So here's what I want to ask you to do. I'm going to ask you if you would just to stand right where you are.

I am not sure we can read this part sitting down and look, I know some time to time, Pastor Jeff, again, watches the services. He doesn't think that we should sit for any of it. So I apologize if you're watching Pastor Jeff, but we are going to stand for this part. All right. I want you to think about the power that is in these verses, starting in verse 19. I want us to read this together and then I want us to pray together. And I want us to ask God for the world. When they see us, this is what they see. Let's start in verse 19. I want you to read it out loud with me. All right. It says, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly paces. Don't miss this right, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name, that His name, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church. Let's read verse 22. Again, that's great, right? And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all, you know, let's pray. Some of you just with your heads bowed and your eyes closed. You needed that phrase in verse 22. Today, all things are under his feet. All things, anything that you're facing today is not beyond his control or authority. All things are under his feet. Any challenges that we face as a church are not beyond his ability or not beyond his authority, because all things are under his feet. There ought to be a peace and a calm that floods our heart and mind. When we recognize the fact that we serve a God who is in complete control, All Things are under his feet.

 

God, I pray that That image in verses 19 through 23 can be what the world sees in us. Not a people of arrogance, not people that think they are superior in any way or that we're more Holy or that there's something that, that is different about who we are as individuals, but they will see people that are totally dependent upon you that are willing to remove all the things that don't look like you so that the world can clearly see how great you are. God, thank you that you are our ruler. God, thank you that you are our authority. God, thank you that you have all power and all dominion over everything in our lives, over everything in our community, over everything in the world that is so difficult to see so much of the division and heartache and pain and strife that goes on God. We thank You that if we will rest in You, that God, that You will give us Your wisdom, that You will give us Your plan. God, that You will keep us focused on Your mission. And then we will recognize that if the world can see you that God, you're the one who makes the difference. So God allow us as a body of believers to rests in You today, allow us to trust you because you are a God who has all things under his feet and this in Jesus’ name that I pray and all God's people said,

Amen.

 

Be seated for just a moment. One of the other things that we see come on Christian, that we see in the new Testament is that there were times that there were people that got it used a specific location, and he sent them out to other places to do other things. And so today Christian is going to lead us in a time as a Luke is in that situation where he's being called out. And so, he's going to share some things with us. Lucy will share a couple of things with us, and then we're going to close our service by praying for Luke. That's right? Some of the past three years, as we have worshiped together in this space, you have seen at Luke's face and his heart leading us in that regard for the past three years. And so today Luke's final day here with us at Istrouma, as he heads home, to Atlanta, the Atlanta area, where he is from to serve at a church there. And in his time here, he has led us well, he has fostered deep and meaningful relationships and, and discipled many of us, even in this room today. And we're thankful for the Lord giving us the chance to serve alongside of him. And we're excited about what he is doing and where he is going to continue to serve at a different sister church. And so, Luke, you had some words for us today. Yes. On my phone. It's where I read my Bible from which you can't really add to Ephesians one really. I mean, just the hope that is there and the prayer and that's all of our prayers that we would know and understand the love of God for us. And then go out to the world, just that repeated the measurable greatness of his power. Like 13 verses later in chapter two, he talks about the measurable grace of God, in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. And So this is Zachariah chapter nine. I've kind of been in this for the last few months, was in like the prophets and the minor prophets in the springtime. And so, I hit Zachariah about June and it's just like, it's exactly the same thing. Like our God is a God, who's a measurable and he's generous. And he graciously and freely gives us wisdom and revelation. So, this is Zachariah nine verse 16 says on that day, the Lord, their God will save them as the flock of his people for like the jewels of a crown. They shall shine on his land. Just makes me think of where the city on a Hill, like where these jewels in a crown that everyone can see for. How great is his goodness and how great his beauty grain shall make the young men flourish in new wine. The young women, God has God who makes things flourish to a lot of us. This may feel like a barren time. I got time in the desert, but our God is a fountain of water. Like he's living water.

He is a God who things grow and barren places. So then verse one of chapter 10 says pray. So to the people of God, he says, ask rain from the Lord in the season of the spring, rain from the Lord who makes the storm clouds is the God who makes the rain. So pray to him, ask him for rain. And he will give them showers of rain to everyone, the vegetation in the field. You can't really say more than that. Our God is a God who loves to pour himself out. And he asked us to come to them and to ask him for rain. And he will do it. Every word of the Lord proves true. So that's right. And we are excited that the Lord is going to use a Luke to bring his, the message of his immeasurable grace, to our sister church in there and in Atlanta. And so, Luke will be here as the service concludes. And normally we would invite everybody to come down and place their hand on Luke is we send him out. But today where you are, if you would, if you just would extend your handout where you are towards Luke and we'll pray and, and then we'll dismiss, all right, father, we thank you for the time that you have given us with our brother. We are excited that he is, has an opportunity to be able to, to share your truth in a new place. Lord. And we arrest a short knowing that we will be shoulder to shoulder singing for eternity, with saints that you have shown your grace to here in Baton Rouge and in Atlanta through your servant, Luke Lord, we're thankful that you've given him the gifts that you have and the opportunities to be able to make your name great and known Lord, we know that you are indeed that fountain in the midst of our barren and dry land and God, we look to you and you alone.

 

Lord, we know that you are great and powerful and good and kind, and that that message is one that we want to see the world come to know. We're thankful that you've placed it on Luke's heart to do that in a new area, Lord and we're we sent him out with love and gratitude and your precious and Holy Name. We pray. We love You. Amen.

 

Category:Sermon -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

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